James Bond’s Scotland connections

We all know the best Bond was the late Sean Connery, which means the Bond films and their lead character will forever have a Caledonian flavour. But what are the franchise’s other Scottish connections?

Fettes College

In the novels, Bond’s father Andrew is Scottish so he is educated at his father’s old school, Fettes College in Edinburgh – or he is after he is expelled from Eton College for a dalliance with a maid. Both Andrew Bond and his Swiss wife Monique Delacroix, James’s mother, were killed in a mountain climbing accident when James was 11.


The Glasgow-born 1960s pop icon sang the theme tune to Bond’s 1974 outing, The Man With The Golden Gun, which was written by Bond veteran John Barry. Bond co-producer Tony Bramwell had wanted Elton John or Cat Stevens but Albert Broccoli over-ruled him. The lyrics were by Don Black, who go on to write Love Changes Everything for Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Aspects Of Love, and another Bond theme, The World Is Not Enough, performed by Edinburgh-born Shirley Manson fronting US rockers Garbage.

Robert Fleming

Ian Fleming’s paternal grandfather was Robert Fleming, born to a book-keeper in Dundee in 1845 and working for a textile firm by the time he was 13. By the age of 28, however, he had founded the Scottish American Investment Trust and moved to London. Later he became a noted philanthropist, founding the Fleming Collection of Scottish Art and several buildings in his hometown, including the Fleming Garden housing estate.

Glen Etive

In 2012’s Skyfall, Daniel Craig’s Bond and Judi Dench’s M pull over in Bond’s Aston Martin DB5 en route to Skyfall, Bond’s ancestral home. The scene was shot on the single track Glen Etive Road on the Dalness Estate in Glen Etive, the low mist and threatening clouds giving a flavour of what is to come in the final shoot-out.

Robert Carlyle

It was a no-brainer that the man who brought Leith sociopath Franco Begbie to terrifying life in Trainspotting would make a great Bond villain. And so it came to pass, in 1999’s The World Is Not Enough. Here Carlyle pits his wits against Pierce Brosnan as former KGB agent-turned global terrorist Victor Zokas, a man who can’t feel pain on account of the MI6 bullet in his brain.

Major-General Sir Fitzroy Maclean

Eton-educated and descended from the Macleans of Ardgour, Maclean is one of several men said to have been the model for James Bond, though his claim is better than most. An inveterate adventurer, he served in the British Embassy in Moscow in the 1930s and saw the Stalinist purges up close, then when war broke out he enlisted as a private and fought in North Africa and the Middle East. He later parachuted into the Balkans and fought with Yugoslav Partisans as a member of the Special Operations Executive, the forerunners of the SAS.

Royal Dornoch

Sean Connery grew up a few minutes’ walk from Bruntsfield Links, where Edinburghers have played golf since at least the 17th century. Despite that, it was only while preparing for the famous golfing scene in 1964’s Goldfinger that he became hooked. He took lessons at a course near Pinewood Studios but it was the Royal Dornoch championship course that he learned the ins and outs of links golf. And so was born a lifetime love affair.

Robbie Coltrane

In 1995 the actor now best known for playing Hagrid in the Harry Potter films was cast as Valentin Zukovsky, a Russian gangster and (wouldn’t you know it?) ex-KGB officer in Golden Eye. Fellow Scot Alan Cumming appeared in the same film as shadowy computer geek Boris Grishenko.

Sheena Easton

Born Sheena Orr in Bellshill in 1959, Easton hit the number one spot in the US with 9 To 5 in early 1981 and was chosen to sing the theme song for Roger Moore’s fifth outing as Bond, For Your Eyes Only, released the same year. Well, actually she wasn’t: the gig was originally offered to Blondie, who wrote their own song. Unfortunately the producers wanted the one written by Bill Conti, which is where Easton came in. It went to number four in the US charts and was nominated for an Oscar, so it turned out alright in the end.

Loch Craignish

“Ahoy Mr Bond, heave to. You cannot escape”. He did, of course. That boat chase scene in 1963’s From Russia With Love was shot on location in Turkey, where the film is largely set. But when director Terence Young decided the boats weren’t moving fast enough the scene was re-shot on Loch Craignish. Eilean Donan and Glencoe have also featured as Bond backdrops, but this is one of the earliest views of Scotland in a Bond film.