Dr No by Ian Fleming, adapted by Hugh Whitemore

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BBC Radio 4, 24 May 2008

Hugh Whitemore’s dramatization of Ian Fleming’s first James Bond novel, the first to be produced for radio, told a familiar tale of derring-do in which Bond (Toby Stephens) took orders from M (John Standing), and finally did battle with the evil Dr. No (David Suchet) to save the world from ultimate destruction. All familiar material, and much of it told with the characteristic Úlan that should characterize any Bond adaptation. But this production had something more to it than just escapism; it was perhaps the first adaptation I had encountered of any Bond novel to focus on the question of sexuality. Whatever Bond did represented an attempt on his part to prove his masculinity; to seduce the beautiful girl, to triumph against impossible odds, to endure extremes of pain and suffering in order to outwit Dr. No. None of it was absolutely necessary, except to Bond himself. In a sense he came across as a profoundly insecure person, who felt the perpetual need to prove himself a hero, a great lover and a generally good person. The production placed great emphasis on the interplay between Bond and Ian Fleming (Martin Jarvis), the narrator of the production, suggesting that Bond represented an extension of Fleming himself; through Bond Fleming could assume the kind of roles he could never experience in real life. Dr. No became a kind of male wish-fulfillment fantasy for the gay novelist.