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From the Archive
007 Issue #15 (1984)



KEVIN HARPER talked with James Bond’s physiotherapist in Never Say Never Again on March 23rd 1984 at the Theatre Royal, York, where she was appearing in the play Relative Strangers.

Probably best known for her TV role opposite John Nolan in Shabby Tiger, Prunella Gee has also appeared in the feature film The Wilby Conspiracy with Michael Caine and Sidney Poitier. She has appeared in many other TV productions including The Sweeney, Quiller, Return of the Saint, Kinvig, The Professionals, and Hammer House of Horror.

How did you become involved with the production of Never Say Never Again, and did Sean Connery have a say in the casting of the role of Patricia as he did with other members of the cast?
The answer is that I got a phone call. I didn’t have to go and meet anybody, which made a nice change, or so I thought, as it does have its drawbacks. I just got a call from my agent to say they were interested. The Casting Director, Maggie Cartier, wanted me, she said I’d be fine and because everyone else was filming in The Bahamas it wasn’t definite as Sean Connery had casting approval. So I think they sent a photograph of me and he knew my name a bit so I just waited and didn’t do anything. Then about five or six days later they rang up and said that’s fine.

It’s wonderful not to have to get all dressed up and line up and all the rest for a part. So I thought this is easy isn’t it – they just phoned up and said, ‘will you do it’. But then I had to meet the Producer and the Director on two separate occasions after I’d already got the contract. So they knew they’d got me. And actually it’s far more nerve-wracking because you can’t go in and think ‘well if they don’t like me, fine they just say thank you very much’. So you’re going in and you feel it’s a bit awkward. But it turned out OK. I had to meet Jack Schwartzman at about nine o’clock in the morning at his hotel, and he gave me the once-over and chatted and told me his life story. Then about a week later I went to meet Irvin Kershner at Elstree – and he was charming, and in fact he didn’t give me a feeling of worry at all, he was just completely happy and said I’d be fine. And of course you always meet the wardrobe people before you meet anybody else, so they can give you the low-down on what’s been going on and who’s-who. And the wardrobe people said Irvin was fine. So I felt relaxed, but it was a funny way round.

Prunella Gee as Patricia in Never Say Never Again | Sidney Poitier, Prunella Gee, Michael Caine and Rutger Hauer in The Wilby Conspiracy (1975) | John Nolan and Prunella Gee in Shabby Tiger

ABOVE: (left) Prunella Gee as physiotherapist Patricia Fearing in Never Say Never Again (1983). (top right) Sidney Poitier, Prunella Gee, Michael Caine and Rutger Hauer in The Wilby Conspiracy (1975) directed by Ralph Nelson. (bottom right) John Nolan and Prunella Gee in the seven-part TV series Shabby Tiger broadcast on the ITV network July 11 - August 22, 1973.

Was Never Say Never Again the first really big film you had worked on?
Well actually I was in The Wilby Conspiracy (1975) with Michael Caine and Sidney Poitier, I was the leading lady in that, but I thought I was miscast. What happened was a slightly unfortunate thing really. I’d done a series on TV called Shabby Tiger, which was a great hit, and Michael Caine actually asked for me to be on the film. I didn’t realise at the time that I should have waited for the right part to come along. Obviously at the age of 23 when you get offered the leading lady with Michael Caine and Sidney Poitier, you tend to take it. But it might have been wiser not to. Because I was playing a 30-year-old South African and it was wrong, but they seemed to be snapping up people who were doing well at that moment.

Had you seen Thunderball prior to filming Never Say Never Again, as this was the film that provided the basis of the script for the new film?
No I hadn’t. I had really very little time to do my homework because I’d never been a Bond fan. I tend to like films that are about looking inside people’s heads. I’m not a great action fan. And of course I started work on the film about a week after I had got the part. So I didn’t dash about checking up on Bond movies. I’m sure I have seen Thunderball on TV though.

Had you seen any other Bond films, and if so which are your favourites?
Well, they are the films I tend not to go and see, and if they are on TV I might wander in with a cup of tea. I’m not very good at complicated plots! I’ve been in TV films and people who have been watching them with me sad said – “Well, where I got lost was when…” and I say, “Don’t ask me…” I grasped the plot whilst I was doing it but then I lost it again. I’m much more interested in psychological dramas than action.

Sean Connery as James Bond and Prunella Gee as Patricia in Never Say Never Again (1983)

Have you read any of Ian Fleming’s novels?
No, never.

