10 Facts About James Bond You Probably Didn’t Know

We are approaching the 70th anniversary of James Bond as a character in literature. The first James Bond novel, Casino Royale, was published on the 13th of April 1953. 

Here are ten facts you may not know about James Bond and his world from the novels and films.

1-James Bond’s Drug Use

Bond’s enjoyment of cigarettes and alcohol is well known, but in the novels, he also uses Benzedrine, which is an amphetamine. Benzedrine was used in inhalers from the 1930s, and in World War 2, it was used to combat fatigue in soldiers, and this is why Bond uses it in the novels. In a number of instances, the drug gives Bond the edge he needs to win.

Bond takes tablets before his final mission in Live and Let Die. He uses the drug to keep sharp during his arduous underwater swim through the coral reef to the island of Surprise. 

In the next novel Moonraker, Bond is asked by M to prove that Hugo Drax is cheating at cards. Before the high-stakes bridge game where Bond intends to teach Drax a lesson, he has dinner with M. An envelope is delivered to him which contains Benzedrine and in front of M, Bond mixes Benzedrine with Dom Perignon champagne. As M says, “It’s your funeral.” 

Bond also takes Benzedrine in The Spy Who Loved Me. This time with coffee. 

The only reference in the films to Bond taking anything other than alcohol is in Skyfall when Silva is looking at Bond’s medical report and reads aloud, “Alcohol and substance abuse indicated”.

2-Bond’s Address

In the novels, Bond’s address is never given, but it’s revealed that he lives in a ground-floor flat in a square off the King’s Road in Chelsea. Bond’s flat is provided by the government, and Bond has an elderly Scottish housekeeper called May Maxwell. May only appears in the novels. 

In the films, Bond’s flat has been seen three times, in Dr No, Live and Let Die and Spectre. A number of props from the films feature Bond’s onscreen address, which is 61 Horseferry Road. Horseferry Road is real, but there is no number 61 in real life.

3-The Epidemiological Analysis

A couple of years ago, an amusing paper written by Wouter Graumans, Teun Bousema and Will Stone was published in the journal Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease. The paper covered James Bond’s risk of infections during his travels. The three academics watched all the Eon James Bond films as research. They counted 86 international journeys to 47 countries. In the paper, they go through all the risks in the various locales that Bond encounters, and it’s very entertaining. If you want to read the paper in full you can do so HERE.

4-Before Vauxhall Cross

The SIS (Secret Intelligence Service) moved into their current building at 85 Albert Embankment in 1994. And it was from that point that the public was finally aware of where the British Secret Service headquarters were located, and as it is such a distinct structure, it made sense to include the building in the James Bond films.  Before 1994 the locations of the secret service were secret.

Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond, chose to put his version of the secret service in an office block overlooking Regent’s Park. At the time Fleming was writing his novels, and during the release of the first two Bond films, the SIS was based at 54 Broadway. Then in 1964, they moved to Century House at 100 Westminster Bridge Road, where they were until 1994. It’s hard to imagine Bond or M in this building. In a government report in 1985, it was called “irredeemably insecure” as it was made mostly of glass and had a petrol station at its base. The Daily Telegraph once said that it was “London’s worst-kept secret, known only to every taxi driver, tourist guide and KGB agent”.

5-Bond’s Closest Ally

The character of Bill Tanner is M’s chief of staff and has been played by four actors over eight films. Michael Goodliffe (uncredited) in The Man with the Golden Gun, James Villiers in For Your Eyes Only, Michael Kitchen in Goldeneye and The World Is Not Enough and Rory Kinnear since Quantum of Solace. In the novels, Tanner is a minor character, but unlike in the films, Bond and Tanner are very close. They are friends, often play golf together, and Tanner is Bond’s closest ally in the British secret service. This friendship has never been explored in the films.


