CBC Fleming interview from 1964

caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 2,348MI6 Agent
I just stumbled cross this 1964 interview with Fleming, broadcast by the CBC days after his death.
It's a half hour long. He is interviewed on the lawn at Goldeneye, working that cigarette holder and shooing away a noisy bird.
Good to hear his speaking voice, and study his body language. He is as funny and snobby as I'd always imagined, yet very openminded and curious about the world.

Lots of information and great quotes (some of which he's used before) and towards the end he starts talking politics, speculating there will soon be peace with Russia and we should be more worried about third world dictators getting the bomb.

He mentions Bulldog Drummond several times, so that long out of print much-maligned series was more important than we thought.

He also pronounces Casino Royale like "royal", without dragging out the second syllable, we've all been saying it wrong all these years.

When asked about setting a book in Canada, he says he doesn't know the country that well, specifically mentioning Toronto. But didn't he train with William Stephenson at Camp X, which is about 45 minutes east of Toronto?

Comments

  • 72897289 Beau DesertPosts: 1,680MI6 Agent
    There is also a Youtube video in which Fleming interviews Raymond Chandler ... brilliant stuff! Too bad there isn’t a lot of Fleming on film.
  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 2,348MI6 Agent

    Looks like the CBC moved the interview to a new page, here.

    I want to try to embed the video, just because we can do that with this new forum software, but the CBC site has some sort of weird setup won't allow me to do that. so you gotta follow my link.

    Was anybody actually able to view it? CBC = Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, so there's the chance its not visible outside Canada.


    There's also a seven minute excerpt on youtube, but the version on the CBC site is close to half an hour. I seem to be able to embed the youtube excerpt:


    One of our fellow agents announced his next project is to compile and transcribe Fleming's various interviews. I decided to try transcribing this one, so my next post will be that transcription. Probably will be a very long post, and will test my ability to format in this new forum software, but then we'll have it as reference for all posterity.

  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 2,348MI6 Agent

    Medium: Television

    Program: Explorations

    Broadcast Date: Aug. 17, 1964

    Guest: Ian Fleming

    Interviewer: Munroe Scott

    Duration: 27:16


    In James Bond, Ian Fleming created one of the immortal action heroes in modern popular culture, but his own life proved more fragile. Five days after his death from a heart attack, CBC-TV's Explorations offers a recent peek into life at The Golden Eye, Fleming's Jamaican hideaway, where the author defends the sex and violence in his works and discusses how his own life experiences helped shape the character that made him famous. Learn the unlikely inspiration for James Bond's name and why tea was the downfall of the British empire in this 1964 interview.

    Explorations

    Ian Fleming: The Brain Behind Bond

    Tonight, in place of the program originally scheduled, a timely repeat of an interview of special interest.


    Introductory Narration: 

    "This is a case of rough justice, an eye for an eye. These people can't be hung sir, they ought to be killed."

    M's eyes ceased to focus on Bond. For a moment they were blank, looking inward. Then, he slowly reached for the top drawer of his desk, and extracted a thin file without the usual title across it, and without the Top Secret red star. He brought out a rubber stamp and a red inkpad. M opened the pad, tamped the rubber stamp on it, and then carefully pressed it down on the grey cover. He turned the docket round, and pushed it gently across the desk to Bond. The red sans- serif letters, still damp, said "For Your Eyes Only".  


    Silenced last week was one of the busiest and most successful typewriters of recent years, when Ian Fleming, creator of James Bond, died in England at the age of 56 following a heart attack. 

    After university, Fleming worked for Reuters News Agency as a foreign correspondent, then in banking, before joining British Naval Intelligence during the war. Afterwards he was Foreign Editor of Kemsley Newspapers, with a contract that gave him two months off a year, at Goldeneye, his house in Jamaica, where most of his writing was done, and where the following interview took place.

    Ian Fleming's name first appeared on the book stands in 1953, with the first of Bond's adventures, Casino Royale, which he had begun to write at the age of 44. After that, startling things happened. More than 32 million copies of his fourteen books were sold, earning him a fortune of close to three million dollars. Twelve million copies in the United Kingdom. Fifteen million in the United States, where the late President Kennedy was an ardent James Bond fan. The adventures of Bond appeared in twenty languages, including Finnish, Japanese, and Thai. Two have already been turned into immensely popular movies, and a third film is in production.

