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John Le Carre: James Bond was a neo-fascist gangster

17th August 2010

An early BBC interview in which thriller writer John Le Carré gives Ian Fleming's James Bond a dressing down has been unearthed by the broadcaster.

In the interview, which was recorded in 1966, Le Carré dubs Bond a 'neo-fascist gangster' who would do anything for a harem of girls and a dry martini.

Speaking to the BBC's Malcolm Muggeridge, Le Carré said: 'I dislike Bond. I'm not sure that Bond is a spy. I think that it's a great mistake if one's talking about espionage literature to include Bond in this category at all.'

The author, who has written a number of bestselling spy novels including The Spy Who Came in from the Cold and The Tailor of Panama, claimed that Bond is more like an international gangster who is 'entirely out of the political context' than a spy.

Looking back on his comments, Le Carré, who worked for both MI5 and MI6 during the Cold War, told the Radio Times his feelings were in part based on his own understanding of the reality of espionage and in part on the nature of the character portrayed.

'At the root of Bond there was something neo-fascistic and totally materialist,' he said, adding that his feelings towards the iconic character had since mellowed.

The archive footage will be rebroadcast next week on BBC Four as part of the In Their Own Words series.

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