Sean Connery set the benchmark for James Bond and was always a star

With a surname like mine, I was always going to grow up being acutely aware of James Bond. 

And from the moment I was taken to see You Only Live Twice as a birthday treat, Bond was always Sean Connery.

Tall, menacingly muscular and with a mischievous charm that mixed a gentle Scottish brogue, a secret smile and that famously lisped 's', Connery set the benchmark for 007. 

Leave aside the endless arguments about who was the best Bond, the key thing is that Connery was the first and set the standards by which all his successors would be measured. And as a small boy, I loved him.

Tall, menacingly muscular and with a mischievous charm that mixed a gentle Scottish brogue, a secret smile and that famously lisped 's', Connery set the benchmark for 007, writes film critic MATTHEW BOND. Pictured: Sean Connery as James Bond in Dr No

Tall, menacingly muscular and with a mischievous charm that mixed a gentle Scottish brogue, a secret smile and that famously lisped 's', Connery set the benchmark for 007, writes film critic MATTHEW BOND. Pictured: Sean Connery as James Bond in Dr No

Made in quick succession, Dr No (1962), From Russia with Love (1963, Goldfinger (1964) and Thunderball (1965) established the iconography of the character. Pictured: Sir Sean in Dr No Pictured: Sean Connery as James Bond in Dr No

Made in quick succession, Dr No (1962), From Russia with Love (1963, Goldfinger (1964) and Thunderball (1965) established the iconography of the character. Pictured: Sir Sean in Dr No Pictured: Sean Connery as James Bond in Dr No

It didn't matter that he would only make one more good Bond film (let's draw a veil over the ill-advised Never Say Never Again) before handing over the Walther PPK to Roger Moore, his four earlier outings as Britain's most famous secret agent would be repeated regularly on TV, becoming a formative part of so many childhoods, mine included.

Made in quick succession, Dr No (1962), From Russia with Love (1963, Goldfinger (1964) and Thunderball (1965) established the iconography of the character – the guns, the girls, the villains - so much so that it was sometimes difficult to know where James Bond ended and the real Connery – in real life a famously private individual – began. 

With a surname like mine, I was always going to grow up being acutely aware of James Bond, writes film critic MATTHEW BOND

With a surname like mine, I was always going to grow up being acutely aware of James Bond, writes film critic MATTHEW BOND

Edinburgh's best-known former milkman and artist's model had definitely come a long way.

It was during Connery's crucial tenure of the role that so many key elements of the franchise were established, moments and supporting characters that still echo down the decades.

Ursula Andress emerging from the sea in that bikini, Ernst Stavro Blofeld and his cat, Miss Moneypenny, Honor Blackman introducing herself as Pussy Galore…. 'I must be dreaming,' came the famous reply that seemed as much Connery as it did Bond.

None of these moments or characters would be the same without Connery's Bond and, as a film critic, it's been fascinating to see how when its producers sought to revitalise the franchise

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