Hold your breath and count to a billion
007 celebrated the arrival of the Third Millennium in his traditional manner – making out with a nuclear physicist on a Turkish rooftop. As you do. Little did he know the challenging decade that faced him and spy fiction in general.
9/11 changed the rules of the spying game, making the whole business a great deal darker, in fact and fiction. In the old days, a British officer caught by Moscow Centre could, if acknowledged, expect to be swapped for a captured Russian asset or get a prison sentence, but now the many forms of radical Islam would extend no such niceties – if you were caught, you could expect an Internet decapitation. Those operatives for groups like al-Qaeda, if they weren’t blown up by remote control, faced a veritable smorgasbord of tortures from certain states, with waterboarding being the nice option.
007 was going to have to change as well…
17 US sailors were killed when suicide bombers blew themselves up next to their destroyer. The US Presidential Election ended up going to the Supreme Court, with George W Bush winning the critical state of Florida after the recount was stopped.
Brosnan had now completed the three films he’d be initially contracted for and decided to wait for a year before exercising his option for a third – he used the break to do two other films, one a personal project called Evelyn.
The final bout of legal action over the Bond franchise now played out in court – McClory continued his lawsuit in the US courts for fees after Sony pulled out. The action was thrown out by the Central District of California on the grounds of laches i.e. an unjustified delay in bringing proceedings.
The World Is Not Enough got PlayStation, Game Boy Colour and Nintendo 64 game adaptations – with John Cleese doing the voice over scenes intended for the late Desmond Llewellyn to whom the game was dedicated. There was also a racing game called, unsurprisingly, 007 Racing for the PlayStation only – Brosnan’s likeness featured, but Adam Blackwood provided the voice.
Raymond Benson’s novel of the year was DoubleShot, a continuation of the three book series involving the Union Corse that started the previous year.
FBI agent Robert Hanssen was arrested for spying for Russia. A US spy plane collided with a Chinese fighter jet – the pilot of the latter was presumed dead ,while the former landed in China, with the crew being briefly detained. September 11 happened.
The terrorist attacks on New York and Washington DC majorly disrupted US television. The ABC and NBC affiliates in NYC lost their analogue transmitters in the attack, although they were still on air through other means. Regular American television effectively closed down for a week and the start of the US television season was delayed, along with heavy re-writes to plots.
That season would see the debut of two of the defining spy shows of the 2000s. ABC debuted Alias, which would run for five seasons before cancellation and FOX launched 24, which was ended by its producers after eight seasons, although it will return for a mini-series in 2014. The latter would fuel considerable debate over the efficacy and justification for ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ in counter-terrorism.
A potential British actor’s strike threatened the production of the twentieth film – EON allegedly negotiated a deal with Equity, but the situation was resolved anyway without a stoppage.
Speaking of ‘equity’ – McClory appealed the dismissal of his lawsuit to the Ninth Circuit of the US Court of Appeals. They affirmed the dismissal with prejudice - the ruling can be found here and contains some minor legal humour of the sort that keeps judges from being bored. McClory’s legal avenues were now exhausted – the Supreme Court was not going to take a case that had no constitutional issues riding on it - and so was his participation in the world of 007 (bar one last attempt to auction off his rights in 2002). He died in 2006 and in 2013, his estate sold their rights to Danjaq.
Raymond Benson wrote Never Dream of Dying, the final part of the Union Trilogy – while Agent under Fire provided another computer game, this time for PS2, GameCube and Xbox.
The Open Skies treaty, allowing for mutual aerial surveillance between major countries, entered force. Israel launched a major incursion into the West Bank after 30 civilians were killed in a suicide bombing. The United States created the Department of Homeland Security and passed a measure approving military action against Iraq on intelligence that proved to be not exactly correct.
24 and Alias were shows developed in the ‘old world’, but 2002 saw the debut of a British show that would be the first espionage series explicitly post 9/11 – Spooks, focussing on a MI5 unit as they fought various threats to the UK from old and new quarters. The BBC drama, which would go for ten seasons, set out its stall two episodes in, when an apparent regular got her head shoved into a running deep fat fryer before she was shot dead. Most of the show’s regulars ended up exiting via the body bag – and it was blamed by the Security Service for a significant drop in female applicants.
The new world also influenced The Bourne Identity, the first of four films, three of which starring Matt Damon, that set the bar for darker spy films and general physical punch-ups in movies; putting your opponent through a glass table was par for the course for new spies, who would rather make corpses, not love.
