Leeds Grand Theatre is the launch venue for An Afternoon with Sir Roger Moore, a touring one-man show where the much loved James Bond star recalls his adventures in acting and beyond.
Roger Moore is best known for his portrayal of James Bond, the slick secret service agent with a licence to kill. The second actor to take to the role, Moore remains the longest serving, starring in no less than seven blockbuster movies between 1973 and 1985. In his show, Moore recounts his Bond experiences, amongst his work on The Saint and The Persuaders, over two relaxed hours, sharing eyebrow-raising stories about Tony Curtis, Errol Flynn and Grace Jones, to name but a few.
Moore is interviewed by Gareth Owen, co-author of the actor’s biography and most recently, Bond On Bond, a glossy hardback celebrating fifty years of 007 in film. Unobtrusive and gently steering, Owen prises several fascinating stories from Moore, who himself delights in imitating many of the actors and directors he has worked with in the past. Ever the gentleman, Moore refrains from directly criticising any fellow performers, but those reading the nuances in his delivery will realise just whose company he didn't quite enjoy. When it comes to dry subtlety, Roger Moore is an old hand.
From his earliest work as an animator through to becoming an actor on television and in film, Moore describes his career in light-hearted anecdotal detail. Ever self-deprecating and as cool as they come, he is modest about his achievements, citing both Sean Connery and Daniel Craig as better Bonds than himself. There is a sense that Moore is at peace with his achievements, but perhaps his global success as The Saint and James Bond inhibited opportunities for him to tackle deeper and more meaningful roles. Moore is, however, reflective and grateful for all the opportunities that his career gave him, making particular reference to Lew Grade and Cubby Broccoli, two of the most powerful producers of their day. Flippant about his acting talents, jesting that much of his success stemmed from his good looks, charm and luck, Moore is a superb raconteur with a comic timing which makes him both endearing and engaging.
Surprisingly, Moore is now approaching his late eighties yet is still recognisably the performer which audiences remember from the Bond films, The Saint and Ivanhoe. Louche, dry and about as English as an actor could ever hope to be, Roger Moore has weathered the past fifty years remarkably well. His true age only becomes apparent when discussing his contemporaries who are no longer with us, such as Elizabeth Taylor, Tony Curtis, Burt Lancaster and Oliver Reed. Among the light-hearted anecdotes about Curtis’ fascination with décolletage and Lancaster’s advice on extramarital affairs, it is a sobering reminder that in their absence Moore is one of the remaining few of his generation of film actors.
Moore's work with UNICEF is particularly interesting and is but one example of how global fame such as his can, and should, be used to great effect in terms of aid. Never speaking of personal politics but passionate about the welfare of children, Moore's message is a simple one: A single British pound can keep a child hydrated and fed for a day. The clang of collection buckets during the interval proved that this message resonated powerfully with the audience. As much as the anecdotes about Bond and The Saint will enthrall, is it is evident that this part of Moore's life is now the most important to him - and rightly so.
An audience with an age range of nine to ninety proves that Roger Moore has an iconic allure, and he delivers wholesale to audience expectations with a solid two hours of reflective entertainment. Closing with a humorous (and often bizarre) question and answer session, An Afternoon with Sir Roger Moore is a teatime well spent. For fans of James Bond and classic television it is a must; for those who want to hear about a golden age of cinema from a man who was there, it is essential. There are moments of sadness and seriousness, punctuated by plenty of laughs and salacious gossip to enjoy along the way. There's no doubt that by the end of a show with Sir Roger, you'll be shouting for Moore.
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