1. 007 joins the Diamond Jubilee Club – 60 Years of ‘Casino Royale’

    By Helmut Schierer on 2013-04-13
    Bond 60 yrs

    Mark O’Connell ( and and congratulate the Secret Service’s best card player on 60 years of beating the odds


    On the 13th of April 1953 a new kind of hero emerged from the daydreams of Ian Fleming, right onto the pages of his first novel ‘Casino Royale’. So today it’s sixty years since the Cold War got its epitome hero and a cultural icon to boot. congratulates James Bond on six decades of playing for keeps, drinking for effect, love for breakfast and death after a hearty dinner. Not Bond’s death, mind you. Although that’s been in the cards more than once, too.

    But who would rescue the Secret Service – London, Britain, the world – if it wasn’t for James Bond? No, even when Bond was beaten to pulp, shot, stabbed, poisoned – he had to survive regardless. Let die and live to fight another villain, that was the motto Fleming gave his hero. It saved Bond from the hands of madmen Nazis, Russian spy controllers, deadly Chinese-German Tong-outcasts, scandalously rich Smersh spy bankers and at times even from the accidie of his own creator. For Fleming could get impatient or bored with his creation and threatened to end his short violent life with the deadly strokes of his gold-plated typewriter on more than one occasion.

    Thankfully these near-death experiences always proved to be of a merely temporary nature for our hero. His welcome return usually saw him in a refreshed state of fitness – see ‘Doctor No’ – or a reconfigured state of mind, as in ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’. When was popular fiction ever more entertaining as when we were allowed to share a hero savour sex, food and drink? Of course when we are invited to watch him killing his own boss – and ours, figuratively.

    But all is well and quiet on the Regent’s Park front, no damage is done to top floor personnel. Only the office needs a little fresh air and paint. Such is life in the Bond world: the devious villains brainwash the Secret Service’s best shot into an attempt at the head of Britain’s intelligence. And forget to provide him with a proper gun that would get the job done. Not that it would have helped a lot.

    Anyway, within a few pages the washed brain becomes unwashed and England’s least-secret agent is trusted with another suicide mission, with all involved in this decision – a sum total of one miffed M – safe in the knowledge that this time Bond will do better. 007 doesn’t disappoint.

    Meanwhile our hero stealthily set out to conquer further levels of existence, developed a life of his own on the silver screen and turned from a successful literary figure to a universally renown popular myth. In the process James Bond became an immortal character only rivalled by Sherlock Holmes, surviving his creator now by almost fifty years and not giving any signs of fading into obscurity in the foreseeable future. Other authors have taken up the challenge to continue the myth’s adventures, to give the readers what they crave: another deadly mission, another exotic locale and at least one more beautiful woman to kiss.

    Today James Bond has become its own brand of sometimes exotic, sometimes outrageous thrills and – relatively speaking – chaste sexual encounters, always remaining on the safe –  the entertaining – side of violence and action, topped off with gratuitous but highly welcome sex. James Bond – that means an entirely unique mixture of suspense and action, of passion and cold-bloodedness.  Somewhere along the road certain elements of this voyage threatened to drown out the original appeal of the character, the sheer physical courage and endurance of an ordinary human in the face of potentially lethal danger. At times it seemed as if the wallpapers and cummerbunds – no comment about means to tell the time of day or get from A to B here – had become more important than the character whose exploits they helped depict.

    But time and again Bond managed to leave that baggage behind, to remain relevant for casual and die-hard fans alike and inspire adventurous daydreams with people of all ages and walks of life. Readers still want to read about their favourite secret agent, very much so. Even if he’s on duty for sixty years and longer.

    Because nobody does it better.


  2. Will 2013 see Bond’s funeral?

    By Helmut Schierer on 2013-02-20

    Will the new 2013 Bond novel by William Boyd also feature a new car for Bond?

    According to John Cox’s The Book Bond London bookies are currently busy taking bets on a possible spectacular outcome for William Boyd’s 2013  Bond novel: the death of James Bond. The book – as yet untitled – is one of the most eagerly anticipated publishing events of 2013 and already sure to end up on this year’s best-seller lists. So it seems unlikely Boyd was hired by IFP to dig a grave for 007. This would in fact be a major surprise for fans and casual readers alike.

    On the other hand Bond is no stranger to near-death experiences, as you would expect from somebody known to travel in close company with the grim reaper. ‘Someone usually dies’ as Bond might say, and Ian Fleming himself saw to it this unfortunate fellow on two occasions was Bond – almost.

