First broadcast on BBC Radio more than 10 years ago I discovered this interesting documentary over on RadioArchive.cc, the terrific radio only torrent* site. Bond’s World compares the reality of the British SIS (secret intelligence service) with Fleming’s SIS, examines the peculiarities of Fleming’s writing and plots, as well as showcasing the varied impact of the globally popular Bond films.
Presented by Jeremy Black MP3 via Torrent – Approx. 28 Minutes [DOCUMENTARY]
Broadcaster: BBC Radio 4
Broadcast: January 1, 2001 Historian Jeremy Black, with the aid of KGB double agent Oleg Gordievski and writer of espionage stories Nigel West, investigates the remarkable survival of James Bond past the end of the Cold War era into which he was born. What has been his impact, what are his politics, and why is he still relevant today?
Jeremy Black (Historian)
Oleg Gordievski (KGB Agent)
Nigel West (Author)
Readings by Christian Rodska
Produced by Miles Ward
There’s a fascinating conversation between Raymond Chandler and Ian Fleming available over on BBC Archives. It was first broadcast on the BBC “Third Program” on July 10th, 1958. In it the two famed authors, and friends, discuss each others novels in depth. But before you head on over there, consider this |MP3| first. It is a repeat broadcast, from 1988, that includes an informative introduction that the BBC Archives version lacks.
Here’s the official BBC Archives description:
Fleming and Chandler talk about protagonists James Bond and Philip Marlowe in this conversation between two masters of their genre. They discuss heroes and villains, the relationship between author and character and the differences between the English and American thriller. Fleming contrasts the domestic ‘tea and muffins’ school of detective story with the American private eye tradition and Chandler guides Fleming through the modus operandi of a mafia hit while marvelling at the speed with which his fellow author turns out the latest Bond adventure.
I’ve just started listening to Ian Fleming: The Man Behind James Bond, a biography by Andrew Lycett, (available from Blackstone Audio). Here’s an interesting bit from early on:
“On Sunday evenings all the boys would gather in the hall of Durnford‘s [preparatory school] main building, a shabby 18th century manor house. Then, while her feet were tickled by some unfortunate child, Nell [the headmaster’s wife] would read them an adventure story. The general favourites were The Prisoner Of Zenda, Moonfleet and, towards the end of Ian’s time, Bulldog Drummond. Lawrence Irving, a pupil shortly before the Flemings, found that he ‘Never read those books again without hearing Nell’s tone and inflection.’ The same went for Ian, though he preferred the populist works of Sax Rohmer who opened up a more fantastic world with his yellow devil villain Doctor Fu Manchu.”
See that? There’s a nice direct connection between Dr. Fu Manchu and Doctor No. And, as I’m discovering by listening to Andy Minter’s reading of The Prisoner Of Zenda, you get a nice resonance between James Bond, playboy adventurer, and Rudolf Rassendyll, English gentleman.
In fact, as I’m writing this I’m very much enjoying The Prisoner Of Zenda, and am considering delving more deeply into the sub-genre it helped create: Ruritanian romance (a story set in a fictional country)
The Prisoner Of Zenda
By Anthony Hope; Read by Andy Minter
1 |M4B|, 22 Zipped MP3 Files or Podcast – Approx. 5 Hours 42 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: December 16, 2006 The Prisoner of Zenda tells the story of Rudolf Rassendyll, an English gentleman on holiday in Ruritania, a country not a thousand miles from Bavaria. There, by reason of his resemblance to the King of Ruritania he becomes involved in saving the King’s Life and his Throne from the King’s dastardly brother and his allies. Woods, moated castles, pomp, swordplay, gallantry, villainy and a beautiful princess. What story could ask for more?
By J. Meade Falkner; Read by various readers 24 Zipped MP3 Files or Podcast – Approx. 7 Hours 58 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Published: July 17, 2008 The novel is set in a fishing village in Dorset during the mid 18th century. The story concerns a 15 year old orphan boy, John Trenchard, who becomes friends with an older man who turns out to be the leader of a gang of smugglers. One night John chances on the smugglers’ store in the crypt beneath the church. He explores but hides behind a coffin when he hears voices. He finds a locket which contains a parchment, in the coffin belonging to Colonel Mohune. Unfortunately after the visitors leave, he finds himself trapped inside, and is only rescued two days later when two of the smugglers, Ratsey, the sexton and Elzevir Block, the innkeeper of the Why Not?, the local pub, investigate his disappearance. His aunt insists he leaves her house and Elzevir Block takes him in to live at the pub.
