Just recently, we did a write-up on Bond girls that the world forgot, including the likes of Sylvia Trench (Eunice Gayson), Honey Ryder (Ursula Andress), and Zora (Martine Beswick, who also played Paula Caplan in Thunderball). That such a list even exists speaks to the power of the “Bond Girl” as an iconic character type in a classic franchise. But in recent years, we’ve started to hear increasing buzz about an idea that would flip the idea of a Bond Girl on its head—casting a woman in the actual James Bond role.
This may seem like little more than a rumour or concept for the internet to get excited about, and it may end up being exactly that. But the idea of a female Bond has actually gotten quite a bit of attention of late, in more ways than one.
The most high-profile call for a female Bond probably came from Ed Miliband, the former leader of the Labour Party in the U.K. Quotes from Miliband suggest that the influential politician believed casting a female Bond would mean “moving with the times,” speaking to the idea that there would be a progressive aspect to the decision. Oddly, however, Miliband went on to suggest Rosamund Pike as the ideal actress for the role. Pike is a very capable actress—and a British one to boot—but given that one of her breakout roles was as Miranda Frost in Die Another Day, she’d be a bizarre choice as the first female Bond.
Reflecting the idea of a female Bond on a subtler level, there’s actually an internet game that invents the character for players to enjoy. Featured among the 400-plus available game options at one major online casino platform, “Agent Jane Blonde” is designed with a pretty clear connection to the Bond franchise. While it’s a playful title, it’s built to celebrate the same gadgetry and spy intrigue that makes 007 wonderful. The slot reels are populated by items such as X-Ray specs, cocktails, C4 gum, pistols, and GPS trackers, all with a female secret agent presiding over activity. This is by no means an indication that studios are working on a “Jane Bond,” but it does speak to the public’s general interest in the concept.
That interest has grown so widespread that one-time Bond actor Roger Moore was asked about the idea recently. Moore’s take was that you could not have a female simply take over the role, because it’s such an established part. However, as he put it, you could have a Jane Bond. The gist seemed to be that Moore would be against seeing an actress simply take over the Bond franchise, but that a spin-off would be a reasonable idea.
No matter how you feel about the idea of a female Bond, it’s at least interesting to speculate about which actresses may be suited for the role. These are just a few that seem to be popular suggestions.
Gillian Anderson, a Chicago-born actress best known for her role in X-Files, has become an oddly popular choice for those who want to see a female Bond. The actress tweeted a picture of herself in a sort of mock-up Bond poster, setting off a brief frenzy on Twitter as fans enthusiastically agreed with the idea. It seems doubly unlikely, however, that a Jane Bond would also be American.
Johansson is also American, and thus perhaps unlikely. But she’s also among the most popular actresses on the planet these days, and still young enough to sign up for a prolonged stint in a Bond role. Incidentally, she also won an IMDB poll on which actress should play Bond.
Blunt, too, has been a common choice online, and may be the most logical of them all. Blunt is just 33 years old, was born in London, and is currently seeing her star rise after a brilliant performance in the lead role in The Girl On The Train. She’s certainly among the most popular young British actresses in the world.
Those are just a few of the names floating around. Others include Angelina Jolie, Thandie Newton, and Emilia Clarke. But in the end, this is probably little more than a buzzy internet concept—for now.
Kick-Ass TV Heroines: Xena – Warrior Princess
What was not to love about Xena? As Lucy Lawless says: “Xena is a bad-ass, kick-ass, pre-Mycenaean girl.” Evildoers, clearly, must stand down, but not only bad guys (and girls) have Xena-phobia. Even heroes quake when she swings her broadsword.
Originally created as a syndicated complement to Kevin Sorbo’s Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Xena pretty much kicked Herc to the curb. It was like when the Bionic Woman made us lose interest in the Six Million Dollar Man–only more so.
Unlike Lindsay Wagner’s early half-woman, half-machine, Xena wasn’t prone to frailty. Nor did she need robot parts. In fact, the Warrior Princess never lost. If she’s down, it’s not for long.
Plus, she was in touch with the dark side: This big-boned bruiser had definite moments of blood lust, as well as lust of some other varieties. Garbed in a leather miniskirt and armed with her trademark razor-edged, boomerang-action chakram, we watched Xena single-leggedly kick down entire platoons of Roman soldiers.
Sure, there were murmurings about Xena and her softer female sidekick, Gabrielle (actress Renée O’Connor). So what if they liked to conserve bathwater by doubling up? And what’s wrong with close friends frenching once in a while?
