For more than a year now, fans of the literary James Bond have been told how William Boyd is the right man to do a new James Bond continuation novel.
For example, an APRIL 12, 2012 story in the U.K. newspaper the Telegraph had this passage:
Corinne Turner, managing director of Ian Fleming Publications Ltd, said: “William Boyd is a contemporary English writer whose classic novels combine literary elements with a broad appeal.
“His thrillers occupy the niche that Ian Fleming would fill were he writing today and with similar style and flair. This, alongside his fascination with Fleming himself, makes him the perfect choice to take Bond back to his 1960s world.” (emphasis added).
Apparently the author’s fascination with Ian Fleming himself didn’t extend to titles. Boyd said April 15 that his 007 novel will be called Solo. In a written statement, Boyd said that Solo is “also a great punchy word, instantly and internationally comprehensible, graphically alluring and, as an extra bonus, it’s strangely Bondian in the sense that we might be subliminally aware of the “00” of “007” lurking just behind those juxtaposed O’s of SOLO…”
Of course, many people who are fascinated with Ian Fleming know he used the very same title — but for a television series, not a novel. While Fleming left the heavy lifting to others (principally writer Sam Rolfe), there were title pages for scripts and presentation materials that said “Ian Fleming’s SOLO,” featuring a character named Napoleon Solo, co-created by Fleming and producer Norman Felton.
The series, of course, became The Man From U.N.C.L.E., which ran from September 1964 to January 1968. The reason it wasn’t called Solo was 1) Fleming, under pressure from 007 film producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, pulled out of the TV project, selling his interest in the series for 1 British pound; 2) Broccoli and Saltzman unsuccessfully attempted to shut down production of the TV show, claiming their rights to Goldfinger (including a minor villain named Mr. Solo) had been violated but settling for the title being changed.
This is not an especially hard piece of information to find. Andrew Lycett, one of Fleming’s biographers, reminded his Twitter followers of the connection in a POSTING ON THE SOCIAL NETWORK SERVICE.
#IanFleming discussed Bond style tv series in US with producer Norman Felton, then backed out. Sold name Napoleon SOLO to Felton for £1.
Apparently, Corinne Turner also forgot about Solo and Ian Fleming (or, for that matter, the Mr. Solo character in Goldfinger). Here’s a Turner quote from the official PRESS RELEASE (VIA THE BOOK BOND WEB SITE): “Ian Fleming had a great aptitude for naming his books and his Bond titles have become true classics. Solo is a simple yet striking title which fits perfectly alongside the other books in the Bond canon.”
Now you might say, “Hey, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. hasn’t been broadcast for 45 years now.” True. “Hey, that’s just a footnote in Ian Fleming’s career.” Not really. Fleming was involved with the TV show from October 1962 to June 1963. It wasn’t just a passing fancy. He was seriously interested for a time. More importantly, it’s not just the name of an old television series. It was the name of an old television series that Ian Fleming was a participant. Some people might even find that fascinating.
Filed under: James Bond Books, James Bond Films, The Other Spies Tagged: | Albert R. Broccoli, Ian Fleming, James Bond Books, James Bond Films, Norman Felton, Sam Rolfe, The Man From U.N.C.L.E, The Other Spies, TV spy shows, William Boyd, William Boyd's 007 novel to be titled Solo