Another attempt to embrace, well something, was XXX starring Vin Diesel as an extreme sportsman turned spy and includes the killing of a spy wearing a tuxedo. The movie got one sequel in 2005 with a different lead (and the same director as Die Another Day), which flopped badly and killed any plans for more films in the franchise.
The production of the 20th film for the 40th anniversary of the EON franchise saw both leads suffer on-set injuries and problems. Halle Berry got a scratched cornea and nearly choked on a bit of fruit (Brosnan performed the Heimlich manoeuvre), but Brosnan also suffered. Failing to warm up properly before a run for the pre-title sequence, he busted his knee. For the first time in the franchise’s history, production was shut down due to the star being injured. It was stopped for a week while the star went to Los Angeles for an operation.
Die Another Day (film)
“I know all about you - sex for dinner, death for breakfast” – Miranda Frost
A mission to North Korea goes wrong and Bond is captured. Released 14 months later, he is determined to get revenge…
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>The title, not coming from any novel, instead derives from an A. E. Housman poem.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>The surfing scene was filmed off the coast of Hawaii, while the DMZ zones were filmed in England. Both had camera filters used to make the scene appear grey and washed out – this has been done for Hawaii Five-O.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>Madonna’s theme reached number 3 in the UK charts and accompanied the first title sequence to integrate story events (Bond being tortured) into the story.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>This is the movie that features a CGI bullet going down the barrel in the gun barrel sequence (why?) and a CGI ice surfing scene that looked really fake.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>A spinoff featuring Halle Berry’s American operative Jinx got two months into writing before the failure of Charlie’s Angels and Tomb Raider sequels led MGM to pull the project. Berry won a Best Actress Oscar for Monster’s Ball during production – three years later she got a Razzie for Catwoman (which she had the amazing good grace to collect) and her career has been a lot quieter since.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>Main villain Toby Stephens was the youngest Bond villain to date – at only 33, he was 15 years younger than Brosnan. Since this, he’s actually played Bond in BBC Radio 4 adaptations of Fleming novels and gotten a good amount of TV work – his current project is Starz’s Black Sails, which is going to be a tale of swashbuckling and unbuckling judging by the trailer. He is also the son of Dame Maggie Smith.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>Complaints came from both North and South Korea about their depiction in the film… South Korea isn’t poor and agrarian, but a vibrant high-tech economy. Interestingly enough, the late Kim Jong-il was a Bond fan and a cinema buff in general – he kidnapped two South Korean directors to make movies for him (they later escaped).
I have to admit I mostly enjoyed Die Another Day at the time, but the fandom has come down on it hard. It’s really a film of two halves – a gritty opening to start, but it goes crazy by the end. While the box office was superb (just beating TWINE), the reviews were very mixed and when Roger Moore thinks you’re going too far, then you’re going too far.
Raymond Benson wrote his final two 007 novels – the original The Man with the Red Tattoo and the novelisation of DAD. The following year he would retire as the 007 novelist, leaving the book franchise without an established author for the first time in over 20 years. In addition, Brosnan’s likeness and not his voice again featured in a video game for six systems in total over the next two years – Nightfire.
191 people were killed in al-Qaeda-inspired attacks in Madrid; the initial government attribution to ETA (who had more form for the non-suicide nature of the attack) was held to have narrowly cost them a tight election a couple of days later. An American civilian contractor in Iraq was kidnapped and beheaded on an internet video by his captors. A tsunami on Boxing Day killed at least 200,000 people across the Indian Ocean.
Pierce Brosnan made what would be his final appearance as Bond – voicing the character in the game Everything or Nothing, which featured other well-known people like Willem Dafoe and Heidi Klum, although the latter is admittedly not known for her great voice. This was the better received of the two games for 2004 – the other was GoldenEye: Rogue Agent, a bizarre alternate universe affair that got middling reviews and worse sales, leading to EA cancelling plans for a sequel.
Following the severely mixed reviews of Die Another Day, Wilson and Broccoli decided to look at everything anew. The first thing that needed to be dealt with was their star. Brosnan had done his three-with-an-option-for-another contract and so further films would have to be negotiated on a one at a time basis. Neal Purvis and Martin Wade started writing their next film with him in mind, but rumours began to spread he was not coming back… and they were true. For whatever reason, no deal was reached for Brosnan to do a fifth and his time as 007 was over.