    During each annual two month period at Goldeneye, Ian Fleming wrote a new book. Two thousand words in three hours every morning. Each one seemed to be assured its success. But was it, as some critics charged, because the books were heavily laced with sadism, savagery, and sex? 

    Our interviewer asked Mr Fleming how he reacted to these charges.  

    (2:50)

    Ian Fleming: Well, I don't mind very much. I expect the same thing happened to poor old Bulldog Drummond and the rest of them in their time. But the point really is, that particularly since the last war, we've all become much more educated in what really is violence and sadism and savagery, and so on. And it's ridiculous in these, this day and age to have one's hero hit over the head with a baseball bat, when in fact one knows what happened in Auschwitz, and all these other places during the war, Belsen and so on, and what technical tricks, torture and violence the Gestapo got up to, what the KGB gets up to now in Russia. What happened in Northern Africa, was it Algeria and Morocco, these terrible electrical devices they used on people.  

    And so to, as I say, to use the old Bulldog Drummond's baseball bat, would be rather stupid, or it just wouldn't be contemporary writing at all.

    As for sex, well, we've all got, I mean sex is a perfectly respectable subject, as far as Shakespeare is concerned, and, I don't see why it shouldn't be as far as I'm concerned.

    In any case, I don't, I mean I don't overdo it in any way. There's no four letter words and nonsense of that sort.


    Munroe Scott: Do you feel these are necessary items, I refer to the sadism and sex, necessary items to sell thrillers?

    Fleming: I don't think so, no. But then of course I don't admit to using sadism, I admit to using violence. 

    But, I think they're part of of life. I mean, all of history is love and violence, and I think it applies today almost as much to the great novels as it does to the normal thrillers, so to speak. But of course there are many different kinds of thriller writers, and many different kinds of thrillers, and I just have my particular (???).


    Scott: How do you feel about the kind of novel that has a great sexual detail and an entirely promiscuous cast?

    Fleming: Well I must say, of course, I'm a certain age, so that the whole thing's rather stale news to me. 

    But, I think it's unnecessary, really, I think you can convey sex without using raw words, very much better than you can by using them.

    And, I personally think this is only a phase that we're going through, and that the so-called sex novel that you see so much of now-a-days will in fact go out of fashion before very long. When people get, simply get tired of the same old situations they know anyway.

    Scott: You yourself refer to the fact that you don't the Anglo-Saxon four letter words. I take it you disapprove of that in literature?

    Fleming: I suppose it's some streak of my Scottish Puritan forbearers, but, I don't like seeing them on the page, somehow. I use quite a lot of them when playing golf for instance.

    But I certainly don't like seeing them on the page, and I think they hold up the reader's (???) interest in the book, in a way. They sort of say, oh god, you know, what's that? And then maybe they go on, or maybe they throw the book aside. But I mean I think it's a sad literary device to use a four letter word. 


    (to be continued...)

  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 2,348MI6 Agent

    (part two)

    (6:20)

    Scott: We're always criticizing novels with sex and violence in them, on the basis they're going to corrupt our youth. How do you feel about that?

    Fleming: They're meant for warm blooded heterosexual adults, you know, in beds and railway trains and aeroplanes, they're not meant for schoolboys.

    Scott: Teenagers presumably are reading them, however.

    Fleming: Oh yes they are, and I think they're enjoying them very much. My son hasn't yet got to read them, and he's about eleven and a half. He thinks they're very dull.


    (6:47)

    Scott: In one of the books you have Bond referring to his own, basically, dirty life.

    Fleming: Yes, well of course spying is a dirty trade, and we all know it. Khrushchev has said so, and so has Allen Dulles.

    [bird starts interrupting]

    And in England we don't talk much about our secret service, but I know we could say the same about if we were asked.

    But of course spying is in fact a dirty, dirty trade. I mean, so is private detective work, and all that underworld of police and such, it's a dirty life, let's face it. And James Bond is engaged in a dirty trade.


    (7:27)

    Scott: Well, why do you think a hero who engages in a dirty trade, and leads a basically dirty life, has become so popular with the reading public?

