As an agent with a licence to kill, James Bond has never been a man of many words, but when it comes to style, clearly, nobody does it better.
However in the 50 years since Bond was lifted from the pages typed by Ian Fleming and placed in front of cinema audiences, what is still up for debate (and may rumble on for as long as Bond lives) is which Bond is the best?
To try to make sense of it all, we have stripped Bond back to his roots to expose the character Fleming wanted him to be. Let's take a look at the six actors who have played Bond against the criteria that make Bond the man he is.
On Her Majesty's Secret Service
The dry wit, the unfailing loyalty, the moral rectitude and stiff upper lip means Englishness is written all over Bond. It's what makes him different from Jason Bourne and Jack Ryan. But four of the actors to play Bond can't even lay claim to being English. Sean Connery was a milkman from Edinburgh, George Lazenby a lad from Goulburn and Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan were born in Wales and Ireland. In a shoot-out between Moore and Craig, it's the silver-tongued Moore who comes out on top. The plummy accent, the raised eye-brow and the sense that in a real fight he'd probably come off second best makes Roger the most English of all our Bonds.
Winner – Roger Moore
You Only Live Twice
Bond needed that second life. His lifestyle can hardly be described as healthy. The handmade Morland cigarettes, the endless vodka martinis and – let's face it – it's unlikely that he used protection with every girl he met. Who lived like the bon viveur that has so many parallels with his playboy author?
Connery, Lazenby and Moore start with a natural advantage. Political correctness had not been inflicted upon us when they were slipping on their tuxedos. Connery easily beats Moore, who clearly didn't drink enough to put hairs on his chest, and trumps Lazenby in the lifestyle stakes. But the Scotsman struggles against Dalton's Bond, who smoked like a chimney and slurped his way through more than his fair share of shaken and stirred aperitifs. It is barely worth mentioning Brosnan, who was probably doing Pilates while not on camera.
Both Dalton and Craig have lived up to their promises to live like Fleming wanted Bond to live. Carefree but serious. A loner, but great fun to be around. Even though Craig has yet to puff on a fag, he has been the most true to the character. The man Fleming wanted Bond to be. A bastard.
Winner – Daniel Craig
For Your Eyes Only
Bond's wardrobe was impressive; a who's who of Savile Row – shirts from Turnbull & Asser, aftershave from Floris and suits from Anthony Sinclair. Bond has been a style icon for almost as long as he's been blowing up buildings and foiling megalomaniacs. Who dressed best?
Craig and Brosnan have been corrupted by the commercialism that now dominates the movie industry and would sell the shirt off their back for an extra endorsement. Dalton couldn't carry off a tux, while Moore couldn't resist the flares and wide lapels that made fashion in the 1970s so shocking. Lazenby almost got away with wearing a kilt but spoilt it by wearing a cravat. Which leaves Connery. A former bodybuilder, Connery carried himself well. The classic single-breasted suits were beautifully tailored around his 188-centimetre frame and he just had the look. Simple as that.
Winner - Sean Connery
The Spy Who Loved Me
Fleming wrote of hard grey eyes, a scar on his cheek and cruel lips. The kind of looks that define you. There's no doubt that Bond would have been a fantastic wingman. Not classically good-looking but with the magnetic sexuality to draw women in.
Moore recently boasted of having bedded more women than Bond himself but it's hard to imagine him wowing that many. Dalton had a receding hairline and Brosnan was somehow just too handsome. And don't get a real Bond fanatic started on Craig's blonde hair – Bond has black hair. Lazenby – a former model – may seem like an unlikely contender against Connery, but it's results that matter. Lazenby's Bond fell in love – and bedded a few others along the way. Not bad for one film.
Winner – George Lazenby
Licence to Kill
It comes down to this. We all love Connery for being the original. Lazenby was foiled by a tough script and lack of experience. Moore is a matinee idol but without Bond's rough edges. Dalton was too long in the tooth to be convincing and Brosnan too warm-hearted to kill in cold blood. But Craig seems to have it all. The ladies love his six pack, he sneers convincingly when killing, respects authority but doesn't let it get in the way and dresses the part. He may not look like the man Fleming imagined, but he is a Bond for the 21st century.
Winner – Daniel Craig