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Friday, November 19, 1999 Published at 13:53 GMT

One girl is not enough

Bond girls have always been an essential ingredient of the Bond films

By BBC News Online's Rebecca Thomas

Cinema history is chequered with defining moments, and Ursula Andress's goddess-like rise from the sea in Dr No must rank as one of the best.

Dr No in 1962 was the first 007 movie and the scene helped establish a worldwide fan base that is still going strong.

Andress's brand of lusty, leggy bikini-clad beauty also set a precedent for a type of cinema actress who would forever be evoked by the simple term Bond Girl.

[ image: Ursula Andress was the quintessential Bond girl]
Ursula Andress was the quintessential Bond girl
President of the International James Bond Fan Club and Archive, Graham Rye has an in-depth knowledge of the subject - and a large collection of prints from which he has just complied a book.

"I think my favourite Bond girl has to be Ursula Andress. She is the archetypal Bond girl," he says with relish.

"She set the standard by which all of the others would be judged. The girls that have come since have almost matched up to her."

Shirley Eaton's gold-painted form in the third film in the series, Goldfinger, arguably lived up to Andress's challenge.

[ image: Caroline Munro  on location in Sardinia for The Spy Who Loved me]
Caroline Munro on location in Sardinia for The Spy Who Loved me
But though all the girls have possessed comparable attributes, there has, points out Rye, been some modification along the way.

"In the early films the girls were a lot heavier and more curvaceous - they are my favourites in fact.

"When you go into the 1970s they are a little skinnier. In the 1980s, the make-up is over the top and in the 1990s, anything goes," he enthuses.

Despite the fluctuations in their body shape, beautiful women have been as integral to all 19 Bond movies as gadgets and guns.

The majority have been unknowns in non-speaking parts - recruited mainly for their decorative qualities.

[ image: Honor Blackman put up a good fight against 007 in Goldfinger]
Honor Blackman put up a good fight against 007 in Goldfinger
Many others however have been famous in their own right. Honor Blackman, Diana Rigg, Jane Seymour, Barbara Bach, Lois Chiles, Britt Ekland, Grace Jones, Teri Hatcher - the list goes on and on.

These women played major roles, either as a villainess or allay to Bond, and show how the character of the leading girls has evolved.

Among the early crop, the feisty attitude of Blackman's Pussy Galore or Lana Wood's Plenty O'Toole prove that Bond girls have always had a mind of their own.

But with big-hair, larger chests and a name full of double entendre it was always unlikely to be their performance that would leave an impression.

[ image:  ]
Britt Ekland in the Man in the Golden Gun in 1974 fared little better with the tag Mary Goodnight. But though her character is often cited as a good example of a vacuous Bond beauty, Ekland has no regrets.

"The Bond film is a vehicle for James Bond. There was always the villain and there was the beautiful woman and the beautiful woman has always been just that. That's the format. You can't change it and I don't think it is a bad thing," she says.

Britt Ekland explains why it was so good to be a Bond girl
But change it they did and by the mid-1980s Bond girls began to do more than just swoon in the master-spy's arms. Chiles played Bond's intellectual equal in Moonraker as Nasa-trained astrophysicist Dr Holly Goodhead.

Extrovert model and New Wave singer Grace Jones was a striking choice as the villainess May Day in a View To A Kill.

[ image: Grace Jones set Roger Moore's pulse racing in A View To A Kill]
Grace Jones set Roger Moore's pulse racing in A View To A Kill
Her flamboyance embodied the extravagance of the Roger Moore era. But her strength and Goodhead's intelligence also signalled a new era of leading lady that was every inch 007's match in brain-power and athleticism.

Denise Richards who plays 007's allay nuclear physicist Dr Christmas Jones, in The World Is Not Enough, agrees it was great to play a Bond girl who was both brainy and athletic.

"The female roles now have a lot more depth - it's more than just running around on Bond's arm. Christmas is strong, intelligent and sassy and there's an infectious one-upmanship and clever banter between her and James Bond."

The film's director Michael Apted has said he hopes the old-style Bond girls are gone for good.

[ image: Britt Ekland  loved every minute of her time as Mary Goodnight]
Britt Ekland loved every minute of her time as Mary Goodnight
So political correctness has hit one of the last, great bastions of the testosterone brigade.

But even if it hadn't, future generations of women would have been unlikely to turn down the offer of appearing alongside 007.

Denise Richards says she "would have done any Bond project to just to be part of the history".

While Britt Ekland concludes: "I am as proud today to say I was a Bond girl as I was then. Whether that is saying you were only running around in a bikini and didn't do much more, well fine.

"I did what was asked of me and made it something memorable and then I got on with my life."

Pictures courtesy of Eon/The James Bond International Fan Club and Archive

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In this section

Four decades of Bondage

Bond 19: More than enough

Alphabetical Bond

One girl is not enough

The many faces of Bond

The man behind Bond

Selling a super spy

Serenade to a spy

Blunder Bonds

The James Bond dossier