Skip to main content

It looks like you’re using an ad blocker that may prevent our website from working properly. To receive the best experience possible, please make sure any blockers are switched off and refresh the page.

Harry Benson/Express/Getty Images

Desert Island Discs

Ian Fleming

Harry Benson/Express/Getty Images

Amazon has bought half of the Bond film franchise, almost 60 years after the release of the first Bond film, Dr No, in 1962. Ian Fleming appeared on Desert Island Discs a year later, aged 55. Dr No, he told Roy Plomley, has “been a tremendous success in England, and even more so in America. “It’s breaking records.”

The idea for Bond was accidental. Fleming had been a bachelor for years and was about to get married. It was a terrifying prospect. “I really wanted to take my mind off the agony, and so I decided to sit down and write a book.” Once he started he couldn’t stop, trotting out one novel a year. Writing must be systematic, he says. “If I wait for genius to arrive from the skies, it just doesn’t arrive. I just need to get on with the work.”

Was the womanising spy autobiographical? After all, Fleming was a naval intelligence officer and long-time bachelor. “I hope not,” he says. “I certainly haven’t got his guts, nor his very lively appetites.” Lively appetites indeed, says Plomley: “Bond takes his sex almost as casually as he takes a drink.” Did Fleming worry that the spy was a bad influence? “Well, he has one girl per book, approximately, and that’s one a year. I think that’s…” He trails off. “Well, he’s a bachelor. I think he moves around the world pretty rapidly. I don’t see any great harm in that myself.”

🎵 Cecilia, “Whispering” Jack Smith

🎵 Dinah, the Revelers

🎵 La Vie en Rose, Edith Piaf

🎵 If I Didn’t Care, the Ink Spots

🎵 This Ole House, Rosemary Clooney

🎵 Theme from A Summer Place, Billy Vaughn

🎵 Harry Lime Theme (The Third Man), Anton Karas

🎵 The Darktown Strutters’ Ball, Joe “Fingers” Carr

📕 War and Peace (in German), Leo Tolstoy

🎁 Typewriter and paper

Listen to the full episode here.