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James Bond: Welsh Assembly bars 007 from Senedd

13 March

Producers of the forthcoming James Bond movie, Spectre, have been refused permission to film scenes at the Senedd chamber in Cardiff Bay by the National Assembly for Wales.

The film, directed by Sam Mendes and starring Daniel Craig, is currently in production in Pinewood Studios, and locations including London, Mexico City and Rome. 

The BBC reports that Welsh Assembly officials were approached by the makers of Spectre for permission to film scenes in the Senedd's debating chamber, the Siambr, in late 2014. But the Assembly rejected the request, saying the political building was "not a drama studio".

In a statement, it said: "The Senedd's Siambr [chamber] is the home of Welsh democracy and seat of government for Wales. Some media activity is allowed in the Siambr when it relates to the work of the Assembly or reflects the Siambr's status as the focal point of Welsh civic life."

But the statement added that decisions are made on a case-by-case basis, and noted that the Assembly was "proud to have collaborated with many television and film companies on drama productions such as Sherlock and Dr Who".

The Assembly reportedly offered Bond producers alternative locations on the estate but these were turned down.

The news prompted some Bond fans to take to Twitter to express their disappointment. One user tweeted: "So the Queen said yes to Bond in 2012 but the Senedd in late 2014 said no. Can't help thinking this is a big missed opportunity for Wales." Another commented: "Oh well, thank God the Assembly doesn't have any public awareness problems..."

Others were sceptical about the Assembly's reasoning, with one writing: "Request for Bond filming in Senedd rejected. Officials state building is not a drama venue. Could have fooled me." 

Even BBC presenter Huw Edwards, who had a small role reading the news in the last Bond film Skyfall, spoke up about the issue, tweeting: "Speaking as a hugely successful Bond star, I am saddened."

Spectre will be the 24th James Bond film, and is due to be released in cinemas in November this year.

Spectre: Stephanie Sigman named as third Bond girl

11 March

The team behind the latest James Bond film Spectre has welcomed its latest member: new girl Stephanie Sigman.

The Mexican actress will play Estrella, a character predicted by fans to be killed off before the final credits roll.

Sigman appeared in 2013 television series The Bridge, as well as the Oscar-nominated film Miss Bala in 2011.

We are pleased to announce that @SigmanStephanie has joined the cast of #SPECTRE as Estrella

— James Bond (@007) March 9, 2015

"As if Monica Bellucci and Léa Seydoux weren't enough, Daniel Craig is going to have another Bond girl to try his best one-liners on in the next 007 film," says Hollywood Reporter, although fans have been given no clues as to whether Estrella will be Bond's friend or enemy.

The Guardian says: "James Bond movies typically feature three female actors who are romanced by 007, with at least one killed off during the events of the film. As the lesser-known of the three stars, speculation has already begun that Sigman will get the sacrificial-lamb role."

Craig will return as the British spy for the fourth time, along with director Sam Mendes, who last month revealed some clues about the plot of the new Bond movie, the 24th in the series.

In a video clip showing behind-the-scenes footage, Mendes says Bond is on the hunt for somebody, but the audience does not immediately know why. According to the Ian Fleming novels, Spectre stands for Special Executive for Counter-Intelligence, Terrorism Revenge and Extortion, headed by super-villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld.

The plot also looks at the story of Bond's childhood, and develops the characters of M (Ralph Fiennes), Q (Ben Whishaw) and Miss Moneypenny (Naomie Harris).

Mendes says all three characters risk their careers and livelihoods in different ways to help Bond, who is considering "whether or not to pursue the life he has always pursued".

Spectre: first look at James Bond behind-the-scenes video

12 February

Sony Pictures has released behind-the-scenes footage from the new James Bond film Spectre, showing Daniel Craig fighting on top of an Austrian mountain.

Director Sam Mendes and his team are still filming, with the movie's opening date set for 6 November 2015.

French actress Lea Seydoux, who plays femme fatale Madeleine Swann, can be seen in Solden, an area in Tyrol popular with skiers.

Gregg Wilson, associate producer, reveals that this will be the location for "one of the major action sequences of the movie – the jewel in the crown so to speak".

Footage shows the crew filming on the Gaislachkogl mountain, in front of the resort's modern Ice Q restaurant, with its gondola lift and suspension bridge to the peak.

The 1.53-minute featurette finishes off with Craig, dressed in black, fending off an attacker and firing a shot on a snowy mountaintop.

Other filming locations are said to include London, Rome, Mexico, Morocco and Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire.

The Jaguar C-X75, Range Rover Sport SVR and bespoke Defender Big Foots are also set to feature in the film.

Skyfall actors Naomie Harris (Eve Moneypenny), Ben Whishaw (Q) and Ralph Fiennes (M) will be returning for Spectre, as well as newcomers Dave Bautista, Andrew Scott and Monica Bellucci.

Christoph Waltz, who starred alongside Seydoux in Inglourious Basterds, has also been cast.

Spectre: James Bond 24 title and cast announced

14 December

The new James Bond movie will be called Spectre, the filmmakers have announced. The film will be shot in London, Rome, Mexico, Morocco and the Austrian Alps. The iconic secret agent will drive an Aston Martin DB10.

The details were revealed at a press conference held at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire this morning, home to the espionage franchise since 1962's Dr. No.

The cast and crew will have a familiar feel. Daniel Craig will make his fourth outing as James Bond in the film, which will be the 24th official episode in the series. Sam Mendes, who directed Skyfall, and screenwriter John Logan will also return.

Naomie Harris will reprise her role of Moneypenny, Ralph Fiennes will be calling the shots as M and the much-lauded Ben Whishaw will return as Q. Monica Bellucci and Christoph Waltz will join the cast.

Principal photography for the film, which is set for UK release on October 23 2015, is due to begin on Monday.

It will be a stiff challenge for the new movie to better the success of previous instalment Skyfall, which was the highest grossing film of all time in the UK. The final Hunger Games chapter and the hotly awaited Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens are due for release around the same time.

If Daniel Craig fulfils his contract he will become the third longest serving Bond actor, behind Sean Connery and Roger Moore. After Skyfall, the 46-year-old is signed on for two more outings as 007, which would mean five in total. He is the sixth actor to star in the role.

The Bond movie series has been in production since 1962 when Sean Connery starred in Dr No. The spy's gadgets, which include everything from spike umbrellas to the flying Wallis autogyro, have become a popular feature of the movies. So have the Bond girls, with their bawdy names such as Pussy Galore and Holly Goodhead. They have been portrayed by a galaxy of stars including Ursula Andress, Honor Blackman and Halle Berry.


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