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Honor Blackman talks Connery, Tony Blair, football... and Pussy Galore

06-Jul-2007 • Die Another Day

The voice is unmistakable. She utters one word in that husky, seductive tone for which she has become famous and instantly it is recognisable - reports the Halifax Courier.
"Hello," she says and I think for a second that she will follow it with: "Mr Bond... Do you want to play it easy or the hard way?"
Aficionados of 007 will instantly recall these immortal lines from the 1964 blockbuster Goldfinger and that they were spoken by the gun-wielding and cheekily-named Pussy Galore.
They will probably go as far as to proclaim that this Bond Girl played by the delectable Honor Blackman was perhaps the best Bond Girl of all time.
More than four decades later she still remains legendary and here I am chatting to her.
Honor – an unbelievably youthful 79 – will be entertaining Calderdale audiences with her one-woman show, Word of Honor, this Sunday at Hebden Bridge Picture House, part of the Hebden Bridge Arts Festival.
But it will not be her first visit to the town. In 1949, long before the glorious teaming with Sean Connery, she starred in the classic film A Boy, A Girl and A Bike (also an early outing for Diana Dors and Anthony Newley) which featured Hebden Bridge as a backdrop.
"Oh, don't ask me too much about Hebden because it was a 100 years ago," she says with a laugh.
"I do love Yorkshire though because the people are so wonderful. I do think northern audiences are definitely warmer than anywhere else."
I think a decent amount of time has passed now before I ask about Pussy Galore – albeit almost apologetically.
"No I never get tired about talking about the role because I will always be grateful for it. Why not?" she says.
"I'm flattered that people still talk about it and that they say I was one of the best Bond Girls, although to be honest I'm not really sure I want to be described as a Bond Girl because I'm no bimbo. Never have been. There was a lot more to the role of Pussy Galore than that."
She talks of on-screen chemistry between her and the legendary Mr Connery, whom she describes as the best Bond ever.
"Well I know I'm prejudiced but don't you think so?" she asks. I confess I would have to plump for Pierce Brosnan.
"Really? Oh no, Sean had everything. He looked the best and he was so, so sexy. On top of that he's a brilliant actor, handsome, the whole package."
I ask cheekily if they got on well.
"We had one hell of a good time together I can tell you," she says with that deepy, throaty laugh again.
"And, no, I am not going into details."
Honor was born in London and trained at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama after persuading her father to let her have lessons.
It was on the back of her success as Cathy Gale in The Avengers that Bond supremo Albert Broccoli cast her as Pussy Galore and by the time Goldfinger hit the screens she was 36 (she remans the second oldest actress to play a Bond Girl.)
More recently she's starred as the outrageously seductive Penny Husbands-Bosworth in Bridget Jones Diary and is still heavily involved in the theatre. Honor is currently starring as Fraulein Schneider in Cabaret in the West End.
On the day we chat, Prime Minister Tony Blair has left Downing Street for the last time and as a committed Liberal supporter from the 1960s, Honor reveals she is quietly celebrating.
"I'd be throwing a party if I weren't on stage," she says before launching into a scathing attack on the war in Iraq.
"But no I am not sorry to see that man go. From someone who knows, believes me, that man is a marvellous actor and that's not what you want in a Prime Minister."
Her outspoken views on the monarchy are also well documented (she's a member of Republic, the campaign for an elected head of state). Honor turned down a CBE in 2002. But wouldn't she love to be addressed as Dame Honor?
"It just would have been hypocritical to accept it, so I felt I couldn't. I tried to keep it quiet but the blasted newspapers got hold of it," she says before apoligising for saying "blasted newspapers."
But Helen Mirren was anti-monarchy before she suddenly did a U-turn and accepted her gong, I persist.
"Well maybe it had something to do with the role she played," she says mischeivously.
She admits she loves the theatre and "being spoilt and allowed to take up the stage", would love more TV work (roles like Laura West in the hit series The Upper Hand) and has no intention of retiring.
"I would just be bored and get fat."
Spare time means more theatre (as an audience member) and her other passion – football.
"I love Manchester United because they are simply the best, although I do confess I used to follow Newcastle. But I'll let you into a little secret – that's because I had a thing for Alan Shearer."
As sexy as Sean, I venture?
"Oh no, darling. There's never been anyone like Sean."
l Honor Blackman's one-woman show, Word of Honor, an insight into her life, will be held at the Picture House, New Road, Hebden Bridge, on Sunday, July 8, 8pm. Bookings can be made on 01422 842684

Thanks to `Q` for the alert.

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