The release of No Time to Die is (finally) just around the corner, and one man who’s been busy ahead of the big launch is broadcaster and film critic James King.As well as presenting the official No Time To Die podcast, King is fronting a new two-part BBC Radio 2 programme titled James Bond: Soundtrack Stories, which looks back at some of the great music that’s been used in Bond films over the years, from the iconic original theme right up to Billie Eilish’s title track for the latest movie.
The series airs on Friday and Saturday evenings this weekend, with the first part focusing on the films from 1962 until 2006, and the second turning its attention to the Daniel Craig era, which is set to draw to a close following the release of No Time To Die.
And King has teased plenty of insights from Craig – both about his views on the music and his time as Bond more generally.
“Daniel Craig tells us about hearing Skyfall for the first time,” he told RadioTimes.com. “He was on set and he heard it, he went into like a van and they played it to him. And you know, I kind of always wonder what do they think about these things, because this is an integral part of the Bond world. What does Bond think of like, You Know My Name by Chris Cornell which was sort of the song that announced his arrival as James Bond?
“So it was great to hear him saying that, and also, there’s this lovely bit where he sort of talks about the theme music, the Monty Norman original theme. How you know, that song is kind of playing in your head when you’re filming a scene because you think oh my God, this is James Bond and immediately that music comes into your head.
“So that music is so powerful in those movies, and so well remembered that it’s impossible to be involved in a Bond film and not think about it.”
With Craig set to step down after five films and 15 years in the role, King also took the opportunity to quiz the actor about his Bond tenure in general, and how he looks back on his record-breaking stint as the iconic character.
“I think he’s really happy with what he’s achieved as James Bond,” King says. “And so he should be – he came in and accepted the role on the condition that he could change things, that they could go back to basics, really, and sort of reboot the franchise, which they absolutely did.
“Which, of course, allowed the movies to slowly reintroduce characters, like Moneypenny, and Q and those people all over again, you know, give them a new lease of life. So what he managed to do as Bond is to really breathe new life into it, which is incredible, considering when he took over it was a nearly 50-year-old franchise. So I think he’s very proud of that. And absolutely rightfully so.
“And that’s not to say that it’s not going to be weird. I think he talks about, you know, it would be strange for him to go and see the next Bond film as a punter rather than as the star of the movie, but he also said, ‘Look, I’m a Bond fan. So I’m looking forward to returning to how I used to be, which was a regular person in the audience going to see the new Bond movie’.”
Throughout the two programmes, King interviews a number of other people whose work is integral to Bond – from Daniel Kleinman, who creates the title sequences, to prolific Bond composers David Arnold and Don Black, via producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G Wilson.
And he also spoke to Billie Eilish – the latest star to have been tasked with creating a Bond theme song. Of course, the track was first released way back in February 2020, but King says that he reckons the gap between the song’s original launch and the release of the film isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
“The fact that there’s been quite a gap might work for her advantage,” he said. “Because in a way, the song has gone away and was forgotten about a little bit so when we hear it again it will sound fresh, it’s not like we’re bored with that song already.
“But when the movie comes out, I’m sure that song will go back up charts again, and it will become a thing again, it will be like it being released the first time really, because there has been such a gap between the time when we first heard it and the time when the film’s coming out. So I think it will still sound fresh and exciting and will sound like a different song when it’s in the context of the movie.”
James Bond Soundtrack Stories is broadcast on BBC Radio 2 on Friday 17th September and Saturday 18th September at 9pm, and both programmes are available on BBC Sounds. Looking for something to watch? Check out our TV Guide. Visit our Movies hub for all the latest film news.