Unvarnished series reveals real Bond

Ian Fleming, known worldwide for creating super spy James Bond, had a background in intelligence work, an eye for women and a talent for unpredictability.

He also had massive insecurities, numerous love affairs and was overshadowed by his older brother, who was a published novelist.

All of this is found in “Fleming,” the new four-part series from BBC America starting Wednesday.

The line between biographical reality and fantasy feels thin in this series, with its dashing rescues, heavy smoking, sex and at least two rapes.

At the beginning of World War II in 1939, the young playboy, Fleming, portrayed by Dominic Cooper, was living in London on the family dime, chasing women and finally getting recruited by Naval Intelligence.

The most elusive was Ann O’Neill. They flirted, had affairs, then finally wed in a love story that was riddled with infidelity from the start.

She was married to a baron serving abroad on military duty, and conducting another intrigue with another man when she met Fleming.

O’Neill is played by Laura Pulver, known for her role as Irene Adler in “Sherlock” and on HBO’s “True Blood.” Pulver knew about Ian Fleming from her childhood in the U.K.

“Being a Brit, you obviously grow up every Christmas with a new Bond film on the telly,” she said.

“It’s kind of part of our history, our arts and culture history. I knew nothing really about this man.”

Pulver was given a lot of background by Mat Whitecross, the director, who provided her with copies of O’Neill’s diaries.

“I started to read about her early childhood. Her mother had passed away,” Pulver said. “She’d been raised by quite an abusive nanny, and passed around, like a bit of an aristocratic wife.

Pulver enjoyed making the miniseries in Budapest, standing in for wartime London, despite the January through March chill.

The costume director, Caroline Harris, bought actual dresses from the 1930s and 1940s but they were too fragile, so the costumes were remade in Hungary.

Ian Fleming died in 1964 from a heart attack and O’Neill in 1981.

Watch it

The four-part miniseries “Fleming: The Man Who Would be Bond”begins at 10 p.m. Wednesday on BBC America. BBC is also showing Bond films all day.

More in Life

Beer of the Week: 5 Rights Brewing’s Fresh hop imperial IPA

The Marysville brewery named its beer Wobbly the Laborer after the Industrial Workers of the World.

Get schooled on Texas BBQ at this Monroe restaurant in a bus

Brisket, pulled pork, sausage, chicken and the fixin’s all await you near the Reptile Zoo on U.S. 2.

Spy comedy ’Kingsman: The Golden Circle’ is laugh-out-loud funny

It’s a superficial but energetic sequel to the 2014 film about a clandestine British secret service.

Ben Stiller was born to play title character in ‘Brad’s Status’

Writer-director Mike White’s script has plenty of Brad’s voiceover, so this movie feels like a novel.

‘Friend Request’ a horror flick about the dangers of Facebook

Though it’s a little behind the times, Simon Verhoeven’s film about social media is effectively done.

39th annual Arts of the Terrace attracts regional artists

The Mountlake Terrace juried show features paintings, drawings, photography, miniatures and more.

Beer, wine, spirits: Snohomish County booze calendar

End of Summer Beer Garden Hog Roast: Seattle’s Ravenna Brewing is hosting… Continue reading

See both versions of ‘The Odd Couple’ on Historic Everett stage

The Outcast Players perform Neil Simon’s classic comedy with alternating male and female casts.

Hear new songs from Josh Clauson at Saturday release party

The producer of the Summer Meltdown music festival and Flowmotion band leader has a solo album out.

Most Read