Details of Gerry Anderson’s unmade James Bond film revealed

Gerry Anderson's Thunderbirds were at the height of their popularity when James Bond arrived.  (Getty/Alamy)

Gerry Anderson’s Thunderbirds were at the height of their popularity when James Bond arrived. (Getty/Alamy)

Roger Moore’s 1979 James Bond film Moonraker – such as it stands – is one of the most controversial 007 adventures ever.

Currently rated at 59% on Rotten Tomatoes, the Bond movie’s goonish gags (the double-gripped pigeon!) and sci-fi trappings (“Bond does it in space” was one of the film’s oo-er taglines), mean it’s all too easily dismissed as a campy Star Wars-inspired retread of The Spy Who Loved Me, and not one of the franchise’s finest moments.

But in an alternate universe of 007, there is another version of Moonraker, made in the late 60s, with Sean Connery or George Lazenby as James Bond, and with a very different version of the Ian Fleming novel of the 1955.

In the late 1960s, Thunderbirds/Captain Scarlet/Stingray paramount Gerry Anderson was approached in the mid-1960s by James Bond producer Harry Saltzman, to pitch a film version of Fleming’s third 007 novel.

Bond and Anderson’s Thunderbirds were at the height of their popularity at this stage. Thunderball was the biggest film of 1965, while ITV’s Thunderbirds (broadcast 1965-66) proved that Gerry and Sylvia Anderson were bona fide TV hitmakers, so this union was a match made in heaven for culture fans pop.

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Up until now, however, information on Anderson’s iteration of Moonraker has always been sketchy. All we knew was that Anderson’s treatment had never been used, but that elements of it had – presumably – been worked into the big-screen version of The Spy Who Loved Me about a decade later, a slight steal for the which Anderson received a modest fee. court settlement from EON, the production company behind the Bond films.

Now, Anderson’s son Jamie has shed more light on one of the most fascinating what-ifs in Bond history.

The Television Society's Silver Medal awarded to

Sylvia and Gerry Anderson with a Lady Penelope Thunderbirds puppet in the 1960s. (PA Images via Getty Images)

Speaking to the SpyHards podcast, he revealed some hitherto unknown information regarding his father’s Moonraker storyline (which he co-wrote with regular collaborator Tony Barwick) and also lifted the veil on what exactly went on between Anderson and EON. many decades ago.

All copies of Anderson and Barwick’s treatment were assumed to have been destroyed (as told by Jamie, who was part of the deal between EON and his father), only Anderson Jr discovered what is probably the last remaining copy while digging through the files of his late father. sometime after Gerry’s death in 2012.

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“In there,” Jamie reveals, “was this lovely black card-bound treat from the ’60s.”

Jamie reveals that the document is 84 pages long and is a very different beast from the 1979 Moonraker. That Moonraker took little from Fleming’s book, which is one of James Bond’s more provincial geographical adventures, taking place mostly in the exotic climes of … having to.

Anderson and Barwick’s treatment, it seems, stayed closer to the original novel, even if it would have taken Bond outside the UK, with Brazil and the Caribbean (but not space, it seems) given as locations.

Roger Moore, Lois Chiles, bei den Dreharbeiten zum

Lois Chiles and Roger Moore in the 1979 film Moonraker. (Photo by Peter Bischoff/Getty Images)

“In this version, Drax is a wheelchair-bound villain with long red hair, huge mutton chops with a big moustache,” Anderson tells SpyHards, “and he’s developing Moonraker for the UK government.”

Anderson goes on to reveal that this Moonraker (in the book, it’s an upgraded V-2 rocket) is meant to be launched into orbit around the moon and was designed to obliterate the planet, should a nation decide to launch nuclear weapons.

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“So the general idea is that this is mutually assured destruction for real but independently controlled,” he says. “So once it’s launched, it has its own detection systems, no one can influence it.”

According to Jamie, Anderson delivered his and Barwick’s treatment to Harry Saltzman early one evening and at 11pm the producer told him “it’s great. This is absolutely the best! I’ll give it to Cubby [Broccoli, co-producer]and we’ll see if we can get it to move!

Left to right: British author and James Bond creator Ian Fleming (1908-1964) with co-producers Harry Saltzman (1915 - 1994) and Albert R. 'Cubby' Broccoli (1909 - 1996) on the set of 'Goldfinger' , directed by Guy Hamilton, 1964. (Photo by Pictorial Parade/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Ian Fleming (left) with Harry Saltzman and Albert R. ‘Cubby’ Broccoli in 1964 on the set of Goldfinger. (Pictorial Parade/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Only nothing happened. Moonraker didn’t end up as James Bond’s seventh big-screen adventure (that would have been 1971’s Diamonds Are Forever with a returning Sean Connery), and Anderson and Barwick never got a response from Saltzman or Broccoli.

