‘Goldfinger, do not record over’
This isn’t Shirley Bassey, it is the stern, but fair, message written on the side of a VHS cassette I recorded from ITV some time in the late ’90s or the early ’00s. Around this time, me and my brother went through a phase of taping James Bond films each week and then watching them after school the next day, or (sometimes) watching them on the evening they were broadcast. Eating Rice Krispies as James Bond seduced a lady was one of my regular forays into high culture when I was maturing from boy to teenager at the turn of the century, and it prepared me for life in a world of ever-increasing dangers and ever-increasing gadgets.
Has there ever been a time when ITV didn’t show one Bond film per week? Some people speak of a shadowy time ‘before 007’, but I don’t think there’s any way to verify their tales. The repeating cycles of super-spy stories seem to be as much a part of nature as the migration of birds or the rotation of the earth around the sun. Surely ITV2 was designed purely to raise awareness of the precarious condition of Roger Moore’s sagging face in Octopussy?
Sky recently bought the rights to show James Bond films from ITV, so this ancient cycle will come to an end. It’s a shame really, as it means that people who don’t have Sky TV will never experience the rite of passage of a Bond marathon. Our family was one of the families that did not have Sky TV when I was growing up. The lack of Sky TV in the Waterfield residence was just one of the many injustices that I have had to overcome. The other injustice was the time Mum implied that she thought the school trip to Alton Towers would be a waste of time, so I didn’t go. I did eventually go to Alton Towers, sure, on a later school trip … but the scars run deep.
To return to my point: A younger me learnt a lot of valuable life-lessons from watching Bond do his thing.
This was all important stuff to a boy doing his GCSEs, like what shoes to wear with my tuxedo, how to be a remorseless killing machine, how to be a remorseless sexing machine, and so on. If you’ve ever wondered why I’m such a ladies man, it’s because of 007. If you’ve ever wondered why the ladies don’t realise I’m such a ladies man, it’s because they never watched James Bond films. So before these ancient lessons are taken away from future generations, who may not have Sky TV, I’d like to pass on some nuggets from my years of taped-from-tv wisdom:
People with braces are not to be trusted (The Spy Who Loved Me; Moonraker)
A Flamboyant Union Jack parachute is the perfect way to camouflage yourself while engaged in a top secret mission (The Spy Who Loved Me)
A car that contains built-in machine-guns is able to pass its MOT (Goldfinger; Thunderball)
Just after Bond has stabbed a man in the heart is an excellent time to advertise Cumbrian furniture showrooms (All the Bond films)
Gold body paint is a bit tacky (Goldfinger)
People with prosthetic arms are not to be trusted (Live and Let Die)
Roger Moore is not some kind of a clown. He does not make me laugh (Octopussy)
Octopussy is a ridiculous title for anything (Octopussy)
Pussy Galore is definitely an acceptable name to give your child (Goldfinger)
Volcanoes are roomy (You Only Live Twice)
So why has Sky decided to buy James Bond? It would be all too easy to claim that shadowy media hate-figure Rupert Murdoch wants to gain control over the 007 films in order to further his own nefarious plans for global domination, but of course that would be entirely accurate. It could also be that Murdoch just wants to prevent the world seeing his true form as the media mogul super-villain in ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’. Another possibility is that ‘the guys at Sky’ want to make lots of money, I suppose that might be it.
Despite these unsettling thoughts, all is not lost. My ITV MI6 training has left me with the expectation, nay certainty, that Bond, James Bond, will still escape from this tricky situation at the last minute, blowing up the lairs of both the Sun and Fox News before snogging a page 3 girl and driving off into the sunset in a missile-firing rocket-powered invisible submarine car.
Failing that, at least I’ve got Goldfinger.