Brian Cox: "We don't muck around with Shakespeare - we shouldn't muck around with James Bond."
Don’t mess with 007.
That is the clear message from the Emmy and Golden Globe winning Scottish actor Brian Cox, best known for his roles in Manhunter, Zodiac and the hit HBO show Succession.
Speaking with RadioTimes to promote the series 007: Road To A Million, in which he plays the mysterious Controller, Cox argued that “we shouldn’t muck around with James Bond” in reference to the original books and older films’ use of offensive language.
Cox made the comments in reference to censorship when it comes to re-writing the works of Ian Fleming to remove potentially 'harmful' and 'outdated' attitudes.
Earlier this year, it was announced that Ian Fleming’s James Bond books were going to be reissued this year, Ian Fleming Publications having commissioned “sensitivity readers” and reportedly re-edited the texts to remove racist references and words. A disclaimer is set to accompany all the books, reading: “This book was written at a time when terms and attitudes which might be considered offensive by modern readers were commonplace. A number of updates have been made in this edition, while keeping as close as possible to the original text and the period in which it is set.”
Around the same time, Puffin announced the release of the Roald Dahl Classic Collection, and changed references to “fat” and “ugly” characters.
When asked if he still thinks it’s acceptable to air the films, even if they contain offensive language that’s no longer used in modern society, the 77-year-old actor said: “Yeah, I think that’s OK… because the only way we can understand who we are is by acknowledging our history.”
“Look what’s happening in the world today: if we had a real sense of who we are, we wouldn’t have had the idiotic clown from Eton (Boris Johnson) or the Pink Pinocchio (Donald Trump) or Borsch and Tears (Vladimir Putin).”
He added that it’s “fine” to have disclaimers on older programmes, but that “we don’t muck around with Shakespeare; we shouldn’t muck around with James Bond.”
Cox is hosting the new James Bond-themed reality show 007: Road To A Million.
The show will see nine pairs of contestants sent around the world to endure physical and psychological challenges in Bond-inspired locations, competing to win a £1 million (€1.1 million) prize. Cox plays the Controller - a puppet master inspired by Bond villains such as Blofeld - who sets the missions and questions.
“Now I can finally say I've been in a Bond production,” shared Cox. “I always thought I'd make a good villain but nobody's ever offered.”
007: Road To A Million is the first appearance of the James Bond brand in unscripted TV. It airs on Amazon Prime on 10 November.