“Dad was so excited about this,” Jamie says. “He really thought, I did it, we fixed it, we will!”

One element fans will recognize from Anderson’s Moonraker treatment is that Hugo Drax is based in a giant supertanker, much like The Liparus, the supership owned by evil shipping magnate Karl Stromberg in 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me.

Director Michael Lonsdale on the set of

Michael Lonsdale as Hugo Drax in 1979’s Moonraker. (Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images)

“Dad got pretty pissed,” Jamie says, “so there was a little fight with Cubby [Harry Saltzman had left the franchise after 1974’s The Man With The Golden Gun].

“As far as I can tell, they’ve come to an agreement: ‘Let’s not make a big punch about this as it’s going to cost us a lot of money. Gerry, we appreciate the work you’ve done, here’s some money for yours. In return you have to forget it , leave and destroy all copies of your treatment.

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“So the money changed hands, but apparently he didn’t destroy all the copies. Whether it was on purpose or not, I couldn’t tell.”

“I think there’s a lot of really fun stuff in there,” Jamie continues. “There are some parts that are a little silly, but there are a lot of really amazing pictures and descriptions, like when Bond initially escapes this huge supertanker, he gets on the main deck and because it’s so big, to get around, the guards they use motorbikes.


Inside the supertanker Liparus – Stromberg’s floating lair – in 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me. (Alamy)

“So there’s a great motorcycle chase on the deck of this supertanker. There’s some great action set pieces and great tech pieces, a lot of really good stuff. ‘ awkward ’60s Bond girl moment, but you know, it is what it is, it’s a ’60s treat.

In the book, that Bond girl is Gala Brand, a Special Branch officer who works undercover as Drax’s personal assistant, but Anderson says she’s been renamed for his father’s version.

“’So Bond sips the cool bubbly liquid and smiles into the dark blue eyes of…Gala Bond,’ it says here,” Jamie says, reading from the treatment. “I don’t know if that suggests they got married or that there was a typo…

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“‘He sets the glass down by the bed and kisses her. Gala smiles and asks, ‘Do you have a license for this?’ And for that too,’ replies Bond. They collide, and the bright white ship races towards the sun.’ Credits.”

Gerry Anderson clearly hoped that Moonraker would be the project that catapulted him into the world of cinema. Although he had made a micro-budget B-movie in 1960 and written two big-screen Thunderbirds spin-offs in 1966 and 1968, it would not be until 1969 that he would get around to writing and producing his first real film. for adults, the sci-fi drama Doppelgänger.

Ian Hendry and Roy Thinnes sit in the cockpit of their ship in a scene from the film 'Journey To The Far Side Of The Sun', 1969. (Photo by Universal/Getty Images)

Ian Hendry and Roy Thinnes sit in the cockpit of their ship in Gerry Anderson’s 1969 film Journey To The Far Side Of The Sun. (Universal Pictures/Getty)

The film, released internationally as Journey to the Far Side of the Sun, coincidentally starred many actors, from Ed Bishop to Vladek Sheybal to Peter Burton, with Bond titles to their names, while its director was Robert Parrish , who had been one of five filmmakers behind the 1967 James Bond parody Casino Royale).

And indeed it was Gerry Anderson who popularized Derek Meddings’ special effects work, years before he became one of the Bond franchise’s most loyal henchmen.

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Whether Gerry Anderson and Tony Barwick’s Moonraker would have been a better Bond film than Diamonds Are Forever or the eventual Moonraker over a decade later is a moot point. While Jamie Anderson has resurrected many of his father’s lost projects through his work with Big Finish, there are still no plans to turn Gerry Anderson’s Moonraker into an audio drama.


Gerry Anderson with a Stingray model. (PA Images via Getty Images)

“Barbara [Broccoli] He said it’s okay that it exists, we really don’t want to do anything about it, [and] If you want to talk to the Fleming Estate then that’s fine. This is kind of where it ended.

“There’s definitely the potential that it could come out there in some form one day, but it would be in partnership with the Fleming Estate and that’s not currently in the cards. But who knows?

“It’s a nice piece of weird parallel universe cinematic history, isn’t it?”

SpyHards Podcast is available on all podcast platforms including Apple AND Spotify with new episodes every Tuesday.

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