Friday, 2 May 2014

When The Incredible Suit met James Bond: Episode four in a series which
redefines the word "met"

It's eighteen long months since I last reported on the progress of my ongoing mission to meet every James Bond, and in that time I've come to terms with the fact that of the three remaining targets, only one is realistic, given that he's the only one still working. And so as long as there was breath in my body and intelligent people still casting him, I knew that one day I would meet Timothy Dalton, The Greatest James Bond That Ever Lived. Here's the story of how I did. Kind of.
Several weeks ago I was summoned through a leather-padded door and into a wood-panelled office at Empire Magazine and given a mission by a man I shall refer to only as 'N': to visit the set of Sky Atlantic's new horror drama Penny Dreadful and report back. From that day on my heart has barely returned to its normal b.p.m., for I knew that not only was Penny Dreadful created and written by Skyfall and Bond 24 writer John Logan, but that Timothy Dalton was a key cast member. Here was a chance to meet at least two Bond alumni, not to mention various others involved in both worlds - Eva Green (Casino Royale), Rory Kinnear (Quantum Of Solace, Skyfall), Helen McCrory (Skyfall) and 2nd Unit Director Vic Armstrong (too many Bonds to mention) are all involved in Logan's new project.

The set visit was fantastic: the show looked amazing, John Logan was charming, enthusiastic, incredibly generous with his time, and gave me a full personal tour of the sets and an exclusive Bond 24 interview which contained precisely no scoops. There was just one problem: I didn't meet Timothy Dalton. He was there, and I saw him, several times - in fact at one point he was as close to me as you are to that guy next to you - but we didn't actually exchange any words. This was mainly because he was working on an incredibly tense scene, and frankly I was mildly terrified. Dalton has enormous presence: when he walks into the room, you notice, and I noticed that he was way too busy being a ruddy amazing actor to speak to me. So I satisfied myself with some longing gazes and the knowledge that I'd breathed the same air as him, and went about my business.

Deep down, though, I knew that I hadn't really MET Timothy Dalton. In order to tick him off my list with a clear conscience, I had to talk to him. 'Seeing' plus 'talking to' equals 'meeting' in anyone's book, surely, even if those two elements occur weeks apart.
Insanely, no matter how long you stare at this photo,
it does not constitute a meeting.

Now magazine articles are rarely built from the transcript of just one interview, and so it was inevitable that I would need to talk to some of the Penny Dreadful cast at some point, even if it was just on the phone. And when I say "some of the Penny Dreadful cast", I mean "one of the Penny Dreadful cast". And when I say "one of the Penny Dreadful cast", obviously I mean Timothy flipping Dalton.

And so, just over two weeks later, I found myself sitting at home in front of my computer with no fewer than two voice recorders pointed purposefully at the telephone. It was 4.20pm on a Friday afternoon, and in ten minutes' time Timothy Dalton was due to call me from his home in Los Angeles. I repeat: Timothy Dalton was about to phone me, at my house, for a chat. I was trying extremely hard not to die of disbelief.
That photograph may or may not hang on my bedroom wall.

4.30 came and went, and the phone had not rung. 5.00 came and went, and still my phone remained frustratingly silent. I started to panic. Was the phone actually working? Had I given the right number to Dalton's people? Had I made some catastrophic miscalculation with the time difference? I checked and re-checked all possible opportunities of a balls-up but found none. At 6.00, still nothing. I needed a wee, but there was no way I was leaving the phone. My wife was due home at 6.30, so I decided I would make her my PA when she got in, instructing her to take any calls while I nipped to the bathroom. However, at 6.20 I could wait no longer. I was bursting. Reasoning that if Timothy Dalton hadn't phoned in the last 110 minutes, he was pretty unlikely to in the next two, I abandoned my post and took the much-needed comfort break.

Obviously, as I was mid-wazz, the phone rang. Unbelievable. James Bond was trying to get hold of me and I was urgently squirting out a torrential jet of piss that showed no signs of slowing down in the next few minutes. Somehow I clenched every relevant muscle, probably causing internal injuries to my bladder and personal waste disposal system, put everything back where it belonged and dashed back to the phone, answering it just before it was due to go to voicemail.

