Royal seal of approval for 007 film
James Bond's return to the big screen was given the royal seal of approval as 007's latest film outing received its world premiere.
The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall attended the red carpet launch of Skyfall at the Royal Albert Hall in London, which was hailed by 007 star Daniel Craig as his greatest Bond premiere yet.
The actor, playing the agent for a third time, said he was "incredibly proud" to once more be playing the suave hero created by Ian Fleming, who first appeared on the big screen in Dr No in 1962. "I've never been to a premiere like this, it's incredible," he said as he arrived at the venue, where guests filed past a huge gold 007 logo and a classic Aston Martin.
Craig revealed it had been important to get some of the humour seen in previous Bond films back for Skyfall as the franchise marked its 50th anniversary.
The 44-year-old actor said: "I always wanted to get the old Bond trademarks into the movie, and we had the chance. It was just a joy to put some of the gags in and get some of the old characters back. I think they're very important."
He added: "I think Sam Mendes has made a very beautiful movie, first and foremost, but it really is a great Bond movie."
Craig was joined at the royal premiere by fellow stars Naomie Harris, Javier Bardem - who plays Bond's nemesis Silva - and Ben Whishaw, who stars as Q. Also among the hundreds of guests filtering into the Albert Hall was Dame Judi Dench who returns once again as secret service boss M.
Bardem said he was always drawn to Bond villains after seeing the metal-toothed baddie Jaws in Moonraker as a youngster. Asked about the enduring appeal of the films, he said: "Well, 50 years is a long time. That means they have been doing something really right, starting with the actors who have played Bond. They have all brought their own flavour to it."
Oscar-winning film-maker Sam Mendes was brought on board for the latest film, after Craig boldly invited him to work on it. Mendes admitted he had had doubts about Craig's suitability to play the famous spy. He said: "I thought he might be wrong to play the part, I thought he might be the wrong casting. And it took me about 30 seconds of Casino Royale to realise - wrong. He's a brilliant Bond and he completely changed it. He hasn't made it better or worse, he regenerated it."
The leading stars and makers of Skyfall - the 23rd Bond movie - were introduced to the Prince and Duchess ahead of the screening in the Albert Hall. Proceeds from the premiere will benefit charities that support members of the three intelligence agencies - the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), the Security Service (MI5) and GCHQ.