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Charlie Higson ranks the Top 10 Bond villains

10-May-2008 • Literary

To mark the 100th anniversary of Ian Fleming's birth later this month, Charlie Higson, the author of the bestselling Young Bond series, has chosen his favourite Bond villains for The Guardian.

1. Blofeld
Blofeld in the Fleming books has a weird chameleon-like quality, one moment (in Thunderball) he's huge and fat and has no interest in sex, the next moment (in On Her Majesty's Secret Service) he's quite ordinary, has lost his earlobes and has a syphilitic nose, finally (in You Only Live Twice) he's very tall and thin and dressed in medieval samurai armour. He's the only recurring villain in the books, and does more psychological harm to Bond than anyone else, right down to killing his wife. In the films he is of course the most used baddie. Donald Pleasance in YOLT defined exactly what a Bond villain should be - the bald head, the scar, the coldness, the sarcasm, the funny foreign accent, the Mao suit, the white cat, the lair, the men in colour coded jumpsuits. Perfect.

2. Goldfinger
The best name and the best one-liner - in the movies, at least: "Do you expect me to talk?" "No, mister Bond, I expect you to die!" - he's the most vivid of the villains in the books, and what a lucky coincidence that his name matches his obsession. If he'd been born Ernst Stavro Stamptongue maybe he'd have been obsessed with stamps and we would have been deprived of a great plot to rob Fort Knox.

3. Mr Wynt & 4. Mr Kidd
Should these two be down as one entry? I don't know. They are a double act, inseparable and very sinister. They embody a prime requisite for a Bond villain - campness. (Fleming wanted his friend Noel Coward to play Dr No - he politely declined - shame.) In the book of Diamonds Are Forever Wynt and Kidd make up for the lack of a memorable main baddie (the central villains, the Spang Brothers, are very weak.) These two killers relish their job and relish each other. For the film the casting was particularly good, Putter Smith (Kidd) and Bruce Glover (Wynt) getting the weird thing to a tee.

5. Rosa Klebb
Her description in From Russia With Love, scampering through the soviet secret police headquarters to watch enemy spies being tortured is delirious, and when she tarts herself up to try and seduce Tatiana Romanova the effect is quite startling. Also of course she had the best gadget weapon - knives in her shoes.

6. Odd Job
Ok - technically more of a sidekick than a villain, but anyone with a lethal bowler hat has to make the list.

7. Red Grant
Possibly the first psycho killer in British fiction. The book of From Russia With Love opens with a description of Grant being massaged that lodges in the mind and shows what a vividly descriptive writer Fleming was. This guy is dangerous. The brutal fight on the train in the film version still stands up today.

8. Xenia Onatopp
From Goldeneye. One of the few truly memorable villains who don't appear in the original books (Jaws being another. He would have made the list if he hadn't turned goodie in Moonraker and become a comedy figure) A pretty good name and a pretty good method of killing - crushing men to death between her shapely thighs.

9. Doctor No
The first Bond movie villain, played very nicely by Joseph Wiseman. In the book he's scarier and stranger (he has claws instead of hands and is about ten feet tall.) When Fleming invented him he was really seeing how much he could get away with. Quite a lot, as it turned out.

10. Irma Bunt
Blofeld's lover and side-kick. The model for all those horrible scary women who stick by their deranged lovers and worship them no matter what - psychologically very astute of Fleming. Irma Bunt has something of Myra Hindley and Rose West about her.

Thanks to `Phil` for the alert.

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