52 people were killed by suicide bombers targeting three Tube trains and a bus in London, the day after that city won the right to host the 2012 Olympics. Two weeks later, four other terrorists try to repeat the attack, but their bombs fail to detonated. They are later arrested and jailed, but during the search, a Brazilian man, Jean Charles de Menezes, is mistaken for one of them and shot dead at Stockwell station.
In 2005, Christopher Nolan’s reboot of the Batman franchise, Batman Begins, was released, to strong critical acclaim and a good box office. Two more films would follow in a darker grittier Gotham City, a reaction to the critical failure and box office disappointment of 1997’s Batman and Robin, which George Clooney and Chris O’Donnell somehow managed to avoid have destroying their careers.
While the press speculated on the identity of the new 007, the expanded universe work looked at Bond’s past. Sean Connery came out of retirement to voice his Bond in From Russia With Love’s game version, which changed SPECTRE for an organisation called OCTOPUS due to legal concerns still lingering over McClory.
While there was no replacement Bond author, the literary world produced two spin-off series. First of this was the Young Bond series by Charlie Higson, featuring James Bond’s adventures at Eton College in the 1930s. This covered five novels from 2005 to 2008 (one, SilverFin, also got a graphic novel version) and proved more popular than The Adventures of James Bond Junior 003½, the previous attempt at this sort of thing.
A rather different sort of thing was the Moneypenny Diaries, written by Samantha Weinberg under the name Kate Westbrook, which saw three ‘novels’ and two short stories from the POV of the series’ most popular secretary.
However, the big speculation focussed on the new 007; Michael G Wilson said that there were over 200 actors considered, but could just be an attempt at hype. Director Martin Campbell stated that Henry Cavill was seriously considered, but rejected as too young at 22 – now 30, he is a possible future 007, depending on how well his turn as Superman in Man of Steel and any sequels goes.
The final choice was announced on 22 October – and immediately caused controversy.
Daniel Craig – Thug in Blue Trunks
Pierce Brosnan’s Bond was smooth and silky with a taste for the finer things in life – this current incarnation of James Bond is someone you wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley, although the female Bond community would arguably favour him in other contexts.
Daniel Craig (1968-) hails from Cheshire, making him the first English Bond since Roger Moore. After graduating from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama at the Barbican in London and doing some theatre, he first came to prominence in the BBC miniseries Our Friends in the North in 1996, which also starred Christopher Eccleston, later to play the Ninth Doctor in Doctor Who. A batch of big films, followed, most notably Layer Cake (which features Ben Wishaw and would influence his casting) and Munich in 2005.
When he was announced, he was criticised for being short (5’10”, which is shorter than I am), blond and well, a bit bland. Certainly there was vociferous opposition on parts of the Internet – and equally vociferous ‘give him a chance’ support. The former died away after Casino Royale’s success.
In between Bonding, Craig has appeared in The Golden Compass, the first of a planned trilogy of adaptions of Philip Pullman’s fantasy trilogy His Dark Materials (the poor US box office combined with the decision to sell international rights to fund development led to the other two instalments being canned due to lack of profitability), the first part (so far) of an English language adaptation of the late Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy and Cowboys and Aliens, among other things.
In 2011, he married his second wife, Rachel Weisz, whose extensive career includes The Mummy among many other roles.
209 people were killed in coordinated bomb attacks in Mumbai. Israeli invades Lebanon (again) after the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah.
Columbia Pictures became a co-production partner for Casino Royale – an ironic twist as that company was owned by Sony, who had caused 007 problems in the past. For tax reasons, much of the coming 21st film was shot in Prague, but the 007 Stage did feature for the finale of a film that could make or break the franchise…
Casino Royale (EON film)
“Any thug can kill. I need you to take your ego out of the equation” - M
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>The movie opens in black and white as we see the two hits that made James Bond a Double-O – the first splash of colour is the blood in the gun barrel, moved from its traditional starting place for the first time.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>Daniel Kleinman’s title sequence, to Chris Cornell’s “You Know My Name”, eschews the traditional naked ladies (as he felt Bond was not at that stage) in favour of a superb animated affair involving playing card symbols.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>The terrorist that Bond chases in the Madagascar free running sequence is played by Sébastien Foucan, the effective creator of free running, who did most of his own stunts.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>Eva Green was reluctant to take the role of Vesper Lynd, fearing it might damage her career… but it seems to have done her no harm.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>The Miami Airport scenes were filmed at Dunsfold Aerodrome, a former RCAF base – better known as the test track for the BBC’s motoring review three middle-aged men misbehaving show Top Gear. The mock-up Skyfleet S570 used in the film can be seen in the background on the show whenever the Stig (some say his favourite Bond movie is A View To A Kill…) does a test lap.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>Virgin owner Sir Richard Branson makes a brief cameo appearance in the film (he’s being patted down by a security guard at Miami Airport) – this was cut on airings of the film on British Airways.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>As the Venice house set was being struck, the 007 stage caught fire and burnt down for the second time. No-one was injured and there was no impact on shooting.
