We’re on an all time high... Bond is back!
Sunday: Being James Bond; (ITV, 10.20pm)
James Bond has been bumping off villains and seducing glamorous women on the big screen for almost 60 years because, hey, nobody does it better.
In the novel From Russia with Love, Ian Fleming described his most famous creation as having “a dark, clean-cut face, with a three-inch scar showing whitely down the sunburned skin of the right cheek… The line of jaw was straight and firm. A section of dark suit, white shirt and black knitted tie completed the picture.”
Unfortunately for Daniel Craig, when it was announced he would be taking over 007’s licence to kill from Pierce Brosnan during a lavish press conference in October 2005, some fans were shocked and, frankly, horrified by the idea. Many felt he was too blond for Bond, and accused him of lacking the charm and charisma they had grown accustomed to over the years.
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However, they couldn’t have been more wrong.
At that press conference, Craig, then 37, promised to emphasise the character’s grittiness, while producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G Wilson described him as “a superb actor who has all the qualities needed to bring a contemporary edge to the role.”
They then added: “Casino Royale will have all the action, suspense and espionage that our audiences have come to expect from us, but nevertheless takes the franchise in a new and exciting direction.”
The duo knew they had the right man, and sure enough, Craig won over his critics when the 21st film in the long-running franchise finally made its appearance. Timothy Dalton had tried to take a similar approach to the role in 1987’s The Living Daylights and 1989’s Licence to Kill, but it seemed his performances were too jarring for many who had grown up watching the more comedic efforts of Roger Moore in the 1970s. But the time was right for Craig, then best known for his role in acclaimed TV series Our Friends in the North, to concentrate on Bond’s more serious, dark side.
Casino Royale was a massive global success, with Craig’s emergence from the ocean wearing a tight pair of swimming trunks proving to be particular popular with some sections of the audience; he was certainly no nine-stone weakling, as some had feared. What was really impressive was how Craig managed to make the character, who has occasionally veered into comic-book style shenanigans, human – he is very much a man with vulnerabilities as well as strengths.
The slightly disappointing Quantum of Solace followed in 2008 before a return to form with Skyfall four years later, which was released to tie in with the 50th anniversary of the film franchise. In 2015, Spectre made its debut and while not as impressive as Skyfall, kept fans happy. They then prepared themselves for the release of No Time to Die – which, thanks to the pandemic, failed to appear.
But all good things come to those who wait – the film finally makes it cinematic debut this week. Sadly, that also marks the end of Craig’s tenure in the tuxedo. Here he discusses his hugely successful 15-year spell as 007.
Meanwhile, Bond lovers across the world wonder who will be the next person to take on the mantle. Will it be a man or a woman? Nobody knows yet, but one thing is for sure, they have a tough act to follow.
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