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Roger leaping

The strangest thing has happened. ITV have dispensed with their usual policy, and actually put something watchable on television during the day.

The last two weekends they have treated us to some classic Roger Moore Bond films.

Regardless of popular opinion, Roger is clearly the greatest Bond, simply because he was the one that had to do the most work.

Firstly, he is massively too old. No-one — apart from, apparently, the swathe of bikini’d lovelies that surround him at all times — is fooled by the hair. It is that same strange shade that one sees on Silvio Berlusconi’s and John Travolta’s fuzzy noggins. A colour that simply isn’t available in nature.

He also can’t run. Which really shouldn’t be that much of a problem, except for the fact that this seems to be a fairly major skill for people doing, you know…intelligence work. (In The Spy who Loved Me, Roger actually looks pained sitting on the edge of the bed, presumably due to the nagging constraints of his girdle.)

It doesn’t matter that he looks ludicrous, because it all complements the spirit of the films.

The stories are clearly not founded in reality — they’re based on a world where Britain is still a superpower, where spies routinely use parachutes emblazoned with their own national flags, and where the summit of all human achievement is based on a man’s ability to smoke cigars and make a succession of barbed ‘quips’ – mainly to an audience of stiffs.

It seems like an odd thing to do — punning to the dead – but Roger likes it. (Sadly, this became a stable part of action films in the 1980s — taken to its logical extreme by Arnold Schwarzenegger in films like Commando. You may recall Arnie as ‘John Matrix’ killing a fat man in a chainmail wife-beater with a hot air pipe and then telling his corpse to “let off some steam…”)

But Roger is the originator, and it’s this — plus his effortless eye-brow hiking, leathery skin and general swagger — that makes his Bond.

Despite his obvious shortcomings (when he gropes young ladies with liver-spotted hands, it’s not always pleasant viewing), Roger’s Bond does put on a damned good show.

Whether he’s wandering through a desert in full evening dress or clambering over a wall in a fawn safari suit and brown loafers, there’s never a hair out of place.

Even when he’s giving a sumo wrestler a wedgie or rabbit-punching an oblivious Richard Kiel, the oddly-coloured hair remains staunch. In fact, like the Bond of the Ian Fleming novels, whatever happens, Moore’s hair is unmoved.

On those rare occasions that Moore does sustain an injury, it’s only ever of the ‘hero cut’ variety — perhaps a small line of blood emanating from the corner of his mouth – and, even then, there’s usually a blonde with a bubble perm and a velour swimsuit ready to kiss it better in time for the next scene.

Perhaps most telling about Moore’s tenure as Bond is the line in The Man with the Golden Gun, when Roger looks genuinely flabbergasted by M, his boss, explaining that they have found a golden bullet with ‘007’ etched on to it.

Who could possibly have done that? (Well, The Man with the Golden Gun would seem like a likely contender.) Roger pleads ignorance.

Bond: “Who would want to kill me?”

M: “Jealous husbands? Outraged chefs? Humiliated tailors? The list is endless…”

Humiliated tailors? How did that happen?

Presumably some particularly pithy comeback to the question about if he hangs to the left or right lurks at the heart of it…

That tailor should probably think himself lucky he wasn’t killed first.

@eohiggins

For more about the ludicrously brown voice and hair of Roger Moore, read The Bluffer’s Guide to Bond®.

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