Bond fans have been shaken and stirred by the news that Bond 23 – deep into development with Sam Mendes set to direct Daniel Craig – has been postponed indefinitely due to MGM’s financial woes.
But don't fear! Bond is Teflon-coated, and has survived legal disputes as surely as laser beams, pythons and poisonous shoes.
Hell, he’s been officially played by nearly as many actors as a cat has lives.
So we’re taking a chance to take stock of 48 years of Bondage to remind everyone that – as the films always used to put it – James Bond will return.
From Fleming To Film
The James Bond story starts, of course, with Ian Fleming.
Educated at Eton and Sandhurst, Fleming specialised in Naval Intelligence and rose to the rank of Commander during WWII.
He was already sharpening those storytelling skills, as he devised plots and strategies to help beat the Nazis. As Head of 30 Assault Unit, he planned missions for specially-trained commando raids to secure lucrative intelligence.
These experiences formed the basis for a series of novels about a secret agent, which he began to write at the Jamaican estate of the Bond family, whose son James – a natural history writer – provided the character’s name.
Debut Casino Royale was published in 1953, the first of what were to be 14 novels and short-story collections detailing the adventures of 007: suave seducer, deadly killer, and the perfect English hero for the Cold War.
The books’ bustling intrigue and action quickly found their way into other media, when Barry Nelson played Jimmy Bond in an American TV adaptation of Casino Royale.
Then, future Blockbuster presenter Bob Holness asked for a ‘JB’ in a South African radio adaptation in Moonraker. Bigger mainstream appeal came when the novels were serialised as comic strips in the Daily Express.
The big-screen seemed inevitable and, in 1959, Fleming began writing an original Bond screenplay with producer Kevin McClory. Their project would be abandoned but later form the basis of Fleming’s novel Thunderball, two film adaptations and no small amount of legal dispute.
Finally, in 1961, EON Productions, made up of entrepreneurial producers Albert Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, purchased the rights to the series - bar Casino Royale - and secured United Artists as distributor. All they needed now was the right man to play 007.