"HELLO!" The voice was unmistakable. Booming, but with a gentle Welsh lilt, Timothy Dalton's tones sang out to me from across the Atlantic Ocean. We were about to exchange our first words; to finally meet. How would we begin our relationship?
At this point I should make it clear to readers who don't know: my name isn't Nick, although in the heat of the moment I considered changing it to Nick by Deed Poll so that I wouldn't have to correct Timothy Dalton.
"Uh... it's Neil. Is that Timothy?"
And with that, 'Tim' and I were off on a magical fifteen-minute voyage of conversation. It turned out that the lateness of the call was simply down to him being incredibly busy - it was, after all, his birthday; I gave him my best wishes but stopped short of singing breathily down the phone like Marilyn Monroe. And I realise all that detail about my trip to the toilet might seem unnecessary, but I need my wife to understand the sequence of events which led to her coming home to find me talking to James Bond on the phone with my trousers undone.

Anyway it pleases me to report that Dalton is charming. I had been concerned that the fiercely intense man I'd seen on set would be equally as terrifying on the phone, but he was quite the opposite: ebullient, effusive and erudite. At one point he used a Latin phrase, which I like to think means "you are my favourite blogger". When I told him I'd seen him in action on the Penny Dreadful set, he demanded to know why I hadn't come and said hello; I told him he seemed heavily involved in what he was doing and, with sly self-awareness, he replied "well that makes a certain sense".

I spent the next hour or so in a daze. I don't want to sound like I'd had a visitation from the holy ghost, but I did have a nice chinwag with a man largely responsible for bringing an enormous amount of pleasure to my Bond-nerd existence, and that felt pretty ruddy special. It pained me to wash the hands that had held the phone that was connected to the phone that was held by Timothy Dalton, but they had dried wee on them so, sadly, I kind of had to.

So there we are: four down, two to go. I know that both Sean Connery and George Lazenby are keen readers of The Incredible Suit, so it can only be a matter of time before one or both of them get in touch to arrange a meeting. In preparation for their call I'm off to stock up on incontinence pants.

You can read the fruits of my conversation with Timothy Dalton in Issue 300 of Empire Magazine, out now in all good newsagents and some newsagents who charge 80p for a packet of Tooty Frooties, the daylight robbing bastards.

Further reading


  1. Well done, sir! Needless to say, I hope your next vacation trips are to the Bahamas, Spain and wherever George Lazenby lives, for "chance" encounters with the two remaining Bonds. Just don't get restraining orders filed against you.

    By the way, I'm glad the blog is back!

  2. like The Brosnan Incident, masterfully recounted in Flemingesque detail for the readers enjoyment. a worthy part 4 in the Bond meetings (and interestingly Dalton is the one Bond to adhere chronologically in the order of your meetings)

    I agree it was correct of you not to approach The Daltonator while in intense acting mode (despite his telephone reassurance). I imagine it would've been akin to interrupting a hungry panther stalking its fact he may have made strawberry jam of you

    now if itd had been Sir Rog I imagine hed have seen you looking longingly desperately wanting to talk...raised an eyebrow and a smile and beaconed you over for a chat and a martini

    then again TD sounds a thoroughly nice chap. you didn't mention it in the report but did you manage to sneak in a couple of quick Bond questions? (or at LTK compliment)

    now for the remaining 2...I foresee a chance Lazenby encounter completely random - your in a ski lift with him or bump into him on a beach etc...and with Connery he will instruct his people to set up a meeting at his house and when you get there you find all six 007s in tuxs in the living room sipping VMs - all there, especially for you

  3. Once more a great story, thanks for sharing! Were you able to 'talk Bond' with him? Or were you thinking "Don't mention the war!"?

  4. I had a limited amount of time to chat with my great friend Tim, so alas did not have chance to discuss Bond. He has my home phone number though so I'm confident he will give me a ring one weekend soon to discuss the underrated nature of his own tenure.