It has been confirmed that Toby Stephens will again star as James Bond in a new BBC radio adaptation of Ian Fleming’s classic 007 adventure On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, produced by Jarvis and Ayres Productions in collaboration with the BBC.
Stephens, who was the main villain Gustav Graves in EON’s fourth Pierce Brosnan Bond movie Die Another Day (2002), first played 007 in a BBC radio production of Dr. No in 2008, which was very well received by critics and Fleming fans alike. He went on to to star in two further adaptations by the same team: Goldfinger in 2010 and From Russia, With Love in 2012, both also broadcast on BBC Radio-4 in the UK.
Made by an independent production company founded by the highly talented husband-and-wife team of Martin Jarvis and Rosalind Ayres, who specialise in radio dramas and ‘talking books’, the new 90-minute version of OHMSS is expected to be aired on BBC Radio-4 soon. A precise date for transmission will be issued by the BBC’s Publicity Department.
As we noted in our recent JBIFC Newsletter, the other piece of very exciting news about the new radio version of OHMSS is that the role of Tracy will be played by none other than Joanna Lumley, who had her first role as one of Blofeld’s ‘Angels of Death’ in the original EON movie version of 1969. Lumley’s small role in George Lazenby’s one-off 007 film proved to be her ‘breakthrough’ into the world of movie and TV acting.
Interestingly, when she recently appeared at the Dorchester Hotel launch of William Boyd’s new Bond novel Solo in London in September, Joanna told the newspaper columnist ‘Mandrake’ (Tim Walker) that she would love to return to the Bond movies: ‘Of course I would. Ralph Fiennes is replacing Judi Dench as M, but, with Bond, you’d be mad not to take any role. I’d even play a dog!’
Other roles in the new radio version of OHMSS include the award-winning Janie Dee as Miss Moneypenny, who returns as M’s loyal secretary for the third time, having played her in Dr. No and From Russia, With Love. In October this year Dee won the TMA 2013 UK Theatre Award for Best Performance in a Musical (for her role in Hello Dolly!).
And we understand that some other casting for the play includes Lucy Phelps as Sally, Clare Dunne as Violet, Joanne Cassidy as Ruby, and Katherine Manners as Anne.
This new version of OHMSS is the fourth adaptation of an Ian Fleming novel by Jarvis and Ayres, who have been praised for their determination to offer faithful adaptations of the original Fleming writings.
Jarvis, who will once again provide the voice of Ian Fleming in the new radio adaptation, explained to the UK’s SFX magazine back in May, 2010, that one of the remits behind his James Bond radio productions is that ‘we’re not making a version of the movie. We go back to the novel and keep great faith with it’.
According to our sources, the new version of OHMSS, which finished recording on 21 May this year, will once again maintain this very faithful interpretation.
Trivia Notes: Tim Pigott-Smith, who played Kerim Bey in the Jarvis and Ayres adaptation of From Russia, With Love (2012), and also Johnny Solo in Goldfinger (2010), also had a role in Daniel Craig’s second Bond movie Quantum of Solace. Lucy Fleming (the Bond author’s niece) played the Jamaican Institute Librarian in Dr. No, while Peter Capaldi, who played The Armourer in the same production of Dr. No, was recently announced as the BBC’s new Dr. Who.