James Bond

There can’t be much doubt that James Bond is the world’s most famous fictional spy.

He was created in the early 1950s by the English author Ian Fleming in a book called Casino Royale, the first of a long series, and in 1962 he appeared for the first time in cinemas in the film Dr. No. Since then there have been twenty-two Bond films, all of which have been successful. The first actor to play Bond (and, in many people’s opinion, still the best) was the Scotsman Sean Connery. The most recent is Daniel Craig, who was in Casino Royale (based on Fleming’s book) in 2006 and Quantum of Solace in 2008.

As anyone who has seen any of the films will know, Bond works for the British secret service, his assignments take him to lots of exotic places around the world, and his enemy is usually a shadowy international criminal or terrorist organisation. It isn’t clear exactly how old Bond is, but he’s probably in his late thirties or early forties, this being the age of almost all the actors who play him. He is intelligent, calm in dangerous situations, and likes to introduce himself with the famous words, ‘Bond. James Bond.’

He is also handsome (usually with dark hair, although Daniel Craig is blonde), well-dressed and rarely without female company – the list of ‘Bond girls’ over the years has included some very famous actresses. His famous code number is 007 (‘double-oh-seven’), with the ‘00’ standing for ‘licence to kill’. He does indeed kill people from time to time but his violence is always represented as being justified. Bond films are well-known for their gadgets, which are often used by Bond himself: an exploding key ring, a wristwatch that fires a laser beam and a surfboard containing electronic communications equipment are just three examples.

Although in some ways the Bond films have stayed the same, there are some interesting ways in which they reflect social changes. One of the most obvious is that the early Bonds were smokers, while the more recent ones are never seen with a cigarette. Also, Bond’s boss in the secret service, ‘M’, is now female, which perhaps reflects the fact that the real life British security service, MI5, was headed by a woman for the first time in the 1990s.

Exercise 1

Here are some simple definitions for words that appear in the text on Worksheet A. Find the words they refer to and fill in the gaps

  1. _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  (noun) an object made of wood or plastic that surfers use for riding on waves
  2. _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  (adjective) physically attractive (almost always used to describe a man, not a woman)
  3. _ _ _ _ _ _  (noun) someone who smokes cigarettes
  4. _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  (adjective) imaginary (often describes a person or situation in a book or film that is not about real life)
  5. _ _ _ _ _ _  (adjective) unusual and exciting (often because it is in, or from, a faraway place)
  6. _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  (noun) a piece of work given to someone as part of their job or studies
  7. _ _ _ _ _ _ _  (adjective) describes someone or something we don’t know much about (often, in the cases of people and organisations, because they don’t want us to know too much)
  8. _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  (adjective) right, valid

Exercise 2

Decide whether the following statements are true (T) or false (F), or if the text doesn’t say (D)

  1. The first actor who played James Bond was English.
  2. MI5 had been led by a woman before the 1990s.
  3. Casino Royale was the only book Ian Fleming wrote about James Bond.
  4. Bond travels a lot.
  5. Bond defeats his enemies without using violence.
  6. Bond’s boss, ‘M’, has always been a woman.
  7. Bond got married in one of the films.
  8. Bond often uses gadgets.

Exercise 3

Using the information in the text , make questions using the words listed below. Use only one box for each question, and don’t repeat any questions.

  1. When
  2. real life
  3. code number
  4. What colour
  5. introduce himself
  6. surfboard
  7. What is the name
  8. different
  9. dangerous situations
  10. Who
  11. from time to time
  12. How old
  13. wristwatch
  14. stand for
  15. enemy
  16. rarely without
  17. What is the name
  18. How many

boss noun
the person who is in charge of you at work
I’ll ask my boss if I can have a day off next week.

calm adjective
not affected by strong emotions such as excitement, anger, shock, or fear
An hour after the accident, I was starting to feel calmer.

code noun
a set of numbers or letters that gives information about something, for example by showing what it is or when it was made

company noun
the activity of being with other people
We usually enjoy his company.

criminal adjective
used about people who often commit crimes
the criminal element in society

equipment noun
the tools, machines, or other things that you need for a particular job or activity
camping/lifting/safety equipment

enemy noun
someone who is opposed to someone else and tries to do them harm
He must hide from his enemies while he is weak.

explode verb
to burst with a lot of force and a loud noise
Bombs were exploding all over the city.

fire verb
if a weapon fires, or if someone fires it, someone uses it to shoot
She squeezed the trigger, but the gun failed to fire.

gadget noun
a small tool or piece of equipment that does something useful or impressive
kitchen gadgets

head verb
to be in control of a group or an organization
You will work with the management team headed by Miles Broughton.

key ring noun
a metal ring used for keeping keys together

laser noun
a piece of equipment that produces a powerful narrow line of light.
Computer technology and laser beams can be used to control the weather.

obvious adjective
clear to almost anyone
The most obvious explanation is not always the correct one.

reflect verb
to show the existence or nature of something
Public anger is reflected in the latest opinion polls.

secret service noun
a government department that secret agents work for

series noun  [usually singular]
a set of books, documents etc that are published with the same design in order to show that they belong to the same group
a popular new series of children’s books

relating to society and to people’s lives in general
They try to address social problems such as unemployment and poor health.

someone whose job is to find out secret information about a country or an organization

stand for something
phrasal verb
if a letter, an abbreviation, or a symbol stands for something, that is what it means or represents
The letters ERM stand for Exchange-Rate Mechanism.

terrorist noun
someone who uses violence in order to achieve political aims
an attack carried out by terrorists

violent behaviour
He had endured years of intimidation and violence.

wristwatch noun
a watch that you wear around your wrist