Throughout the month of February, BBC America is airing the four-part original miniseries “Fleming: The Man Who Would Be Bond,” a dramatization of how British Naval Intelligence officer Ian Fleming becomes the creator of the world’s most licensed-to-kill spy. The series opens on “Goldeneye,” Fleming’s 15-acre waterfront estate just east of Ocho Rios in Jamaica’s Oracabessa Bay where the British writer typed out his Bond novels. The locale remains a busy tourist attraction to this day.
As Celebrity Cruises’ Axess magazine details, Fleming first dreamed up the idea for suave secret agent James Bond in 1952 and imbued his hero with the characteristics of real-life spies. The fictional Bond’s missions weren’t just wild tales from an overactive imagination; much of the material stemmed directly from Fleming’s firsthand experiences during World War II. In total, Fleming authored 13 Bond books and then handed over custody of his dashing creation to Hollywood producers Harry Saltzman and Albert “Cubby” Broccoli.
The filmmakers choose “Dr. No,” Fleming’s sixth novel, to be the first of what they hoped would be a successful franchise. It turned out to be a highly prescient choice. As Bond neutralized a West Indies-based lunatic with a plan to destabilize the West, audiences got to see the good guys win and paradise get redeemed. Ultimately, “Dr. No” would take in $16 million in box office receipts in the United States (and $60 million worldwide) on a $1.2 million budget.
In addition to the film studio, the other big winner of this global phenomenon was the film’s tropical location. “Dr. No” helped transform the image of Jamaica from a banana republic into a glamorous, golden-beached playground of secret agents and earth-bound goddesses. During pre-production for “Dr. No,” Fleming recommended the son of a neighbor to help the filmmakers with location scouting. A young Chris Blackwell introduced them to some of the most exotic spots on the island, including Laughing Waters, a beautiful stretch of sand on Ocho Rios that became the stage for Honey Ryder’s iconic bikini scene. It has since been renamed James Bond Beach, and the nearby Dunn’s Rivers Falls has grown into one of the Caribbean’s biggest tourist draws.
Blackwell went on to found Island Records, “discover” Bob Marley and purchase GoldenEye. Eventually, Blackwell developed the property from a private villa to a full-fledged, 220-room resort that still retains a laid-back island vibe, which has allowed Fleming’s creative legacy to continue to serve as an inspiration to other great artists.
Celebrity Cruises can experience the majesty of Ocho Rios, Jamaica on a variety of different Caribbean shore excursions.