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What with James Bond about to hit our screens again, I’ve been thinking about spies on TV and in the Movies. Spies are great for films and TV! They’ve got fast car chases, hot girls and they get to play with cool spy gadgets. But who is the greatest film or TV spy? Here’s my top 007 picks!
No 1 Jason Bourne
Always able to think on his feet and act without hesitation. He can use a hardback book, a towel, a magazine, a ballpoint pen and even vodka as a weapon! He doesn’t need Q or a laboratory. Jason Bourne can create his own spy gadgets out of regular stuff like mobile phones and even a toaster. He can coax F1 performance out of even the most knackered jalopy. He’s fluent in dozens of languages including Russian, Spanish, German and French, so he can blend right in wherever his chase takes him.
No 2. Jim Phelps and the entire Mission Impossible IMF Team
“This tape will self destruct….” Iconic words that have wormed into everyday speak and a theme tune to die for! Forget the stature-challenged scientologist – the original Jim Phelps (Peter Graves) was the man! Cool, organised, methodical, clever and audacious as was the rest of his Impossible Mission Force. But then why bother going through all those files every week when you knew he was going to pick Cinnamon Carter (Barbara Bain) the sexy vamp, Barney Collier (Greg Morris) the electronics genius, Willy Armitage (Peter Lupus) the muscle man that made Schwarzenegger look like a wimp and Rollin Hand (Martin Landau) make-up artist, escape artist, and magician. They even had Mr Spock (Leonard Nimoy) in it, also as man of many faces but without the pointy ears! Ensemble spying – what more do you want?
No 3. James Bond
I suppose James Bond has got to be there. Can’t be bothered going through the clichéd “who was the best Bond” thing – Sean obviously – but without Commander Bond, none of the others would have happened. He can hold his own in a fight thanks to his judo and karate skills, but it’s really the spy gadgets that get him out of tricky situations. Even the latest, grittier, more realistic version of Bond (Daniel Craig) uses gadgets and gizmos. Bond also has an array of top of the range vehicles including the Lotus Esprit submarine car (how cool is that!) and the simply brilliant Aston Martin DB5 from Goldfinger with a bullet proof shield, machine guns, bladed hubcaps and an ejector seat. Bet Jason Bourne in a clapped out Mini would still beat Bond in an Aston Martin DBS though!
No. 4 Jack Bauer
Ok, so he’s got a Masters Degree in Criminology and Law and his experience with LA SWAT, the US Army’s Delta Force and the CIA means he’s very, very, bright. As a Counter Terrorist Unit agent, Jack Bauer is well equipped for preventing major terrorist attacks on the United States. Maybe it’s just those split screens though….
No. 5 Maxwell Smart
Bumbling secret agent Maxwell Smart (Don Adams) also known as Agent 86 and his sexy partner Agent 99 (Barbara Feldon), work for CONTROL (it’s not an acronym – it means nothing!). They investigate and thwart various threats to the world, though Smart's incompetence always causes complications. They never fail to save the day, typically thanks to Smart’s own dumb luck and 99's skill! Personally I thought Hymie the Robot, a powerful android originally built by KAOS but reprogrammed to work for CONTROL, was the more effective agent. Still, anything created and inspired by Mel Brooks proves you can spy and laugh at the same time!
No. 6 Napoleon Solo
The Man From U.N.C.L.E. – that’s an acronym - Napoleon Solo is a dapper gentleman who charms the ladies and is always immaculately dressed. Solo is able to stay cool under pressure and can quickly devise plans, often using his charm to recruit other unsuspecting people to help him complete missions – mainly the Russian U.N.C.L.E. agent Illya Kuryakin who seemed to be the only one that did anything apart from snog!
No. 7 Derek Flint
The “American Bond”, Derek Flint (James Coburn) works for Z.O.W.I.E – which is an acronym too! He has as many gadgets as Bond, a grasp of some weird balletic martial art, strange taste in polo neck sweaters and blazers and the ability to induce a catatonic hibernation state in himself using a fancy watch do-hickey. Much more intentionally tongue in cheek than Bond and just as popular with the ladies, he’s not as incompetent as Smart, and he looks like Jack Bauer’s dad!
Disagree with me? Who do you think is the best on-screen spy then? Answers in the dead letter drop – third park bench on the right! And I haven’t mentioned George Smiley because he’s just too realistic. Besides, how can Obi wan Kenobi be a spy!