    Fleming: Well, it's very difficult to say. I think, perhaps because the books have pace and plenty of action, and espionage is not regarded by the majority of the public as a dirty trade. They regard as rather sort of a very romantic affair [bird begins to overwhelm conversation], you know, since the first days of when spies from the other side lifted up the tent flaps, and listened to the plans of the Arab chieftains, and tried to get away with it. Spying has always been regarded as a very romantic, one man job, you see. One man against a whole police force or an army.   


    (8:16)

    [bird continues to interupt]

    Scott: Do we have a neighbour?

    Fleming: Forgive this bird, but in Jamica we have these kling-klings, and they make this tremendous racket. Buzz off! 

    Scott: haha

    These thrillers are known(?) for heroes, extravagant heroes, like James Bond?

    Fleming: Well, I think today, this is particularly today, this is the age of the anti-hero. And everybody's trying to debunk the great, for no reason that I can particularly see. But they do sell, and as you know, all these satires, films, plays, television, radio, shows, all over the world, they're trying to sort of knock down the idols, idols of the present or past. And of course they will end up by knocking down God, as they go on as fast as they're going.

    And I think this is personally a great mistake, as I've got plenty of heroes in my life. I mean people like Winston Churchill, and heaven knows how many other people who I've met during the war. And I think, that although they may have feet of clay, we probably all have, and all human beings have, and there's no point dwelling entirely on the feet. There are many other parts of the animal to be examined.

    And I think that people like to read about heroes.  


    Scott: Mr Fleming, in your books, there's a great amount of detail. Two types of detail: sort of travelogue detail, and espionage detail. Is this detail based on personal experience? Do you make it up? Where does it come from?

    Fleming: Well, I can say its 90% from personal experience, really. I wouldn't say the espionage detail is. Because, although I worked in Naval Intelligence during the war, and got mixed up in a lot of shenanigans, of course if I started speaking too close to the espionage, true espionage work of today, I should be in trouble with the Official Secrets Act in England. Even, supposing, I had access to information.

    So, a lot of the espionage detail is either invented, or taken from, very often, cases which have been brought between let's say the West Germans and the Russians, the KGB. Or incidents that have occurred all over the world in the espionage field. And of course the whole battle goes on the whole time, so there's plenty of material in that direction.

    As for the background, I try and, I can't very well write about anywhere I haven't seen myself. Being basically a reporter by trade, I have got a good strong visual sense for background and interesting detail and so on, which I try to bring into my books, just in order to make them seem more valid and truthful.

    And of course if you're up on some tremendous plot, with heaven knows what, James Bond and some sort of household full of terrible villains, if he can use a Ronson lighter, let's say, or drive a Bentley motorcar, or stay in the Ritz Hotel, this all brings the reader back to earth. 


    (to be continued)

  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 2,348MI6 Agent

    (part three)


    (11:49)

    Scott: You mentioned that you were a newspaperman.

    Fleming: Yup. Yes I started off with Reuters, the international news agency, at the age of about 23, and served with them for about four years in London and Berlin and Moscow.

    I found I wasn't earning enough money in journalism, as I expect you probably find also, and I went into The City to try and make some more. And I wasn't very good in The City, and so I went back to The Times, actually, The London Times, and got them to send me off to Moscow in 1939, just before the War broke out, actually would have been January or February of 1939.

    And then I served in Naval Intelligence, as personal assistant to the Director of Naval Intelligence throughout the War. Under two directors. And I had great fun, and went round the world twice, and got involved in a lot of escapades, which were very exciting at the time. And after the War...


    (12:43)

    Scott: What kind of escapades?

    Fleming: Well actually, part of the main plot of my first book, Casino Royale, the gambling sequence, where Bond out-gambles a Russian agent, and bankrupts him. Stems from something that happened to me on the first time I went with my Director, Admiral Godfrey, to Washington in plain clothes before America came into the War.

    And we took the long route down, the flying boat down, by Lisbon and Africa and then across to South America and up that way. And on our first night in Lisbon, we talked to some of our Secret Service chaps there, and of course they were interested in hearing our views, and we were interested in hearing theirs, because Lisbon was the great centre of German espionage. And they said, well if you want to see these agents of the Abwehr, as they call them, you will find most of them gambling at the casino at Estoril.

