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Shoot the Young James Bond films in Scotland, urges SilverFin author

20-Mar-2005 • Young Bond

Take the silver screen’s most dashing spy, add a touch of Harry Potter and mix with the unique atmosphere of the Highlands … and you could have the recipe for a hugely successful film franchise.

A new book which traces the adventures of the teenage James Bond has already attracted the interest of major film companies and now the author has urged them to film any movie in Scotland - reports the Sunday Herald.

Charlie Higson, who was commissioned by Ian Fleming Publications to write the young Bond’s first adventure, told the Sunday Herald yesterday: “I thought I should take James Bond to Scotland, because Ian Fleming said in the obituary that his father was Scottish and the family was from Glencoe.’’

The author, who co-created The Fast Show with Paul Whitehouse and plays the series character Swiss Toni, added: “I just thought it made sense to send him up there and show a bit of that world, particularly as I think it’s a fantastic bit of the world. It is such dramatic, bleak, empty countryside, it lends itself perfectly to the kind of action adventure that James Bond goes on. Scotland is so photogenic and fantastic.”

Higson’s book, SilverFin, was published in the UK only a fortnight ago, but has shot up the bestseller lists, sparking major interest among film companies. The novel picks up on biographical details from the original Ian Fleming books. Set in the 1930s, it follows the 13-year-old Bond from school at Eton to his uncle’s house in the west Highlands, where Bond stumbles upon a megalo maniac American laird and sinister genetic experiments with killer eels.

“There has been a great deal of interest in the film rights across the board,” said Zoe Watkins of Ian Fleming Publications. The company has commissioned Higson to write a series of five “Young Bond” novels, taking Bond to the generation of readers that made Harry Potter a publishing phenomenon.

She said that if the Young Bond books sold well she expected them to be turned into films, though there was no timescale at present. “We are concentrating on getting the books out there and established in their own right,” she said.

But another source said the films were “very much under discussion” and interest could well intensify when SilverFin is released in the US next month.

James Bond is the most successful film series ever and the prospect of a movie that combines elements of James Bond and Harry Potter could spark a major bidding war.

Most film production companies are keeping any possible interest top secret, but Heyday Films, the English company that makes the Harry Potter movies for Warner Bros, is a likely contender. “We have looked at it, but no decision has been made yet,” said a spokesman.

Eon Productions, which makes the adult Bond films, is not ruling it out.

Higson said he was “pleasantly surprised” at the book sales and endorsed the idea of a film of SilverFin shooting on location in Scotland.

Higson took as his starting point the James Bond obituary that appeared in The Times in the Ian Fleming novel You Only Live Twice, when 007 was missing presumed dead.

According to the obituary, Bond’s father was a Scot, his mother was Swiss and they died in a climbing accident when he was 11. The youthful Bond attended Fettes College in Edinburgh, after being expelled from Eton as a result of an incident with a maid.

Higson said that Ian Fleming Publications wanted to keep Bond at Eton throughout the first four books at least, for sake of continuity. The author argues the obituary may not have been entirely accurate.

However he was keen to pick up on Bond’s Scottish roots. Bond spends his holidays at a cottage belonging to his uncle Max Bond, who was a spy in the first world war, and he gets mixed up in his own adventure with the villain Lord Hellebore.

In his novel, Higson mentions Fort William and Glenfinnan, and Hellebore’s castle was inspired by Eilean Donan, though Higson was unaware that it appeared as MI6’s Scottish headquarters in the James Bond film The World Is Not Enough.

Scotland also provided locations for From Russia with Love, Casino Royale and The Spy Who Loved Me, but has never played a major role in any of the 22 Bond films.

Several recent films and television dramas have been set in Scotland, but shot in Ireland and Eastern Europe. Higson was keen that SilverFin should shoot in Scotland.

Production company Heyday are no strangers to the west Highlands, having shot Harry Potter scenes at Glencoe and the Glenfinnan viaduct.

But before SilverFin makes it to the screen, there is the next James Bond film to be made – a remake of Casino Royale.

Higson said however that Dougray Scott might be suitable for the role of Max Bond. His other suggestions were the Scottish actor Iain Glen or Welshman Timothy Dalton, who succeeded Roger Moore as Bond. “If one was going to be clever, one might get someone like Timothy Dalton to play Max,” he said.

The role of Young Bond is likely to go to a complete unknown. But if the film emulates the success of the book, it could create a new film star as well as being a major boost both for the Scottish film industry and for Scottish tourism.

Thanks to `Kyvan` for the alert.

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