Then again, maybe it was true–and there’s anything wrong with that.
Actress: Lucy Lawless
Show: Xena: Warrior Princess
Classic TV Revisited: McMillan And Wife
Starring Rock Hudson and Susan Saint James, McMillan and Wife was a super cute crime-solving saga from the 1970s made for the NBC’s Mystery Movie series.
Who were they?
Hubby was the debonair San Francisco police commissioner Stewart McMillan.
Sally was a foxy, rather scatterbrained dame with a knack for finding corpses.
Worked down the morgue did she?
Hardly. Sally’s finds were usually in some glitzy mansion which the couple were frequenting for a weekend cocktail party. She also had a habit of getting her life threatened or being kidnapped.
Who was in it?
Tragic Hollywood star Rock Hudson no less. He took on Stewart McMillan in his first TV role, after years as a matinee idol with movies such as Giant.
Fans of the lantern-jawed star were dismayed when he went public about having Aids. He had long kept his homosexuality secret. He carried on working in ’80s glam drama Dynasty, but make-up could not disguise the deterioration of this once-statuesque man. He died in 1985, aged 59.
What about Sally?
That role fell to raven-locked Susan Saint James. The Ali MacGraw lookalike was previously in shows such as Alias Smith And Jones and The Name of the Game.
A vital ingredient to McMillan And Wife was sharp-tongued housekeeper Mildred, played by Nancy Walker. Somebody needed to keep the place tidy while they gallivanted about solving crime.
Famous guest stars?
The couple’s conception?
Like Hart To Hart, the idea was borrowed from Dashiell Hammett’s Thin Man books of the ’30s.
Gritty crime drama?
Hardly. These were cosy whodunnit cases, where the brutality of murder was never portrayed. The show was more about the interplay between McMillan and Sally.
Had viewers arrested?
Certainly in the US. It was the fifth highest-rated show in 1972 and 1973.
Fate of the golden couple?
Susan Saint James quit in 1976 over a contractual dispute. Nancy Walker also packed away her duster as housekeeper Mildred.
The dame’s exit was a fatal blow?
Certainly for the character of Sally – she was killed off in a plane crash. But Rock soldiered on with new assistant Sgt Steve DiMaggio (Richard Gilliland). The show became McMillan.
Audiences dwindled and the plug was pulled.
Cosy pillow talk, cocktail parties, Rock Hudson, pyjamas and numerous corpses.
Let’s go to bed. Turn the light out, darling.
Must you eat toast in bed, darling. Apologies, but I’ve got terrible flatulence. Separate bedrooms.
Not to be confused with
My Wife Next Door, Harold Macmillan, The Merry Wives Of Windsor and Mr And Mrs.
Classic TV Revisited: The Royal
The Royal was an ITV drama commission and was inspired by its sister programme Heartbeat.
The lowdown: This nostalgic family drama is set in the swinging 1960s and centres on the staff of a cottage hospital in Yorkshire. Newly qualified doctor David Cheriton (Julian Ovenden) is determined to make a difference to the world and arrives at St Aidan’s Royal Free Hospital in Elinsby full of big ideas. But he clashes with the hospital’s secretary TJ Middleditch (Ian Carmichael) who is determined to run things his way. Then there is the Matron (Wendy Craig) who rules her nurses with a rod of iron and tries in vain to stop them being distracted by the handsome arrival.
Memorable moments: Watch out for former Heartbeat favourite Bill Maynard who crosses dramas and continents as Claude Jeremiah Greengrass. Greengrass has returned from a Caribbean holiday with a mystery illness but that doesn’t stop him trying to earn a fast buck. It doesn’t take long before Claude attracts Matron’s ire.
Trivia: The Royal is a family affair for real life husband and wife Robert Daws (Ormerod) and Amy Robbins (Weatherill). No fewer than seven members of their clan have appeared in the series including their daughters and stepson.
Michelle Hardwick, who played receptionist Lizzie, says her favourite moment in the whole series didn’t come on screen but in the actors’ green room. She says: “I was sitting in there with Wendy Craig and Honor Blackman and we were having a lovely conversation. I sat back and thought ‘Wow, this is great, I can’t wait to tell my gran’.”
A modern day set version called The Royal Today aired 7 January – 14 March 2008.
First broadcast: 2003
Starred: Wendy Craig, Ian Carmichael, Michael Starke, Robert Daws and Julian Ovenden
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