    007 ended up lying on the floor on the last page of ‘From Russia With Love’, an unhealthy dose of fugo poison in his blood and no air in his lungs. Fleming of course saved his character from any final consequences off-stage, bringing him back in ‘Doctor No’ refreshed after extended convalescence. As if Fleming had known Bond would need it…

    Bond’s second death in ‘You Only Live Twice’, complete with epitaph, was more allegorical. By the end of the book Bond was missing-presumed-killed, which lead M to write him a short but fitting obituary. While his agent was actually still alive, 007 had lost his memory by severe psychological trauma and a series of massive blows to the head. A deep-set amnesia had erased most traces of his former life, seeing Bond spending his days as a simple Japanese fisherman on a remote island – almost a mercy for this troubled man.

    But once more Fleming saved Bond off-stage, bringing him back to M’s desk in the ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’, albeit not for the conventional briefing scene. Bond’s mind and actions show the effects of what he has been through. The book starts with – not quite – a bang and ends with a view on the future. Ensuring – prophetically? – there was to be a future for Bond, even without Fleming.

    Is it now conceivable William Boyd has been given free rein by IFP to do the unthinkable? Curtains for Bond finally? Or just some ambiguous final chapter leaving the door open for a later entry, perhaps even by Boyd?

    Discuss this topic here

  3. CBn caught a fever…

    By Helmut Schierer on 2013-02-14’s main raison d’être – besides enlightening, see our deviously out-of-sequence posted two recent 007th Minute entries – is to entertain. Not an easy task, given the fierce competition offered by tabloid headlines, bank scams, neighbourhood watch reality TV from Azerbaijan and National Geographic documentaries about Atlanta’s savage tribes. Thankfully Mark O’Connell – known amongst various other heroics for penning the enormously entertaining cult standard ‘Catching Bullets: Memoirs of a Bond Fan’  –  provided us with 3 minutes of outstanding amusement, both visually and acoustically. Material we of course shamelessly exploit and hereby gladly pass on to you.

    The following pictures begin to move when you click the click-thingy. Thus the often heard/seen expression “movie”.




  4. ‘The Making of The Living Daylights’ back on Amazon

    By Helmut Schierer on 2013-01-28

    Fans of Timothy Dalton and his debut as 007 in ‘The Living Daylights’ were ecstatic to learn last December that renown Bond scholar Charles Helfenstein had made this film the topic of the second of his exhaustive ‘Making-of…’ works (after 2009’s ‘The Making of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’). Those who didn’t order right away were severely disappointed when Amazon for a short period put this item under review and for about ten days buyers could not obtain the book directly from Amazon. now is happy to announce both and again stock the tome and sell it directly.

    You can also order the book at Barnes & Noble.

  5. A second nuke turned up…

    By Helmut Schierer on 2012-12-19

    Cover image ‘The Making of The Living Daylights’ by Charles Helfenstein, used with kind permission

    In 2009 author Charles Helfenstein dropped the book equivalent of a nuclear bomb on James Bond fans:
    The Making of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

    The Bond experts took notice: Bond author, historian, and DVD producer John Cork was “Stunned” by what Helfenstein had uncovered.  Bond author Raymond Benson described the research as “Jaw dropping.” 007 magazine‘s Graham Rye described the book as “Breathtaking, matching the movie in its scope and detail.”

    The cast and crew took noticeOHMSS Cinematographer Michael Reed described the book as “Wonderfully well written and illustrated.” OHMSS cameraman Alec Mills was also impressed, summing up the book in a single word: “Wonderful.” 2nd unit director and OHMSS editor John Glen, the most prolific of all Bond directors, praised the book as “Beautifully produced.”

    The entertainment industry took notice:  The Motion Picture Editor’s Guild described the book as “A fitting tribute to Peter Hunt”, the man who so radically altered their industry.  The book’s influence extended in a highly unlikely direction: The BBC’s Sherlock starring Benedict Cumberbatch.  Producer Mark Gatiss is a huge OHMSS fan, and he praised the “Exhaustive” book and described how the unused OHMSS scenes influence “A Scandal in Belgravia” in the audio commentary of that episode.

    But we as Bond fans are always wanting more.

    Did this Vulcan have just a single nuke on board?  No.

    The phrase, I believe, is “Better make that two.”

    To mark the 50th anniversary of the James Bond series, Helfenstein turned his sights on the half way point of the franchise, the 25th anniversary film, The Living Daylights.  In an exclusive excerpt from The Making of The Living Daylights, Helfenstein describes the first day of filming for the first unit, and its fascinating tie-in to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and For Your Eyes Only:


    The very first scene shot by the first unit on the first day of filming on The Living Daylights was a close-up of a parrot once owned by Diana Rigg. The actress had bought the blue, green, and gold macaw, named Chrome, in the late 60s, and the bird caused her some distress during the filming of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Rigg would rehearse her lines of dialog at home, and the parrot would repeat them, which wasn’t a problem when they were alone, but Rigg realized that the words the bird was repeating gave away plot details when she had guests over to her house.

