Their names are Chris & Tom, they are British, and in February 2014, they started a podcast on 007. Two years later, James Bond Radio has reached almost half a million download, they met with numerous contributors to the James Bond Franchise, and they recently put online their 102th podcast.
What’s even better is that they are always ready to share their enthusiasm, either through their regular show, or when we, Commander James Bond France, went to ask them a few questions. So here it is, a relaxed interview with the two voices behind James Bond Radio, introducing us French auditors to their passion, their unexpected success and what was, at the beginning, a simple talk between two fans.
CJB : Hi Tom & Chris! So, how long have you been James Bond fans for ? How did you live your passion for Bond before doing the podcast?
Tom : I’ve been a Bond fan for as long as I can remember. I grew up with an older brother who always had the films on, so I’m not sure I really had a choice in the matter. I will say though, that Goldeneye is what turned me from Bond fan into super fan. It came along at just the right time to capture my imagination as a 13 year old boy. I went to see it no less than 7 times at the cinema, most of which were by myself
Chris : I’m pretty sure I was a Bond fan as soon as I was born! 😉 I honestly can’t think back to a time I wasn’t. I happened upon the Bond films thanks to my Dad and remember watching them frequently on the sofa with a big smile on my face. Thunderball is the strongest in my memory but I also remember the flying car while watching TMWTGG at my Gran’s when I was about 7 but by then I was already well into my Bond.
It is a bit of a shame that I can’t remember a particular moment in time when I got hooked on Bond. A lot of people seem to have that trigger moment but for me I guess I always have been a fan and can’t remember otherwise. Although I do remember lying in bed on frequent occasions in my youth re-enacting Bond’s Acrostar manoeuvres from Octopussy… hmm, perhaps it’s time for another go!
CJB : So, where did the idea of a podcast come from?
Tom : Chris and I met randomly at the Ian Fleming centenary show at the London Palladium in 2008. By pure luck we were seated next to each other and got talking. We then spent the next 6 years discussing Bond over Facebook before the idea of doing a podcast came up.
Chris : Before the podcast Tom and I would still chat endlessly about Bond on FB and before we met there were a few friends I could talk Bond with, but it was all very general chit chat which most of the general public would know about. We’ve mentioned it on the podcast before, but it recording our epsiodes every couple of weeks really is like letting off a release valve… it’s a bonafide therapeutic means to talk about Bond which we love.
CJB : What was your original idea for the podcast? Has it always been the same or did it change over time?
Tom : Ultimately the podcast started as an excuse to keep in touch more often and talk Bond. We had no idea it would blossom into what it’s become. If you’d have told me we’d be interviewing Bond girls or chatting with the likes of Bruce Glover when we started the show, I don’t think either of us would have believed you.
Thinking back, I think the format has stayed roughly the same since we began. We usually kick off with a round up of whatever Bond news has been in the press, then we talk about the main subject we have planned for that week. We always finish up with some Bond games and quiz questions, which are always a good laugh.
Funnily enough, a lot of the games and quizzes we play on the show started with us going back and forth over Facebook years ago before the podcast even existed.
Chris : There have been a few instances where we’ve sat back and thought about potential changes to the podcast format. We definitely want to keep things fresh to keep our listeners entertained but we also want a format that people can rely on and become accustomed to.
Things like introducing new quiz games come pretty naturally and are sometimes spontaneous and we try and keep the episodes themselves a decent mix of movie reviews, interviews, listener episodes, news reviews and other aspects of Bond.
CJB : Do you have guests on the James Bond Radio ? How do you choose them ?
Tom : We do indeed! So far we’ve had Bond writers like Raymond Benson, Steve Cole, Robert Sellers and Matthew Parker on the show. Some behind the scenes people like Norman Wanstall, Terry Bamber and Alan Tomkins and even some of those who have been in front of the camera like Bruce Glover, Caroline Munro, Martine Beswick and Madeline Smith.
Ultimately it’s not really us choosing them. It all comes down to whether we have a way of contacting them and whether they’re up for coming on the show. As far as we’re concerned anybody who’s ever been involved in the world of Bond is worth talking to.
Jonathan Price (Carver in Tomorrow never dies) supports James Bond Radio
CJB : You now have almost half a million downloads. Did you expect such a success? Is the Bond podcast the media Bondfans need, or the one they deserve?
Tom : I remember Chris and I saying we’d be happy if 10 people listened to our first episode. We were actually pretty lucky. Soon after we launched we were featured on the front page of the iTunes store, so we quickly picked up a lot of listeners from the outset. Since then, it’s been steadily growing ever since.
Ultimately, we just wanted to make the show we’d want to listen to as fans.
