James Bond is back to his brilliant best in Skyfall – but do you know everything there is to know about the world’s most famous secret agent? Here, Grant Woodward runs down 25 little-known 007 facts... for your eyes only.
1. Author Ian Fleming, based Bond on himself. They are the same height and both have blue eyes, went to Eton, lost their fathers at an early age, served in the Royal Navy and share the same golf handicap of nine. One notable exception is that Fleming gave his birth date to Bond’s arch-enemy, Ernst Stavro Blofeld.
2. Fleming took his hero’s name from an ornithological book he had lying around at Goldeneye, his Jamaican home, called James Bond’s Field Guide to Birds of the West Indies. In Die Another Day, Pierce Brosnan picks up a copy.
3. Sean Connery was the first actor to play 007, right? Wrong. American actor Barry Nelson took the role in a one-hour TV play on US television in 1954. Blockbusters host Bob Holness then did the honours in a 1956 South African radio adaptation of Moonraker.
4. Cubby Broccoli, the American producer who helmed the early Bond films, once claimed that one of his ancestors invented broccoli by crossing cauliflower with a particular type of lettuce.
5. Bond’s creator wasn’t convinced Connery was the right man for the role. He only relented after the pair had lunch at The Savoy, where another guest, the Marchioness of Milford Haven, assured Fleming that Connery had ‘it’. This ensured the big Scot got the part.
6. Sir Richard Branson has a cameo role in Casino Royale and a Virgin Atlantic plane is shown in the airport scene. However, the in-flight version shown by British Airways cut out Branson’s appearance and blurred the Virgin logo.
7. Though quintessentially English, Bond has been played by a Scotsman (Connery), a Welshman (Timothy Dalton), an Irishman (Pierce Brosnan) and even an Australian (George Lazenby).
8. Daniel Craig was the first actor to play Bond who was born after the film series began.
9. The metal teeth worn by Richard Kiel to play Jaws in The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker were so painful he could only keep them in for a few seconds at a time. His stuntman recreated the effect using orange peel wrapped in aluminium foil.
10. The classic fight scene in the train compartment between Sean Connery and Robert Shaw in From Russia With Love was lent extra authenticity by the fact that off screen the pair allegedly didn’t see eye to eye.
11. Sean Connery had a phobia of spiders. The scene where a tarantula crawls over him in Dr No was filmed using a sheet of glass. Look closely and you can see it.
12. The Bond producers considered asking Steven Spielberg, pictured right, who was at the time in post-production with Jaws, to direct The Spy Who Loved Me. But they decided to wait and see ‘how the fish’ picture turns out’.
13. American rocker Alice Cooper wrote a song called The Man With The Golden Gun that was originally meant to be the film’s theme tune. Sadly, they decided to go with Lulu’s version instead.
14. In Octopussy, look out for the cyclist who swerves between two vehicles during a car chase scene in India. He’s not a stuntman, just a local who happened to ride onto the set.
15. Why does Bond always ask for his vodka martini to be served ‘shaken, not stirred’? Because, according to Ian Fleming, shaking makes it cooler.
16. The scene in Licence To Kill where 007 resigns from MI6 was shot at Ernest Hemingway’s old house in Key West, Florida. When M tells him his licence to kill is revoked, Bond quips: “I guess this a farewell to arms” – a reference to Hemingway’s famous novel of the same name.
17. During the filming of Goldeneye, Pierce Brosnan injured his hand so his adopted son Christopher was employed as a hand double.
18. Why 007? The codename could refer to John Dee, who spied for Queen Elizabeth I against Spain and marked his letters to her ‘007’ – the seven denoting luck and the two zeros representing eyes, as in ‘for your eyes only’.
19. Ursula Andress stole hearts as Honey Ryder, emerging from the sea in her white bikini in Dr No, but looking great was the limit of her contribution. Her Swiss accent was so strong that every line she delivers had to be dubbed by German actress Nikki van der Zyl.
20. In Italy, Dr No was called Licence To Kill. It meant that when Licence To Kill came out it had to be renamed Private Revenge.
21. Roger Moore’s contract as 007 specified that he be allowed an unlimited supply of hand-rolled Montecristo cigars while filming.
22. A pub in Scotland near where scenes for Skyfall were shot has attempted to cash in with a series of Bond-themed meals including For Your Pies Only, Her Majesty’s Secret Sandwich and Scaramanga Scampi.
23. The famous dun-duddle-un-dun, dun-dun-dun movie theme was provided by guitarist Vic Flick, who got the gig because he played in the same band as Oscar-winning composer John Barry who produced the film score for Dr No.
24. Harold Sakata, who played Odd Job in Goldfinger, represented the USA in weightlifting at the 1948 Olympics.
25. Pierce Brosnan’s 007 contract forbade him from wearing a tuxedo in any other film. That’s why in The Thomas Crown Affair, when he dances with Rene Russo at a formal ball, his bow tie is undone, thereby getting round the clause.
* The Bluffer’s Guide to Bond is available now from Amazon and www.bluffers.com