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  6. Exclusive offer: Buy three 007 Reloaded audiobooks and save 33%

    By Matt Weston on 2012-11-30

    AudioGo’s 007 Reloaded series of audiobooks represents one of the most exciting retellings of Ian Fleming’s classic James Bond novels. A high profile collection of actors tackle Fleming’s books for the audiobook series, including Rory Kinnear (Quantum of Solace, Skyfall), Bill Nighy, Rosamund Pike (Die Another Day), David Tennant, Kenneth Branagh, Toby Stephens (Die Another Day), Jason Isaacs and lots more. is pleased to offer its readers an exclusive offer on these fantastic new audiobooks. Simply order any three 007 Reloaded audiobooks (on CD or download) and enter the offer code “commanderbondreloaded” to save 33% off the total amount.

    To read more about – and buy – the 007 Reloaded titles, check out AudioGo’s special 007 Reloaded website.


    • Offer ends 31st December 2012
    • The promoter holds the right to withdraw the offer at any time
    • Offer not available in the US or Canada
    • Customers need to create an account with AudioGO to purchase
    • Valid on CD and Download of single 007 Reloaded titles
  7. Exclusive interview: Charlie Higson brings Ian Fleming into the Twitter age

    By Matt Weston on 2012-10-24
    Charlie Higson at Twitter HQ

    Charlie Higson at Twitter’s UK headquarters.
    Photo courtesy Twitter UK.

    If Ian Fleming were alive, would he use Twitter? The James Bond creator loved gadgets and technology, but would he embrace all there is to love and hate about the social media revolution as @IanFleming?

    It’s a proposition that inspired Young Bond author Charlie Higson (@monstroso) to partner with Twitter for the #BondTweets project, fittingly held on the eve of the Skyfall premiere. His mission? To condense each of Fleming’s 12 Bond novels into a single 140-character tweet.

    Between 2005 and 2009, Higson penned five novels and one short story exploring James Bond’s years at Eton in the 1930s. He’s also a long-time fan of Ian Fleming and within seconds of us starting our Skype chat, Charlie gleefully points out the set of Fleming hardcovers on the bookshelf behind me. Who better to bring the original Bond stories into the Twitter age?

    Casino Royale

    “I thought the conjunction of 1950s Ian Fleming with state-of-the-art Twitter was quite an interesting concept,” Charlie tells me. “I use Twitter a lot. As a writer, it’s a great way to get you to think very carefully about the words you use, how you use them and if there are other, simpler ways of saying what it is you want to say.”

    “Fleming was always into new ideas and new gadgets, so I certainly think computers would have appealed to him. Would he have used the internet and Twitter? I don’t know.”

    Dr No

    The task took Higson much longer than he thought it would. “What really appealed to me was the idea of trying to get across the essence of each book in 140 characters, without it sort of being a dry plot description. I tried to get across the bits of the books that I really loved, and to make each one entertaining in its own right.”

    “A hundred and forty characters is not all that long, so a lot of the ideas I had, I thought, ‘Well, I can’t do that — it just won’t fit.’ So, it was quite a challenge getting enough in there to make them fun to read.”


    As you would expect of a bonafide Bond fan, the tougher books for Higson to compress were his favourites, including From Russia with Love and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. “The best books have really good set pieces and characters and things happening. Those are the harder ones to sum up and get right because you’re worried about leaving stuff out that’s important to you.”

    Likewise, the easiest books for Charlie were his least favourite Bond novels, though he enjoyed crafting them into tweets. “I quite liked tweeting The Spy Who Loved Me because the book itself is structured into three parts, so I structured the tweet in the same way. You don’t worry about leaving too much out from that one,” Charlie laughs.

    The Spy Who Loved Me

    Charlie joined Twitter in late 2009. “I wish I’d been in that initial rush to Twitter,” Charlie says. “A lot of people established a presence and a style on there when there weren’t so many people using it. I think it’s harder now. On Twitter, you used to be able to be quite influential, but now you need to have the number of followers that Lady Gaga has.”

    The immediacy and reach of Twitter clearly has appeal for Higson. “I found the conversation part of Twitter to be quite fun. You could be having a conversation with people from all over the world at the same time. It’s a fantastic way of keeping in touch with people who read my books, with other writers, people you’d never normally meet, but as a sort of promotional tool, you have to use it very carefully. People don’t want you to go on there and say, ‘Buy my book now – it’s brilliant’. You have to think of ways to talk about your work so that it doesn’t come across like an advert.”

    Twitter has also opened up doors for the author – often literally. “Twitter is a fantastic research resource. If I’m writing a book and I want to go and have a look around somewhere, I can say on Twitter, ‘Does anyone here know anyone who works in the Tower of London?’ and within 10 or 15 minutes you’ve got several options. You can use Twitter for a lot of stuff that people who don’t use Twitter don’t realise.”