“You only live twice:
Once when you’re born
And once when you look death in the face.”
If you’ve only seen the movie version of You Only Live Twice you’re in for a very pleasant surprise. Ian Fleming’s original novel is strikingly different from the movie of the same name. The movie, written at least in part by Roald Dahl, uses very little of the book – just a few of the characters and a couple of the settings. And while the movie’s story structure is very familiar, (having been later recycled in The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker and Tomorrow Never Dies) this stands in sharp contrast to the seemingly one-off nature of the novel (and the radio drama).
At the novel’s start Bond is despondent and listless over the death of his wife (recently murdered by Ernst Stavro Blofeld). Seeing Bond unable to do his job, M promotes him and gives him a “last-chance opportunity to shape up.” Bond is re-numbered as 7777, and assigned an “impossible mission”: to convince the head of Japan’s secret intelligence service, Tiger Tanaka, to betray the CIA and provide access to their top secret Soviet communique decryption machine. Much of the middle of the novel then takes the form of a kind of homosocial courtship between Bond and Tanaka. Eventually, Tanaka agrees to give up the data, but only in exchange for Bond’s agreeing to assassinate an eccentric resident alien named Dr. Guntram Shatterhand. Shatterhand, it seems, is operating a politically embarrassing “Garden of Death” where too many Japanese are going to commit suicide. Aided by former Japanese movie star Kissy Suzuki, Bond accepts the assignment on his personal authority, and with help in the form of make-up and training, attempts to penetrate Shatterhand’s coastal castle. Throw in a marriage, a pregnancy, lots of ninjas and a temporary case of amnesia and you’ve got one loaded story!!
You can get a great sense of of the novel from the exceedingly faithful radio dramatization available over on RadioArchive.cc!
Michael Jayston makes a fine Bond and Clive Merrison’s performance as Tanaka is solid, if not authentically Japanese.
You Only Live Twice
Based on the novel by Ian Fleming; Adapted by Michael Bakewell; Performed by a full cast
1 MP3 – Approx. 90 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broacaster: BBC Radio 4
Provider: RadioArchive.cc Cast:
James Bond…..Michael Jayston
Trembling leaf…..Danielle Allen
You Only Live Twice
By Ian Fleming; Read by Simon Vance
6 CDs or 1 MP3-CD – Approx. 6.8 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
ISBN: 9781433261350 (cd), 9781433290398 (mp3-cd) Bond, a shattered man after the death of his wife at the hands of Ernst Stavro Blofeld, has gone to pieces as an agent, endangering himself and his fellow operatives. M, unwilling to accept the loss of one of his best men, sends 007 to Japan for one last, near-impossible mission. But Japan proves to be Bond’s downfall, leading him to a mysterious residence known as the “Castle of Death,” where he encounters an old enemy revitalized. All the omens suggest that this is the end for the British agent and, for once, Bond himself seems unable to disagree…
ca·lyp·so – /kəˈlɪpsoʊ/ – a musical style of West Indian origin, influenced by jazz, usually having topical, often improvised, lyrics.
I’ve only been the Caribbean once. But I still greatly feel its tropical magnetism. Ian Fleming did too. The first James Bond film, Doctor No was set in Jamaica. It’s where Ian Fleming lived and where he wrote Doctor No. I think he really brought the flavour of the Caribbean to the story. Throw in a mysterious Chinese, a yellow peril type, complete with fire-breathing dragon – and that’s entertainment folks!
