James Bond is the world’s favourite spy – the man who saves us all, in style.
Since first appearing on the big screen in 1961’s Dr No – and before that in Ian Fleming’s novels, beginning with Casino Royale in 1953 – 007 has been at the forefront of Her Majesty’s Secret Service, with a gadget, a knowing wink and a wry quip.
Over the years, we’ve learned several things about Bond – not ideal for a secret agent – including his Scots ancestry.
Here, we present 10 fantastic Scottish facts about James Bond.
1. 007’s creator Ian Fleming was of Scots descent. His father, Valentine, was born in Newport-on-Tay in north-east Fife in 1882, the son of successful banker Robert Fleming, who moved his family to London. Given that Fleming borrowed so many of Bond’s personality traits from himself, it’s no wonder that he chose to make his famous creation Scottish.
2. Edinburgh-born Thomas Sean Connery was the first actor to portray the character of James Bond on film. Connery showed he had all the attributes needed to bring Fleming’s spy to life, as all the men would want to be him, and all the women would want to be with him, as the producers said at the time. Connery starred in Dr No, From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice and Diamond Are Forever, but reputedly fell out with the producers. He returned to the part in 1983 in Never Say Never Again, a remake of Thunderball.
3. Like Ian Fleming, James Bond’s father was born in Scotland. This detail wasn’t revealed until Fleming’s penultimate novel, You Only Live Twice, when James’ obituary appeared in the times. The novel reveals Bond is the son of a Scottish father, Andrew Bond, of Glencoe, and a Swiss mother, Monique Delacroix, of the Canton de Vaud. They were killed in a mountain climbing accident in the Aiguilles Rouges near Chamonix, when James was 11. Interestingly, the book was the first Fleming wrote after seeing Connery on the big screen.
4. Bond films have always had exotic locations – beautiful beaches, isolated islands and spectacular cities. But, sometimes, the production team cheat a little. In From Russia With Love, Sean Connery escapes with Tatiana Romanova by boat from Yugoslavia – but the water which features wasn’t in the former Eastern European country, it was actually filmed on Loch Craignish near Crinan in Argyll!
5. Lulu and Shirley Manson share a special connection. Not only are they hugely successful Scottish redheads, they’ve also both sung themes for Bond films. Lulu leant her vocals to 1974’s Roger Moore outing The Man With The Golden Gun (‘His eye may be on you or me, Who will he bang?, We shall see!’), whilst Shirley, lead singer with Garbage, sang The World Is Not Enough, starring Pierce Brosnan, in 1999.
6. For Roger Moore’s third outing as Bond, The Spy Who Loved Me, a scene was shot at Faslane naval base in Argyll, as Bond – true to his naval roots and donning his commander’s uniforms – boards a submarine with his Russian counterpart Anya Amasova, as they bid to find the hidden underwater lair of Karl Stromberg.
7. At the start of The World is Not Enough, MI6’s headquarters on the Thames are attacked, causing damage to them following the death of businessman Sir Robert King. Bond, M and Q (in Desmond Llewelyn’s final film before his death) move to MI6’s back-up base, located at Eilean Donan Castle in Argyll.
8. Staying with The World Is Not Enough, two of the film’s main guest actors came from Scotland, with Rutherglen’s Robbie Coltrane and Glasgow’s Robert Carlyle. Coltrane had first appeared as Valentin Zukovsky in Brosnan’s Bond debut, GoldenEye, but returned two films later (with a beard) as Bond’s probably friend – despite them having a history. Carlyle played Renard, the main villain, a man impervious to pain after having a bullet stuck in his brain which destroyed his ability to feel his senses.
9. In the years after Ian Fleming’s death, only one original Bond novel was released, Colonel Sun by Robert Markham (written by Kingsley Amis). A new series of original 007 novels followed in the 80s from thriller writer John Gardner, the first of which was Licence Renewed. It saw Bond stay at the Central Hotel in Glasgow, as well as tackling a villain in the Highlands, complete with his sidekick – The Caber.
10. Skyfall, the third of current Bond Daniel Craig’s films, picked up on Bond’s Scottish heritage. GoldenEye mentioned the death of James’ parents in a climbing accident, and Skyfall was the name of his Scottish home, in Glencoe. Bond returned here to stop the villainous Raoul Silva, but Skyfall – and Bond’s Aston Martin DB5 – were destroyed in the conflict.