“Sir Godfrey Tibbett, our department”- A View to a Kill, 1985
The chauffeur trope in a Bond film is a mainstay. From Bond’s Jamaican pick up in Dr. No through to Daniel Craig donning a driver’s cap at the Shanghai airport scene in Skyfall and 007 stunt man Paul Weston playing a chauffeur in the forthcoming SPECTRE, there tends to be at least one nod per film.
Whether it was intentional or not, Patrick Macnee’s character in 1985’s A View to a Kill greatly mirrored the grandfather at the heart of Catching Bullets – Memoirs of a Bond Fan – Jimmy O’Connell. So much so that they wore similar uniforms (though Macnee always looked smarter), both Tibbett, Macnee and Jimmy O’Connell shared a love of horses (as did Cubby Broccoli), and of course both drove CUB 1 – that silver blimped beauty of a 1962 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud II that belonged to Albert R Broccoli and is now a family must for producer Barbara Broccoli. Fortunately Jimmy did not die at the hands of Grace Jones in a car wash, but sadly at the ripe age of 93 Patrick Macnee has indeed gone to that big sound stage in the sky.
Etched on the tree of British cultural history for ever more for his icon-defining repeat turns as John Steed in The Avengers, The New Avengers and (sort of) in the movie The Avengers (1998), Macnee was one of the true dapper gents of cinema. Blessed with one of the most strikingly English yet commanding of voices (which lent themselves so well to Eon/MGM’s ‘Making Of’ specials on the initial wave of Bond DVDs and the opening intro of Battlestar Galactica in which he starred), Macnee also appeared in Olivier’s HAMLET, THE SEA WOLVES and SHERLOCK HOLMES IN NEW YORK (both starring alongside Sir Roger Moore), THE HOWLING, a cracking turn as music kingpin Sir Denis Eton-Hogg in THIS IS SPINAL TAP (“He’s the head of Polymer”), WAXWORK and THE RETURN FROM THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. He even had a Top Ten hit with a re-release of KINKY BOOTS with AVENGERS co-star Honor Blackman.
For this Bond fan he will be forever that wheezing, slightly comic foil to Roger Moore’s Bond – bringing some veteran panache and grace to a younger man’s genre and at the same time being part of a deceptively brutal death. And don’t pretend any Bond fan doesn’t think of Macnee when the sinister waters start cascading down the windscreen in a car wash.
RIP Sir Godfrey Tibbett.
RIP John Steed.
RIP Patrick Macnee.