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Spies and camp melodrama: the James Bond meme on British TV

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  • Spies and camp melodrama: the James Bond meme on British TV

    Last year I re-watched the Hitchcock film 'North by Northwest' for the first time since I was a young man. I was struck by how "James Bond-y" it was in various ways. The scene in which Cary Grant is chased by a small plane is apparently reprised in some later James Bond film, but this time with a helicopter. And in the Hitchcock film, I instantly recognised Leo G. Carroll, the English actor who later appeared in the 'The Man from U.N.C.L.E.' , playing a very similar role as spy-master.

    The 1960s saw a host of British TV series that were clearly modelled on the Bond meme to some extent. The Avengers is one that immediately stands out. Then there's Dangerman. How many others can we think of? These continued into the early 1970s, until gritty realism began to take over.

    Something to think about: which of these series starred both Brits and Americans? Also, how far back does the James Bond meme really go? What about Bulldog Drummond, etc.?

    As for films in the James Bond mould, perhaps another topic could be started in the films section. I remember seeing Total Recall and thinking it had some James Bond-y elements.

  • #2
    Originally posted by garth View Post
    Last year I re-watched the Hitchcock film 'North by Northwest' for the first time since I was a young man. I was struck by how "James Bond-y" it was in various ways. The scene in which Cary Grant is chased by a small plane is apparently reprised in some later James Bond film, but this time with a helicopter. And in the Hitchcock film, I instantly recognised Leo G. Carroll, the English actor who later appeared in the 'The Man from U.N.C.L.E.' , playing a very similar role as spy-master.

    The 1960s saw a host of British TV series that were clearly modelled on the Bond meme to some extent. The Avengers is one that immediately stands out. Then there's Dangerman. How many others can we think of? These continued into the early 1970s, until gritty realism began to take over.

    Something to think about: which of these series starred both Brits and Americans? Also, how far back does the James Bond meme really go? What about Bulldog Drummond, etc.?

    As for films in the James Bond mould, perhaps another topic could be started in the films section. I remember seeing Total Recall and thinking it had some James Bond-y elements.
    How are defining ‘Bond-y’? It seems any action movie with a central hero can have Bond elements.

    Are you thinking specifically of movies/television that deliberately channel Bond for aesthetic or commercial purposes?

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Paxton Milk View Post

      How are defining ‘Bond-y’? It seems any action movie with a central hero can have Bond elements.
      That may be so. It's somewhat subjective. If it appears to you to be Bond-y, then do mention it. For me, I included my thoughts in the topic title: spies and camp melodrama. Gadgets, camp villains and situations (people dropped into pools of alligators or dropped down volcanoes, etc.). And of course the whole thing has a fantasy feel - scarcely realistic at all.

      Are you thinking specifically of movies/television that deliberately channel Bond for aesthetic or commercial purposes?
      ​​​​​​​I'm not quite sure what you mean by that. Please give some examples.

      Comment


      • #4
        From Wikipedia:

        The Champions is a British espionage/science fiction/occult detective fiction adventure television series. It was produced by Lew Grade's ITC Entertainment production company, and consists of 30 episodes broadcast on the UK network ITV during 1968–1969.

        Stuart Damon was an American and one of the three stars. William Gaunt, Alexandra Bastedo and Anthony Nicholls were all English.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by garth View Post

          That may be so. It's somewhat subjective. If it appears to you to be Bond-y, then do mention it. For me, I included my thoughts in the topic title: spies and camp melodrama. Gadgets, camp villains and situations (people dropped into pools of alligators or dropped down volcanoes, etc.). And of course the whole thing has a fantasy feel - scarcely realistic at all.



          I'm not quite sure what you mean by that. Please give some examples.
          Well, The Man From UNCLE was clearly an attempt to cash in on Bond’s popularity, as was the Matt Helm and Flint movies.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Paxton Milk View Post

            Well, The Man From UNCLE was clearly an attempt to cash in on Bond’s popularity, as was the Matt Helm and Flint movies.
            Matt Helm, I've never heard of - must look it up. The Man From UNCLE is exactly the sort of Bond-y thing I meant. A trend is spotted and copied.

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            • #7
              Johnny English and The Pink Panther are comic versions of the meme.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by garth View Post
                I was struck by how "James Bond-y" it was in various ways..
                The Bourne Identity series with Richard Chamberlain was very "James Bond-y"

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Metro1962 View Post

                  The Bourne Identity series with Richard Chamberlain was very "James Bond-y"
                  I'd not heard of that one. Must check it out.

                  Comment


                  • #10
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                    Metro1962. His name starts with 'M' and you don't get to see his face. I just wonder...

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by garth View Post

                      I'd not heard of that one. Must check it out.
                      It was made in 1988 and way before the Matt Damon series of films and much closer to the book than the first Matt Damon film.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Paxton Milk View Post

                        Well, The Man From UNCLE was clearly an attempt to cash in on Bond’s popularity, as was the Matt Helm and Flint movies.
                        The link between Bond and THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. is direct as Ian Fleming was originally asked to devise the latter which was to be named SOLO. That's also the name of a character in Goldfinger and the contractual arrangements between Fleming and Eon Productions meant that Fleming had to bow out early and the series title was changed.

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                        • #13
                          The Persuaders - Tony Curtis and Roger Moore. With a theme tune by the same fellow who wrote the Bond theme, I believe.

                          Jason King and Department 'S'.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Gerald Lovell View Post

                            The link between Bond and THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. is direct as Ian Fleming was originally asked to devise the latter which was to be named SOLO. That's also the name of a character in Goldfinger and the contractual arrangements between Fleming and Eon Productions meant that Fleming had to bow out early and the series title was changed.
                            Nice. I never knew that.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Even the puppet shows got in on the act. Joe 90:

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