Tag Archives: James Bond

Farewell, Diana. Remembering Diana Rigg(1938-2020)

The sad news came through on September the 10th, that the actress Dame Diana Rigg had passed away that day from cancer. She was 82. My heart broke at the news. She has been a favourite of mine for many years now and I have grown up admiring so many of the strong and kickass characters she played, proving yet again that there were actually many great roles for women in the past, despite what some people today seem to think.

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Diana Rigg in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Image source IMDb.

I also liked how Diana always came across as down to earth and didn’t take it all too seriously. She was made a CBE in 1988 and a Dame in 1994.In 1982 she wrote No Turn Unstoned, a book featuring a collection of the worst theatrical reviews in history.

Diana Rigg was born on the 20th of July, 1938, in Doncaster. Her dad Louis was a Railway Engineer, and from the age of two months until she was eight, Diana lived in Bikaner, India, where her dad was employed as a railway executive. Diana spoke fluent Hindi and it was her second language for some years. She was sent back to England to attend the Fulneck Girls School, in Pudsey, Yorkshire. Diana hated her time there, but she felt that her character was shaped more by her time in Yorkshire than it was in India.

Diana attended Royal Academy Of Dramatic Art from 1955 to 1957, and she made her professional acting debut in The Caucasian Chalk Circle at the York festival in 1957. She had a varied stage career during the 1950’s and 60’s, including time spent performing with the Royal Shakespeare Company. However, it would be due to two performances on the screen that she would go on to become a household name.

In 1965, Diana auditioned for the role of the new partner of Patrick Macnee’s suave spy, John Steed, in the British hit TV series The Avengers. The character of Emma Peel was the replacement to Honor Blackman’s tough Cathy Gale. Honor Blackman, Patrick Macnee and Diana Rigg would all go on to be involved with the James Bond series, with Diana and Honor playing two of the toughest and most beloved Bond girls.

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Diana Rigg and Patrick Macnee in The Avengers. Image source IMDb.

Diana had never watched the series before she auditioned for the role. She replaced the actress Elizabeth Shepherd, who had originally been cast as Emma but had left the series after filming just two episodes. It’s hard to imagine this series now without Diana.Emma Peel is the role that most people remember Diana for. As much as I love the other seasons and the various partners, it is Steed and Peel who first spring to my mind whenever I think of this series. For me John Steed and Emma Peel are the heart and soul of The Avengers. They are without a doubt one of best screen partnerships.

Patrick and Diana had a magical chemistry on screen. There is such a warmth and playfulness between them, as well as a sexual tension which works wonderfully for the characters. This sexual tension created quite the talking point amongst fans, something which continues today, as to just what the exact nature of Steed and Peel’s relationship actually was.

Emma Peel is such a great character because she’s intelligent, independent, and strong, and she’s also highly skilled in martial arts and firearms. She can take care of herself and is every bit Steed’s equal. You wouldn’t want to mess with her. If this character has inspired me as a little girl growing up in the 1990’s and 2000’s, then I can’t begin to imagine how much of an impact she had on girls and women watching the series during the very male dominated society of the 1960’s.

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Steed and Peel were one of the best TV partnerships. Image source IMDb.

Diana played Emma for three years between 1965 and 1967. While she and Patrick became good friends, she was however left unhappy with her treatment by the series producers, particularly around the issue of how little she was being paid in comparison with the rest of the cast and crew. She demanded and eventually received a pay rise. A ballsy move for the time,and one which showed she wasn’t content to be treated secondary to her male colleagues. All respect to her. Diana also felt uncomfortable that she had become a sex symbol because of the series.

In 1969, Diana would play the second character with whom she would forever afterwards be associated with. That character was Countess Teresa “Tracy” di Vicenzo in the sixth Bond film, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

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Mr and Mrs. James Bond. Image source IMDb.

In comparison with so many of the other women in Bond’s life, Tracy actually claims the heart of the tough spy and the pair genuinely fall in love, rather than just enjoying a brief fling and some fun. Tracy also has a very interesting character arc as she transitions from suicidal playgirl, to a happy woman with a newfound desire for living life; something which makes her characters shocking fate all the more tragic to witness.Diana is incredible in this role and brings a lot of depth to the character. 