    And I suddenly had the brilliant idea that I would take on these Germans, and strip them of their funds. Thus making a small dent in the secret treasury of the Abwehr. So I sat down at the table, and banco'd one of the Germans once, and lost, and I banco'd him again, and lost again, banco'd him for the third time and I was cleaned out.

    So that wasn't a very successful exploit. But it was on the basis of this real life episode that I based the big gambling scene in Casino Royale.

    Scott: And Bond actually repeated that, and was only saved by the American agent giving him money.

    Fleming: Yes that's right, quite right. Absolutely right.


    (14:38)

    Scott: When you react to a place like say Paris, or when Bond reacts to Paris, do I take it that is the way you actually felt about Paris?

    Fleming: Ah yes it is. I gave Paris a bit of a pasting, I remember, in one of my short stories. Complained that it hadn't been the same thing since the war, since the occupation.

    And all these observations are really of course observations of my own, which I put into Bond's mouth, or mind.


    (15:04)

    Scott: In one or two of your books, you have some brief descriptions of Canadian scenes. Now I find that these tend to be much less colourful than your descriptions of other areas of the world. I'm wondering if this is because you have found Canada a colourless place?

    Fleming: Well I've been, no, the main reason is I've been very little in Canada. I was there during the war two or three times on rather hasty missions, Naval Intelligence work. But I simply haven't had the chance to visit Canada, and visit the romantic parts of Canada.

    I mean, I could imagine that Toronto would make a tremendous locale for a gangster story for instance, these days, from what I read in the newspapers.

    Scott: Oh you've got the impression we have gangsters in Toronto, do you?

    Fleming: Well, I mean that's to do with what I read in the English newspapers.

    But I mean, I'm merely giving that as an example of a town, that undoubtedly if I wished to set a gangster story in Toronto, it would be a suitable locale to use.


    (16:14)

    Scott: In the books, you describe little foibles of Bond's, things he likes or dislikes. Usually things he dislikes. Things like tea, and Windsor knots. Are these your dislikes?

    Fleming: Yes they are. Yah.

    Scott: Are you given to many, and strong dislikes?

    Fleming: I think so, they are foibles, you know, but... Tea I regard as practically the downfall of the British Empire, and a tie with a Windsor knot I find much too tidy. I think, you know, it shows, you know, that a man is rather vain, I think, if he uses a Windsor knot in his tie. So I put these in, as they sort of build up, perhaps, the character of James Bond, to a certain extent, and that I'm rather amused of course to put forward my own little quirks in prose.


    Scott: How did the Empire founder on tea?

    Fleming: Well I think that people are always drinking the damned stuff. I mean, I remember during the war, you know, sort of four o'clock came in the middle of some tremendous naval action, and then these bloody tea trolleys used to come rumbling down the corridor of the Admiralty, and somehow everybody used to stop work. I mean, that's an exaggeration.


    (to be continued)

  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 2,348MI6 Agent

    (part four)


    (17:16)

    Scott: Mr Fleming, how does an author tackle the problem of selecting a name for the hero of his stories?

    Fleming: Well, it isn't rather the hero, I mean I seem to pick up names just driving through the countryside, through villages and so on, and see an interesting name, over a tobacconists or chemists, or something of that sort, in any country in the world.

    But when I started to write these books in 1952, I wanted to find a name which wouldn't have any of the romantic overtones, like Perregrin Carruthers, or who it might be, I wanted a really flat, quiet name. And one of my bibles out here is James Bond's Birds of the West Indies. Which is a very famous ornithological book, indeed. And I thought, well James Bond, now that's a pretty, quiet name. And so I simply stole it and used it.

    (18:22)

    Scott: Mr Fleming, I appreciate that in any book, and particularly in a thriller, you need a villain. You have a collective villain in most of yours, or in a lot of yours, the Russians. Do you really feel they are as bad as you paint them?

     Fleming: Well the trouble is, as any thriller writer will tell you, the villain is a very difficult man to find anywhere. Because if one is a fairly intelligent person, one knows that a villain really probably has a psychopathic background, and if you paint him a psychopathic background you will immediately make him, make the reader rather sorry for him, make him a sick man, which of course most villains are.