After Die Another Day, Craig’s first outing was a much-needed shot in the arm for a franchise. A critical hit that is rated as one of the best in the franchise, it also provided the highest adjusted gross since Moonraker, being the first Bond to clear half a billion dollars in box office takings.
Casino Royale was due to get a video game release from EA, but this was cancelled by them as it would not be ready in time. MGM lost millions in licencing fees and EA then decided to walk away from the intellectual property. The next game would be done by someone else – Activision, who took the non-exclusive rights in May, the same month Electronic Arts handed them back.
The former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto, was killed along with 20 others in a bombing at an election rally. The global financial crisis began with the first run on a British financial institution since 1866 (Northern Rock), as the subprime collapse took out dozens of mortgage lenders.
With the success of Royale, it was time to prepare for the first direct sequel to a Bond movie. However, Her Majesty’s Secret Service comes second to the Writing Guild of America, as the latter went on a 14-week strike over DVD and online residuals, which ended in a partial success for them. This essentially shut down most US live-action production (although not shows made in Canada) and resulted in many shows getting shorter seasons. 24’s seventh season, which had eight episodes in the can, was delayed until 2009, with a two-hour TV movie made in 2008 to bridge the gap.
With Bond 22’s release date fixed, Paul Haggis handed in his rewrite script two hours before the strike began… which meant while the strike was on, the only people allowed to work on it were director Marc Forster and Daniel Craig, neither writers by trade. This did not exactly help the finished product.
Russia and Georgia fought a war over South Ossetia. Iceland went bankrupt. Barack Obama became the first non-white US President, despite bizarre conspiracy theories over his origins.
After a break of six years, the first original 007 novel appeared to mark the centenary of the creator’s birth – Devil May Care by Sebastian Faulks, a 1960s tale done in the style of Fleming and with a distinct twist regarding its Bond Girl. A Fleming title was used for the 22nd Bond film, one that would get media critics scratching their heads in confusion.
Quantum of Solace (film)
“If you could avoid killing every possible lead, it would be deeply appreciated” – M
Determined to get revenge on the organisation that destroyed Vesper Lynd’s life and almost killed him, James Bond finds himself in conflict with his own organisation…
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>At 106 minutes, this is the shortest of the EON films.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>The film opens pretty much straight after the ending of the previous film – this is so far the only direct sequel in the series.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>US studio MK12 handles this title sequence, to the only duet so far in the franchise’s series; “Another Way to Die” by Alicia Keys and Jack White. The latter does feature words “of” and “solace”, but not “quantum”.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>200,000 rounds of blank ammo was used up during the production of this film.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>One of the six Aston Martin DBS cars intended for the movie was totalled before it could be used when an engineer crashed it into a lake… despite this, someone reportedly paid £200k for the wreck.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>Gemma Arterton’s character, Strawberry Fields, only gets her full name in the credits.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>The gun barrel is moved to the end of the film, symbolising that we now have a complete 007.
After the success of Casino Royale, Quantum is a let-down – the production problems are insurmountable and Bond going renegade is an overused trope in the series. The box office improved on the previous film, but the work acquired nicknames like Quantum of Bourne and Quantum of So-lame.
Quantum of Solace also got a video game release for a number of platforms – this was the first game to feature Daniel Craig’s voice. Reviews were mixed.
Greece received an EU bailout. Wikileaks made big publications of US government documents. Mossad were suspected of killing a Palestinian militant in a hotel room in Dubai.
JJ Abrams attempted to follow up the success of Alias with Undercovers for NBC… but the latter show was axed after 11 episodes. In the UK, Sky launched special forces series Strike Back based on the novel by former SAS operative ‘Chris Ryan’, which after a successful first season became a Cinemax co-production for its second, third and (so far fourth) – the result being a show that could be described as “see the world, meet interesting people, kill the bad ones and make out with the hot female ones”, although in fairness, the nudity is equal opportunity.
