A visit to Iconic London, an impressive and exclusive Thameside event that made the most of London to welcome SPECTRE.
Perhaps more than any other time, James Bond is entwined with the River Thames. Before the Romans Latinised it to Tamesis, it’s unclear if the Celtic name Tems derived from “Tranquil River” or “Smooth River” or perhaps through a Sanskrit influence, “Dark River”. After SPECTRE, for James Bond it’s most certainly both. And as for that mysterious ‘H’ in the river, there’s every chance he may show up in the next Bond film…
The focus fell back to the iconic river…
After years skipping from the Mayfair Casinos to Whitehall, Mi6 landed on the Thames Southbank for 1995’s GoldenEye. Two films later, 1999’s The World is Not Enough set a new bar for iconic (and long) pre-title set-pieces as Bond took an experimental Q Boat on a chase from the SIS building all the way to the fresh Millennium Dome in Greenwich. 16 years on from that Millennium, a new century has brought many changes including the new, relatively quip free, harder-edged James Bond.
But the Thames remains as important as ever. 2012’s Skyfall blasted all Bond box office records asunder as it rode the crest of a wave of zeitgeist made up from Sam Mendes, Adele, the hugely successful London Olympics and it’s predominantly UK location. From inside Temple station to Vauxhall Bridge to secret garages hiding classic Aston Martins, London had never taken such a central role.
Come SPECTRE, London was back… But the focus fell back to the iconic river. So, where better to celebrate the 24th release of Hollywood’s longest running franchise?
There couldn’t have been a better place…
Running for three nights in the week of SPECTRE’s release, Iconic London took centre-stage on the river – an event no Bond fan could miss. There couldn’t have been a better place. With the evenings drawing in, fans of superspies and finery assembled at the London Eye Pier to board the Silver Sturgeon for a night of thrills. That 21st century river yacht offered its warm bars and iconic design to shield guests from autumn as they enjoyed a night of hospitality before a special screening of SPECTRE at the UK’s largest cinema screen.
No one was put off by a special greeting aboard the yacht, courtesy of a rather familiar face. The camel Nehru jacket, the white feline in the right arm, the effortless charm on first meeting… All distracted from the distinctive scar over the left eye…
And bars of the finest complimentary drinks and food were enough to take their mind off the host and his announcements – after all, they knew full well that he doesn’t tolerate failure. Gourmet bowl food designed by Jamie Oliver presented a British finest menu to guests who couldn’t move for variations on classic bangers and mash, steak pie and roast chicken. Dotted around were signed movie posters, photographs and memorabilia, all lots in an auction raising funds for WellChild and Save the Children.
Alongside the Silver Sturgeon, under the great wheel of London, speedboats awaited to take guests onto the Thames. Where Bond would later hurtle in a boat of his own, special agents in waiting hurtled in the opposite direction – under Westminster Bridge on to Vauxhall where the Mi6 building sits on the edge of Thames… Perhaps opposite the shining dome of C’s Joint Intelligence Service. Riding out the wake of the Thames, guests sailed past the Houses of Parliament, Bond themes filling their ears.
At 7.45, the kind of decision a super spy would welcome – by road or foot? Red double decker buses waited to take guests the short hop to the BFI IMAX and where a red carpet met them, its colour matched by a Ferrari. A private screening of SPECTRE completed the VIP experience. Behind the champagne bottles turned in their buckets, in front what’s likely to be Bond’s most successful adventure yet…
Matt attended Paragon presented Iconic London on Thursday 29th October.
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