When you think about it, Doctor No has just about everything a James Bond movie would later come to epitomize. First, there’s the exotic locale, Jamaica! Then there’s the titular villain with a body quirk, Doctor No has functional metal hands. And finally there’s the beautiful and headstrong woman, Honey Rider. Her first appearance, on screen, is perhaps the best known scene in any James Bond movie. As we first meet this enterprising shell collector she’s singing a song to herself on the beach. It’s a calypso tune that goes … “Underneath the mango tree me honey and me…” |MP3|
Now while that’s a great scene, the original novel ain’t no slouch either. Check out the unabridged reading by Simon Vance…
By Ian Fleming; Read by Simon Vance
7 CDs or 1 MP3-CD – Approx. 7 Hours 13 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
ISBN: 9781433258572 (cd), 9780786190720 (mp3-cd)
Sample |MP3| M called this case a soft option. Bond can’t quite agree. The tropical island is luxurious, the seductive Honey Rider is beautiful and willing. But they are both part of the empire of Dr. No. The doctor is a worthy adversary, with a mind as hard and cold as his solid steel hands. Dr. No’s obsession is power. His only gifts are strictly pain-shaped.
In the novel, “Honeychile Rider” is described as “Botticelli’s Venus as seen from behind.” The movie has her in a bikini, in the novel she’s nude, except for a belt. In the movie she’s singing “Underneath The Mango Tree,” in the novel she’s whistling “Marianne.” Fleming describes “Marianne” as “a plaintive little Calypso that has now been cleaned up and made famous outside Jamaica.”
And it’s “Marianne” that’s used in the most recent incarnation of the Doctor No story, the BBC audio dramatization! And, in case you were wondering, it returns Honeychile to the nude.
I really like the movie, and the novel is definitely up there, but for me, now that I’ve heard it, the 2008 BBC audio dramatization of Doctor No is now my preferred version. It has that, sense of place, that a film gives, it plays up the mystery element, (which the movie downplays) and compresses the narrative with a “show, don’t tell” way that good audio drama really excels at.
I got a copy from RadioArchive.cc. The uploader there describes the audio dramatization like this:
Ian Fleming was never satisfied by the movie world’s take on James Bond. This dramatisation by Hugh Whitemore would meet with his approval as it is so faithful to the original novel. Bond, played here by Toby Stephens, is a wistful, vulnerable man as much as he is a fabulously fit and sexy hero. We hear him throwing up with fear after being crawled upon by a giant killer centipede, for example, which would never have done for Sean Connery. But both script and performances are true to Fleming’s vision of Bond.
And of course once you start looking into the actors biographies you start seeing all sorts of fascinating connections. Lucy Fleming, Ian Fleming’s neice plays a role. Toby Stephens has been in a Bond film and John Standing, who plays “M”, came from the family that owned Bletchley Park (the ultimate in espionage HQs if there ever was one)!
Now read a couple more of the listener reviews:
“Were this a movie, David Suchet [playing Dr. No] could have seriously expected an Oscar nomination, best Bond villain in any medium ever. Fantastic production all in all.”
“A splendid, sharp, slick adaptation, very faithful to Fleming’s writing. Makes you wonder why BBC hasn’t tackled more of these. And Toby Stephens is terrific as Bond.”
Based on the novel by Ian Fleming; Adapted by Hugh Whitemore; Performed by a full cast
Broadcast – Approx. 90 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: BBC Radio 4 – The Saturday Play
Broadcast: May 24, 2008
Provider: RadioArchive.cc Bond is sent to investigate a strange disappearance on the island of Jamaica, and discovers that the heart of the mystery lies with a sinister recluse known as ‘Dr No’.
‘M’ …… John Standing
Moneypenny …… Janie Dee
James Bond ……Toby Stephens
The Armourer …… Peter Capaldi
Chief of Staff …… Nicky Henson
Airport Announcer/Receptionist/Inika …… Leigh Wright
Airport Official/Pus-Feller/Henchman …… Kobna Holdbrook-Smith
Quarrel …… Clarke Peters
Miss Chung/ Sister Lily …… Kosha Engler
Pleydell Smith …… Samuel West
Miss Taro/Telephonist/ Sister May/Tennis girl …… Jordanna Tin
Librarian …… Lucy Fleming
Honey Rider …… Lisa Dillon
Guard/Henchman/Crane Driver …… Jon David Yu
Dr No …… David Suchet
Acting Governor of Jamaica …… Simon Williams
Voice of Ian Fleming …… Martin Jarvis
Music by Mark Holden and Samuel Barbour
Producer Rosalind Ayres
Director Martin Jarvis
Admittedly, not all of the available titles in this sale are unabridged, but they mostly are. There are a dozen SFF titles, plenty of crime, mystery and noir as well as a shelfload of history audiobooks. There are even a couple of audio dramas in there.
