So who is your favourite?
6. George Lazenby The Australian has always been something of a paradox. On one hand, his sole adventure as James Bond – 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – remains one of the most thrilling of the entire franchise. But this is due to the suitably crazy crop-wrecking plot, director Peter Hunt’s gorgeously shot ski chases, and Bond girl Diana Rigg’s cheekbones. Lazenby himself filled out a dress shirt well, had a certain athleticism about him, and handled that famous final scene with surprising tenderness. Beyond that, though, the former star of the “Big Fry” chocolate adverts felt like an awful-sounding temporary stand-in for the real thing. Picture: REX FEATURES
5. Timothy Dalton Dalton was just too dour. An accomplished classical actor, he admittedly had the misfortune of coming to Bond in the middle of the late-Eighties Aids crisis, meaning that his two outings as Bond were rather joylessly light on nookie. Picture: REX FEATURES
But it did not help that Dalton seemed to take it all so very seriously. Although there are some undeniably spectacular scenes in 1987’s The Living Daylights and 1989’s Licence to Kill, and – in fairness to him – I’d pick either (even, I think, the hugely flawed second one) over any of Brosnan’s efforts, the Welshman himself still looks the more miscast. Picture: REX FEATURES
4. Pierce Brosnan Brosnan was always a handsome fellow with handsomely silky voice and a twinkle in his eye, but he had two fundamental things against him. First, where Dalton was too earnest, the Irishman was just too nice: except for the odd fleeting moment in 1995’s GoldenEye, he never had the edge for the part. Bond is not a decent chap; he is, as Connery, Craig and Moore (yes, Moore) realised, a hard bastard, and Brosnan, for all his charm, always seemed to be doing an impersonation of 007 rather than properly inhabiting the role. Picture: REX
Brosnan was also victim to what these days is an almost unwatchable string of films, culminating in the black-hole awfulness of 2002’s Die Another Day (above). Even Connery might have struggled to look cool if required to surf to a life-or-death mission (what a reliable form of transport for getting there, eh) or drive an invisible car. Picture: REX
3. Daniel Craig He’s too short! Too blond! What are they thinking! The internet was ablaze with indignation in 2005 as Eon Productions decided to hire the Cheshire-born actor for Bond. But Craig has had the last laugh. The best actor ever to play 007, his incarnation is the most believeble – his Bond actually, whisper it softly, feels like a real person. ABOVE: in the forthcoming Bond film Skyfall Picture: SONY PICTURES
That Craig is also built like an Olympic javelin-thrower, adept at seeming as hard as a box of coffin nails, and also (as far too many women have told me) blessed with indecent amounts of sex-appeal are also vital to this charged new portrayal of the character, one that has been central to resucitating a series that, by the mid-2000s, was looking pretty much dead on its feet. If Craig carries on in this vein, those top two slots may be up for grabs yet, though he and the producers need to be careful not to make Bond too mean – unsentimental toughness is one thing, but dumping his dead friend Mathis in a skip in Quantum of Solace struck an unnecessarily sour note. Picture: Jay Maidment
2. Roger Moore Old Rog in second place? Oh yes. Of course, we all have an incurable soft spot for the first 007 we encountered at the cinema, and, as a child of the Seventies, Moore was mine. And yet: by the time he took over, in 1973’s Live and Let Die (above), Connery had been magnificently fleshing out the role for a decade or so. He was Bond. However, not only did Moore look the part and bring his own genuine authority to 007, he made a fantastic success of his tenure, having the nous not to try to beat Connery at his own game but, rather, to introduce a degree of eyebrow-driven levity to the series.
The fact is is that several of Moore’s films – the first four in particular – remain among the most helplessly, ridiculously enjoyable in the entire series. Yes, by the time of 1985’s A View to a Kill (above), he looked more like an over-fed stockbroker than a lean, mean fighting machine. But, for those earlier efforts, you can forgive him a lot. Picture: REX
1. Sean Connery Counter-intuitively enjoyable as it would be to put anyone else in this slot, Connery is the only one who deserves it. Producers Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman’s decision to hire the former body-building milkman was a master stroke: they realised that if they put a polished veneer on this tough, ludicrously handsome Scot who (still) moves like a panther, they would have their man. Picture: REX
Daniel Craig’s Bond is if anything even more credible, Roger Moore probably funnier. But, for his confidence in the role, for the exceptional virility of his voice, frame and body-language, and for the dynamic, unyielding urgency and physicality he brought to such scenes as that pulverising fight with Robert Shaw’s assassin in From Russia with Love, Big Tam – as he was known back in the day – remains the top dog. Picture: Rex Features