Bond is back! (Northern Irish storyline still awaited…)

He’s back, to save the world once again. Daniel Craig today returns to the big screen as MI6’s best-known fictional intelligence officer, amid another colossal media fanfare. Today the latest instalment in the Eon franchise (there have now been 24 movies from the Broccoli/Wilson stable), “Spectre”, hits our cinemas, and another huge box-office hit is all but certain.


For how much longer, though, can James Bond go on? Ian Fleming introduced his best-known creation in his debut novel “Casino Royale”, published in 1953. Even if we wanted to date Bond’s career in the Service from the year “Dr No” was made into a movie, then we would really expect him to have hung up his Walther PPK after “Die Another Day” came out in 2002. Moreover, in his various missions Bond has travelled all over the world several times: surely he must have experienced the stress of misdelivered luggage at least once. He has also been tortured, shot at, and threatened with death by supervillains in such a range of elaborate and cumbersome ways that he inevitably manages to escape. At the very least, you would have expected him to have sought extended time off for post-traumatic stress counselling a long time ago. Plus, there are the health risks accompanying all that casual promiscuity…

OK, so the above observations are a tad flippant. I’m not being naïve: obviously Bond is going to go on for many years yet. Like Doctor Who, his is a British superhero-type brand that is not only recognised throughout the world but is also a phenomenally good money spinner: when it came out three years ago “Skyfall” took around $1.1bn at the box office. So far, seven renowned writers have brought out James Bond novels since Ian Fleming’s death in 1964, with Anthony Horowitz being the most recent, his contribution “Trigger Mortis” having been published earlier this year. And let’s not forget the various unofficial treatments of the Bond adventures, the novelizations of existing movies, and the Bond-themed video games that have emerged in recent years. It’s a fair bet that James Bond will continue to save the world, so long as the cash keeps rolling in.

However, as the late scriptwriter Richard “Kip” Carpenter warned us when interviewed about his brilliantly successful 1980s TV series “Robin of Sherwood” (with award-winning music provided by Clannad), there are only so many ways of outwitting the Sheriff of Nottingham (which partly explains why he and his team made just three seasons of the show in 1984-6). Fans of Bond are constantly hopeful that all the writers who have sustained the Bond legend over the years will continue to come up with ever more imaginative ways in which a sharp-suited but psychologically damaged British intelligence officer can foil whatever schemes the world’s most fiendishly clever and evil supervillains can throw at him.

It is certainly curious that the Bond movie series is yet to feature a Northern Irish storyline. I don’t need to remind any Slugger reader that, while the Troubles may be over, their legacy endures. Moreover, the conflict carried with it plenty of international dimensions, from western Europe to Libya to the United States, so there would be no shortage of exotic locations for future movies. Even in the (Drogheda-born) Pierce Brosnan years there was no indication of such a storyline in the offing.

The closest that Eon have so far come to a Northern Irish connection has been their 1963 production of “From Russia with Love”. In Fleming’s novel (published in 1957), one of Bond’s main antagonists is an Aughnacloy-born assassin by the name of Donovan “Red” Grant. Fleming writes of his having been born to a German weightlifter and Irish waitress. Enduring a difficult childhood, he grows up to be a “heavy” used by local republicans and smugglers. Eventually, he moves to Belfast where he becomes a boxer, before joining the British Army and being stationed in West Berlin, where he makes use of a mail-collecting errand to defect to the Russians (hence the nickname) and then become a hired killer in their counter-espionage department SMERSH. In the film, however, there is no trace of an Irish accent: the actor portraying Grant is the impeccably English-sounding Robert Shaw.

“Red” Grant clearly can’t be resurrected, but it is surely time for a Northern Irish storyline in the Bond series. Apart from anything else, there are plenty of talented actors from all over the island of Ireland who can be relied on to provide gravitas and drama aplenty to such a film. Above all, think of all the money that Tourism NI could draw in with such a connection…


  • chrisjones2

    a NI storyline? Surely the average Bond storyline already stretches belief too far. Anything founded in the reality here might break it – like suspender belt elastic stretched too far

  • chrisjones2

    It was late on the afternoon of the Twelfth of July as Shelly
    Anne gazed at him across the table in Weatherspoon’s.

    As she leaned forward the folds of her ample bosom cascaded
    invitingly like the County Antrim hills leading on towards the epiphany of the
    Giants Causeway. She was barely contained by her Primark frock bought only last week for £7 in a pub in Castle Street from a well know local shoplifter.

    “Oh James”, she said , delicately removing her chewing gum
    and sticking it to the bottom of the table for later, before picking her front
    teeth. “See you. You seem awfrey interested
    in my uncle Sammy’s collection of antique ‘telligence reports from North Belfast
    UDA in the 1970s. Are you sure there is nothing else I can interest you in,
    like? Is that all you really want?”

    Inwardly Bond saw the danger and shuddered – but to Shelley
    he smiled and took another sip of his bottle of Newcastle Brown – always shaken,
    not stirred, and tipped back by the neck with an insouciance that belied the
    danger he faced.