    And the Russians have behaved in a very villainous way since the war, in many respects. I mean it was only last year there was a case that was brought against a Russian agent in Karlsruhe who confessed to having killed three West Germans with a cyanide water pistol. That's a water pistol full of cyanide, cyanide, which leaves no trace. He generally shot the man going up a staircase, and with this spray, and the man fell down instantly dead. And after a very short while, the cyanide fumes disappeared, and probably the autopsy said that he died of a heart attack climbing the stairs.

    And this man had been sent to kill a third man, or fourth man, I can't remember quite which, and his nerve broke, as it often does with killers, and he confessed. And he got seven or eight years and time off(?) because of his confession.

    Now that's a very villainous act! And so if the Russians go on with this sort of joke, you know I shall have to pursue them.

    But before War of course, the Germans were always set as the villains in our thrillers. And I think nearly all Bulldog Drummond's villains were Germans.

    But I rather liked the Russians, I worked there twice. And they are a very great people, and I don't want to rag them too much. And maybe before long, I shall push it off towards China, because they're a very great people too, and so I'm rather hard put to it. It's a very difficult thing to get these villains to grow on trees.


    (20:39)

    Scott: Why do you say before long you may be pushed off towards China?

    Fleming: Well, simply because I think there's a tremendous relaxation in Russia, and that the West and Russia, perhaps even this year, may get very much closer together. That's my feeling, just my nose. 

    And if that is going to happen, and peace is going to break out, well the last thing I want to do is to provide any hindrance to the process.

    Scott: When you say closer together, do you mean closer together just at the conference table, or do you think that there is a changing of political ideas and ideals?

    Fleming: oh I think there's a tremendous melting of the ice floe in Russia itself. And I think they're moving towards something like the brand of extreme Socialism that we have in the extreme Left Wing in England and elsewhere in Europe. And I think before long that it will all end up with more or less the same brand of Socialism. That, I mean that may be wishful thinking, but that's how I see the general pattern of history probably working out. Because certainly Communism is breaking down in its machinery very badly, as we all know from the bad crop situation this year in Russia. And of course, it may be a very long process, but I can't help feeling that probably that is the way of history.

    I think, I mean I personally don't believe there'll ever be an atomic war, because I think war's gone out of fashion. This whole business of killing millions and millions of people, either with one weapon or another, I think had become old fashioned, and may go completely out of, cease to be a form of human activity altogether. If everybody can become civilized at the same rate.

    But of course, that is not possible, and we have a lot of dangers that some lunatic like Castro, or perhaps one of the new African states, may suddenly get hold of nuclear weapons and start pressing the world, and you know playing around with these things.

    And so what we've really got to do, is to try and insure that the climate of history moves equally all over the world. Let's hope that the Chinese, for instance, will shortly be caught, be affected by the general atmosphere, which I see. I don't know whether I'm right or not.


    (23:06)

    Scott: You approve, I presume, of the French trend now to recognise Red China?

    Fleming: Oh yes, I think it's ridiculous. I mean, here is one of the greatest nations in the whole history of the world, with, what, 500 million people and you can't just wipe it off the map. I think, with any luck, in a year or two, China will be a full-blooded member of the United Nations. And completely accepted as a member of the community(?) of nations. It's ridiculous of course that there is this huge vacuum that exists on the map, really. They're wonderful people, they may be politically misguided in our view, that doesn't mean they aren't very fine people.

    (23:50)

    Scott: A moment ago you referred to Castro as a madman. With Cuba, only 90 miles away from you here, is James Bond not afraid of revolution being exported to Jamaica?

    Fleming: Well, they're trying, I mean in a way, they're putting over a great deal of revolutionary propaganda on the radio, as they are to all the Caribbean states and Central American states. But the Jamaican, if he hears politics being talked on the radio, he's likely to kind of turn it off and get on to music, you know, he doesn't really want anybody's politics.


    (to be concluded)

  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 2,348MI6 Agent

    (part five)


    (24:25)

    Scott: In one of your books, you refer to a cab driver, born into the buyer's market of the Welfare State in the age of the atomic bomb and space flight. For him, life was meaningless.

    This is a pretty gloomy view of the Welfare State etcetera.

