Bond on the Radio, New Titan Collection

Ian Fleming, renowned author and creator of iconic spy James Bond, was born 100 years ago and to mark this special anniversary, BBC Radio 4 is joining in the celebrations – which include the release of more James Bond comics collections from Titan Books, including The Paradise Plot – with a short season of programmes dedicated to the author.

The shows include an all-star dramatisation of the first James Bond book, Dr No; a documentary following Fleming’s niece on a personal journey to find out more about her uncle; and an exploration of what the creation of James Bond tells us about post-Empire Britain.

On Saturday 24 May (at 2.30pm), Toby Stephens and David Suchet star in the first ever full radio adaptation of Dr No, Ian Fleming’s 1958 James Bond novel.

Recovering from the after-effects of his last assignment, Bond is given what appears to be an easy job on his next case. Sent to Jamaica to investigate the mysterious disappearance of two of his colleagues, Bond discovers that the heart of the mystery lies with a sinister recluse on Crab Key, Dr No, and before long Bond comes face to face with this bizarre creature and soon he is fighting for his life in a murderous game.

The cast also include Samuel West, John Standing, Martin Jarvis and Peter Capaldi.

In The Bond Correspondence, also on Saturday 24 May (10.30am), Ian Fleming’s niece, Lucy Fleming, sets out to discover more about both her uncle and the creation of his most famous character, James Bond. Her uncle has, until now, been someone Lucy vaguely remembers from her teens but after she delves into dusty old boxes of letters to see the wealth of correspondence from readers and his responses, she discovers a lesser known side of Ian.

She goes inside the old Naval Intelligence Unit where her uncle worked in the Second World War, visits his wartime girlfriend Joan Bright Astley, and stepdaughter Fionn Morgan, and, in doing so, brings to life ghosts from the past.

On Monday 26 May, Professor David Cannadine argues that the Bond novels are a fantastic response to the moment when Britain lost an Empire but was still struggling to find a role in the new world.

In James Bond, The Last Englishman, Cannadine claims that Fleming’s Bond novels have played a key role in shaping England’s national self-image and Bond is the consolatory fantasy of Fleming, the nostalgic conservative appalled by Britain’s collapse as a great power.

There will also be another chance to hear Amis, Amis and Bond on Sunday 18 May (1.30pm) in which Martin Amis explores his father’s obsessive interest with James Bond and the writing of Ian Fleming with fellow Bond enthusiast Charlie Higson.

The Paradise Plot is released by Titan Books on 27 June 2008 and sees the publication of a story not seen since its original publication. Follow Bond in this ultra rare Ian Fleming adventure as he teams up with fellow 00 agent Suzi Kew to investigate the mysterious disappearances of the world’s most valuable scientists. But with a series of mind-controlled assassins baying for his blood at every turn, can 007 avert disaster once again?

Published with rarely seen story Deathmask the book also includes a new introduction by David Hedison (who played Felix Leiter in Live and Let Die, but is perhaps better known to genre fans as Captain Crane from Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea) and a feature on James Bond comics from around the world.

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