For me, over-produced “stuffy” podcasts just aren’t fun to listen to. We wanted to keep things super informal and be more like having a few drinks down the pub with your friends, talking Bond.
Chris : As Tom mentioned, we really didn’t expect anything like the level of exposure that JBR has received. We really just wanted an excuse to chat about Bond and thought why not record it and use it as a podcast. It’s something we both love doing and hearing others feel the same way about listening to it is a fantastic feeling. We certainly didn’t set out to appeal to a certain type of Bond fan or anything like that. We just wanted to keep it natural and hoped that people enjoyed what we were doing.
Throughout JBR’s life so far there have been definite instances when we’ve received widespread exposure resulting in a surge in listeners. There was one sequence in particular, in the lead up to SPECTRE, where JBR was featured in The Times newspaper, Variety magazine, BBC Two Radio and Talk Sport Radio all within the space of a couple of weeks. That really helped to spread the word and doing the ’30 Days of SPECTRE’ podcasts was also a huge boost to expand our listenership.
Tom and I have been overwhelmed by some of the positive comments we’ve had about the podcast over the last couple of years and that is always a good motivator to keep going. A lot of our exposure has been through word of mouth so our listeners really are our best marketing tool for getting the podcast to new listeners around the globe.
CJB : You’ve been doing some podcasts which are 3 hours long ? How do you manage that ? Isn’t it a bit of an ‘overkill’?
Tom : It does seems crazy when you see that some of our episodes are over 4 hours long. What’s even crazier is that they’re also the ones with the most downloads. We’ve tried to do shorter episodes but we always end up going longer just by the nature of our conversations.
Ultimately this is a podcast for the super, hardcore fans. If you’re the sort of person who would be excited at the prospect of talking Bond for hours and hours, then you’ll probably enjoy the show. If you’re just looking for a casual 30 minute hit of Bond talk, then there’s probably other podcasts out there that would be more suited to you.
Chris : One area we often talk about is the length of the podcasts and whether they are too long or not. We recently put out a mini survey to ask our listeners what they thought and the overwhelming response was… the more the merrier! One thing we’ve realised is that we’re never going to be able to please everyone. There will always be people that want their quick 30 minute hit of Bond while others prefer to spend several hours soaking it up. One way we tried to accommodate this was to time-code our episodes so people can jump straight to the main theme of the podcast, should they so wish. Although as the great man Cubby Broccoli once said “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
interview with Bruce Glover (Diamonds are forever) by James bond Radio
CJB : You’re both British, right? Can you tell us for us French how popular Bond has gotten this last few years and in general in the UK? Does everyone talk about Bond in the streets, or is it mainly between fans (like in Fance).
Tom : There’s definitely a sense of pride that Bond is a British character. These days, he’s pretty much the only British hero left who can fill cinemas with the numbers he does. I hear Harry Potter is also pretty popular…but he’s just nowhere near as cool.
People aren’t really talking about Bond in the streets but it’s always a good conversation starter. I’d say most people have some level of knowledge they can bring to the table.
Chris : The interesting thing about Bond and Britain is that, although not everyone is a fan of James Bond, there are certain questions that everyone in the country will have an opinion of. For instance, who do you think should be the next James Bond? Even people who rarely watch a Bond film will still want their say on who should be the next James Bond or who would make a good Bond villain / Bond girl, etc. This is where the cultural phenomenon of Bond shows its power. Ask anyone in the street whether Bond should keep going or not, inevitably they’ll have something to say about it.
I also think 2012 was a massive year for Bond. The 2012 London Olympic Games gave the whole nation a major boost in being proud of Britain, with James Bond himself assisting the Queen to parachute into the Games! 😉 This all helped to elevate Bond and the release of Skyfall that year to a level of eager enthusiasm probably not seen since the early days of Connery. I think the British public, and consequently Bond, is still riding on the coat tails of that to a certain extent.
CJB : Final question: Did SPECTRE matched your expectations as Bond fans ?
Tom : I absolutely adored SPECTRE. It was like the producers climbed inside my brain and delivered the exact film I wanted. It’s the first time in years we’ve seen a strong, confident Bond at the height of his powers. He’s not learning the ropes like he was in Casino Royale or Quantum of Solace. He’s not old and past his prime like he was in Skyfall. He’s simply the Bond we’ve all known and loved for decades.
Chris : Like Tom, I was head over heels with how SPECTRE turned out. We were lucky enough to go to the Royal premiere and we thought the buzz generated on the red carpet would be hard to match but the film absolutely blew us away. It was a complete joy seeing Bond back to his swaggering best and watching Daniel pull off humorous one liners with panache. The film definitely harked back to the older classic style of Bond and we’re hoping to get more of the same in Bond 25.
CJB : Merci James Bond Radio, & good luck for the next podcasts !