He travels the world making love to beautiful women and blowing up foreigners, but London is always Bond’s home town. We look up the top 007 locations:
1. Somerset House
Londoners are used to this pleasing pile of neo-classical masonry as an alfresco cinema and arts venue. For Bond filmmakers it’s an irresistible location – not necessarily playing itself, though. Somerset House’s grand interior courtyard is passed off as St Petersburg in ‘Goldeneye’ and in ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’ the Strand frontage stands in as the Ministry of Defence, where it is witness to the ultimate London male fantasy: James Bond pulls up outside in his Aston Martin DB5 and doesn’t get a parking ticket.
2. The South Bank Lion
Now dumped on Westminster Bridge, this magnificent beast once stood atop a South Bank brewery that made way for the Festival of Britain site. If that’s not enough to confuse Smersh agents finding their way around the city, in ‘Die Another Day’ the Bond team used the lion to mark the entrance to the entirely fictitious Vauxhall Cross station. Missing breweries, disappearing bridges, invented stations… No wonder we won the Cold War!
3. The National Gallery
In ‘Skyfall’ the National Gallery’s Room 34 is the gadgetry strewn venue for Bond’s first encounter with new boffin Q (played by Ben Whishaw), who hands James a pistol that will only fire when matched with his palm print. The scene in enhanced by the sinister painting in the background, Joseph Wright of Derby’s ‘An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump’, which depicts another Englishman with a licence to kill – in this case a cockatoo.
4. The Reform Club
As well as doubling as the Foreign Office in ‘Quantum of Solace’, in ‘Die Another Day’ this Pall Mall institution saw the most wooden flirting scene in the history of cinema: the Ronsealed ‘sword’ conversation between Madonna and Pierce Brosnan which runs thusly – Madonna: ‘I see you handle your weapon well’. Pierce: ‘I have been known to keep my tip up.’
5. Dukes Hotel
It was in the bar of this Mayfair hotel after a face-full of the best dry martinis in London that Ian Fleming stumbled across the ‘shaken not stirred’ line. Both Sean Connery and Pierce Brosnan celebrated landing cinema’s most gin-soaked gig here.
6. 27 Green St
This grand Mayfair townhouse was the birthplace of Ian Lancaster Fleming on May 28, 1908. Young Ian’s life followed a conventional course, as he was packed off to prep school and then Eton. Unlike the only two London-educated 007s: Roger Moore, who went to Battersea Grammar, and Pierce Brosnan, who went to Elliot School in Putney.
7. 16 Victoria Square
This is where the magic happened. Fleming bought 16 Victoria Square, SW1, in March 1953 and lived here for his most prolific and successful period as a writer, knocking out – between Martinis and fags – 12 Bond books before he died in August 1964. You wouldn’t have found a kettle, though. Fleming had a near obsessive aversion to tea, which Bond blames in ‘Goldfinger’ for the fall of the British Empire.
8. Buckingham Palace
Ever wanted to recreate Gustav Graves’s parachute jump over Buckingham Palace in ‘Die Another Day’? Well, you can’t. Any plane that flies within a kilometre of the palace puts Britain’s anti-terrorist units and the Civil Aviation Authority on full alert. However, these rules do not apply if you are organising the Olympics Opening Ceremony, in which case you just park your helicopter out the front.
Terry Farrell’s postmodern pile has come in for stick from critics and a Real IRA rocket attack in 2000. ‘Skyfall’ sees the Lego-style fortress under fire again when the bad guys attempt to blow M out of her armchair.
Still the heart of power in the British establishment, Whitehall was sensationally shut down in March for the filming of a typically explosive sequence for ‘Skyfall’. The rooftops of the streets between the Houses of Parliament and Trafalgar Square (above) become the brooding backdrop for one of the most stunning shots of London ever seen on film. Daniel Craig looks pretty good as well. Emma McWhinney