For fans of the Bond films who want to read the original novels, I would recommend reading them in order starting with Casino Royale. It’s hard to choose a favourite Bond novel, but I love Moonraker, which was the third Bond novel published in 1955. It bears no relation to the 1979 film apart from the name Hugo Drax. It’s the only novel where Bond stays in Britain, and in my view, it’s a blueprint for modern blockbusters. The stakes are raised much higher than in the previous two stories as Bond has to stop the destruction of London with a nuclear weapon. The book also reveals details about Bond’s life when he is not on a mission. The subject matter was heavily researched by Ian Fleming, and it shows. The book was way ahead of its time and in my view could possibly be the first techno-thriller. It’s also a book of its time and plays very strongly on the fears of the 1950’s as it’s about nuclear destruction, attack from above by rockets (the V2 attacks had been 10 years before), communism and the re-emergence of Nazism. And if you think that Bond always gets the girl, well…you will have to read the book. A year after publication there was a BBC radio adaptation of Moonraker broadcast in South Africa. It starred Bob Holness as James Bond. Holness is best remembered these days as the host of the popular quiz show (from the 80′ and 90’s) Blockbuster. Holness wasn’t the first actor to play Bond…

7-Barry Nelson and Casino Royale

The first actor to play James Bond was Barry Nelson in a 1954 television adaptation of Casino Royale. Nelson was a successful and popular character actor in his day and these days is best known for playing Stuart Ullman, the manager of The Overlook Hotel in Stanley Kubrick’s film of The Shining. The television Casino Royale was the third episode of a new American anthology television show called Climax. It was broadcast in the USA on October the 21st 1954. Ian Fleming was paid $1000 for the rights. As James Bond was not yet the well-known character he would become quite a number of liberties were taken with the story. In the episode James Bond is American, Vesper Lynd and Rene Mathis are combined into one character called Valerie Mathis, and Felix Leiter is changed to Clarence Leiter and is working for British Intelligence. The episode is worth watching as a curious period piece and also because Le Chiffre is played by legendary actor Peter Lorre who is the best actor in it. The episode can be watched for free on YouTube.

8- Daddy Bond

In No Time To Die it’s revealed that Bond is a father. But Bond actually fathers a child in the original novels. At the end of the novel of You Only Live Twice, Bond loses his memory and conceives a child with Kissy Suzuki. Bond leaves before Suzuki has a chance to tell him that she is pregnant with his child. Whether Fleming would have explored the fate of this child in future novels, we will never know as Fleming died shortly after publication. The fate of the child was explored in a short story by Rayond Benson called Blast From The Past. In this story Bond has a son from Kissy called…you guessed it, James. 

9-Scrambled Eggs’ James Bond’

The recipe for Scrambled Eggs’ James Bond’ is revealed in a short story called 007 In New York. Ian Fleming loved scrambled eggs and it’s his own recipe. It’s not known how often Bond eats this as it involves twelve eggs although the recipe does serve four people. Fleming insists that it is served “on hot buttered toast on individual copper dishes (for appearance only) with pink champagne (Taittinger) and low music.”

10-Coffee Over Tea

James Bond does not like Tea. When he is not drinking alcohol, he drinks coffee. In the novel Goldfinger, Bond says, “I don’t drink Tea. I hate it. It’s mud. Moreover it’s one of the main reasons for the downfall of the British Empire.” In the novel Thunderball, Fleming says of Bond, “Bond loathed and despised tea, that flat, soft, time-wasting opium of the masses.” Bond’s taste usually reflected those of his creator Ian Fleming. Bond drinks coffee a number of times in the books and films. Bond drinks coffee from an American filter machine called a Chemex. In the ’50s, this was the height of sophistication, and most people in Britain had never heard of it and definitely would not own a coffee machine. This shows how much Bond favours coffee over Tea. 

Want to know more about James Bond? Why not book our James Bond Walking Tour of London? 

For more details, click this link. 

Our Favourite LGBTQIA+ Places in London.

Tours of the UK Logo with Pride Background

London, like any major city, has always been a centre for the LGBTQIA+ community. London’s relationship with the LGBTQIA+ community has changed dramatically over the years, and while we have a tendency to think of a modern London which is welcoming to all, for a large portion of London’s history being LGBTQIA+ in the capital was fraught with dangers of blackmail, violence, and arrest. The London of cottaging grounds, seedy bars, and the fear of prosecution for ‘gross indecency’ is long gone, but the legacy of LGBTQIA+ oppression still remains, as LGBTQIA+ figures are underrepresented in the capital’s statues, blue plaques, and memorials. Pride in London, whatever its faults, is a beacon of hope for many LGBTQIA+ people who live and work in London. Pride’s party atmosphere brings people from all backgrounds together and the awareness and viability that pride generates has helped move the equal rights movement forward. Many of the rights that LGBTQIA+ people enjoy today, including an equal age of consent, civil partnerships, and gay marriage can all be traced back to campaigns and cases found at pride.

