The channel Five historical documentary series returns
with a special on James Bond. MI6 takes a looks ahead
at the film's contents...
James Bond: The True Story Documentary
21st April 2008
The historical documentary series continues with this look at
the real-life story behind James Bond. Author Ian Fleming wanted
his suave secret agent to be the ultimate spy – but
who provided the inspiration for Bond? This film reveals Fleming’s
wartime service in naval intelligence and profiles two men
have supplied the basis for Bond’s character.
Ahead of the release of the latest James
Bond film, ‘Quantum
of Solace’, in November 2008, this documentary
explores the origins of a British icon. On February 17th 1952,
sat down at his typewriter in Jamaica
to write ‘the spy story to end
all spy stories’. The central character of this story
would become one of the world’s best-known and best-loved
fictional creations – James Bond. Fleming
would go on to write 14 titles featuring his superspy – each
one an exciting blend of intrigue, escapism, sex and violence.
Bond’s popularity leaped when US president John F Kennedy
declared himself a fan of the book ‘From Russia with Love’,
but it was the start of the film series in 1962 that truly assured
007’s place in the big time. Sean Connery’s defining
turn as the cruel but sexy secret agent made the actor a star
and kick-started the longest-running franchise in film history.
Six actors have portrayed Bond on the big screen to date, and
movie has grossed hundreds of millions of dollars. It is
estimated that half the population of the world has seen a James
Bond film, while Fleming’s books have sold over 100 million
But is James Bond purely a fairytale? Can a 43-year-old former
journalist with a liking for scrambled eggs, cigarettes and vodka
martinis simply conjure up a fictitious character that has stood
the test of time, without having some foundation in reality?
Henry Chancellor, author of a book on Bond, believes Fleming “may
have written fiction, but 95 per cent of it was based on fact
that had been filtered through the prism of his imagination and
then polished up a bit”.
Fleming’s secret agent may have been the product of a
terrific imagination, but he was also forged in the corridors
Military Intelligence and toughened on the secrets, facts and
of wartime Britain. A large part of Bond’s make-up came
from Fleming himself; indeed, some critics have argued that Bond
was a larger-than-life version of his creator, a jet-setter who
shared many of his fictional character’s tastes.
Fleming’s wartime career in naval intelligence saw him
become intimately acquainted with the ways of the secret service,
and he embarked on numerous top-secret missions to the US, France,
Spain and North Africa. The events that occurred during this
little-known period of Fleming’s life informed and influenced
every aspect of Bond:
his world, his women and his adventures.
The film also delves into the secret war records of two other
men who may have inspired the Bond character. One of them is
Patrick Dalzel-Job, a naval officer who lead enterprising wartime
missions in Norway, before serving with Fleming in France and
part of the covert 30 Assault Unit, which travelled ahead of
the Allied advance and seized German equipment and documents
before they could be destroyed.
The other man is Fleming’s elder brother, Peter, who also
served with distinction in World War II on missions in Norway,
Greece and Southeast Asia.
Prior to the war, Peter Fleming carved out a career as a travel
writer and adventurer, having made expeditions to Brazil, China
Together these inspirations helped create one of the enduring
figures of fiction – a superspy whose licence to thrill
remains active well into the 21st century.
"James Bond: The True Story" Documentary will air
on channel Five in the UK on Wednesday 23rd April 2008 at 21:00.