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James Bond: How the 007 films became a family business

By Tim Masters
Entertainment and arts correspondent, BBC News

image captionActor Roger Moore with Albert "Cubby" Broccoli, original co-producer of the James Bond series

Over the past 50 years, a remarkable network of families has worked behind the scenes on the James Bond films.

Crew members on the Sean Connery films in the 1960s now have second or third-generation family members working on the Daniel Craig adventures in the 21st Century.

Right at the top of the Bond family tree are the Broccolis. At the time of the first Bond film - Dr No - the producers were Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman. Since 1995 the entire franchise has been in the hands of Cubby's daughter, Barbara, and his stepson, Michael G Wilson.

But family connections permeate every aspect of production - such as the directors, stunt teams, accountants, legal advisers, art directors, modelmakers, hairstylists, costume teams and publicity departments.

It even extends to the Bond actors themselves. The sons and daughter of Sir Roger Moore - the longest-standing 007 - were involved both behind and in front of the camera.

Geoffrey Moore was third assistant director on his father's final Bond film, A View to a Kill. Christian Moore worked in the location department on Goldeneye, while daughter Deborah Moore appeared in Die Another Day.

"She often says to me her small role as an air stewardess still prompts more mail than anything else that hits her doormat," says Sir Roger in his book Bond on Bond.

Here are some of the stories of the people with family connections across the 50 years of the Bond films.


image captionBarbara Broccoli and her half-brother Michael G Wilson run the Bond franchise

"It gets so convoluted here!" says Michael G Wilson of the various family connections within Bond production company Eon. "Every department has parents, grandparents, children or grandchildren."

Born in New York, Wilson was 17 when his mother Dana married Cubby Broccoli in 1959 - three years before the first Bond film.

"I was brought up in Hollywood and both my parents were actors - my dad [Lewis Wilson] was the first Batman.

"I felt the entertainment business was a very unstable environment. So I took a different route and went through engineering and then law school."

Having established a career as a lawyer, he joined Eon's legal department in the early 1970s and later moved into the writing and production side. He co-produced three Bond films with Cubby in the 1980s, and has co-produced with his half-sister Barbara Broccoli from Goldeneye onwards.

"I don't think people appreciate the commitment one makes to a film. It's like the circus. Circus families marry and are always on the road and that's what happens in the film business.

"You are absent for long periods of time, sometimes you work 14-16 hour days, you might work weekends and holidays - nothing is sacred, except to get the job done. Unless you are brought up in that environment you really don't appreciate it.

"That's why so many successful people in the business have come from film families, because they grow up with that."

Both Michael G Wilson's sons - Gregg and David - have worked on several Bond films, with the latter in charge of Eon's global business strategy.

What did Michael learn from his stepfather Cubby?

"There are practical nuts and bolts things that you learn but it's more about a style of interacting with people and doing business," he explains. "Cubby always had good, close relationships with people. He was very straightforward and not afraid to be wrong."

And what of Michael G Wilson's producing partnership with Barbara?

"Like every relationship involving a woman they are always right," he laughs. "You just shut up and do what they tell you."


image captionGolden touch: Eithne Fennell watched Shirley Eaton get painted on Goldfinger

Hairstylist Eithne Fennell has worked with all the Bonds, except for George Lazenby. Most recently her combing and cutting skills have come into play on Skyfall and Quantum of Solace.

Eithne is part of a large family network within the Bond franchise. Her father Jack Fennell was studio manager at Pinewood throughout the Cubby Broccoli years.

"My whole childhood was the film industry," she recalls. "We had a house in the studio. Sean Connery used to come and have a cup of tea with my mum in the kitchen."

Eithne's niece is Skyfall production manager Janine Modder, while her nephew Frazer Fennell-Ball was the film's second unit manager. (Janine's father Jimmy Lodge was a stuntman on many Bond films).

Eithne's first brush with Bond was on the Goldfinger set with her aunt Elsa Fennell, who was wardrobe mistress.

"I was about 16, and I was allowed to go and watch the make-up department painting Shirley Eaton gold. I remember they left a little space at the bottom of her spine to let the skin breathe.

"I came into the industry when I was 18," says Eithne. "I'm 65 now and it's hard to leave it. It's like family. I've known Barbara Broccoli since she was tiny. I knew Cubby really well.

"I remember we were on location in Egypt when something had gone wrong with the catering. Cubby got a big cauldron and cooked up a pasta for everybody."


image captionStunt co-ordinator Gary Powell on the set of Skyfall

When it comes to stunts, the Powell family have been an almost constant presence on the 007 set.

"Through the generations of the Bond films there's always been one of us there," says Gary Powell, stunt co-ordinator on the latest Bond film Skyfall.

Gary has worked on the Bond films since Pierce Brosnan's Goldeneye. His Skyfall stunt team included older brother, Greg, as well as Greg's daughter, Tilly - a stunt driver on a chase scene in London's Whitehall.

