Our Next James Bond

Is not going to be Idris Elba. Which is annoying for many, many reasons. At least partly because I suspect Eon know he’s not going to be James Bond and they’re only getting people’s hopes up.

I’m going to give Eon a pass, because I don’t think their main reason is going to be Elba’s race (and any fanboys who want to complain about having a black James Bond given the present James Blond are being awfully peculiar about which book details they demand from an actor). I think his age is going to be the main problem. Elba is 43, and would be replacing the 48 year old Daniel Craig. Presuming that it takes 3 years to make a Bond fil, then that’s only one or two films before they’re likely to bring the next guy in.

I would love for the next James Bond to be Idris Elba having been a fan since Ultraviolet (Ultraviolet still being in the top two shows about its subject matter ever) but I have reached acceptance on the matter.

So who is likely to be the guy that gets the backlash for not being Idris Elba?

For a while it seemed like it might be Henry Cavill, and large chunks of the Man From U.N.C.L.E. acts as a very fine audition tape. But there is one problem.


Given the time and effort it takes to make a blockbuster, if he’s already Superman, I doubt Eon would be willing to work around DC/WB’s timetable. Now, in an ideal world, that would mean they’d take Superman away from the people who can’t write him and Cavill would be free to play Bond, but since it looks like they’re going to be a Justice League series of films, that’s not going to happen.

The moment I saw the snow chase scene in Inception, I went “there is our next James Bond”. I would love to have Tom Hardy as James Bond. He can wear the heck out of a suit, he can do the violence, he can do the character, including that worrying lack of care about violence and he’s young enough that they could get a fair few films out of him. Friend L insists that Hardy couldn’t do the suave bits of the Bond character, the way Bond is supposed to be able to choke someone to death with his bare hands while calmly discussing the right wine for the situation. I think he could do that though.

A more significant problem is that I’m not sure Tom Hardy would want to do a franchise, or certainly not be the lead in one that so heavily relies on its main character. Maybe if we got Christopher Nolan to direct. By the way, if Nolan does ever direct a Bond film, I may have to be restrained for my own safety. I would be excessively excited.

The aforementioned L has two desires when it comes to James Bond: Michael Fassbender to play Red Grant in a ‘From Russia with Love’ remake and Tom Hiddleston as James Bond.

I try to be supportive, as I’ve already had my perfect Bond. (It is Timothy Dalton. I accept no substitutes.) L points out that Hiddleston can do the sharpness of Bond, and the well-spoken public schoolboy thing (because he is a well-spoken public schoolboy). My problem is that I’m not sure Hiddleston can do the dead-eyed violent sociopathy bit. I worry that he’d be too sympathetic. I’m also not sure he can do violent menace. L says I am being ridiculous, and that Michael Fassbender, who I don’t want as Bond but can do the violent dangerous bit is every bit the same sort of wiry and lithe that Hiddleston is. I keep trying to explain to him that Fassbender has dangerous shoulders and Hiddleston doesn’t, which he says makes no sense. The problem is I know exactly what I mean but I can’t explain myself properly. It has nothing to do with whether or not Hiddleston can do stunts and fightscenes. I’ve seen enough clips of his Coriolanus to know he can fight. It’s something else, something intangible, which doesn’t help on the explaining front.

Of the four actors I’ve mentioned, I suspect Hiddleston is the most likely at the moment, but that doesn’t mean Eon won’t go for someone truly random, see also Daniel Craig over Clive Owen much though I ❤ Craig’s Bond and Daniel Craig himself.

I’ve had to explain to one of the PhD students that no, Channing Tatum should not be the next James Bond, much though I also ❤ Channing Tatum and would be utterly behind him as either the CIA’s best and brightest in his own series of films, or Felix Leiter if Jeffrey Wright gets bored of playing him, but not James Bond.

At the minute Tom Hardy is the bookies favourite as well as mine, but that doesn’t mean that much because I remember Clive Owen being the favourite before the last announcement.

I think that’s a reasonable run-down of the runners and riders. Anyone I’ve missed?

Of Warren-Ball and Clive-ball

Note: I am a fan of the Irish rugby team. Nothing to do with heritage, more that tap tackle on Dan Luger by Peter Stringer. After that my heart belonged to any team with Stringer on it.

I am also a rugby league fan who is still somewhat convinced that union is what happens to rugby when it’s been bad and needs to be punished. This year’s Six Nations is not helping that feeling.


The present discussion in the UK (for which read London) press of Warren-ball, it’s strengths and limitations, and the damage it causes to players seems to be willfully ignoring that it’s an adaptation of the Clive Woodward playing style.

