Jeremy attends a Tribute to Ian Fleming

Jeremy Irons at Tribute to Ian Fleming


Sunday 5 October 2008

Bonds past and present attend Ian Fleming tribute

James Bonds past and present paid tribute to creator Ian Fleming at London’s Palladium theatre last night. Current incumbent Daniel Craig (with his arm in a sling) and 007 veteran Sir Roger Moore, both of whom are interviewed in November’s GQ, took part in The Story Of James Bond: A Tribute To Ian Fleming, a star-studded event hosted by Stephen Fry and former Bond girl Joanna Lumley. Other Bond girls including Rosamund Pike and Quantum Of Solace’s Gemma Arterton also put in a welcome appearance, while Jeremy Irons and onetime Bond villain Toby Stephens read extracts from Fleming’s memoirs and novels respectively. Fellow literary types Sebastian Faulks, who wrote new Bond book Devil May Care, and Charlie Higson, author of the young Bond novels, also attended. Guests were kept well lubricated with Bond’s champagne of choice, Dom Pérignon.



A first-hand account of the event from


My partner and I had the very great pleasure of attending the ‘The Story of
James Bond – A Tribute to Ian Fleming’ concert last night at the London
Palladium, a charity gig for the British Heart Foundation and it was an
absolute tour de force. One night only, full of Bond alumni from both
literary and cinematic productions and certainly worth every penny of the
admission price – I’d seen the show mentioned here a while ago but only made
an effort to buy a pair of tickets last week, hoping to get a couple of the
cheap seats, sadly when I rang they’d all gone and they only had expensive
single seats left, but whilst I was debating what to do a pair of (quite
expensive) returns came in slap bang in the middle of the front stalls and
so I thought ‘sod it, you only live… er… once!’ and snapped them up!

We arrived at the Palladium by taxi and were mildly surprised to find
outselves being escorted out of it by policemen as the entire street was
full of press, paparazzi and onlookers, so we felt prettty special before it
had even started – then we made our way into the theatre for the show, and
here’s a brief run-down of what happened…

The curtain raised to feature an orchestra on stage playing a medley of the
Bond themes before Lucy Fleming came onstage to introduce the hosts, Stephen
Fry and Joanna Lumley. The format of the show was eclectic and interesting,
Fry and Lumley sitting just in front of the orchestra narrating the history
of Fleming’s life whilst Jeremy Irons (to the left) played the part of
Fleming himself, reading letters and quotations
and Toby Stephens (to the
right) reading extracts from the Bond books themselves. Overhead a large
screen showed clips from films, stills and other images.

Interspersed between these readings were Bond themes sung by Beverley
Knight, Tony Hadley, Mica Paris, Lemar and even Lee Mead amongst others –
all of which were very nicely done, and the West End cast of Chitty Chitty
Bang Bang sang a couple of numbers from that show too. There were video
messages from Duran Duran and Paul McCartney and the orchestra played some
more themes and
incidental music from the movies and there was even a performance of Noel
Coward’s ‘Don’t Let’s Be Beastly to the Germans’!.

There were more readings from (amongst others) Samantha Bond, Christopher
Casenove, Joely Richardson, Harriet Walter, Gemma Arterton and Rosamund
Pike. Sebastian Faulkes read from Diamonds are Forever too, but sadly
Christopher Lee and David Gilmour weren’t in attendance (although they were
listed in the programme), their parts being performed by other members of
the cast.

Of course there had to be Bond girls too and onstage we saw Shirley Eaton,
Caroline Munnro, Maryan D’Abo, Zena Marshall, Eunice Grayson, Madeleine
Smith and Tanya Mallet and there was a HUGE round of applause as Roger Moore
came onstage – and more after a Sir Sean look-alike tried to muscle in and
was bundled offstage by a Royal Marine Commando who abseiled down from the
roof! Sir Rog made a very nice sppech about Cubby Broccoli and then
introduced Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, who we were surprised to
find were sitting just a couple of seats behind us!

Charlie Higson gave an amusing talk on the history of Bond media pre-Connery
(Holness and Nelson) and all of this was topped by a sneak preview scene
from QoS before Daniel Craig (arm still in a black sling) appeared onstage
and the place just erupted – he read the eulogy from Fleming’s funeral and
then everyone trooped back onstage to take a huge standing ovation – it was
a fabulous night (although my partner’s night had already been made when I
pointed out we were also sitting just two seats away from Daniel Craig for
most of the show and he’d given her a very appreciative glance)! I have no
idea whose tickets I’d picked up, but as I mentioned we were right in the
middle of the celebs – Charlie Higson was in front of us (and was very
pleasant and courteous), Caroline Munro and many of the other Bond girls to
our right and Simon Williams almost on top of us for most of the evening. It
was a great and at times very moving tribute to Ian Fleming and everyone
performed brilliantly – and I’ve been told that the show was being recorded
for later broadcast by BBC Radio 2, so hopefully (if that’s true) you’ll be
able to hear some of it yourselves.

Top fun!


Tim Pollard