Pre-production had been moving along Bond 23 for a 2011 release date, but behind the scenes, there were serious problems at MGM. The company had large amounts of debt and the recession had badly hit its income – to the point where bankruptcy became a serious possibility. Various attempts to sell the company through 2009-10 failed and in December, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection to allow it to restructure. With this uncertainty in the air, there was no possibility of a Bond movie going into production.
There was however significant activity on the gaming front. Eurocom produced an updated remake of the classic GoldenEye 007 game for the Nintendo Wii, moving the story into the present, giving Bond both the likeliness and face of Craig, adding a new version of the movie’s theme sung by Nicole Scherzinger. The ‘Protect Natalya’ level remained just as annoying.
There was also an original third-person game for four platforms done by Bizarre Creations (part of Activision) called Blood Stone, also starring Daniel Craig and somewhat unusually, British singer Joss Stone, who also sung the theme tune. The reviews were on the good side, but there would be no sequels – the studio closed down the following year.
The Arab Spring brings down the leaders of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, the last after NATO military intervention and sparked a civil war in Syria that continues to this day. US Special Forces killed Osama bin Laden, while the country withdrew from Iraq.
Another JJ Abrams produced spy series, Person of Interest debuted on CBS, while a cinematic remake of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy starring Gary Oldman hit cinemas.
MGM emerged from bankruptcy, with the new holding company under the founders of Spyglass Entertainment and put the distribution rights for Bond on the market. The winning bidder was Sony Pictures, who would continue their involvement with Bond for a third film through Columbia and get their ‘vanity plate’ at the beginning of the film. With this sorted out, Skyfall
We also got an original novel by Jeffrey Deaver called Carte Blanche, an attempt to bring Bond into the post 9/11 that got decidedly mixed reviews.
Activision released a remastered version of GoldenEye 007 for Xbox 360 and PS3 – this was merely a HD version of the game with some multiplayer tweaks.
The US Ambassador to Libya and three other Americans were killed in an attack on the consulate in Benghazi.
The Olympic Games came to London for the third time and David Arnold was assigned music duties, preventing him from doing the Bond this year. Danny Boyle (best known for Slumdog Millionaire) produced a spectacular opening ceremony… with Bond being one of the main attractions. In a short film called Happy and Glorious, Bond goes to Buckingham Palace, picks up HM The Queen (in her first ever fictional appearance played by the real monarch) and takes a helicopter to the stadium, where they or rather the two male stunt doubles, parachuted out. Her Majesty then arrived in the stadium proper, wearing the same dress. This got leaked to the British press at the beginning of April, so I dismissed it as an April Fool’s… fool on me then.
The 50th anniversary of the series was celebrated in style, including with the biggest Bond yet.
“Last rat standing” – James Bond
After ending up presumed dead in Turkey, 007 must regain his strength and deal with the threat from a highly dangerous hacker out for revenge.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>The title has no Fleming antecedents – it was a last minute creation by the scriptwriters who were looking for a foreboding name for a Scottish manor.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>The film sees the debut of Ben Wishaw, an actor who had previously appeared in BBC2’s The Hour and as the titular role in a 2012 adaptation of Richard II on the same channel (for which he won a leading actor BAFTA) as Q.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>Adele’s award winning “Skyfall” title song only has a ‘lyric video’ as the singer was heavily pregnant at the time.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>Watch for a bit of eyebrow action in Macau.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>Regular users of London’s Underground subway system will have fun spotting the many errors in the depiction of that system… most notably, that’s not a District Line train Bond hops on – it’s a smaller and newer type used for the Jubilee Line. Also, there are safety signs on real Tube escalators to stop people sliding down them.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>Bérénice Marlohe (Severine) is the third Bond girl in three films to hold a French identity card. 007 is clearly a huge fan of the entente cordiale.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>Also, this is the third film in a row that does not end in the ‘traditional’ manner of Bond making out with the leading lady.
Make no mistake, Skyfall was huge – the first billion dollar Bond, taking Thunderball’s crown for most successful film adjusted for inflation. Critics freely called it the ‘Best Bond ever’ and the awards bodies agreed… the film was nominated for five Oscars, a record for the series. It set another record when it won two… one for the theme and another for the highly technical area of sound editing, but a shiny gold statue is a shiny gold statue.