    On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

    While Charlie didn’t attend tonight’s premiere of Skyfall at Royal Albert Hall, he will be watching the film tomorrow night at an equally exclusive screening with members of the Ian Fleming estate. Higson was impressed with Casino Royale, but was less thrilled by Quantum of Solace. He’s now keenly looking forward to what Skyfall has to offer.

    “All the indications are good for Skyfall,” Charlie says. “I’ve deliberately tried not to read to much about it or watch too many trailers because I just want to go out and enjoy it for what it is. Although, I have heard from people who say that it really is very good.”

    You Only Live Twice

    It’s been around 10 years since Charlie Higson sat down to write the first of his Young Bond novels, SilverFin. “I had great fun writing those books. I remember how thrilling it was to sit down and type the words ‘The name’s Bond, James Bond’. It gave me a great, childish thrill. So, I was very pleased that after initial scepticism, the James Bond fan community did accept the books and accepted that I wanted to remain true to the spirit of Ian Fleming.”

    Since closing the book on his time as a James Bond novelist, Charlie has gone on to write the bestselling zombie thriller series, The Enemy. “I would’ve loved to have written more Bond books, but in the end, having written five of them, I was at the stage of thinking that I would really like to write something that was entirely of my own creation. It was a very difficult decision to make because I loved doing it and I’d love to do more. I had a full trilogy worked out with Bond’s time at Fettes.”

    Sadly for fans of Charlie Higson’s James Bond books, it doesn’t sound likely those plans will come into fruition. “They can’t wait for me forever to come back and write some more.”

    “Never say never again?” I put to Charlie hopefully.

    “Live and let die,” he fires back, with the quick wit of both a seasoned Twitter user and of 007 himself.

    With thanks to Charlie Higson. Follow him on Twitter at @monstroso. You can also check out the full collection of Charlie’s #BondTweets on the UK Twitter blog. Thanks also to Simon Branney.

  8. Drawn to Bond – Michael Gillette expands on his Bond work

    By Helmut Schierer on 2012-10-17

    Amongst all the latest updates on the imminent ‘Skyfall’ premier – trailers, adds and whatnot – there is also the odd snippet on the literary Bond coming our way. And these days such news are connected largely to the name of one artist: Michael Gillette.


    Fans will remember Gillette is the artist behind the cover designs of Penguin’s 2008 Fleming reprints, giving that edition a distinctive and unique look. Now Gillette is busy making German publisher Cross Cult’s new Fleming translations a definite collectors item. Not only is it the first complete edition of the classic canon in German ever; Michael Gillette also provided two all-new original covers for ‘Thunderball’/’Feuerball’ and ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’/’Im Geheimdienst Ihrer Majestät’.














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  9. Clap hands, here comes Charlie Higson – as James Bond

    By Helmut Schierer on 2012-09-27

    image Wikimedia Commons/John Cox

    Radio Times yesterday reported Charlie Higson, renown comedian and Young Bond author, penned the screenplay to ITV1’s adaptation of Agatha Christie’s ‘A Caribbean Mystery’. And while at it has taken the chance for a little private fun of his own. Higson included a minor cameo role for himself: a certain ornithologist called Bond, James Bond. This little wink is fitting in more than just one regard, after all Agatha Christie in fact introduced a character called “James Bond” as early as 1934 in her story ‘The Rajah’s Emerald’ – although very definitely not the James Bond Fleming had in mind nearly twenty years later when he borrowed the real ornithologist’s name for ‘Casino Royale’.


    ‘A Caribbean Mystery’, which follows Miss Marple’s investigation of a murder on the island of St Honore, will be broadcast by ITV1 in 2013. Director is Charlie Palmer, know for his work at ‘Doctor Who’ and ‘Death in Paradise’.


    Here is the Radio Times story and here the discussion thread for this news.


    Thanks to CBn forum member ‘marktmurphy’ for the tip. And to CBn’s ‘zencat’ for the nudge.

  10. ‘Catching Bullets’ honoured by Barbara Broccoli

    By Helmut Schierer on 2012-09-12

    ‘Catching Bullets’ author Mark O’Connell has scored another major scoop for his tome. In addition to a foreword by Mark Gatiss, an afterword by actress Maud Adams, and various raving reviews already ( CBn, cultbox, WhatCulture ) we’ve just been alerted to Barbara Broccoli’s involvement with this highly personal celebration of the Bond film series. According to Splendid Books ‘s website the producer penned a Prelude to their newest title, describing it as ‘a wonderfully funny and touching memoir’.


    Here’s to you, Mark!



    You can order the book directly at Splendid Books or

    Thanks to ‘Catching Bullets’ for the heads-up.


    Discuss the book in this thread