    Fleming: Well, I think it's an exaggeration. I described the young man was a bit of a Beatnik. And I was trying to say, which I personally believe, that while the Welfare State has brought us a lot of very world class(?) dividends, particularly in the shape of medicine and so forth, and the basic necessities of life, it has sort of abated the ordinary man's ???. In my mind, to a great extent. I think this recognised by politicians everywhere, but of course once you start on Welfare Statism, it's very difficult to throw down the process. And when you get a chicken in every pot, then the next government has to offer a chicken and a half in every pot. And so on and so forth, and so it goes on. And I think it's rather inclined to make everybody sort of spectators, rather than competent, let's say, in sport and so on and so forth, they don't take part so much, they just go to spectate. And of course with television and so on nowadays, with all due respect to you, people rather kind of sit at home and not get out in the fresh air.

    But I think nowadays, a lot of people are rather inclined to sort of wander round and get bored, and boredom is the worst sin of course, for the human being really, I mean it's the worst thing that can happen to them is boredom.


    (26:05)

    Scott: Does this then, to take us around to a reason for James Bond being so popular, in that he always has a goal?

    Fleming: I think it probably does, in a way, I mean he starts with a straightforward one and he goes for it in a fairly straightforward fashion. And I think people like the action.


    Scott: Is it possible that one of these days we will read a James Bond novel in which the hero is killed at the end?

    Fleming: I couldn't possibly afford it.

    ____________________________

    (26:32)

    Host: This interview was originally seen on the program The Sixties, last February.

    Well, for Bond, there may still be one new adventure. A thirteenth Bond story was left unfinished at the author's death, and it will hardly be surprising if the publishers found some way of having so valuable a property finished. So perhaps Agent 007 may yet turn his attention to the Chinese and perhaps another hand will be able to do what Ian Fleming could not afford to: end James Bond's adventures with a bullet.

    Next week at this time, the first of a new National Film Board series called Comparisons, which this year will compare life in Canada with that of Thailand and in Greece. 

  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 2,348MI6 Agent

    a couple more screencaps:


    Two shots of Goldeneye


    Fleming at his desk

    he has a scuba mask on his desk nest to the typewriter

    he has a rack full of scuba equipment by the door


  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 31,295Chief of Staff

    Caractacus, that must have been a long while working out and typing up. Many thanks, and a great read. I believe that after this interview the real James Bond came up and introduced himself.

    (I wonder if Fleming wrote the part where Scaramanga shoots the kling-klings straight after this interview.... )

  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 2,348MI6 Agent
    edited March 13

    thanks for saying Barbel! There's a lot of info in there, and its good to get a sense of Fleming's voice.

    yes for about a week or two each night after dinner I'd spend an hour going over the video sentence by sentence and had to replay many passages a dozen times: Fleming's a mumbler, he clearly enunciates all his "and all that sort of rots", but the actual important bits he tends to mumble!

  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 2,348MI6 Agent

    Barbel said: I wonder if Fleming wrote the part where Scaramanga shoots the kling-klings straight after this interview....

    @Barbel you could be on to something!

    the announcer at the end says the interview was originally broadcast in February, and Fleming is in Goldeneye so he must be writing something, and that would have been Man with the Golden Gun.

    if it was filmed a couple weeks before the original broadcast, he might have got as far as Bond entering the bordello, then gone to do this interview, and been so pissed off at the kling-kling interrupting him that he was inspired to write in that scene!


    It is interesting that he speaks slightly different than he writes, like compare with his essay How to Write a Thriller which covers some of the same material. If you wanted to write Fleming into an Imaginary conversation, there's good examples of his authentic rhythm of speech!

  • RevelatorRevelator Posts: 290MI6 Agent

    Many thanks for undertaking the hard work of transcribing this, Caractacus. I've long regarded this as one of Fleming's best interviews and it's good to finally have a quotable text at hand.

    I think Fleming tried for a more hardboiled style in his books, whereas in his speech and journalistic prose he's more fanciful and has a lighter tone.

    His old-fashioned Scottish Puritanical streak is in evidence when he reveals his dislike of swear words. Interestingly though, the language in TMWTGG is more vulgar than in the previous books.

    I was amused at how Fleming tried to dodge the charge of corrupting youth and then admitted teenagers were enjoying the books very much!

    His remarks about heroes being debunked remind us that Fleming would have hated being alive today. The defacement of Churchill's statue would have made him very angry.