OHMSS saw George Lazenby taking over the role of 007 after Sean Connery’s departure from the role. Despite the unfair criticism he has received over the years for his performance, George does a very good job and is believable as the tough and calm under pressure spy. He’s very good in the fight sequences and very good in the tender and more poignant scenes between Bond and Tracy. He and Diana work very well together and have a lovely chemistry. There were rumours that the two actors didn’t get on, something which they both denied.

Outside of The Avengers and James Bond, Diana worked steadily in theatre, TV and film right up until her death.Her last role was as Mrs. Pumphrey in the new remake of the TV series All Creatures Great And Small, and that series is currently still in the middle of airing here in the UK. 

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Diana and George C. Scott in The Hospital. Image source IMDb.

Just two years after OHMSS, Diana was cast as Barbara Drummond in Arthur Hill’s 1971 satirical film, The Hospital. Diana delivers a performance here which sees her match  the mighty George C. Scott. George was an actor who dominated every scene he appeared in, even if he wasn’t really doing anything, so I’ve always been impressed by what Diana managed to do in this one. 

I love Diana in the short lived TV series The Mrs. Bradley Mysteries – almost a forerunner to the series Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries –  playing Adela Bradley, a stylish upper class widow who isn’t content to be what society dictates, who rocks 1920’s flapper fashion, and solves crimes with the aid of her dishy friend(with the potential to be something more) and chauffer, George Moody(Neil Dudgeon). I think it’s a real shame this series didn’t last longer because it’s a lot of fun and she and Neil have a lovely chemistry. 

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Diana and Emilia Fox in the series Rebecca. Image source IMDb.

Diana was chilling and unsettling as Mrs. Danvers in the 1997 TV adaptation of Daphne Du Maurier’s novel, Rebecca. Her co-stars in the series were Charles Dance as Maxim and Emilia Fox as the second Mrs. DeWinter. Charles and Diana were reunited just a few years ago, when the pair co-starred on the hit series, Game Of Thrones

Diana gained a new generation of fans around the world thanks to her performance as the cunning and fearless, Queen Of Thorns, in the TV series Game Of Thrones. This characters mind and words are her swords and poison, and they are quite capable of bringing her enemies low. The Queen Of Thorns is just as badass as Emma Peel.

If I saw Diana’s name on the cast list of a film or series, then I would always watch it. She always impressed and I was always left wanting to see more from her. I will miss her presence on our screens, but I take comfort in the vast body of work she has left behind for us to enjoy. R.I.P, Diana. All sympathies to her family and friends. She is survived by her daughter Rachel Stirling, who has followed in her mum’s footsteps and become a great actress herself. 

Thanks for all the great work and wonderful memories, Diana. 

Farewell, Honor. Remembering Honor Blackman(1925-2020)

The sad news came through on the 5th of April that another classic film legend had left us. Honor Blackman had passed away at the age of 94. This honey-voiced, tough and stylish lady was known around the world thanks to her unforgettable performance as the no- nonsense Bond girl Pussy Galore, in the 1964 Bond film Goldfinger.

I liked Honor because she told it like it was and came across as a lovely and funny lady. She was also very vocal about the lack of decent roles for older women in the film industry, as opposed to their older male colleagues still receiving great roles in their later years. 

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Honor Blackman. Image source IMDb.

Honor was also a household name here in the UK for playing another tough and iconic screen heroine – Cathy Gale, the first female partner of Patrick Macnee’s suave John Steed in The Avengers TV series. Cathy was highly skilled in Judo, witty and clad all in leather. You didn’t want to mess with either Miss Gale or Miss Galore. Honor and her co-star Patrick Macnee recorded the song Kinky Boots together in 1964, the song would later become a surprise hit in the 1990’s. 

I first became aware of Honor after seeing the film A Night To Remember, in which she played a first class passenger who must board a lifeboat with her children and leave her husband behind on the sinking Titanic. I loved her performance in that and checked out more of her work after. 

Honor was born in Plaistow, Essex, on the 22nd of August, 1925. She trained at the Guildhall School Of Music And Drama beginning there in 1940. During WW2 she studied her craft part time while working as a motorcycle dispatch rider and holding a clerical job at the Home Office. After her graduation from the Guildhall in 1947, she went on to become an understudy in the play The Guinea PigHer first film role was a non speaking part in the 1947 film Fame Is The Spur. Over the years she would star in many more films including: Diamond City, Quartet, So Long At The Fair, Life At The Top, Jason And The Argonauts and Bridget Jones’s Diary. She also delivered a memorable performance in the Columbo TV episode Dagger Of The Mind.

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Honor in a publicity photo for Goldfinger. Image source IMDb.

Honor’s performance as pilot Pussy Galore in Goldfinger is what really made her a star and a screen icon. At 38 Honor was the oldest actress to play a Bond girl. Honor was cast in the role due to her performance as Cathy Gale in The Avengers. Where a great many of the Bond girls have been tough and a real match for Bond, Pussy was even more so. She oozes confidence and really stands up to Bond. She can also take care of herself and isn’t intimidated by anyone. She’s also very independent and doesn’t need a man’s protection in life. Honor captures and conveys this woman’s nature so well, that it’s hard to imagine anyone else other than her in that role. 

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Honor and Sean Connery. Image source IMDb.

R.I.P, Honor. All sympathies to her family and friends. Share your thoughts and memories about Honor below.

The 007 Blogathon Begins

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Check back to this post over the next three days to read all the entries for each day. I will update this page each day adding the new entries as I get them sent in.

The time has now come for us to discuss Britain’s most famous secret agent. If you will all take a seat (and collect a dry martini from the waiter)we will begin…

007 Blogathon Entries: Day 3

Lifesdailylessonsblog shares her great love for Timothy Dalton and – The Living Daylights.

Crackedrearviewer shares his love for Sean Connery as Bond and discusses- Goldfinger.

The Humpo Show writes about his – Least favourite Bond film.

Realweegiemidget looks at five actors who – could be Bond.

Cinemaessentials takes a look at – The Spy Who Loved Me.

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007 Blogathon Entries: Day 2

Hamlette’s Soliloquy shares her love for – Goldeneye.

Old School Evil introduces us all to – James Bond Jr .

The Spac Hole looks at actresses who – should have been Bond Girls.

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007 Blogathon Entries: Day 1

Thoughts All Sorts shares her love for – Casino Royale. Plus Daniel Craig in swimming trunks. 🙂

RealweegiemidgetReviews takes a look at – Spectre.

Vinnieh takes us through a history of the Bond girls – The evolution of the Bond girls.

I share with you – My ten favourite Bond films.

 

 

 

My Ten Favourite Bond Films

I’m a huge fan of the Bond films. I also love the novels. I love pretty much all of the films in this series. I like all six of the Bond actors, and I think they were all good and each brought something different to the role. There are some exceptions to my love of the films though. Die Another Day, Diamonds Are Forever, Octopussy and Quantum Of Solace are all pretty dire in my opinion. From that list Octopussy is about the only one with any rewatch value to me, I will watch it occasionally, but it is certainly not a favourite.

Listing backwards and starting at number 10, I now proudly present my all time favourite Bond films.

10-  Licence To Kill

I consider this to be the darkest and most violent of all the Bond films. James Bond is shown here in all his ruthlessness and darkness. In this film he is seeking revenge for his friend Felix Leiter. Leiter was left maimed and his new wife Della murdered on their wedding day. Dalton does a good job at conveying Bond’s horror and rage at this incident, and also in conveying Bond’s disenchantment with the service he has worked so loyally for over the years.

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Timothy Dalton as Bond. Image source IMDb.

Timothy Dalton also conveys that Bond is not messing around on this mission, there will be blood shed, and he will take no prisoners. I love his relationship with Agent Pam Bouvier(the fabulous Carey Lowell), and I like that she is a real kick ass gal who can more than take care of herself without Bond’s help. Robert Davi is sadistic and chilling as the evil villain Sanchez.

Sadly this was Dalton’s last appearance as 007 and I feel so sorry for him that he never got to make at least two more films. He is the closest to the Bond of Fleming’s novels, and years before Daniel Craig did it, he gives us a cold, but tender, steely and ruthless Bond.

9- For Your Eyes Only

Bond helps Melina, a young woman determined to avenge her murdered parents. Bond tries to talk her out of her quest knowing the emotional/psychological baggage that comes with taking a life. He also has to get some stolen equipment back, which is linked to British Nuclear submarines and is also being sought by the Russians. I’d say this is the grittiest of Moore’s Bond films.

