First ever Bond girl celebrates 50th anniversary of 007


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The Independent Culture

Celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of James Bond have got under way as a 007-day tour was launched in some of the memorable locations used in the films.

Eunice Gayson, the first ever Bond girl, acted as "Bond bearer" when she kicked off the week-long tour at Eilean Donan Castle in Wester Ross, in the Scottish Highlands - where part of The World Is Not Enough was shot.

At 10.07am she set a digital timer on a golden briefcase containing the first copy of Bond 50 Blu-ray, a boxset with all 22 of the films to be released next Monday to mark the series' half-century.

She then travelled in Bond's Aston Martin DBS, featured in Quantum Of Solace in 2008, to Lochgilphead in Argyll where scenes in From Russia With Love were filmed.

Gayson played Bond's girlfriend Sylvia Trench in the first two films in the franchise: Dr No in 1962 and From Russia With Love a year later (opposite Sir Sean Connery).

The pair met over a casino table in Dr No, at which Bond says the famous words "the name's Bond, James Bond" for the first time.

Barrachuile, a hill a few miles from Lochgilphead, was used as the setting for the helicopter chase scene in From Russia With Love, which sees Bond shoot down the enemy Spectre aircraft from behind a rock.

Bond expert Brian Pendreigh, 54, from Edinburgh, was taken on a helicopter to the spot where the scene was filmed and to the actual rock that Sir Sean hides behind in the film.

The area doubles as the Adriatic in Turkey where much of the film is set.

A motorboat chase, in which Bond releases barrels of fuel before they are set alight, was shot at Loch Craignish nearby.

"From Russia With Love is the second James Bond film. Dr No had just come out and been very successful, more successful than most people anticipated," Mr Pendreigh said.

"They rushed From Russia With Love into production with a slightly bigger budget. It was filmed largely in Turkey.

"But there were a number of problems in Turkey. One was bad weather. They wanted to film a motorboat chase and there were problems with the boats and the weather.

"They came back to Britain to do a number of scenes in the studio and they still had to do the motorboat scene and the helicopter chase. They came to Argyllshire.

"Obviously they needed an expansive area for the motorboat chase. They shot that at Loch Craignish where they had their unit based for a number of weeks, and they just shot in the hills round about there."

Eilean Donan Castle is used as the Secret Service's headquarters in The World Is Not Enough. Mr Pendreigh, author of On Location, said it is one of the most frequently filmed castles in the UK.

"I think the books are really good to begin with but the films are a bit different from the books. James Bond was originally a figure of the establishment but with the casting of Sean Connery that kind of moved it into more of a classless hero or anti-hero," he said.

"The films have moved with the times. Each different actor that has played James Bond has brought something different to the role. Now there's less comedy. They're much grittier action films but they are still very British."

The Aston Martin and Blu-ray boxset will travel the length of Britain, visiting other memorable Bond locations such as Stoke Park and the Eden Project in Cornwall. It stops at hmv in Oxford Street, London for its release on Monday.

New Bond film Skyfall, some of which was shot in Glencoe, is released on October 26.

Gayson said: "It's been a wonderful experience right from the word go.

"First of all I was in a long-running show playing the lead in the Sound of Music, and when you're in a long-running show the one thing you long to do is something different during the run. So when Terence Young the director rang me up I was thrilled.

"I had worked with him before and he said 'for some reason you always bring me luck'.

"I was supposed to play the original Miss Moneypenny but of course I couldn't because of the show. When I was offered it I thought 'oh no'.

"So then they wrote the little part of Sylvia Trench. But I had the honour then on the first day's shoot of the first film Dr No of asking (Bond) to identify who he was. And of course his reply was 'the name's Bond, James Bond'. So I had that lovely scene with Sean that I wouldn't have had if I was Miss Moneypenny."

Sir Sean was nervous on their first day shooting and accidentally said the line "the name's Bond, James Connery", Gayson said.

"It was a big turning point in Sean's life, in anyone's life. We all knew he would make it big one day but he, I think, didn't know that until he made a big success. We didn't know of course it was going to be the massive success that it has been," she said.

"In my opinion, that first Dr No saved the British film industry because it was really rather in the doldrums. And they made so much money with that, they realised 'hey, we could have an industry again'. It was an exciting time."