Sir Ian McKellen is to play Goldfinger in a BBC radio adaptation of the James Bond novel, to be broadcast on April 3. Toby Stephens will play Bond, reprising the role he played when the BBC did Dr No (with David Suchet as the villain) two years ago and Rosamund Pike, who like Stephens has played a Bond baddie on screen in Die Another Day, will be Pussy Galore.
McKellen is a wonderful actor and I'm looking forward to hearing the play. I wondered at first whether he might be too much of a luvvie to play a villain, although he has done plenty of villains before in films, notably Richard III, the ex-Nazi in Apt Pupil and Magneto in X-Men. Even so, though, I wondered if the dialogue might go thus:
"Do you expect me to talk?"
"Oh, good heavens no, my dear old thing, I expect you to die."Then again the best villains - and certainly Bond baddies - need to have a touch of camp luvvieness about them. It is their preciousness and easy charm that make them so dangerous. How about Christopher Biggins playing Blofeld or Sir Derek Jacobi as Scaramanga next year?
Incidentally, Stephens was the second actor to play Bond in a mainstream radio production. The first, in a South African adaptation of Moonraker back in 1956, was Bob "Can I have a P, please" Holness, better known as the host of Blockbusters.