Clive-ball, for those of you who luckily missed those years, is possession-based. Keep the ball, maintain pressure, wait for the opponents to give away a penalty, give the ball to Jonny. (Those people who go on about how many tries the Woodward England team scored missed that they were often because the opposition had someone in the sin-bin and/or were chasing the game.)

Now there are some limitations to this plan, which we’ll call ‘needs Jonny’. It’s also quite hard to come up with a plan against.

All the plans seem to involve some form of ‘fronting up’ or hitting the team playing Clive-ball hard so that your team get the ball. Now Ireland also added the choke tackle to that plan but that also has certain personnel requirements vis-a-vie the now retired Paul O’Connell and stop-getting-injured Sean O’Brien (also known as stop-getting-caught-punching-Pascal-Pape Sean O’Brien). But the “purest” form of fronting up to confound Clive-ball is Wales’s Warren-ball.

It’s an intrinsically destructive form of the game where, because the players are picked for size as much as skill, doing something once they’ve got the ball is the problem.

Warren-ball and its variants are also incredibly wearing. When Courtney Lawes (highlight reel here) complains that English players (or players in the English Premiership) play too many games and are, pretty much, always sore, it’s not coming from a dainty player doesn’t enjoy contact.

The other problem is that you end up in an arms race. If their fly half is 6 foot tall, then yours has to be that too and the next one will be 6 foot 1. (Compare the vital statistics of Neil Jenkins [1.78 m, 86 kg], Stephen Jones [1.85 m, 94 kg], Dan Biggar [1.88 m, 89 kg] in the Wales fly-half position.) This has two effects, 1) the slightly smaller than Superman get locked out of the professional game and 2) any contact has more force about it because goodness knows they’re still moving at speed. This is true in both open play and the scrum.

I swear that’s where most of the sudden increase in injuries has come from. Obviously injuries happen, and always have done, and you’ll never have a contact sport (or any sport) where no injuries occur but the number of players of middle career age (25-29) retiring with degenerative joint issues is ridiculous. Oddly, I don’t think there’s been as large an increase in concussions, I think we’re just more aware of them and how serious they are now.

The other problem with Warren-ball is that once your opponents know you’re playing it, it’s possible to get round it, although this too involves “fronting up” and can lead to the aforementioned injury issues. Last year, for instance, Ireland finished higher than Wales last year but I swear that was at least in part because they were more terrified of their captain than their opponents (now is a good time for that Paul O’Connell clip).

And while Warren-ball might win you the 6 Nations, it seems to be utterly useless at World Cup level, where the Southern Hemisphere players are big *and* skillful (sneaky evil is a skill and it lies at the heart of New Zealand’s game). A variety of reasons has been suggested as to why this is, but while New Zealand remain the pinnacle, I doubt population size is the reason. I do however agree with the general view that the way NZ junior rugby is divided into weight as well as age categories probably helps retain the late growers better, and means that the bigger players have to be skillful (and learn skills) because they’re playing against players as big as they are so they don’t have the size advantage that you can get between a 13 year old who has had their growth spurt and one who hasn’t.

Since that kind of thing, if the Northern Hemisphere unions ever take it on-board, is going to take a generation to work through, I fear I am going to have to rely on an Australian who reminds me of a malicious Yoda to produce fun rugby in the 6 Nations, and since he’s the England manager, this fills me with woe.

Dreaming The Impossible Dream

I have been trying to avoid even thinking that Leicester might win the league, lest I jinx them.

Which would be odd enough, but I’m not even a Leicester City fan. I think the best description might be that I’m a fellow traveller because I spent seven years in Leicester and still miss the city. So it’s more for the city that I want them to win, rather than the football team itself, much though I ❤ Kasper Schmeichel, Robert Huth and Claudio Ranieri.

I arrived in Leicester for their last hurrah in the Premiership, and they were relegated at the end of that year. I was around for that sticky patch in the old Second Division but I left before they got promoted back to the Premiership (and no, Cardiff, I still haven’t forgiven you.)

One of the interesting things while I was there was how few Foxes fans I saw. Clarendon Park was definitely Tiger country (the same way bits of Manchester are City or United). It did seem to be a class thing, where Foxes fans tended to be people like me, while Tigers fans tended to be, well, a bit more rah (there’s a reason why the ‘shire’ Leicstershire seats are Tory but the ‘city’ Leicestershire seats are Labour).

The few Foxes fans I did come across were always fun though. There was a cafe I used to eat Saturday lunch at (a superior greasy spoon that serves chicken kievs and lasagna I can still remember the taste of even now) and a lot of the other customers when I was in were Dads with their kids eating before matches. Most of the kids will be 12-16 now, but I’d like Leicester to win for them, to make up for freezing Saturday afternoons watching Leicester lose to Millwall.