THE SAINT, The Persuaders’ Lord Brett Sinclair and by far the best Bond in my opinion, Roger Moore stood in front of me, immaculately debonair, hand outstretched, welcoming me into his dressing room. A real ‘pinch me’ moment.
It was in Glasgow’s Theatre Royal on 10 November 2013 that I met Sir Roger. He was 86, slightly more frail than I had expected but still a towering presence and as charming as ever.
He was on tour at the time, talking about his life and career while promoting his book, Bond on Bond.
I’d interviewed him a few days earlier by phone and found him witty, intelligent and endearingly self-effacing.
As we had chatted there was, of course, no way I could avoid mentioning the other Bond, Edinburgh’s homegrown one, Sir Sean Connery. Again his good natured humour surfaced.
Sir Roger, who made his screen debut in the role in 1973’s Live And Let Die, jokingly described Sir Sean as “the best warm-up man in the business,” before suggesting he was actually the better Bond.
He laughed as reflected, “Though I never played Bond, or golf, as well as Sean, I do lie better and am told I spin an amusing tale.”
When I mentioned I’d be seeing his show in Glasgow, without hesitation he insisted I make myself known.
Waiting to be escorted through the labyrinthine backstage corridors of the Theatre Royal, I mused that as much as he had been the 007 of my generation, I was actually more familiar with him as Simon Templar in The Saint, although it was thanks to The Persuaders, in which he starred with Tony Curtis, that I had really become a fan.
Of course, all three characters relied on his natural bonhomie and grace for their appeal, but I always believed he undersold his acting ability. Meeting him is probably the closest I’ve ever come to being star struck.
We chatted and he didn’t for one second raise either of those famous eyebrows when I produced a copy of his autobiography and asked if he would inscribe it for me.
He did, closing the book before handing it back to me.
Back home a couple of hours later, I read the inscription. Above his signature he had written: ‘To Liam, thank you for taking the time to talk to me.’
A simple sentence that sums up one of our biggest stars more than anything I might write.
Sir Roger never lost sight of that fact that, though a Hollywood legend, he started his career as a humble extra before becoming the highest paid TV actor in the world.
So, farewell to a true gentleman and one nicest stars to come out of Hollywood.
I leave this week’s last words to the man himself who, when looking forward to bringing his show to the Capital, told me: “I actually passed through Edinburgh in 1976 on my way to film part of The Spy Who Loved Me.
“By popular demand, 37 years later, I’m coming back.”