James Bond’s ties to Scotland: From author Ian Fleming and the filming locations to the most famous 007

Spanning almost 60 years and featuring 25 films, the James Bond franchise is one of the best known in cinema history.

From Sean Connery introducing us to him in Dr. No in the early 60s, through to Daniel Craig’s portrayal of a brooding, more aggressive, Bond of the modern era, the films have captivated audiences for generations.

And with the latest movie, No Time to Die, having being released in the UK and North America, the superspy’s popularity shows no signs of slowing.

Though it’s been hinted at through films such as Skyfall and arguably the most famed 007, Sean Connery, the MI6 agent’s close ties to Scotland don’t just lie with beautiful filming locations and excellent casting choices.

So, just how Scottish is James Bond?

This week’s top Scotland Now stories

Sean Connery as James Bond

Is James Bond a Scot?

Although he is seen as the archetypal English gentleman, James Bond is much more Scottish than he first appears.

Author Ian Fleming had always intended for him to be English but after seeing Sean Connery’s incredible portrayal he was compelled to write Scottish origins into James Bond’s background.

In Fleming’s penultimate novel, You Only Live Twice, (written after Sean Connery’s first outing) and obituary for Bond published in the Times reveals Bond is the son of a Scottish father, Andrew Bond, of Glencoe, and a Swiss mother, Monique Delacroix.

Both were apparently killed in a mountain climbing accident when James was 11.

This is later elaborated upon when James and M (Dame Judi Dench) travelled to Bond’s family home – the impressive Skyfall Lodge in Glencoe.

Indeed, one of Fleming’s main inspirations for James Bond (other than himself of course) was said to be Scottish World War Two hero Fitzroy MacLean.

Skyfall saw James Bond return to his family home in Glencoe with M (Dame Judi Dench)
Skyfall saw Bond return to his family home in Glencoe

Ian Fleming and Scotland

Speaking about the spy’s connections with Scotland for the National Museums Scotland blog, Dr Calum Robertson revealed Ian Fleming’s own roots lie in Scotland with both his father Valentine and grandfather Robert born in Scotland, in Fife and Dundee respectively.

Though Fleming himself was born in London, the writer had a close connection to Scotland and regularly travelled there when he was younger to grandfather Robert’s mini-estate in Arnestdale in the Highlands, while his mother often dressed him and his brothers up in kilts to maintain their Scottish links.

The curator of Modern & Military History also tells how it was Glaswegian firearms expert Geoffrey Boothroyd who recommended that the writer change Bond’s sidearm to the now-famous Walther PPK in a series of letters.

He argued that the originally chosen Beretta M418 didn’t have the right stopping power for an international spy trying to escape the clutches of a plethora of ill-intentioned baddies and henchmen.

Scottish Filming locations

  • Eilean Donan Castle – featured in the 1999 movie The World is Not Enough as Castle Thane – the Scottish headquarters of MI6.

  • Loch Laggan in the Cairngorms National Park – features in a car chase in the latest movie, No Time To Die

  • Loch Craignish near Crinan in Argyll – appears in From Russia With Love doubling as the Yugoslavian lake where Sean Connery escapes with Tatiana Romanova by boat

  • Glencoe – In Skyfall in 2012 the famous location serves as the home of Bond’s family home, Skyfall lodge.

  • Faslane naval base in Argyll – a scene from The Spy Who Loved Me was filmed here.

Other Scottish connections

Scottish singers

Both Lulu and Shirley Manson have sung the theme songs for Bond films. Lulu in 1974 for Roger Moore’s The Man With The Golden Gun, and Garbage singer Shirley in 1999 for The World Is Not Enough, starring Pierce Brosnan.

Scottish actors

Sean Connery as James Bond with the DB5 in 1964's Goldfinger
Sean Connery as James Bond with the DB5 in 1964’s Goldfinger

The most famous 007, Sean Connery starred in Dr No, From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice and Diamond Are Forever, before returning to the part in 1983 in Never Say Never Again.

Other Scottish actors in Bond films include:

Will the next James Bond be Scottish?

Several Scots are leading the pack for who will replace Daniel Craig now that he’s finished his last Bond film.

Game of Thrones and The Bodyguard star Richard Madden and Line of Duty star Martin Compston have both been touted.

But it’s Outlander’s Sam Heughan who is out in front rivalling bookies’ favourite Tom Hardy for the role.

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