"When you're working with family as part of the stunt team, you don't treat them any differently," says Gary. "On these sort of films no-one gets a job because they are friends, it's because they can do a job."

Three generations of Powells are associated with Bond. Gary and Greg's father is Fred "Nosher" Powell who worked on most of the Connery films, along with his brother Dinny.

"They were among the first people down the ropes in the volcano scene in You Only Live Twice," says Gary.

As a boy, he first visited a Bond set during the making of 1977's The Spy Who Loved Me. "It was the scene with the three submarines inside the supertanker. My brother, dad and Dinny were all working on it. I was about 14 and I used to bunk off school and gets teas for the stunt teams.

"My reward for that was to collect the machine-guns off the stunt guys and fire them off round the back of the 007 stage. It was the greatest adventure park in the world."

Gary's brother Greg Powell has worked on numerous Bond films dating back to the Roger Moore era.

His first taste of 007 was as a schoolboy joining father Nosher on the From Russia With Love set at Pinewood Studios in 1963.

"I can remember it like it was yesterday: Sean Connery, the two Gypsy girls fighting, and the big shootout. I used to go and fetch the guns from the armourer."

Greg says he didn't try and put his daughter Tilly off a stunt career.

"She's got really into it. I try and look after her, but she says, 'Dad, you're boring - I want to get into the action.'

"I don't mind if that's what she wants to do, hopefully someone will spot her as a film star and she can get out of it!"


image captionPeter Lamont at work on Octopussy

Peter Lamont has a huge Bond history, having worked on 18 of the 23 films. He was production designer on nine films, most recently on 2006's Casino Royale.

"It's not like a secret service with various departments," he says of Eon's family atmosphere. "Cubby's edict years ago was if you've got anything to say, say it."

Peter worked with his son Neil (supervising art director) on Goldeneye's famous tank chase scene around St Petersburg, which was actually shot at Leavesden Studios.

His first job on Bond was as a draughtsman on 1965's Goldfinger. He recalls working under legendary Bond production designer Ken Adam.

"Ken came in with a great buff folder full of photos of Fort Knox and said, 'see what you can do with that.'

"My brother also joined as a draughtsman - so while I drew Fort Knox, he did a lot of the drawings for the converted Aston Martin."

Peter was Oscar-nominated for his work on The Spy Who Loved Me (he won an Oscar for best art direction on Titanic).

Peter's brother, the late Michael Lamont, worked on the art direction on many Bond films, while his son Simon also has several Bond credits.


image captionChris Corbould worked on the tank chase scene in Goldeneye

Oscar-winning Chris Corbould has been overseeing the special effects on Skyfall, though his relationship with the Bond films goes back to the 1970s.

His three brothers, Ian, Paul and Neil, all have Bond connections.

"It's in the blood," says Chris. "I was at school when my uncle - who was special effects supervisor on the film Tommy - asked me to go in and help. When I got there and saw what the work entailed I never went back!"

Chris started out on Bond working for a company making gadgets for The Spy Who Loved Me. He went freelance on Moonraker and did the next 13 Bonds.

On Skyfall he worked closely with brothers Paul and Ian on an explosive sequence involving Bond's Scottish ancestral home.

"The whole family thing starts with Cubby Broccoli, Barbara and Michael - you get that feeling as soon as you go into Bond," he says. "When you're working on a film you get a real feeling that there's a lot of friends and family around you."

Chris's wife Lynne has a key role in his work buying "every nut and bolt" of the equipment he needs. On Skyfall, his daughter Rachel also helped out.

Chris, who won an Oscar in 2011 for his effects work on Inception, says he remains most proud of Goldeneye's tank chase scene.

"It was my first film as special effects supervisor. I got called into the office with Barbara, Michael and director Martin Campbell who were worried that the motorcycle chase in the screenplay wasn't original enough.

"I suggested that Bond could ride something else - 'He's in a military camp - why doesn't he take a tank?' We went with the logic that while a car has to stick to the roads, a tank can go straight through a building. So that's what we did!"


image captionFive members of Jeanie Udall's family worked on Skyfall

As the unit nurse for the Bond films, Jeanie Udall flies all over the world with her medical kit looking after the cast and crew.

On Quantum of Solace, Jeanie tended the sick on locations in Panama, Chile and Austria and Italy.

"You're a bit like their mum when you're on location," she says. "Whether it's a toothache or headache you have to look after everyone because they're far away from home."

On Skyfall, Jeanie's whole family was involved - husband John as cost accountant, their children Megan and Connor also in the accounts department and youngest daughter Penny as an extra in the crowd for a chase sequence in a London Tube station.

"It is quite unusual to get so many families working on one production, but Bond is like one big family anyway."

The 50th anniversary of the release of Dr No is on 5 October.

More on this story

  • James Bond: How Dr No's Eunice Gayson made film history

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