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Bond and Melina. Image source IMDb.

I like Bond’s relationship with Melina very much, there is a real affection between them and he tries to help her see she is not alone. The scene where Bond and Melina are dragged behind a boat is one of the best sequences in any of the films I think.  I love how he tries and keeps her spirits up, even when it seems they will die because of the situation they’re in.

I love the ski jump sequence and subsequent chase scene in this. Edge of your seat stuff for sure. The mountain climb sequence later in the film is also so suspenseful. I also think this film features one of Moore’s coldest Bond moments where he deliberately pushes a car over a cliff with a man still in it! Moore’s Bond could be cold and ruthless at times too, but sadly everyone seems to focus on the comedy of his films. The beautiful theme song is one of my favourites. 

8- Dr. No

The first ever Bond film and the first outing for Sean Connery. This is one of the best and most enjoyable of all the Bond films. Sean is strong and sexy as Bond, there is also a coldness and toughness to him which makes it clear you wouldn’t want to mess with him. Bond goes to Jamaica to search for a fellow agent who is missing. Bond soon finds his life threatened as he investigates a mysterious scientist, known only as Dr. No. Teaming up with fisherman Quarrel, and the bikini clad Honey Ryder, Bond sets out to defeat this mysterious man who is terrorising many people.

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Bond and Honey. Image source IMDb.

The “you’ve had your six” scene is one of the greatest moments in the series history. Our first glimpse of Honey walking out of the sea is also one of the most iconic and unforgettable moments in the series. This is the film that started it all and we as fans all owe it a debt of gratitude. Beautiful location work. Ursula Andress is terrific as the fiercely independent and gentle Honey Ryder. No theme song either, just that awesome instrumental Bond theme by Monty Norman.

7- Casino Royale

Daniel Craig’s first outing as Bond. This did for the series what Timothy Dalton’s introduction did for it back in the eighties, making it realistic, gritty and believable once again. If you have never read the novels you won’t be familiar with Vesper Lynd, but it is she who made Bond the man we all know today. Eva Green shines as Vesper, the icy woman who falls for Bond and breaks his heart.

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Bond and Vesper. Image source IMDb.

This film shows us how and why James became the way he is in the rest of the series. If you ever wondered why (for the most part)he treats women as nothing more than objects of pleasure, who are one night stand material only, then this film will explain why. This is a thrilling and dark film. Bond has to play a high stakes poker game to win money that will go to fund terrorists if won by anyone other than him. The villains he comes up against in this are linked to the organisation he will come to know as SPECTRE.

Daniel Craig does a good job of showing the man beneath the tough, cool exterior. The scenes between Bond and Vesper are some of my favourites in the entire series. The shower sequence where he comforts the traumatised Vesper is so touching.  The chase and crane fight at the beginning is a real favourite, and it always has me watching through my fingers! In addition to being a fine action thriller, Casino Royale also has a lot of heart and has an emotionally devastating finale. 

6- From Russia With Love

One of the best films in the entire series. This story has a very realistic tone, which gives you the feeling that this could have really happened to any spy. Bond is being hunted by SPECTRE, who have baited a trap for him involving a Russian cipher clerk who says she wishes to defect to the West.

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Bond and Grant fight. Image source IMDb.

Bond comes up against the insane Rosa Klebb (and her deadly flick knife shoes)and the even more insane and deadly Red Grant. Grant is my favourite of all the Bond henchmen. Why? Because he is the most believable; he is also Bond’s match and he calmly stalks his target until he is ready to take him down. The train fight between them is outstanding, so suspenseful and keeps you on the edge of your seat. This film also features my favourite instrumental piece (thanks John Barry)which can be heard when Bond steals the Lektor decoder.

5- Goldeneye

Pierce Brosnan’s first outing as Bond. Pierce Brosnan has the edge of Dalton and Connery, and the humour in the face of threats of Moore. This film blends the realism and concerns of Dalton’s era, with the humour and big set pieces that had become such a integral part of the series over the years.

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Bond and Natalya. Image source IMDb.

