Fleming, TV review: Dominic Cooper convinces as the man who would be James Bond

 

What's better than a great story? The story of the person who wrote a great story, of course. Which is why cinemas are currently doing a healthy trade with flicks on the lives of Pamela Travers and Chuck Dickens, both of which can be filed in a niche genre with to your Irises, your Miss Potters, your Finding Neverlands...

And as much fun as watching Jason Schwartzman composing "Let's Go Fly a Kite" in Saving Mr Banks was, and it really was, Travers' negotiations with Walt Disney over Poppins don't quite offer the same glamour as the lives of other authors like, say, Ian Fleming.

Which is why the increasingly influential team at Sky Atlantic have wanged a load of cash at writer Don Macpherson's four-part series about the creator of Bond. It's called "Fleming, Ian Fleming". OK, just Fleming, but the idle viewer could be forgiven for any confusion. This was Bond-maker as Bond-prototype.

We began as Fleming finished Casino Royale, before shifting back to before the war when he had just lost his job as "the worst stockbroker in London" and was keeping himself busy boffing before being tapped up by Naval Intelligence.

My only knowledge of Fleming's life besides his creating Bond and going to Eton with Henry Blofeld's dad are references to him in the great Sunday Times editor Harry Evans's memoirs (Fleming was accused of continuing his intelligence role at the paper).

But thanks to Macpherson's script – which, director Mat Whitecross (Spike Island) told this newspaper was a tad "sexed-up" – I learned in episode one that Fleming was a maverick spy who flirted with his (fictional) assistant Monday (Anna Chancellor). He was also a virtuoso shagger and a man with a predilection for idiosyncratically prepared Martini…

As if to hammer the point home, with a hammer as subtle as Timmy Mallett's Pinky Punky, Fleming – played by Dominic Cooper – seems to talk only in Bond-ese, the flirtatious pip-pop banter you'll only find in, er, Bond movies.

This kind of thing:

Attractive woman: "I suspect Mr Fleming thinks he's collectible."

Fleming: "I'll leave that for you to judge."

Or:

Serious, professional Anna Chancellor: "Our left hand doesn't know what our right hand is doing."

Flemo: "Don't worry, I'm good with my hands." And so on.

Fleming's glamorous life outside the service provided ballast for more Bond allusions. We met him early on diving with Ann O'Neill (Lara Pulver) where there's more than a hint of the scenes in Thunderball where Jimmy Bond gets his scuba on with Claudine Auger.

Soon after, he was with his brother Peter bombing down the alps on his skis, The Spy Who Loved Me-style.

It's a weird reversal. Fleming created Bond as an act of wish fulfilment; Don Macpherson says he "yearned for the life of a man of action". Here, the projection is turned back around and upon him. It works well enough, though. Or at least fills the gap between Skyfall and Bond 24.

Cooper maintains the swagger that made him luminous in The History Boys, and effectively transfers the smirk of Bond on to Fleming. But I'm still not sure if the constant stream of dramas based on the lives of artists is really healthy. But if that's the way to get glossy period stuff made then so be it. So, if any drama commissioners are reading, here are some ideas you can have for free: "Conan Doyle" (ACD as a young medic, or just film Arthur & George); "Rowling" (a young single mother struggles to make ends meet while writing a magical novel in a café) and "James" (which can be about Clive, EL, Henry or Sid, whatever). Your pick.

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Arts and Entertainment
Could Ed Sheeran conquer the Seven Kingdoms? He could easily pass for a Greyjoy like Alfie Allen's character (right)

tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros

Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce, Boris Johnson, Putin, Nigel Farage, Russell Brand and Andy Murray all get the Spitting Image treatment from Newzoids
tvReview: The sketches need to be very short and very sharp as puppets are not intrinsically funny
Arts and Entertainment
Despite the controversy it caused, Mile Cyrus' 'Wrecking Ball' video won multiple awards
musicPoll reveals over 70% of the British public believe sexually explicit music videos should get ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister and Ian Beattie as Meryn Trant in the fifth season of Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment

book review
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Far Right and Proud: Reggies Yates' Extreme Russia

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West was mobbed in Armenia after jumping into a lake

music
Arts and Entertainment
The show suffers from its own appeal, being so good as to create an appetite in its viewers that is difficult to sate in a ten episode series

Game of Thrones reviewFirst look at season five contains some spoilers
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench and Kevin Spacey on the Red Carpet for 2015's Olivier Awards

Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awards

Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Proving his metal: Ross Poldark (played by Aidan Turner in the BBC series) epitomises the risk-taking spirit of 18th-century mine owners

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne is reportedly favourite to play Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

film
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars in dystopian action thriller Mad Max: Fury Road

film
Arts and Entertainment
Josh, 22, made his first million from the game MinoMonsters

Grace Dent

Channel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
News
Disgraced Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson
people
Arts and Entertainment
Game face: Zoë Kravitz, Bruce Greenwood and Ethan Hawke in ‘Good Kill’

film review

Arts and Entertainment
Living like there’s no tomorrow: Jon Hamm as Don Draper in the final season of ‘Mad Men’

TV review

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

    Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

    His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
    'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

    Open letter to David Cameron

    Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
    Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

    You don't say!

    Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
    Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

    So what is Mubi?

    Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
    The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

    The hardest job in theatre?

    How to follow Kevin Spacey
    Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

    Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

    To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
    Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

    'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

    The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
    Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

    This human tragedy has been brewing for years

    EU states can't say they were not warned
    Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

    Women's sportswear

    From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
    Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

    Clinton's clothes

    Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders