Friday, 2 November 2012

When The Incredible Suit Met James Bond: Episode Three In An Improbably Frequent Series Of Six

Typical. You wait decades to meet a James Bond, then three turn up in the space of a month. My quest to make meaningful contact with each of the six actors to play 007 only came into being after I came across Pierce Brosnan (not literally, although it was a close thing) in a cafĂ© in September, but in less time than it takes to complete a single menstrual cycle I’ve managed to rack up 50% of all the world’s known Bonds. If I’d known it would be this easy I’d have started years ago, before it looked like some of them might cark it before I got to them.
The latest notch on my Bondpost came in the form of none other than Sir Roger Moore, whose tenure beneath the tux was varied to say the least. Still, as much as A View To A Kill still causes me to break out in hives, the chance to meet such a legend could not possibly be passed up. And let's be honest, The Spy Who Loved Me is fabulous. So when I was contacted by Empire Magazine and asked if I'd like to appear on their podcast with RoMo, I bit their hand off, right up to the armpit.

And so it was that, just two days after meeting Daniel Craig, I found myself at Empire HQ, nervously waiting in a recording booth alone while News Editor Chris Hewitt and Reviews Editor Nick de Semlyen waited in reception for Sir Rodge, occasionally texting me with rubbish gags about him being stuck at Chiswick roundabout.

I was concerned that Roger might be a frail shadow of his former self - he had, after all, turned 85 just over a week before. But when he arrived, dressed as impeccably as always in a double-breasted suit, I wasn't disappointed. Sure, he moved a little slowly, but on spotting me he was lightning-fast in offering his hand to shake, which was as firm as that of a man half his age.

"Hi Sir Roger", I squeaked, even though I'm no fan of honorifics. All James Bonds are Sirs in my book, it's just that for some mad reason Her Madge has only seen fit to make it official for two of them.

"You can drop the Sir," came his casual reply. "Call me Roger. In fact call me Charlie if you like." I decided to go with Roger because I had literally no idea why he might want to be called Charlie. As we settled into our podseats, he enquired: "Is this live or pre-recorded?" Pre-recorded, we told him. "Oh good, then I can say fuck or shit." I could tell I was going to like Sir Roger Moore very much.

And so the podcast recording began. It would be a titanic waste of everyone's time for me to transcribe it here when you can listen to it in full on the Empire website, so go and do that as soon as you've finished reading this. Most of the conversation was about Rodge's new book, Bond On Bond, in which he discusses his thoughts on all the Bond films. I haven't read it but if our chat was anything to go by, it's got even more man-love for Daniel Craig in it than the average post on The Incredible Suit.
As much as I loved chatting Bond with him, I was desperate to ask about my all-time favourite non-Bond Roger Moore film, the astonishingly crackers 1970 curio The Man Who Haunted Himself. If you haven't seen it, rectify that situation immediately: it's amazing. Rodge's eyes lit up when I mentioned the film, as if the chance to discuss something other than James Bond only came along once every five years or so. This may also explain the enthusiasm with which he described his method of cooking the perfect Brussels sprout, although when I attempted to combine Bond and cookery with a knowing comment about him cooking a quiche in A View To A Kill, I was met with a stony stare which suggested that either he didn't remember the quiche incident or it was strictly off-limits. It turned out to be the former.

As is apparently customary whenever I meet a Bond, I must at least once allow my mouth to operate well in advance of my brain, and so it was when I asked him for his recollections of working on The Man Who Haunted Himself. "Well I'm glad you asked," he said, with a single magnificent eyebrow aloft to herald the impending arrival of a LOL, "because that's the only film in which I was allowed to act."

"Yeah!" I chuckled (slightly over-enthusiastically in retrospect), in an attempt to laugh with him rather than at him. It failed.

"You don't have to say it like that, like you agree with me," said Roger in mock indignation, and although I knew he was kidding I felt like a complete tool. I spun out some feeble excuse for basically insulting a legendary 85-year-old Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, and he graciously moved on before I said anything else stupid.

And that's Sir Roger Moore in a nutshell: gracious. He's charming, smooth and has the same twinkle in his eyes that he's had since he effortlessly inserted himself into popular culture in ITC's The Saint in 1962. He insisted on opening the door for his young female publicist at every opportunity, and did it in a respectful gentleman kind of way rather than a sleazy secret agent kind of way, which made me realise just how much he was actually acting in all those films.

And he may be a senior citizen, but he's still as sharp as one of his Bond-era Cyril Castle suits. Thousands of anecdotes are filed away in his mind, and every one of them is solid gold. They take a bit longer to be retrieved from the filing system these days, but they're worth the wait. And it's great to know that there's a Bond out there who actually enjoys talking about Bond, when certain others seem like they'd rather have it off with Grace Jones. What's more, he passed the ultimate test: he was perfectly happy to be in the same photograph as me. TAKE NOTE PIERCE BROSNAN:
And so I look forward to my next Bond, whoever that may be. But if you're reading, Sir Sean, the clock's ticking, know what I mean?


  1. I remember seeing The Man Who Haunted Himself late night on ITV when it was called ITV and not ITV1 or some such bollocks. It haunted me for weeks and I feel the need to see it on a big screen somewhere all of a sudden.

  2. Watch this space!

  3. Hi,

    I've been reading your blog from france, for quite a while now. Thanks a lot, it's always very interesting and funny !
    I'm a huge bond fan, and i've seen skyfall... 3 times ! To me, one of the best bond ever, very different from the others. If you speak french, here's my review :

    i'm looking forward to read from you ! ;)

  4. Brilliant work. Sir Roger got Bond just right. A perfect gentleman with a sense of humour and a mission to thrill and a licence to kill. An old fashioned action hero. When Sir Roger started on Bond he had just spent time with one of the all time best comedy actors, Tony Curtis (Some Like it Hot 1959) in The Persuaders as a pair of super rich playboys with nothing to do but find trouble. This must have influenced the way he played Bond. It is good to know from your interview that he is a Bond fan like many others. I salute Sir Roger Moore.

  5. By the way, only plebs carve notches.

  6. Roger always seemed as if he really enjoyed being Bond.