The opening stunt jump up on the dam is one of the most impressive and jaw dropping of the entire series. This film is the first to feature Judi Dench as M. I love the dynamic between her and Bond and now she has become an integral part of the series herself. 

Bond goes to Russia to try and stop a cyber attack being brought about by using a satellite weapon system called Goldeneye. He comes up against a former 00 agent who he believed to be dead. He is helped by feisty computer expert Natalya(Izabella Scorupco).This film also features one of the best bad girls in the series. Who is she? Xenia Onnatopp. Famke Janssen is clearly having so much fun in every scene she’s in as the deranged and sex obsessed Xenia. 

4- Live and Let Die

Roger Moore’s first outing as Bond. Moore’s Bond is cool and suave, but he can be ruthless and deadly when necessary too. This Bond prefers words/quips as weapons, and he fires them off faster than bullets from a gun. Moore’s Bond was very different to Connery’s, and he brought more humour to the role. This film and some of his other ones do show his Bond to be quite quite callous and cold too. It’s not all laughter in the Roger Moore era, despite what some of the critics of this era may say.

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Roger Moore as James Bond. Image source IMDb.

Bond is in America helping the CIA  take down a Caribbean dictator. Bond has to deal with Voodoo magic, Harlem gangsters, crocodiles, a cranky Police Sherriff, and the beautiful tarot reader, Solitaire. This has one of the best scores of the entire series. There is an edge of your seat river boat chase. Yaphet Kotto is chilling and steals every scene he is in as the terrifying villain (I have to admit that his end is daft and hugely laughable though).Jane Seymour is enchanting as the innocent Solitaire. 

3-  The Living Daylights

Timothy Dalton’s first outing as Bond takes us back to the realism and grit of Ian Fleming’s novels, and the earlier Connery films. After the humorous Moore years, Dalton gave us back the Bond we were supposed to have all along. Dalton’s Bond was dark, ruthless, tough and all about the mission. Sadly his films were not that well received, but over the years he and the films have become rightly praised and loved. It is a shame that Daniel Craig has received praise right from the off for essentially playing Bond how Dalton played him all those years ago, and yet poor Tim got nothing but a hard time.

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Timothy Dalton leaps into action as 007. Image source IMDb.

Bond is looking into the murders of some fellow 00 agents. He also investigates whether or not a KGB agents defection is real or staged. He befriends the agents girlfriend, Kara, and soon determines the defection is all staged and that this is all linked to his murdered colleagues.I love the relationship between Bond and Kara(Maryam d’Abo). Their relationship is so tender and you feel that Bond is sorry that he has to deceive her.

The title song for this is my favourite from the entire series. I love Dalton’s portrayal of Bond and think he is the closest to the agent originally conceived by Fleming. He deserved more than two films. He was the right Bond, but he came along at the wrong time. For the record, Tim is also my favourite Bond actor, although I love all of the actors. 

2- On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

George Lazenby’s first and only appearance as Bond. He has often been called the weakest of the Bond’s, but I don’t agree and actually think that is quite unfair. He is tough, cool, cold, and does very well in the fight sequences. I also think he gets the best intro shot of any of the Bond actors. We first see him driving a car and lighting a cigarette, but only see glimpses of him such as parts of his face and his hands etc. I just love the way that sequence is shot. Then we get the famous “this never happened to the other fella!” line just before the title sequence, a knowing wink to the end of Sean Connery’s era.

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Bond and Tracy. Image source IMDb.

Bond travels to Switzerland to track down Blofeld (now played by Telly Savalas). He soon discovers a plot to contaminate the worlds food supply and then hold the governments of the world to ransom. Bond also finds himself falling in love with the suicidal Tracy (Diana Rigg). Bond helps Tracy find a reason to live and decides to give up his spy work to marry her. Sadly tragedy lies just around the corner for this couple.

A beautiful score, some of the best stunt/fight sequences in the entire series, and beautiful locations, all add together to make this a great film. I love the growing relationship between Bond and Tracy and how she soon becomes more important to him than his work as an agent. Diana Rigg is both tough and vulnerable as the troubled Tracy. Telly Savalas is ice cold as Blofeld. I thought Donald Pleasence did a great job of making Blofeld insane, but have always felt his portrayal was very over the top. Telly on the other hand made Blofeld more real and gave him a dangerous edge.