    “Nar, Doll” he drawled, the lifetime of smoking rollups with
    smuggled shag from China having taken its toll on his vocal chords. “Naw. Big Sammys stuff is just a sart of habby for me. An academic interest ye might say. For me its you and only you I am interested in – all you”

    “Oh James” Shelly Anne quivered in anticipation as she drew hard
    and deep on her Lambrini on ice and longed for a fag. Tonight
    of all nights, she thought, perhaps she could finally test her Aunties Sadies prediction that the combination of her new Union Jack panties and William of Orange vajazzle would drive any loyal man mad with desire. Soon she would see

  • Great read – enjoyed it.

    It occurred to me when Bond’s Aston Martin made an appearance in Skyfall that I’ve been watching 007 movies for 30 years now.

    Skyfall did a great job of bringing new personality, depth and a completely new ‘feel’ to Bond movies.

    I don’t see why the movies can’t continue to evolve under various directors and cast. A good one is a great evening’s spectacle in the cinema – a real ‘event’ in a time of too many bland remakes – and long may they continue.

  • eireanne

    “it is surely time for a Northern Irish storyline in the Bond series”. Here you are Sluggerites – exactly what Dan has been asking for! On HM’s Sectarian service!!

  • Roger

    I suppose I struggle, as do many in the region, with Northern “Irish”…

  • I think there’s enough publicity around for this commercial project without us adding to it.

    As for the “Northern Irish storyline still awaited…”

    It’s a weak hook for an unnecessary post.

    Despite the claim to “plenty of international dimensions” the enduring “Troubles” legacy is very parochial.

    So don’t worry about MI5 vetoing an MI6 story, its the money men concerned about the international bums on seats that would scupper such a storyline at a very early script meeting.

  • murdockp

    Am not sure about the NI dimension. for bond to work you need an big personality who leads a cult like organisation with its own private army and a criminal network that turns hundreds of millions and is a threat to british national security.

    it is just not realistic to find such a organisation in NI. too far fetched an idea.

  • James7e

    I think we have a winner…

  • For my money, the Bond release is one of the biggest events of 2015 in the local cinema scene and very much of interest.

    The cinema in Antrim was queued out of the door, I’m told there are cinemas in Belfast where all seven screens were showing Bond.

    I haven’t seen the likes of it since I was a teenager going to old cinemas still in their independent, ‘picture house’ buildings.

    And I’m not sure if it is an exaggeration but I suspect that the likes of a Bond launch keeps some cinemas in NI from closing down.

    While we could do without another Troubles movie (’71’ was great stuff, however) a Bond movie with a strong NI link could provide a boost to tourism and to our impressive new film and TV industry.

    I’ve seen pieces about arts and culture on Slugger. People vote with their feet and last night as far as I know every cinema seat in NI was filled for Bond.

  • Kevin Breslin

    I did hear one during the Pearce Brosman period about Bond infiltrating the IRA to try to stop dissidents. It basically died in development hell and I say good riddance.

    I think what ever advantage this might give to insecure British nationalists here, it would be grossly insensative to do a Bond film about Northern Ireland or indeed Ireland due to the likes of Scappateci and Bloody Sunday. It just sounds like jingoism can justify any ignorance.

    As for Tourism, the windfall is completely overrated. Who would go to Turkey or Azerbaijan simply on the basis that a Bond film was sent there?

  • Lorcs1

    I don’t think the Bond writers need to scrape this particular barrel just yet.

  • chrisjones2

    “an unnecessary post.”

    life with chez Baker must be joyous Pete> Do lighten up Its only 8 weeks to Chrismas

  • chrisjones2

    In the NI version we could call it THRUSH – hides away in dark places and is bloody hard to get rid of

  • Reader

    You’re just what we are looking for. Can you send a first draft 5 minute monologue to the producers by Friday? You know the form – grievance, destiny, blood sacrifice, foam-flecked lips and predictions of imminent victory.
    Usual rates.

  • Will McConnell

    Incidentally, the IRA gets a namecheck in Skyfall, we’re told Mallory served in NI and was captured and tortured.

  • Greenflag 2

    Freddie Forsyth he of the ‘Dogs of War’ , Day of the Jackal , and Odessa File among others wrote a book of short stories in which one said stories involved loyalist gun runners – Dublin brandy smugglers and a container of contraband under which lay several gun crates destined for an illegal organisation . I recall the ending as involving a car /truck chase through the Wicklow mountains -choice language and an ironic ending whereby the whiskey smugglers have to explain to the Gardai why they are importing guns . Having failed their loyalist co smugglers they are somewhat relieved to be taken in by the Gardai .

    Forsyth at the time lived in Ashford , Co Wicklow and would prop up the public bar at the Ashford Inn . He was one of CJ Haughey’s artistic ‘tax ‘ immigrants at the time although Forsyth being British had every right to live there anyway but as a tax avoider it presumably paid . Great writer etc but persona non grata in HMG’s eyes for his earlier Biafra reporting.

    IIRC theres another short story which involves NI only under the heading of No Snakes in Ireland which involves a brawny somewhat stereotypical Loyalist labourer and a young Indian student and a demolition crew . It ends badly for one of the characters .

    If you haven’t much time to read Forsyth’s Short Storys is worth a gander .

    As to a Bond movie re Northern Ireland – It might do well in NI and ROI but I doubt it would translate well on a world wide basis . Not enough world wide significance particularly when there is much more death and destruction of a far greater scale in the Middle East etc . And the world still has Putin and the Ayatollahs as the real bad guys eh .