There was a nostalgic look back at the 1970s and early 1980s period of the 007 franchise when Sir Roger Moore was reunited with leading members of the ‘Bond family’ from that period for a special BBC Radio programme.
Sir Roger joined some other very familiar faces from the Bond production and acting team from those years for an episode of The Reunion on BBC Radio-4, transmitted on Sunday morning, September 7, and hosted by regular presenter Sue MacGregor.
The other guests in the BBC Radio-4 studio were Bond producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, together with director John Glen, and (joining in the discussion by telephone) Britt Ekland (‘Mary Goodnight’) and Richard Kiel (‘Jaws’).
In the early stages of the radio programme listeners heard the voices of Bond creator Ian Fleming (speaking after the success of the first 007 movie Dr. No and just prior to the filming of From Russia With Love), Cubby Broccoli (being interviewed on Whicker’s World), and director Lewis Gilbert (who directed Roger in The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker).
Sir Roger, speaking to Sue MacGregor, reflected on his selection as James Bond and his early days as the famous spy. Sir Roger pointed out that his selection may have been helped by the fact that his pre-007 TV series The Saint had gathered a global audience, and he was also good friends with both Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman. He also happened to have, he said, in those days, a home telephone number ending in 007! Moore also said he was ‘delighted’ to find out that he had been selected to play Bond.
At another point in the programme, Roger, who has been very busy in the UK over the last few days promoting his latest memoirs, Last Man Standing, said that Daniel Craig ‘will go on for a long time’ as Bond. He noted the timeless success of the 007 movies and argued that the character of James Bond essentially remains the same in 2014 as earlier in the series, and he joked (in reference to the recent London Olympics) that even the Queen had become involved in the movies.
There were plenty of other fascinating bits of information in the programme, including Britt Ekland’s revelation that when she went to see Cubby Broccoli about a possible role, she discovered that Cubby had already seen her in the horror movie The Wicker Man (interestingly, although the programme did not mention this, this movie, which has now taken on cult status, also starred Christopher Lee, and remains to this day Lee’s favourite film role).
There was general consensus around the table that the Bond films, in many ways, were ahead of their times. John Glen noted that the spectacular pre-credits ski stunt in The Spy Who Loved Me was a real first in movie stunt-making, and Michael G. Wilson pointed out that, in terms of new technologies, Moonraker was way ahead of its time with its use of the new U.S. space shuttle (which was still in development). He also said that they had even gone over to America and been given a special preview of the shuttle by NASA.
In a nice moment of candour, there was also general agreement around the table that Moore’s third James Bond movie, The Spy Who Loved Me, represented something of a watershed moment in the progress of the Bond franchise in the 1970s: after the partnership of Broccoli and Harry Saltzman had come to a difficult end, the movie was Cubby’s first Bond movie as solo producer, and he was determined to prove to the world that Bond was not finished.
And the movie ‘saved’ the 007 films and secured their future in many ways: it had an incredible pre-credits ski stunt (which Roger noted brought a ‘wow!’ at the first Odeon Leicester Square screenings and, indeed, from audiences right round the world), and it also contributed what was (at the time) the largest sound stage in the world (the famous ‘007 Stage’ at Pinewood), which became very important to the British film industry in particular.
Significantly, in her contribution to The Reunion, Bond producer Barbara Broccoli, when asked about the competiton from other movies to the Bond series, said it was ‘good to have competition’, as it kept them creative; she also pointed to her father Cubby as always saying ‘make a good movie’.
At another stage in the programme, towards the end, Barbara told Sue MacGregor that: ‘Bond will go on forever’. The EON producer said that her father Cubby and Harry Saltzman had created ‘this extraordinary franchise’, and that she and her brother Michael see themselves as ‘custodians’ of this. She added that Bond ‘will carry on beyond’ her and Michael, too.
This special James Bond edition of The Reunion will be repeated by BBC Radio-4 at 9.00am on Friday September 12, and is also available on BBC iplayer. Catch it if you can.