On February 17th 1952, Ian Fleming sat down at his typewriter in Jamaica to write 'the spy story to end all spy stories'. The central character of this tale would become one of the world's most popular fictional creations: James Bond.
Fleming would go on to write 12 novels featuring his super spy – each one an exciting blend of intrigue, escapism, sex and violence. Bond's popularity rocketed when President Kennedy declared himself a fan of the book From Russia with Love.
However, it was the film series that truly assured 007's place as an icon. Sean Connery's defining turn as the secret agent made the actor a star and kick-started the longest running franchise in British film history. But is James Bond purely a fairytale?
Expert Henry Chancellor believes Fleming "may have written fiction, but 95 per cent of it was based on fact that had been filtered through the prism of his imagination and then polished up a bit". Fleming's secret agent may have been the product of a fantastic imagination, but he was also forged in the corridors of Naval Military Intelligence. A large part of Bond came from Fleming himself, with some critics arguing that Bond was a larger-than-life version of his creator.
Fleming's war time career in naval intelligence meant that he was intimately acquainted with the ways of the secret service. He embarked on numerous top-secret missions to the US, France, Spain and North Africa. The events that occurred during this little-known period of Fleming's life informed and influenced every aspect of Bond – his world, his women and his adventures.
This documentary also delves into the war records of two other men who may have inspired the Bond character. One of them is Patrick Dalzel-Job, a naval officer who lead wartime missions in Norway before serving with Fleming in France and Germany as part of the covert 30 Assault Unit, which travelled ahead of the Allied advance and seized German supplies, equipment and documents before they could be destroyed.
The other man is Fleming's elder brother, Peter, who also served with distinction in WorldWar II on missions in Norway, Greece and Asia. Prior to the war, Peter Fleming carved out a career as a travel writer and adventurer, having made expeditions to Brazil, China and India.
Together these inspirations may have helped create one of the enduring characters of 20th century fiction, a super spy whose exploits still captivate and charm today.