The latest stage of the James Bond Blu-ray tour around Britain saw 007 director John Glen return to the Nene Valley Railway, which was one of the locations for ‘Octopussy’.
John arrived at the railway’s Wansford Station on Thursday, September 20, travelling in the Aston Martin from ‘Quantum of Solace’, and safely carrying the special Blu-ray golden briefcase, which holds copies of all 22 Bond movies.
Wansford is the main station of the Nene Valley Steam Railway (NVR), just off the A1 motorway, near Peterborough, in Cambridgeshire. The railway was used extensively for location shooting on ‘Octopussy’ back in September and October, 1982, and was utilised again by EON for some location shooting for ‘Goldeneye’ (1995), directed by Martin Campbell.
Back in 1982, Wansford Station was re-named Karl-Marx-Stadt for ‘Octopussy’, while further down the line the NVR’s Ferry Meadows Station was re-titled Gutenfurst. At the time, the film’s First Unit, under the watchful eye of director John Glen, spent a full week carrying out some main filming on the NVR, using Wansford Station as a key location and also as the Unit’s main base of operations. Roger Moore, Maud Adams, Louis Jordan, Steven Berkoff, Walter Gotell, Kabir Bedi and Kristina Wayborn all spent some time at the NVR carrying out filming, and Roger Moore was very happy to mingle with fans and public.
Many extras were recruited from nearby Peterborough, while some NVR volunteers were also used as extras, including the driver of the main locomotive which pulled the ‘Octopussy’ circus train carriages. Numerous stunts were also carried out, overseen by stunt arranger Bob Simmonds. After the principal stars left for India, the Second Unit took over and spent another few weeks carrying out complex stunt-work and filming additional background footage.
John Glen made it clear that he has many happy memories of his time at the NVR and, after posing for press photos near the Aston Martin and one of the European-style steam locomotives, he presented a special plaque to the NVR’s General Manager Hannah Forman, commemorating the Station as one of the most memorable Bond locations.
John was joined at the location by Bond stunt co-ordinator Paul Weston, who carried out some of the dangerous stunts on the top of the ‘Octopussy’ train when it was in motion during the original filming, and also by a crew from the BBC’s ‘One Show’. Paul was able to demonstrate to the BBC programme some quick fight manoeuvres commonly employed by stunt arrangers.
In an interview given to the local press, John Glen said: ‘Octopussy is still one of my best known movies, and we spent the best part of six weeks down here. I often get asked where I went for certain shots, and I must admit you forget a lot of locations. But I do remember Nene Valley railway well’.
He continued: ‘It was a perfect location for the film. We had lovely shots going through the countryside and had a wonderful time here, so I was very glad to come back’. Glen added: ‘Everyone was convinced we had filmed in East Germany. A lot of people used to ask me if it was hard to film in East Germany! But that was the art of film-making’.
In other comments, John said he chose the location mainly because of the rail stock and the tunnel (the NVR’s long Yarwell Tunnel, where key scenes were shot with Roger Moore). The veteran director also pointed out: ‘Trains have always been an important part of James Bond’, stretching back to ‘From Russia With Love’ (1963), with Sean Connery and Robert Shaw in the famous hand-to-hand fight sequence. He also referred to the train fight in ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’ (1977), where Roger Moore memorably confronted ‘Jaws’.
JBIFC on the Scene
Some Bond fans may remember that the JBIFC, in an exclusive report in its ‘007’ magazine (vol.1, no.12), was the very first organisation to report from the NVR ‘Octopussy’ set back in 1982 (the report, ‘On Location in Peterborough’, appeared in our magazine in January, 1983).
Perhaps even Sir Roger Moore himself recalls our presence: on Saturday, September 11th, 1982, after Roger and John Glen had finished filming in the NVR’s main tunnel, some members of the Club were there to greet them as they climbed up a steep wooden stairwell from the tunnel entrance. A surprised and rather dusty Roger still found time to sign some autographs. What a gent!
The Club is planning a commemorative article on James Bond at the NVR in the future. Meanwhile, the James Bond Blu-ray tour will take in other Bond locations and will culminate on its seventh day outside HMV in London’s Oxford Street.