CBC Digital Archives

The real James Bond?

More than 50 years after suave British spy James Bond first appeared in the novel Casino Royale, the deadly secret agent remains among the most popular characters in fiction. Bond books were bestsellers and the movie franchise has grossed over US $4 billion. 2008 marks the 100th anniversary of Bond creator Ian Fleming's birth and, in celebration of his inimitable creation, the CBC Digital Archives explores the Canadian connections to the British spy and looks back on the early days of Bond ... James Bond.

media clip
Commander Merlin Minshall denies he's the inspiration for fictional superspy James Bond, but it's easy to see where the comparison comes from. The daring officer, who served under Bond creator Ian Fleming while working for British naval intelligence, spied and seduced his way across Europe during the Second World War, single-handedly pirated a Nazi ship and poisoned a man on the Orient Express. Now retired, the former spy shares some of his exploits in this 1975 episode of As It Happens.
• Former British spy Merlin Minshall penned an autobiography entitled Guilt-Edged, which was published in 1977. Best-selling spy novel author Len Deighton wrote the foreword to the book.
  • Herman Goering, the Nazi politician and military leader whom Minshall encountered on his sailing trip through Europe in the early 1930s, later became the highest-ranking military officer in the Nazi regime. Goering led the Luftwaffe (German air force) throughout the Second World War and was Adolf Hitler's personal choice as his successor. Convicted of playing a major organizational role in the Holocaust, Goering was sentenced to death by the Nuremberg war crimes tribunal in 1946, but committed suicide the night before his scheduled hanging.

Medium: Radio
Program: As It Happens
Broadcast Date: Sept. 30, 1975
Guest(s): Merlin Minshall
Host: Alan Maitland
Interviewer: Barbara Frum
Duration: 8:47
Photo: ©iStockphoto.com/Mlenny

Last updated: November 7, 2012

Page consulted on August 29, 2014

All Clips from this Topic

Related Content

1945: Gouzenko defection exposes Soviet spy r...

Soviet cipher clerk Igor Gouzenko's shocking revelations help ignite the Cold War.

The Gouzenko Affair

On Sept. 5, 1945, just after the end of the Second World War, a Russian cipher clerk named Igo...

Politics, Sex and Gerda Munsinger

If Lucien Cardin had kept his mouth shut on March 4, 1966, the sensational political sex scand...

Interview with Igor Gouzenko's daughter

Shelagh Rogers talks to Evelyn Wilson, who never knew growing up that her father was one of th...

Life in the shadows

Igor Gouzenko's wife Svetlana and her eight children have lived in fear for 50 years.

Mrs. Gouzenko shows her face

Svetlana Gouzenko gives her first interview, critizing the RCMP and revealing a portrait of he...