James Bond has been incorrectly portrayed as a “cartoon character” by film directors when the spy should be troubled and “a massive boozer”, the author charged with writing the next novel in the franchise has claimed.
William Boyd, the historical novelist, has been commissioned to write a new Bond novel by the estate of Ian Fleming, who charted the character’s career in 14 books.
But he has dismissed the work of others who have brought the character to life, deliberately not going to see Skyfall, the latest film starring Daniel Craig and Dame Judi Dench, and claiming the spy was “not the suave Roger Moore-type English toff at all”.
Screenwriters have underplayed his true alcohol consumption, he said, pointing out that in Dr No 007 drank two bottles of bourbon, a bottle of champagne, a Calvados and four dry martinis in one night.
“In the films Bond is a cartoon character but in the novels he is far more troubled, nuanced and interesting,” Boyd told Radio Times.
In Skyfall, Bond returns to his childhood home in Scotland. But Boyd insisted: “Bond was brought up by an aunt in somewhere like Wiltshire. He was sent to a boarding school in Edinburgh, Fettes – which is Tony Blair’s old public school – but only after he was thrown out of Eton for a dalliance with a maid.
Boyd, whose previous best-selling novels include Any Human Heart and Restless, is the latest of three novelists to take up the challenge of recreating the character in recent years. Sebastian Faulks released Devil May Care in 2008 to mark the centenary of Fleming’s birth while Jeffery Deaver’s Bond novel, Carte Blanche, was published last year. Boyd’s attempt, set in 1969, will be published next year.