Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without a bit of James Bond; and this year there’s a very special two hour radio show celebrating the life and legacy of 007 actor Sir Roger Moore who passed away earlier this year.
‘Sir Roger Moore – Nobody Does it Better’ will be aired on BBC Radio 2 on Tuesday December 26 between 8pm and 10pm, hosted by Olly Smith, the British TV presenter and award-winning wine expert. It includes a series of new and exclusive interviews with Deborah Moore, Barbara Broccoli, Michael G Wilson, Gareth Owen and Sir Michael Caine who look back at the life and career of one of Britain’s best loved actors.
Olly, who visited Peterborough earlier this year to film a segment for BBC’s Saturday Kitchen at Railworld and the Nene Valley Railway has been discussing his friendship with Sir Roger during an interview with our ‘ESP-ionage’ reporter…
The Radio 2 tribute you’re hosting sounds like it’s going to be a fantastic and very poignant celebration of his life. Can you tell us how you first met Sir Roger and what you ‘bonded’ over?
“The first time I met Roger was in Monaco. Even now those words just feel equally ludicrous and amazing to me. As a kid growing up, I sort of intimated to anyone who cared to listen that I’d rather like to be James Bond. In reality, that was just my cover story. Actually, I really wanted to be Roger Moore. I loved his charm and conspiratorial warmth – that intimacy with the audience that seemed to say ‘I’m very lucky – and I’d like you to feel lucky too. Let’s have a hoot’. And indeed we did.
“Right from the off when I met him, his status as ‘hero’ from Bond, The Saint, The Persuaders all vanished from my mind as he spoke with immense candour and concern for children around the world who suffered from iodine deficiency, from HIV, from a lack of education and a lack of love. He became a real hero for me. Roger really was full of love – and his real mission was to share it along with his luck.”
What’s your favourite Bond film of Roger’s and why?
“I think most Roger fans share common ground that The Spy Who Loved Me is the one most of us would say is his best. Roger certainly thought so. But my favourite will always be For Your Eyes Only. It was the first Bond film I ever saw at the cinema in Bournemouth’s Westover Road, I connected with the idea of Roger’s self deprecation – he sort of said to me that day, ‘Look I’m not the best, the most talented or even the fastest on my feet, but here I am having the time of my life thanks to a bit of luck and grit. You could have a go at this’. I decided that day to do exactly that. I was eight years old!”
Roger was known to be a bit of a practical joker on set during the Bond films – did he ever play any on you when you’d meet up?
“Oh yes. One of my favourites was during a photo we were having taken. There was a pause during a lull which he filled with an innocent croon of “Olly, do you know how to make people smile for a photograph?” I shrugged. Rog looked ahead straight into the lens and said ‘Witty titty sex’. I snorted like a lunatic and the photo is a personal favourite of us beaming together.”
Every day on my way to work, I drive past the location where 009 falls into the lock in the post-title sequence in Octopussy. Out of all the more glamorous Bond film locations you’ve visited do you have a favourite?
“Great question! And can I visit the lock? I paid tribute to the Esprit chase in Spy in Sardinia by tracking down the stretch of road where Rog dodges the motorcycle and side car rocket. At the precise spot where he runs the baddie off the road, I turned to my companions and said ‘All those feathers and he still can’t fly’. Heaven.”
If you could’ve been an extra or had a cameo in any of his films what part would you have played?
“Probably an incompetent wine waiter spilling wine over His Rogesty! I think in seriousness I’d be about on par with Luigi Ferrara in Eyes Only – he’s a big softy and their relationship is actually quite touching. Nasty death but on the bright side you do get to ride in the Copper Bronze Esprit Turbo. ‘Don’t play with any of the switches, Luigi’. Might have that on my gravestone.”
How will you be spending Christmas Day 2017 and the festive season?
“With the family at home this year. I’ll probably end up watching Eyes Only at some point. I haven’t managed to watch anything of Roger’s since he died but opening his memorial stage at Pinewood put a big marker down. Life goes on. I just wished Roger did too.”
I’m sure every fan of Sir Roger and his Bond films will be tuning in on Boxing Day, and raising their glass and eyebrow in honour of a much missed film star and Unicef ambassador.
Finally for anyone looking for suggestions for the perfect festive tipple. Olly’s recommendations can be found here…
Photo: Lead image of Olly and Roger Moore – Nicholas Joubinaux, Railworld/Nene Valley Railway images courtesy of Brian Pearce.