The Bond girls, cars and villains who were made in the Midlands
Written by The Newsroom on November 30, 2019
Birmingham supermarket worker Tayyib Mahmood recently told how he had landed a job, working on the next James Bond blockbuster.
And Birmingham and the Black Country have played a part in 007’s journey since he first hit the screens in Dr No 47 years ago.
Here, we give you the lowdown on the links between Bond and the Midlands – with a few surprises along the way.
The man who filled 007’s shoes for the longest stretch – from 1973 to 1985 and six films – has strong links to the West Midlands.
For a time, his mother lived in Mere Green, Sutton Coldfield. and, before global stardom, the actor lived for a while in Rosemary Hill, Four Oaks, with then wife Dorothy Squires.
He is also said to have briefly stayed in Cannock – a no-nonsence former pit town where suave individuals in safari suits stand out like the proverbial sore thumb.
Moore reportedly stayed with his aunt in Sandy Lane, an upmarket Cannock postcode fringing Shoal Hill Common.
And not many people know this, but… Moore also starred in a 1970s TV commercial for Wolverhampton’s Banks’s beer. The man who added more than a dash of humour to Bond’s character died in 2017, at the age of 89.
Dalton, who played Bond in The Living Daylights (1987) and Licence To Kill (1989) actually cut his teeth as an actor with the Birmingham Rep,
Now aged 73, he joined the famous Repertory Theatre in 1966 and later reflected: “It pleased everybody on my father’s side of the family.
“My mother and her side, however, were worried. None of them felt acting was a secure profession for a young man.” In 1966, he trod the boards in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, Richard III. As You Like It and Love’s Labours Lost. He also had a part in George Bernard Shaw play Saint Joan.
When The Rep celebrated its centenary in 2013, Dalton was among the first to send a congratulations message.
“I made my professional debut at the Old Rep and have the fondest memories,” he said.
The former Birmingham boxer and wrestler turned actor is still best known for his role as West Country bricklayer Brian “Bomber” Busbridge in Auf Wiedersehen Pet.
But he also appeared in some of the big screen’s greatest blockbusters.
He was Hephaestus in Clash of the Titans, a Celtic chieftain in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, and landed parts in three Indiana Jones films.
But Roach was also a Bond villain. In Never Say Never again – Sean Connery’s last appearance as 007 – he played an assassin for evil crime syndicate SPECTRE.
Interestingly, Connery said he was too old, at 52, to play Bond and vowed that the 1983 spin-off – not part of the official franchise – would be his swansong.
Yet the “other” 007, Roger Moore, was three years older. Pat Roach died at his Bromsgrove home in 2004, at the age of 67, and is buried at the town cemetery.
Walsall’s Goldie, born Clifford Joseph Price, made his only Bond appearance in 1999 film The World Is Not Enough, starring Pierce Brosnan as the spy.
Now aged 54, he played Bull, a sinister, gold-toothed bodyguard.
Goldie, also an acclaimed graffiti artist, has also appeared in Guy Ritchie crime caper Snatch and played gangster Angel Hudson in soap Eastenders from 2001 to 2002.
He also appeared alongside David Bowie in 1999 offering Everybody Loves Sunshine.
Nottinghamshire born Pleasence played arch villain Ernst Stavto Blofeld in You Only Live Twice (1967), his performance spawning the traditional public perception of a mad, and bad, genius stroking a white cat.
After the war, Pleasence joined Birmingham Rep and also performed with the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre. For the Rep, he was part of the 1949 cast for Richard III – and returned in 1955 for Richard II.
Pleasance, a former prisoner of war, died in 1995 at the age of 75.
Local beauties have made numerous cameo appearances as Bond Girls. Stechford Page Three girl Janine Andrews showed her famous curves in 1983’s Octopussy.
Kim Mills, from Huntington, South Staffordshire appeared in the same Octopussy film. Two years earlier, she had been “girl at the pool” in For Your Eyes Only.
(Image: Birmingham Post and Mail)
Duran Duran, Birmingham’s own kings of the New Wave era, dabbled in big band sounds for View To A Kill, soundtrack to the film of the same name. The theme proved a chart success for the group, peaking at No 2 in the UK in 1985.
It is, however, the only Bond theme to top the US Billboard Hot 100. The song also took top spot in Belgium, Canada, France and Spain. The track was performed by Duran Duran at the Philadelphia leg of Band Aid.
(Image: Handout/PA Wire)
Bond’s most famous set of wheels, the Aston Martin DB5, is very much a West Midlands motor. Aston Martin has its base in Gaydon, Warwickshire.
The car, bristling with deadly modifications, made its debut in Goldfinger (1964) and proved such a hit that it returned a year later in Thunderball.
A very different DB5 – minus gadgets – featured in 1995’s GoldenEye and briefly in Tomorrow Never Dies, two years later. And it made a comeback in the Daniel Craig era, the car in which Bond spirited Judi Dench’s M to Scotland in Skyfall (2012). Interestingly, the original Goldfinger DB5 was auctioned in 2010 and sold for a staggering £2.6 million.
Always immaculately attired, only the very best footwear will do for the world-famous spy. And the best, in his opinion, are made by Northampton company Crockett and Jones.
In Spectre (2015), he wore a selection crafted by the company, founded in 1879. Bond also sports Crockett and Jones shoes in Skyfall. A spokesman for the firm said: “This world-renowned, fifth generation Northampton shoemaker stands at the pinnacle of the footwear industry.
“Synonymous with English shoemaking at its very finest, the company is still firmly dedicated to the highest standards of traditional craftsmanship and an uncompromising commitment to quality second to none.”
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