Recent press speculation about the next James Bond has taken an interesting turn with several unreliable sources (principally internet perennials Bonileaks) outing studio bosses for allegedly deciding that the next incumbent in the role will be a 1'3" labradoodle with a pronounced American accent. Traditionalists are of course outraged, whilst animal rights activists have vowed to blockade the studios until they receive assurances that the animal in question (Horatius Pomfret Dewdrop Slackbottom III) is guaranteed a maximum 30 hour week on at least the living wage.
Meanwhile, those with longer memories will fondly recall earlier representations of this the most quintessential of Englishmen - Scotsman Sean Connery, New Zealander George Lazenby, Belgian-Lithuanian Roger Moore, Welshman Timothy Dalton, Irishman Piers Brosnan and Slovenian-Inuit Daniel Craig. But where in that list, knowledgeable cinephiles will ask, is the great Professor Brian Thrupiece? Well they might wonder ...
For those who don't know: the distinguished pioneer Culinary Bioethicist and celebrity advocate for the small handheld electrical appliance, was widely expected to take up the role in 1962, back in the days when Chubby Bricolage and Harry Salzeller were mere gofers. That he did not do so is one of the great "might have beens" of cinema history. So just what happened to deprive us of Professor How Differently It Might Have Turned Out! Brian Thrupiece 007, Licensed to Chill?
The story goes that Professor Thrupiece - already a star of stage and small screen and fresh from the debacle that was The Sound of Brian (HERE) - was sent the script for the first ever Bond film by his then agent Sir Lou Threadgrade, who had been asked by Bricolage/Salzeller to sound out the young Professor for the role. Opening his package and mistaking the title page - Dr No - for an injunction, he presumed that those with higher degrees were ineligible to apply. (The Professor had received his PhD in 1963 from the University of Cambridge where he had been supervised by Dr Kenwood Cheffe a pioneer Bioethicist and himself an occasional "treader of the boards"*). Assuming that the role would go to someone with only a BA or a BSc, Professor Thrupiece showed no further interest and the part went instead to an unknown Scotsman who later became a tax exile having lost not one but two Scottish Nationalist Party leadership contests to wet fish - Mrs Alice Salmon-Rushdie and Mr Nicholas Sturgeon-Turbot respectively. Ironically Mr Canary was not even the possessor of a first degree, having failed Domestic Science at Killikrankie College in 1956. It probably helped that he couldn't read the title page at all **.
* Dr Kenwood Chefe (1898-1982) Cambridge’s leading Bio-ethics pioneer. It was said of him that “there was little of which he didn’t know except for the world of which he knew very little”. He proved both mentor and benefactor to Professor Thrupiece who acknowledged his influence whenever he could and dedicated his second book “Heuristic Bio-ethics: Axioms, Frameworks, and Prosthetics” to him. Hearing that Dr Chefe had fallen upon hard times in later life, Professor Thrupiece sent him 200 Green Shield Stamps and a postal order for £15.
** Killikrankie College is named for a group of parents who planned the assassination of Ian and Jeanette Krankie "before it was too late". Sadly it was and the attempt failed.
"Cinema's loss was Vaudeville's gain" says Barrington ["Barry"] Cheekie who died earlier this month of Professor Thrupiece's failure to land the role of Britain's most iconic spy. "We toured with the Professor in 1963 and it was a barrel of laughs. What that man couldn't do with a Willis Johnson rotary egg beater just wasn't worth doing - beating eggs for one thing."
The Poster that "might have been". More than thirty were printed in anticipation of the launch of Dr No in 1963. This, one of the few that was not pulped, is kept in a temperature and humidity controlled room in the Cinema Memorabilia and Museum of the Moving Image, Toller Fratrum.