The final scene still shocks and moves me no matter how many times I watch it.

And now for my all time favourite Bond film….

1- Thunderball

I love this film so much. This one has another of those far more realistic and believable plots.The location work in the Bahamas is absolutely gorgeous. This is Sean Connery’s fourth Bond film, and by now he had well and truly settled into the role. I feel this that this is the last truly great film to be found in his Bond era. 

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Domino and Bond. Image source IMDb.

Bond tracks down two stolen atomic bombs. The bombs have been taken by SPECTRE, who plan to threaten cities with destruction, unless world governments agree to pay them a huge ransom. Bond traces the weapons to the Bahamas and encounters SPECTRE’s number 2 agent – the ice cold, eye-patch wearing, Largo (Adolfo Celi). He also encounters the deadly SPECTRE agent, Fiona Volpe(Luciana Paluzzi). Bond also helps out Largo’s abused mistress, Domino(Claudine Auger).

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Bond and Fiona Volpe. Image source IMDb.

This has one of the best scores in the series, some very impressive underwater sequences, the best (in my opinion)Bond bad girl (Fiona), and possibly the coldest villain (Largo). Connery also delivers that very famous line here – “I guess he got the point”, right after he spear guns a henchman. Fantastic theme song courtesy of Tom Jones too.

As a bonus here are my top 5 Bond novels.

1-  Casino Royale

2- On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

3- Thunderball

4- The Spy Who Loved Me – This comes across as almost like a fan fiction wish fulfilment story. The main character is a woman, and the book is mostly about her. She is having a really bad time due to some bad guys hassling her, Bond come along, saves her and romances her. The fact is this actually came from Fleming and I love it, even though it’s not your typical Bond story.

5- Dr. No  

What are your favourite films and novels from the Bond series? What are your thoughts on the films I’ve discussed? Please leave your comments below.

Announcing The 007 Blogathon

 

Bond Blogathon announcement

 

Hi all. I’m very excited to be announcing the details of my first ever blogathon. I do hope you will all be able to participate.

I am a big fan of a certain, suave, British agent who loves fast cars, saving the world and drinking shaken, but not stirred Martinis. So, I decided to go right ahead and choose James Bond as the subject for my first blogathon.

The blogathon will run between the 21st, 22nd and 23rd of July, 2017.  Keep checking back to this post to see the updated list (found at the very bottom of this post) for who is writing about what. You can post your entry on whichever of the three days you wish.

You are free to write about whatever you wish. For example you could write about your favourite Bond film. Write about your favourite gadget designed by Q. Write about your favourite Bond girl. Write one post covering the entire Bond series. Write about your favourite scene in a Bond film. Write about your favourite Bond novel. The list is endless.

You can write more than one post if you want to. You could write one about your favourite Bond film, and another one about your favourite Bond score for example.

I will only be accepting 2 duplicate posts about the same film or novel.

How do I take part?

Very easily. Leave me a comment below telling me what you want to write about.  Leave me your name and the name of your blog too. Then grab one of the banners below, and put it up somewhere on your site to help spread the word.

What will happen on the Blogathon days?

I will put up a new post on the 21st saying the Blogathon is going live. Leave me your name and the link to your completed entry in the comments. I will then create the link to your entry on my post.

I’ve never participated in a Blogathon before. What’s it all about?

You’re in for lots of fun then. 🙂 Blogathons are a great way of connecting with other bloggers. It’s a good way of getting more visitors to your site who may not otherwise have ever known your blog existed. I love Blogathons for the varied opinions and comments different bloggers can bring to the same subject.

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I look forward to reading all the entries.  Have fun!

    Participants

Maddylovesherclassicfilms – My Ten Favourite Bond Films.

    Thoughtsallsorts  –  Casino Royale

   Lifesdailylessonsblog –  The Living Daylights

  Crackedrearviewer –  Goldfinger

RealweegiemidgetSpectre.  Five actors who could be Bond.

 Hamlette’s SoliloquyGoldeneye

OldSchoolEvilJames Bond Jr (animated TV series)

VinniehThe evolution of the Bond girls

CarlosnightmanActresses who would have made great Bond girls

Jay – The Spy Who Loved Me

The Humpo ShowMy least favourite Bond film