I liked the film a lot, but I do feel that time will lower its position among the Bond films – it does have some big plot holes in it.
To tie in with the 50th anniversary, Activision released 007: Legends, with six missions based on movies – one from each Bond, but with the likeness (although not the voice) of Craig. The sixth was Skyfall – the game shipped before the film’s release, but that mission was intended as downloadable content. The game was panned by critics and sales were poor. Eurocom closed down shortly after release
2013 and the future of 007
At the beginning of 2013, Activision pulled its games from online stores like Steam with no explanation and announced in February it was moving away from licenced games; this was taken, but not confirmed, as an end to its involvement with the 007 franchise.
The 60th anniversary of one of the greatest characters in British fiction will be a relatively quiet one in terms of new products. With Activision having apparently handed back its licence to program, we are not going to get a game this year. We will be getting another original novel, with spy writer William Boyd contributing a 1969-set work entitled Solo that I have on pre-order for my Kindle.
Bond 24 has been confirmed for October/November 2015 release, with Sam Mendes returning to direct Daniel Craig. I think that barring anything major, Craig will do the contracted one after that c.2017… but as he will be nearly 50 at this point, he might decide it is best to call it a day. EON will then have the difficult task of replacing him, but I am sure they will be able to pick another great actor.
Skyfall’s gross and award success answers any critics of his relevance – in the world of fictional espionage, he is truly the ‘last rat standing’. No other fictional spy has enjoyed the longevity and cultural influence that he has and few fictional characters that are not in the public domain have beaten his financial success. Dozens of pretenders (CBS’ Intelligence will be next to try their luck) lay in the ground while Commander James Bond CMG RNVR stands, Walther PPK ready, to dispatch the next one that believes he or she can dethrone him as King of Spies.
When the criminals and terrorists of this world want to cause death and destruction, one man will be called to handle their threats. We can state unequivocally…
JAMES BOND WILL RETURN
… but this series is done. I’d like to thank the many people who have provided sites that provided valuable information, especially MI6 HQ and Commander Bond.net.
I hope you enjoyed reading this.
Richard Armitage, who played Lucas North in Spooks, decided to get actually waterboarded for a flashback scene. The screams were entirely genuine.
I’ll just say that 24 was, for the most part, a brilliant series with superb characters – including Chloe O’Brian, who went from loathed to fan favourite during the course of her time on the show (most of the other characters did snuff it after all).
Known as MI-5 in the US; its UK title has association with the CIA over the pond and is also an old racial slur.
With two Academy Awards to her name among many other awards, Dame Maggie is perhaps best known to a modern audience for her role as Minerva McGonagall in the Harry Potter films, but since then has played the wonderfully acerbic Violet Crawley in ITV’s Downton Abbey, one of the most popular dramas in the UK.
The subsequent inquest, limited by the judge to a choice of stating lawful killing or an open verdict, returned the latter based on a number of operational failings. The ‘gold commander’ at the time, Cressida Dick, was cleared of any culpability by a jury in a trial of the Metropolitan Police for health and safety law breaches – she is now an Assistant Commissioner.
This area of London also played host to a very good exhibition on 50 years of 007 that I attended last year.
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, etc. (I prefer the original Swedish title for that book, Men Who Hate Women). The Swedish versions starred Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth Salander and proved to be her big break – she’s now a major English-language star, most notably in Prometheus. Her ex-husband, Ola Rapace, appears as a henchman in Skyfall.
I spent five years when I was at school as a pupil librarian. I can tell you, librarians don’t tend to look like that.
Top Gear’s “tame racing driver”, whose job it is to test out the supercars in a power lap and train the celebs who appear in Star in a Reasonably Priced Car. He never removes his helmet or is heard to speak on camera and the identity of the current Stig is kept a closely guarded secret – the previous two both outed themselves, departing the series in the process.
Best known for The Bone Collector, the movie adaption of which featured Angelina Jolie and Denzel Washington.
The Tube has two types of underground lines for the just smaller than 50% part that is actually underground – the larger mid-19th century ‘sub-surface’ lines built by digging up the street, putting the track down and then replacing the street, and the 1890s onwards ‘deep-level’ lines, bored underground by single ‘machines’ (originally a moving shield to hold up the tunnel as workers dug by hand). Part of the Jubilee Line at Charing Cross, closed when the extension to Stratford was opened, is a popular choice for filming – including here.