It was 1972, I was 44 years old and although I had enjoyed huge TV success with The Saint, I was not a cinema star. Although I hadn’t known it at the time, I had apparently been on the shortlist for Bond a decade earlier for the first film, Dr No. Then, when Sean was getting fed up in the mid-Sixties, my name came up again.
’George pointed out, as politely as he could, that they already had Macca and they weren’t going to find anyone bigger. ’‘I don’t have a number, my house has a name.’He was really beginning to annoy me, delirious or not.‘OK, then,’ he added smartly, ‘how does the mailman find you without a number? ’ I shouted, in the hope of silencing him once and for all.‘Oh. ’ he said sheepishly, sliding sideways out of my room, never to be seen again.
That evening they discharged me and I went back to my hotel with my various painkillers and other medications.
Again the phone rang, and this time it was Cubby: ‘Harry thinks your hair is a little too long.’ On one jet boat run in Live And Let Die, I realised that there wasn’t much fuel left in the tank — as the engine cut out. The thing about jet boats is, although they are lovely to drive, to turn them you have to pile on the speed. I needed a walking cane for days afterwards, but fortunately most of the schedule involved me sitting down in the boat.
I did quite a few run-throughs to practise my technique and while banking on one such run, I realised that there wasn’t much fuel left in the tank — as the engine cut out. There I was, a fearless 007, hobbling on a cane to my boat and then pretending to be indestructible for the cameras. Our last sequence in New Orleans was the airfield one, where Bond gives an unorthodox flying lesson to Mrs Bell.
I later discovered it had, in fact, been the wardrobe door I’d opened, as all my lovely clothes had turned various shades of patchy blue.
Back at Pinewood Studios we completed work on the many interior sets, including that of James Bond’s flat, where I spent a very happy morning in bed with the exquisite Madeline Smith, who played Italian agent Miss Caruso.This scene featured my favourite Bond gadget of all, the magnetic watch, which I used to unzip Maddy’s dress.I must admit that not all the gadgets in Bond films actually work.A short time later, assistant director Derek Cracknell came calling, took one look at his heroic star with knees under his chin — I was in such pain — and sent me to hospital, where they decided it was a kidney stone problem.At Pinewood Studios we completed work on the interior sets for Live And Let Die, including that of James Bond’s flat, where I spent a very happy morning in bed with the exquisite Madeline Smith (pictured), who played Italian agent Miss Caruso.During the filming of Moonraker in Paris I stayed at the Plaza Athénée, where I bumped into a young director named Steven Spielberg.