    The remarks on boredom touch on a recurring topic--Bond mentions his hatred of boredom in FRWL and Fleming, in his introduction to the Seven Deadly Sins, [https://www.ajb007.co.uk/discussion/comment/956972#Comment_956972] wrote boredom was the only sin he wholeheartedly condemned.

    He mentions possibly switching from Russian to Chinese villains, which of course is what Amis did a couple years later. He sounds almost apologetic about villainizing the Russians, though he was in the middle of writing a book that restored the KGB as Bond's nemesis after Blofeld's death. Had Fleming lived longer, he might have followed Gardner and resurrected SPECTRE by giving it new management.

    His comments on world affairs reveal a mid-60s optimism that was later dashed by Vietnam and general unrest of the late 60s. How Fleming and Bond would have reacted to this will remain a tantalizing, unsolvable mystery.

  • Miles MesservyMiles Messervy Posts: 1,571MI6 Agent

    Thanks so much for transcribing this. Great interview.

  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 2,348MI6 Agent

    @Revelator glad you found it, I was going to send you a pm to let you know, or get Silhouette Man to pass a message.

    Half the reason I transcribed it was because I saw in our rival forum you had said your next project was to compile Fleming's interviews, so thought if you didn't have this one I could help out. I have certainly done well from you sharing your collection of Fleming rarities and wanted to give back, so please feel free to include my attempt in your next compilation, that's what it's for. If you can see the actual CBC video you might want to doublecheck, especially the places I've just left question marks. Fleming did mumble some of the most important bits!

    Other half of the reason was I was suspecting people couldn't see the actual CBC video I had linked to, maybe we've got a Canadian firewall or something

    Third half of the reason was of course because it was a fun way to fill a couple of evenings!


    You're right there's an irony Fleming complaining about those Anglo-Saxon four letter words, when Scaramanga had a fouler vocabulary than any previous Bond character, I believe he says "screw", whereas previously Bond and other characters would "mutter an expletive". I do wonder what point he was at in tMwtGG when he gave that interview, if Barbel's theory about the kling-kling scene is right then Scaramanga would be just about to make his entrance in the story. Maybe he was having second thoughts about those Anglo-Saxon four letter words as he walked back to his typewriter, as well as vowing vengeance on that damnable kling-kling.

    and of course Colonel Sun, the very next novel, did indeed use a Red Chinese villain. I wonder if Amis saw this interview and thought "well that's what Fleming said he'd do next", or if Fleming had otherwise communicated that idea behind the scenes?



    @Miles Messervy glad you enjoyed reading it. I think having seen what a funny man Fleming was in real life will change the meaning of the books a bit next time I read them.

  • RevelatorRevelator Posts: 290MI6 Agent
    edited March 13

    Thanks again @caractacus potts -- I will definitely include your transcription in the Fleming Interviews thread, with fulsome credit for your hard work. Unfortunately the interview thread was put on hold by Covid-19 and remains that way. A friend of mine was all set to visit the British Library and make copies of a pair of rare interviews but then the world shut down. When libraries finally re-open I hope to finish the collection and start posting the interviews on this board (along with the MI6 and Commander Bond forums).

    As far as I know, the CBC footage is Fleming's only surviving TV interview. He appeared at least once on the BBC, but the footage is likely lost. Radio appearances appear similarly rare, aside from his Chandler interview and the surviving fragment of his Desert Island Discs appearance. Fleming appeared on BBC radio to read excerpts from his still-unpublished book on Kuwait, State of Excitement, but if the audio was in the BBC archives it would have resurfaced by now.

    Fleming seems to have been one of those rare individuals who wanted money but were less happy about fame. His letters show him turning down multiple opportunities for interviews and TV appearances. To be honest, many of his interviews cover the same questions and topics, so we didn't necessarily miss out. Had a serious Bond fan like Amis conducted the interview that would have made a big difference.

    Regarding humor--I think all of us at some time or another fell for the line about the books being humorless. This was something the Bond movie people loved repeating because it made them look good. In reality, though the first three Bond novels are primarily serious all the other books had their share of subtle humor. It's just a different form of humor, compared to the puns and wisecracks from the films. And each form of humor is appropriate to its medium. A lot of the best one-liners from the movies would look glib and stupid on the page.

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