The surviving nine minutes and thirty-three seconds of Ian Fleming's appearance on Desert Island Discs is available on the series website. He chats about his career and about how his wartime experience taught him how "the intelligence machine works". When they get to the James Bond books, Fleming mentions that his newest novel had just been sent to the publishers. I must assume that, as On Her Majesty's Secret Service had already been released in April '63, that the manuscript was You Only Live Twice, to be released in April of 1964. Listening to the recording, one hears familiar sound bytes that have appeared in other documentaries. In the recent doc film Everything or Nothing, for example, we hear why Fleming began to write Casino Royale in the face of marriage. The writer admits that he was "frenzied at the prospect of this great step in [his] life after having been a bachelor for so long, and [he] really wanted to take [his] mind off the agony." He describes James Bond as a "fictional mixture of commandos and secret service agents that [he] met during the war.
The interview continues on to Fleming's need to stick to a routine as a writer, both for his own discipline and, in a broader sense, to guarantee the success of his sales. He talks about how The Spy Who Loved Me, which deviated from expectation, was not a great seller. They touch on the films and Fleming mentions his visit to the set of From Russia With Love. When asked about the criticism that his books were sadistic, he says that history itself is all "sex and violence", and how it would be ridiculous to carry on the style of boyhood adventure stories like Bulldog Drummond. He is asked how long he thinks he can keep at writing new Bond books... Ian Fleming died one year later on August 12th, 1964 (his son's birthday). Posthumous releases followed with Bond short stories, his final feature-length 007 manuscript, The Man With the Golden Gun, and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. As you would expect, Fleming is absolutely charming to hear in the interview. I am such a fan that I watch the Ian Fleming documentary special feature on The Living Daylights disc over and over again. It's cool to discover additional archive material and to hear more of this famous interview. You can listen to this surviving audio segment over at the Desert Island Discs website. Now, what would he take to a desert island?
Ian Fleming's Desert Island Discs: Celia (Whispering Jack Smith), Dinah (The Revellers), La Vie en Rose (Edith Piaf), If I Didn't Care (The Ink Spots), This Ole House (Rosemary Clooney), A Summer Place (Billy Vaughan), Harry Lime Theme (Anton Karas), Darktown Strutters Ball (Joe Carr).
Book: War and Peace by Tolstoy
Luxury Item: Typewriter and paper.
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