The names Bond, Basildon Bond

The 'Licence to Thrill' event, December 2000

Shane Rimmer, Michael Billington (SPY), Martine Beswick, Valerie Leon, Caroline Munro, John Mareno (FYEO) and Sarah Donohue

   A view from the Dealers Room

 Basildon in Essex, just east of London, was the setting for THE Bond Event of 2000, 'Licence To Thrill'. Held on 3rd December, this event brought together Bond fans from across the world with dealers, actors and actresses from the films for a full day of entertainment.

   We arrived, care of my trusty driver Graham, at the Posthouse Hotel Basildon just after 8:30am. I saw Dave Worrall and Lee Pfeiffer by reception so wandered over to have a chat. Dave informed me that the video projector had broken down the night before, but the organisers were hopeful of having it up and running in time for the shows opening at 11am. I found the organiser Paul Miley, and introduced myself, and was shown to my table in the dealerís room, from which I hoped to sell large quantities of videos and photographs (always the optimist!). STUNTS magazine editor Jon Auty was unable to attend as planned, and stuntman Roy Alon was also not available, so the day was already going slightly pear shaped.

   I laid out my table with videoís and pictures, and signs to indicate that Bond stuntwoman Sarah Donohue would be signing autographs later in the day. I had invited Sarah along a few months ago, and was very pleased when she said she would be available later on in the afternoon. I found Paul in the screening room, testing their new video projector that was running perfectly, and told him that Roy would not be attending. I sat and watched the introductory film sequences that had been prepared for the guests.

   As the morning progressed, more and more people popped by to say hello, old friends and one or two who had purchased my video but I hadnít met before. Daryl Burchmore, who as most Bond fans will know has one of the largest collections of Bond memorabilia, had the stall next to mine and asked me to sign the sleeve to my video. My first ever autograph request, and no I didnít charge him! Shirley Eaton stepped into the room briefly, Caroline Munro passed by and then at about 10:30 the doors opened to advance ticket holders. The room slowly filled with Bond fans, young and old, milling around looking for bargains. I made a few sales but I think most Bond fans who would be interested in my video probably already had one, and my 12x8 photographs were not attracting much interest, with just a couple of sales.

   The guests arrived and went up on stage to give a talk about their time on the Bond films, and then signed autographs in a separate room. A shortened version (45 minutes) of my video was being screened on the large screen. As one oíclock came and went, I tried unsuccessfully to contact Sarah, but her mobile was switched off. At 2pm I received a message to say that she was on her way. I gave a sigh of relief that at last something was going to plan. I finally got to speak to her as she was approaching Basildon Station, so I went to reception to book a cab to collect her. Twenty minutes later there was still no sign of her, so I called and found that she was still waiting in the cold outside the station. Reception contacted the taxi company who said they had sent a car, but Sarah by this time had hailed a station cab and arrived 10 minutes later. I escorted her to the screening room, where the charity auction hosted by Shane Rimmer had just finished. (Daryl informed me that my video had fetched £15). We then went to the autograph room, followed by a loyal bunch of Sarah Donohue fans, and Sarah happily signed many photos, books, and video sleeves as she chatted with her many admirers.

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TWINE Stuntwoman Sarah Donohue

For more information and photographs of Sarah, Click Here

Naomi from 'The Spy Who Loved Me' SPY/NSNA & FRWL/TB YOLT/DAF/SPY
Caroline Munro Valerie Leon & Martine Beswick Shane Rimmer

   Whilst Sarah was occupied, I asked Caroline Munro to pose for me, then spotted Valerie Leon and Martine Beswick chatting, so asked if I could take a photo of them together. All the guests were very kind, talking with their many fans and gladly having their pictures taken. I went back and took some more photos of Sarah, and asked her to sign a few things for me and absent friends. A final Q & A session was being organised, so we all went off to the screening room and Sarah joined Shane Rimmer, Michael Billington, Martine Beswick, Valerie Leon, John Mareno and Caroline Munro on stage. Someone asked Sarah whether she had been involved with any other stunt work besides the Sunseeker driving. She said no at first, then remembered a bizarre sequence shot in ĎQís laboratory. The idea was for her to be electrocuted, causing her hair to stand on end. They tried to achieve this by sending a mild electric shock through Sarahís body, with the warning not to put her feet too close together or the shock would be stronger! This didnít seem to work so they had the idea of strapping her to the chair, bolting everything down to the floor and then rotating the room so she was upside down. Thus, her hair would hang down towards the floor, which was now the ceiling. Whilst trying to drink a cup of tea! I think the production crew was having a laugh.

Shane Rimmer, Michael Billington, Martine Beswick, Valerie Leon, Caroline Munro, John Mareno and Sarah Donohue answer questions from the fans.

   Now that the dayís events were coming to a close, we left the room and Sarah signed some more autographs and chatted with the fans. In the meantime, Graham had packed away all my unsold photographs and videos into the car, but not before selling two more videos. What a hero! We walked to reception where Sarah ordered a cab, and whilst we waited I spoke to her about various things, her hope for some more film work, and the impact her work on the Bond film and her powerboat accident last year had had on her career.

   After saying our goodbyes, I reflected on a day which had been a bit disappointing financially, but a total success on a human level. Meeting up once again with so many good and decent friends, good humoured as ever, and being in the presence of such nice and friendly people from the world of the Bond films had made this a day I will long remember.

Words and pictures ©2000 D.J.Williams. All rights reserved

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