Here’s just a smattering of what excited me:
THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; read by Ben Kingsley THE AENEID by Virgil; read by Frederick Davidson BABYLON BABIES by Maurice G. Dantec; read by Joe Barrett THE CALL OF THE WILD by Jack London; read by Ethan Hawke CASINO ROYALE by Ian Fleming; read by Simon Vance CHRISTOPHER’S GHOSTS by Charles McCarry; read by Stefan Rudnicki A CONNECTICUT YANKEE IN KING ARTHUR’S COURT by Mark Twain; read by Carl Reiner CRIMINAL PARADISE by Steven M. Thomas; read by Patrick Lawlor THE DEAL by Peter Lefcourt; read by William H. Macy DEATH MATCH by Lincoln Child; read by Barrett Whitener |READ OUR REVIEW| DON QUIXOTE DE LA MANCHA by Miguel de Cervantes; read by Robert Whitfield EVIL, INC. by Glenn Kaplan; read by Glenn Kaplan THE FLIGHT OF THE PHOENIX by Elleston Trevor; read by Grover Gardner FRANKENSTEIN by Mary Shelley; read by Julie Harris FRANKENSTEIN, OR THE MODERN PROMETHEUS by Mary Shelley; read by Simon Templeman, Anthony Heald, and Stefan Rudnicki HOW TO SURVIVE A ROBOT UPRISING by Daniel H. Wilson; read by Stefan Rudnicki |READ OUR REVIEW| HUCK FINN AND TOM SAWYER AMONG THE INDIANS by Mark Twain and Lee Nelson; read by Grover Gardner I AM LEGEND by Richard Matheson; read by Robertson Dean |READ OUR REVIEW| I, CLAUDIUS by Robert Graves; read by Frederick Davidson THE INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS by Jack Finney; read by Kristoffer Tabori IT’S SUPERMAN! by Tom De Haven; read by Scott Brick JAMES BOND BOXED SET by Ian Fleming; read by Simon Vance KING KONG by Edgar Wallace and Merian C. Cooper; novelization by Delos W. Lovelace; read by Stefan Rudnicki |READ OUR REVIEW| THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE by Richard Condon; read by Christopher Hurt THE MARTIAN CHILD by David Gerrold; read by Scott Brick MARTIAN TIME-SLIP AND THE GOLDEN MAN by Philip K. Dick; read by Grover Gardner MILDRED PIERCE by James M. Cain; read by Christine Williams MYSTIC WARRIOR by Tracy and Laura Hickman; read by Lloyd James PETER PAN by J.M. Barrie; read by Roe Kendall THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY by Oscar Wilde; read by Simon Vance THE PRESTIGE by Christopher Priest; read by Simon Vance QUANTUM OF SOLACE by Ian Fleming; read by Simon Vance RINGWORLD’S CHILDREN by Larry Niven; read by Barrett Whitener |READ OUR REVIEW| ROCKET SHIP GALILEO by Robert A Heinlein; read by Spider Robinson |READ OUR REVIEW| SUPERMAN RETURNS by Marv Wolfman; read by Scott Brick |READ OUR REVIEW| SWEENEY TODD AND THE STRING OF PEARLS by Yuri Rasovsky; read by a full cast TARZAN OF THE APES by Edgar Rice Burroughs; read by Ben Kingsley THE TEN-CENT PLAGUE by David Hajdu; read by Stefan Rudnicki THERMOPYLAE by Paul Cartledge; read by John Lee THE THREE MUSKETEERS by Alexandre Dumas; read by Michael York THE TIME MACHINE by H.G. Wells; read by Ben Kingsley THE TRIAL by Franz Kafka; read by Geoffrey Howard UTOPIA by Sir Thomas More; read by James Adams V FOR VENDETTA by Steve Moore; read by Simon Vance |READ OUR REVIEW| THE WAR OF THE WORLDS by H.G. Wells; read by Christopher Hurt WHERE’S MY JETPACK? by Daniel H. Wilson; read by Stefan Rudnicki |READ OUR REVIEW| THE WINTER OF FRANKIE MACHINE by Don Winslow; read by Dennis Boutsikaris THE WORLD ACCORDING TO NARNIA by Jonathan Rogers; read by Brian Emerson