Apart from it being an excellent James Bond movie, one of the pleasures of watching On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) is also the sheer quality of the work of the supporting cast. Given that the movie was George Lazenby’s film debut, director Peter Hunt was keen to cast strong actors opposite the new 007. This philosophy also applied to the various wider supporting roles.
Five years ago this month, in January, 2013, the actor Bernard Horsfall, who played Campbell, the MI6 contact for George Lazenby’s 007 in Switzerland in OHMSS, sadly died, aged 82. In many ways, Horsfall’s part was a key part of the storyline. The JBIFC takes a brief look back at Bernard’s career and his part in OHMSS.
From Switzerland, With Love
Horsfall, who was born in Hertfordshire in England in 1930, died on January 29, 2013, on the Isle of Skye, where he had lived for many years (he was very devoted to Scottish culture). He began acting in the late 1950s, and made his film debut in the 1957 movie High Flight, which starred American actor Ray Milland. Other film appearances included The Angry Silence (1960), and Guns at Batasi (1964).
Horsfall went on to take a large variety of parts in film, TV and on the stage. He had roles in episodes of some classic TV series, such as the police drama Z-Cars, the cult spy series The Avengers, The Saint (with the late Roger Moore), The Persuaders (with Moore again), and the popular sci-fi series Dr. Who. In fact, he became quite a regular in the Who universe, appearing in no less than 15 episodes, and over the years he built up a considerable Who fan base.
In the sixth EON James Bond movie On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969), Bernard played a character named Campbell (sometimes listed as Shaun, or ‘Shawn’, Campbell). In Ian Fleming’s original novel, Campbell was from MI6’s Station ‘Z’ (Zurich). In the movie version, Campbell is the MI6 agent who first helps Lazenby’s Bond by ensuring that a construction site crane lifts a special electronic safecracking and photocopying device over to 007 at Gumbold’s office in Bern. Campbell also witnesses Bond’s arrival in Switzerland where, disguised as Sir Hilary Bray, 007 is transferred by helicopter to Piz Gloria, accompanied by Blofeld’s assistant, Irma Bunt (memorably played by German actress Ilse Steppat).
Campbell is later seen trying to take the cable car to the Bleuchamp Institute, but Blofeld’s thuggish henchman Grunther (played in a suitably sinister way by Yuri Borienko) makes it very clear that it is ‘private property’ (for some reason, this scene was often cut in TV screenings of the movie). Posing later as a mountain climber, Campbell is captured by Blofeld’s men and is murdered. His body is strung upside down and is deliberately shown to Bond to torment him. It was a relatively minor, but nevertheless crucial role in the movie, and reminds us how well the late director Peter Hunt chose his supporting cast. Horsfall said later that his ‘dead body’ sequence involved him hanging from a studio ceiling, while the Alps in the background were really a matte painting.
It is difficult to know whether Horsfall was given any other short scenes in the movie (the original first cut of OHMSS before further editing was apparently nearly three hours long!), but Horsfall’s contribution to the movie benefits from some beautiful cinematography.
Interestingly, Bernard Horsfall and Peter Hunt were reunited in the 1970s, when Horsfall had roles in the gritty Roger Moore movies Gold (1974), and Shout at the Devil (1976), both directed by Hunt. Horsfall’s other film roles included Gandhi (1982) and Braveheart (1995).
But it was in his TV roles where he could put his considerable acting skills on full display. In February, 2012, a year before Horsfall’s death in 2013, the British cable TV channel ‘Yesterday’ screened a welcome and rare repeat showing of the ITV wartime drama Enemy at the Door, which had not been transmitted for many years. This rather neglected television series, which was about the German occupation of the Channel Island of Guernsey in World War Two, was first screened in the UK by ITV in 1978-1980. One of the main roles in the 26-part series, that of of Dr. Philip Martell, was played by Horsfall. In what was arguably one of his most powerful performances, Horsfall’s character was a doctor trying to carry on with his medical work for the islanders while still facing all the stressful moral dilemmas created by the German occupation.
All the evidence is that Bernard remained very proud of his part as Martell in the ITV series. He also retained a special fondness for his brief role as Campbell in OHMSS. His final movie appearance was in Stone of Destiny in 2008.
Did You Know?
The ITV series Enemy at the Door also saw some other Bond-related actors in guest appearances, such as John Rhys-Davies (who went on to play General Pushkin in Timothy Dalton’s debut Bond movie The Living Daylights). One episode from the second series of Enemy at the Door, however (entitled ‘The Education of Nils Borg’ and first broadcast in March, 1980) is particularly poignant in hindsight, as it had a key role for Cassandra Harris as Trudi Engel, a seductive official from the German Propaganda Ministry. Harris, of course, just a year later, had to put on a German (or, rather, an Austrian-sounding) accent again when she played the role of Countess Lisl Von Schlaf in Roger Moore’s fifth 007 adventure For Your Eyes Only (1981). As many Bond fans know, Harris was married to a young actor called Pierce Brosnan.
Bernard Horsfall as MI6 agent Campbell in OHMSS (1969)