Sadly this year Pride in London (like on a lot of UK cities) has been cancelled this year due to Covid19. Because of this we wanted to share with you some of our favourite LGBTQIA+ spots in London, all of which will hopefully be reopening soon; offering all members of the LGBTQIA+ community safe spaces to mix and mingle in a socially distanced manner. These suggestions are just a small glimpse into our favourite places, and sadly we couldn’t list them all, as both Soho, and Vauxhall, are packed with amazing places to visit, party, and play. Missing from this list are the amazing clothes shops that litter Soho, such as Clone Zone, Prowler, and Regulation, all of which have amazingly friendly and supportive staff, as well as some of the more ‘out-there’ nightclubs that litter the ‘naughtier’, or more interesting parts, of London.

RVT aka The Royal Vauxhall Tavern

372 Kennington Lane, London SE11 5HY

Nearest Tube: Vauxhall

The RVT (or the Royal Vauxhall Tavern) is the oldest surviving gay venue south of the River Thames. Now a grade II listed building, one of only a few buildings that has been given historical protection thanks to its links to the LGBTQIA+ community, it is considered to be of national, and international importance to the LGBTQIA+ community. Famous for its performances by a range of both local and international artists, cabaret nights such as Duckie! (The RVT won the title of London’s Best Cabaret venue in both 2018 and 2019!) its Drag shows, party nights that honour gay icons from George Michael to Kylie Minogue, to Ariana Grande, and its links to both the LGBTQIA+ ‘alternative’ and Kink/Fetish scene, The Royal Vauxhall Tavern is a must-visit venue for anyone who identifies as LGBTQIA+ and their allies. A favourite venue of LGBTQIA+ celebrities for years, it has seen performances by famous Drag Queens like Lilly Savage and Charlie Hides, and it is even rumoured that the lead singer of Queen, Freddie Mercury, smuggled Princess Diana into the RVT dressed as a “rather eccentrically dressed gay male model!”.

One of our favourite nights at the RVT is Duckie! a messy, irreverent, belly laugh of a night out which has been a regular at the RVT for almost 25 years! Sadly postponed (we would hate to see it cancelled) until the end of the COVID19 pandemic, it has been a staple of the RVT’s Saturday night schedule. With entry to Duckie! costing between £5 and £8 depending on what time you arrive, we have never failed to enjoy a night out at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern.

Gays the Word Bookshop

66 Marchmont Street, Bloomsbury, London, WC1N 1AB

Nearest Tube: Russell Square

We’ve mentioned Gay’s the Word Bookshop in previous posts. Located 66 Marchmont Street in the Bloomsbury area of London, Gay’s the Word is a must-visit for anyone who identifies as LGBTQIA+. Now the oldest surviving LGBTQIA+ bookshop in the UK, Gay’s the Word was founded in 1979 and was one of the few places where you could buy LGBTQIA+ literature, at a time when it was not widely available. Home to numerous LGBTQIA+ groups including Lesbian and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM) who were made famous throughout the world thanks to the film ‘Pride’. One of LGSM’s co-founders, Mark Ashton (who sadly died of pneumonia in 1987 after contracting HIV/Aids), is commemorated with a blue plaque above the shop which is still home to the weekly Wednesday Evening Lesbian Discussion Group (Wednesday evenings between 8 pm – 9 pm) as well as the monthly Translondon Group (every 3rd Tuesday of the month at 7.30 pm).

A trip to Gay’s the Word is always a special occasion, as while many of London’s major bookstores now carry an LGBT+ section, this was not always the case. Unlike the bigger bookstores, the staff at Gay’s the Word are always willing to chat, and offer some friendly advice. Gay’s the Word also offers a much wider selection of books (and other paraphernalia that relate to LGBTQIA+ cases and issues including t-shirts for LGSM, badges etc) than most of the bookstores in London which have dedicated LGBT+ sections within their regular stores.

