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James-Bond
09 October 2015

Nine Bond Film Locations Around Britain

The look perfected by Roger Moore’s 007 – arched eyebrow, poised half-smile, general air of knowing more than he should – was an eloquent one. It was the worldly expression of a man who journeys the globe without break but still effortlessly finds the time to outwit croupiers and meet improbably named women. It was a look that said, “If it’s Thursday, it must be the Caribbean. Now, where’s that Lotus Esprit?”

Because let’s be clear – Bond travels. A lot. And not just to the Bangkoks and Bermudas of this world. The spy also knows Britain like the back of his driving glove, having covered great swathes of the UK map in his 24 films to date. Our pick of nine of the top Bond filming locations around the country are listed below. And if you’re considering a road trip of your own, pack well. (Mental checklist: boiled sweets, road atlas, wrist-mounted dart gun, underwater jet-pack…)

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Blenheim Palace (Spectre)

Blenheim-Palace
Image Credit: iStock.com/Aneurysm

The trailer for the 24th Bond film features 007 blowing up a building in Mexico City and being pursued across a wintry mountain range, endeavours which appear to cause him as much consternation as a 20 pence library fine. Bond is rarely far from a vehicle, of course, and the teaser also shows his car speeding through the grand central courtyard of Oxfordshire’s Blenheim Palace. It’s a suitably cinematic setting – the grounds here were described in the nineteenth century as “the finest view in England” – and the palace itself is as blue-blooded and aristocratic as they come. It was built in the 1700s as a gift for the Duke of Marlborough, and was later the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill.

Somerset House (Goldeneye)

Somerset-House

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Somerset House: a neoclassical London mansion, a latter-day concert venue and, in 1995’s Goldeneye, a decent double for the Russian city of St Petersburg. Pierce Brosnan’s first Bond film uses the building’s courtyard for the scene in which CIA officer Jack Wade’s car breaks down in a crowded square. Across town, St Pancras station gets in on the act by standing in for a Russian rail terminal, while Surrey’s Epsom Downs Racecourse makes an appearance – bizarrely in theory – as St Petersburg Airport. When you’re Bond, you get away with these things. The film is also the first in the franchise to feature the exterior of London’s MI6 building.

Elveden Hall (The Living Daylights)

One of only two Bond films to cast Timothy Dalton in the lead role (and, less excitingly, the only one to feature a theme song by Norwegian pop group A-ha), The Living Daylights was well received by critics when it was released in 1987. It features both Stonor Hall in Oxfordshire – which appears as an MI6 safehouse for renegade Soviet officer General Koskov – and Elveden Hall in Suffolk, which witnesses the assassination of the new KGB head, General Pushkin. The scene at the start of the film in which a jeep plunges over a cliff is not actually Gibraltar, as stated, but Beachy Head in East Sussex.

Stoke Park (Goldfinger)

Stoke-Park

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As the scene of Bond’s victorious round of golf against Auric Goldfinger, Buckinghamshire’s Stoke Park has also been immortalised as the place where Oddjob – Goldfinger’s pint-sized, golf-ball-crushing henchman – decapitates a statue with a swift frisbee-throw of his hat. It’s a full fifty years since Sean Connery was here for the filming, but the country club itself remains very much open for business as a five-star hotel. There are 27 holes of golf, and the venue also hosts The Boodles, an annual tennis contest that in 2015 drew Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.

Eilean Donan (The World Is Not Enough)

Eilean-Donan

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The remote West Highland castle of Eilean Donan, perched on a tiny tidal island and ringed by mountain lochs, was used as MI6’s northern base in The World Is Not Enough. It’s easy to see why it was chosen – the scale and rawness of the setting is ideal for the big screen – but modern visitors might be relieved to note that the army of aerials and dishes seen on film protruding from the castle are not a permanent feature. It’s even available as a holiday let (all towels and linen supplied, small well-behaved dogs permitted, tuxedo and Martini extra). Eilean Donan also features in the Christopher Lambert movie Highlander.

Brent Cross Shopping Centre (Tomorrow Never Dies)

 

As a rule, Brent Cross doesn’t tend to be synonymous with either international espionage or Hollywood A-listers, but the car park at the London shopping centre was the site of a memorable Pierce Brosnan scene in Tomorrow Never Dies. Pursued by gunmen, security guards and various other ill-wishers, 007 makes his escape from the crowded multi-storey using a remote-controlled BMW 7 Series (complete with roof-mounted artillery and bonnet-fitted wire-cutters, naturally). After Bond abandons the car, he “returns” it by sending the vehicle sailing off the roof… and into the front window of an Avis office.

The Reform Club, London (Die Another Day)

London venues don’t come much more wreathed in old-world values than The Reform Club on Pall Mall (“originally founded for Whigs and Radicals in 1836”). Still an upmarket private members’ club, it has a long history of appearances in popular culture. It was from here, for example, that Phileas Fogg set out in Jules Verne’s Around The World In Eighty Days, and the club has also appeared in The Avengers, Sherlock Holmes and the 007 film Quantum of Solace. Pertinently, it was also the setting for Bond’s frenzied fencing match against billionaire bad guy Gustav Graves in Die Another Day.

Ascot Racecourse (A View To A Kill)

Roger Moore’s seventh and final appearance as 007 came in 1985’s A View To A Kill, during which he, M and an excitable Miss Moneypenny pay a visit to the races at Ascot. They watch a race won in controversial fashion by Pegasus, a horse owned by Max Zorin and May Day (aka the brilliantly cast villainous pairing of Christopher Walken and Grace Jones). It transpires shortly after the race that Bond, true to form, has also placed money on the winner. The racecourse figures too in a much more recent film, Daniel Craig’s Skyfall, where it appears as Shanghai Pudong Airport.

Silverstone Circuit (Thunderball)

SILVERSTONE

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Back in the 1960s, the current home of the British Grand Prix also served as a location for a suitably tempestuous Bond car chase. In the 1965 film Thunderball, Sean Connery’s silver Aston Martin looks to be in trouble as he tries to out-speed a chasing assassin, only to be saved by a missile-firing motorcyclist – later revealed to be SPECTRE agent Fiona Volpe. The recording of the film was dramatic in other respects too: it’s said that Tom Jones, who provided the theme music, fainted in the studio booth after hitting the extraordinary high note at the end of the song.

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