Ken Wallis, Little Nellie pilot, dies

Ken Wallis in Little Nellie

Ken Wallis in Little Nellie

Ken Wallis, 97, the real-life pilot of the mini-helicopter Little Nellie has died, ACCORDING TO AN OBITUARY ON THE BBC’S WEB SITE.

Little Nellie, which appeared in the 1967 James Bond film You Only Live Twice, was an aerial equivalent of the Aston Martin DB5 that was featured in Goldfinger and Thunderball.

In the John Cork-directed documentary Inside You Only Live Twice, YOLT production designer Ken Adam says he heard a BBC interview with Wallis about the mini-helicopter. Adam checked it out and made design changes so the aircraft could included in the fifth James Bond film. The documentary details how Wallis had to make many flights to produce several minutes of screen time for the 1967 movie.

An excerpt from the obituary:

Retired Wing Cdr Ken Wallis, who lived near Dereham, Norfolk, died on Sunday, his daughter confirmed.

Born in Ely, his first solo flight was in 1937. Thirty years later he doubled as Sean Connery’s Bond for an explosive aerial sequence in You Only Live Twice.

His daughter Vicky said her father passed away after “a long and successful life doing what he wanted”.


Honoured with an MBE in 1996, he piloted 24 wartime missions over northern Europe in Wellington bombers, before spending 20 years engaged in weapons research in the Royal Air Force.

Here’s a sample of how Little Nellie appeared on screen:

UPDATE (Sept. 13): To view The New York Times’ obituary on Ken Wallis (published Sept. 9): just CLICK HERE.

U.N.C.L.E. movie to start filming Sept. 9, Warner Bros. says

Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer

Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer

Warner Bros. said today that a movie version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. will begin on Monday, Sept. 9. The primary bit of news: Hugh Grant will play U.N.C.L.E. chief Alexander Waverly, the role originated by Leo G. Carroll in the 1964-68 series.

An excerpt of THE PRESS RELEASE:

BURBANK, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Principal photography will begin on September 9 on Warner Bros. Pictures’ “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” The film is the first to be made under filmmaker Guy Ritchie’s and producer Lionel Wigram’s new production shingle, Ritchie/Wigram Productions, which has a first-look deal with Warner Bros. Having successfully re-imagined the classic detective Sherlock Holmes in two hit films, the pair now bring their fresh take on the hugely popular 1960s television series by bringing super spies Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin to the big screen.

Henry Cavill (“Man of Steel”) stars as Napoleon Solo opposite Armie Hammer (“The Social Network”) as Illya Kuryakin, alongside stars Alicia Vikander (“Anna Karenina”), Elizabeth Debicki (“The Great Gatsby”), Jared Harris (“Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows”), and Hugh Grant (“Cloud Atlas”) as Waverly.
Set against the backdrop of the early 1960s, at the height of the Cold War, “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” centers on CIA agent Solo and KGB agent Kuryakin. Forced to put aside longstanding hostilities, the two team up on a joint mission to stop a mysterious international criminal organization, which is bent on destabilizing the fragile balance of power through the proliferation of nuclear weapons and technology. The duo’s only lead is the daughter of a vanished German scientist, who is the key to infiltrating the criminal organization, and they must race against time to find him and prevent a worldwide catastrophe.

The screenplay is written by Ritchie and Wigram, who also serve as producers. John Davis (“Chronicle”) and Steve Clark-Hall (“RocknRolla,” the “Sherlock Holmes” films) are also producing. David Dobkin is executive producer.

Grant, who turns 53 on Sept. 9, is more than 20 years younger than Carroll was when the series started production. The pilot episode originally had an U.N.C.L.E. chief named Mr. Allison played by Will Kuluva. Executive producer Norman Felton opted to recast and rename the role. For the broadcast version of the pilot, Carroll re-filmed a series originally done by Kuluva. The movie version of the pilot, To Trap a Spy, uses the Kuluva footage.

Besides specifying that Grant has the Waverly role is that Jared Harris, who played Professor Moriarty in one of Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes films is also in the cast.

A number of crew members were also listed, including director of photography John Mathieson and editor James Herbert. Not mentioned is who will be the movie’s composer.

Also, the press release confirms that this is will be an “origin” story. In the original series, a few hints of the background of Solo (Robert Vaughn) and Kuryakin (David McCallum) were provided but not many.

U.N.C.L.E. movie cast member sends out some Tweets

"Illya, I'm not sure what to make of all these Tweets about the U.N.C.L.E. movie."

“Illya, what do you make of all this?”

UPDATE (6:10 p.m.): The Instagram photo referred to below has been removed.

ORIGINAL POST: A member of the cast of The Man From U.N.C.L.E movie. scheduled to start filming this month, has sent out a few Tweets about the project. There’s nothing startling and certainly no spoilers. But the posts have been re-Tweeted by fans of Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer, the leads in the film.

Peter Stark, whose TWITTER PROFILE lists him as an “Actor, Model & Voice Over Artist” SAID AUG. 23 ON TWITTER:

Costume Fitting for my part on The Man from UNCLE (@ Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden)

On Sept. 3, he again AGAIN TWEETED ABOUT GOING TO AN U.N.C.L.E. COSTUME FITTING at Warner Bros.’s Leavesden studio in the U.K.

In ANOTHER SEPT. 3 TWEET he included a link to an Instagram photo of his copy of the script. Here’s the text:

My script! #UNCLE @ Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden

The photo merely consists of part of a cover with the word U.N.C.L.E. and his name on it. U.N.C.L.E. is in the original font used in the titles of the 1964-68 television series. That would be significant if (and this is a very big if) the original U.N.C.L.E. logo would be incorporated in the movie. It’s obviously way too early to tell.

There is a Peter Stark with an IMDB.COM entry. His acting credits include parts such as “German Officer” in Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows, one of two Holmes films directed by Guy Ritchie. Ritchie is also directing the U.N.C.L.E. movie. Stark is also listed as doing voice work for video games, including 2012’s 007 Legends. The entry, however, doesn’t have a photograph that would confirm it’s the same Peter Stark.