Belfast Telegraph

What's it like to be James Bond for a day? How our man Jonny became 007

By Jonny Bell

The name's Bell, Jonny Bell. Licensed for 600 words or so.

Today the latest instalment in the Bond franchise - Spectre - opens nationwide in cinemas.

Daniel Craig has a real job on his hands.

Last film Skyfall was the most successful in Bond history, raking in £1 billion at the box office and winning a brace of Oscars.

And early indications suggest the latest outing for 007 may surpass that.

Craig, given his advancing years and his time in the role, has hinted this may be his last performance as James Bond, but if he were to hand in his Walther PPK, could I fit the bill? And could Belfast play a role as one of glamorous locations often depicted in the films?

With thanks to my employers in Royal Avenue, I was able to be 007 for the day.

And we certainly have all the ingredients to make a mean attempt at an international espionage thriller.

To look the part, Bond would head to Suitor on Rosemary Street.

Chris Suitor said: "Bond has to wear the best, and not just to impress. Although that's a bonus of an off-cut.

"He has to be sure that when he steps out of his wet suit, the dinner jacket is flawless."

He'll need transport and the only place he'll find his Aston Martin is at Charles Hurst.

The dealership loaned me a Carbon DB9 for the day, a not-to-distant relation of Bond's current preference the DBS.

Still, as one of the 77,000 cars made in the prestigious manufacturer's 102-year history, it has the looks and the engine note to turn heads and stop people - literally - in their tracks. Anyone lucky enough to find themselves with a key and behind its wheel will be in 00-heaven.

While it might not have the gadgets Mr Bond needs, you'll not miss them.

As an added bonus, should the driver find himself in a sniper's sights, it has the performance and agility to get out of the tightest of squeezes.

"Everyone remembers the DB5 in Goldfinger," said Mike Gimson of Charles Hurst Aston Martin.

"And from there Bond and Aston Martin have been synonymous with each other, starring in 12 of the 24 films.

"Only with other manufacturers putting in lots of money have the film-makers changed which car Bond uses, whereas Aston Martin doesn't pay.

"It's a brand that oozes class without being in your face about it. It's a car company like no other, each vehicle is lovingly put together. It takes hundreds of painstaking hours just for one custom-made vehicle.

"People appreciate that type of craftsmanship and it stands out on the road.

"It's the ideal car for a man on a mission, but also the car lover's car."

Bond loves to work up a thirst, and the one place in the city that fits in with the agent's style is The Merchant.

In its cocktail bar you'll get Bond's tipple of choice, a gin Martini - shaken, not stirred, of course.

Bar manager Mikey Patterson said: "Martinis have, over time, become as synonymous with James Bond as gun, gadgets and girls.

"In the 1953 novel Casino Royale Bond orders and names his preferred 'Vesper Martini' after his first love, Vesper Lynd.

"Unlike a conventional Martini, the Vesper contains measures of gin, vodka and vermouth. Classically the Martini is stirred, however Bond's preference for his drink to be shaken is as unique as the legend himself."

Of course, 007 wouldn't be the man he is without the right woman by his side.

And our own Miss Northern Ireland was the obvious choice for our little adventure.

ACA Model Leanne McDowell was crowned in May and is in final preparations for Miss World in China. Thankfully she had the time to play our vamp.

"Bond is suave, smooth, sophisticated and an all-round action man," she said.

"I'd let him buy me a drink."

Now that's the car, the clothes and the girl, now where to find the ideal villain...

  • Spectre opens in cinemas today

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