According to their Facebook page, Gay’s the Word will reopen on 1st July with some amended opening times due to the COVID19 pandemic.

G-A-Y Bar

30 Old Compton St, Soho, W1D 4UR

Nearest Tube: Tottenham Court Road

G-A-Y Bar is one of the most well-known, popular, and notorious LGBTQIA+ venues in London. Open from midday, there isn’t an LGBTQIA+ person we know who hasn’t spent at least one very drunken night here. Often used to start a night out (thanks to the deals that G-A-Y offers to its sister sites G-A-Y Late, which is around the corner on 5 Goslett Yard, Soho, London WC2H 0EA and Heaven, which we will talk about a bit later) G-A-Y often has a mixed clientele of young and old. Split over several floors, which are not all open in the afternoon, or on quiet nights, the crowd at G-A-Y is usually quite diverse including students, tourists, and office workers, with a mainly male crowd on the upper levels and a mainly female crowd downstairs. Like many of London’s LGBTQIA+ nightclubs G-A-Y Bar can get very busy and you will need to queue to get a drink, the longest we have waited was 30minutes – but this was on New Year’s Eve! Like all of London’s nightclubs G-A-Y Bar operates a search policy on entry and the door staff are normally pretty good if you feel uncomfortable being searched by a member of the same or opposite sex – just ask them and they are pretty accommodating. Again like all nightclubs in London, G-A-Y Bar also operates a zero-tolerance policy on drugs and people have, in the past, been refused entry for carrying licenced medication such as autoinjectors for allergies, pain medication etc – our advice is to leave it at home (if you can) as there is nothing worse than queuing to get into a nightclub or bar, only to be refused entry for something which you could have avoided! If you can’t leave them at home try and grab a member of staff before you start to queue (better yet call them earlier in the day or drop them a message on social media!) and explain your situation to them. We also highly recommend that you make use of the cloakroom (found downstairs near one set of toilets) if you have any shopping or precious personal items with you; but be warned that the queue for this facility can get very long if G-A-Y Bar is busy.

While we highly recommend G-A-Y Bar, just so you can say that you have lived through the experience, we would advise that if you do not enjoy loud music or very busy bars that you visit earlier in the day. We quiet enjoy popping in on a Saturday afternoon just after the matinees in the nearby theatres have started when the volume (both of people and music) is lower and it is easier to find a seat and get served at the bar.

The Above the Stage Theatre

72 Albert Embankment, Vauxhall, London, SE1 7TP

Nearest Tube: Vauxhall

Founded in 2008 above an LGBTQIA+ pub called The Stag (hence the name) Above the Stage Theatre is now situated underneath one of the railway arches in Vauxhall. The only theatre in the UK producing, and programming, exclusively LGBTQIA+ theatre it is a popular spot with the London based LGBTQIA+ theatre community. We’ve seen numerous productions here that have ranged from the brilliantly funny, to the poignantly moving and we always end up drinking in the theatre bar until closing time! If we are honest the bar is a great place to hang out and drink if you happen to be in Vauxhall anyway!

Although it is currently closed due to the COVID19 pandemic the Above the Stag Theatre should re-open in November for their annual adult panto, which this year is Dick Whittington: A New Dick in Town, which follows on from their highly successful Pinocchio in 2019.

The Admiral Duncan Pub

54 Old Compton Street, London W1D 4UD

Nearest Tube: Tottenham Court Road

The Admiral Duncan is one of the oldest gay bars in London and is named after the British Naval hero Admiral Adam Duncan who defeated the Dutch fleet at the Battle of Camperdown. Known throughout the United Kingdom for the Admiral Duncan terrorist attack, which was part of the 1999 London nail bombings (where the Neo-Nazi David Copeland placed three nail bombs in Brixton, Brick Lane and The Admiral Duncan over three consecutive weekends) where three people were killed, and seventy-nine people were injured. Today the pub is a popular place for all members of the LGBTQIA+ to come together and has a memorial chandelier and plaque to those who died and were injured during the 1999 bomb attack. Known for its friendly staff, cheap(ish) drinks, and Drag shows, The Admiral Duncan is certainly a favourite with many of our LGBTQIA+ guides who often pop in here after their tours.

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