And filming didn’t prompt you to read any?

Did your role in the film involve studio work or was all the filming done on location?
Well, the big thing about being a so-called ‘Bond-Girl’ is the locations and the glamour. This one was made in The Bahamas and the South of France and was all very exotic… and I got 10 days in Luton!!! It was in the middle of winter, freezing cold and I was being picked up about 5.30 in the morning to bring me down to Luton, where I hovered around in the caravans. Then I shivered up the driveway to the house where all the doors were open, and we all had to look relaxed and warm being a health place. It was freezing cold and they were literally rubbing our hands before we did the takes.

Were you there when the big fight between Sean Connery and Pat Roach was filmed?
It was being done around the same time but I didn’t watch any of it, because you couldn’t really hover around and watch – it was back to the caravan to get warm. It was strange really; it wasn’t much fun filming, for me anyway. And also it was chaos. The schedules were up the creek and there were people everywhere. Sean Connery was, so far as I could gather, very much responsible for a lot of the humour in the film. He was going back to his hotel and working on the script at night. He brought in Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, and they were around a lot.

Never Say Never Again - Irvin Kershner at Luton Hoo Sean Connery as James Bond in Never Say Never Again (1983)
Sean Connery and Pat Roach in Never Say Never Again (1983) Never Say Never Again fight

ABOVE: (top left) Director Irvin Kershner sets up a shot at Luton Hoo - the English country house and estate near Luton in Bedfordshire, which stood in as the Shrublands Health Clinic in Never Say Never Again. (top right) Sean Connery as James Bond fights with Lippe (bottom left) played by Pat Roach (1937-2004) - an English professional wrestler, martial artist and later actor. (bottom right) The fight progressed through several rooms in Luton Hoo, with Sean Connery throwing himself into the action as much as possible. Pat Roach as a Nazi mechanic had memorably fought with Harrison Ford in as Indiana Jones tries to rescue Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen) from the ‘Flying Wing’ aircraft in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). Roach also appeared in the next two Indiana Jones films, and is perhaps best-remembered as West-country bricklayer ‘Bomber’ in the hit UK television series Auf Wiedersehen, Pet (1983-2004), co-written by Dick Clement & Ian La Frenais.

They weren’t given any credit in the film, were they?
No they weren’t! I think what their job turned out to be in the end was pepping it up humour wise. They didn’t actually write any whole scenes. But a lot of the humour comes from Sean Connery. We had various little exchanges which we did during the course of the filming. I thought my little, short scenes, for all they were worth, were quite funny. We were sort of working out how to change lines to get more double-entendres. I think the editor also did a wonderful job, actually all those little scenes I did with Sean were a lot longer but they were cut marvellously, so that you actually got the wit from the end of one scene coming onto the beginning of the next. The classic example is “Your room or mine? ... mine”. And it did carry on and explain that I was the osteopath, but the editor cut it on that line and then you thought we had been to bed, but it turned out to be the back treatment scene… you know!!! I think that the editors have an awful lot to do with the wit and humour of the film.

Was it evident whilst you were filming that Sean Connery had a lot of control over what was put into the film, did he direct any scenes whilst you were on the set?
Very much so but he didn’t direct anything whilst I was there, not that I saw anyway.

Did you think at the time of filming the film would turn out to be as successful as it has been?
For me there was no way of knowing, it was so bitty. I thought it was marvellous when I saw it. Honestly, I couldn’t give you an opinion; it did seem that people were all over the place.

Did Connery mention anything to you about his return to the role; did you speak to him much when you weren’t filming?
No. We didn’t have that sort of conversation somehow – we had lots of personal chats and jokes. We weren’t really discussing that kind of thing.

Roger Moore & Sean Connery in 1983 | Sean Connery and Prunella Gee in Never Say Never Again (1983)

ABOVE: A LASTING BOND! (left) Long-standing friends Roger Moore and Sean Connery [sans toupee] photographed in 1983. The pair were quick to debunk the “Battle of the Bonds” that never really materialised other than in the minds of the Media on the lookout for a sensational story. (right) Sean Connery and Prunella Gee in Never Say Never Again (1983).

Was the crew and yourself aware of the “other” Bond film Octopussy at the time you were involved with the production of Never Say Never Again?
I think it was just about complete when I was filming, or it was in the editing stages. I think it was generally accepted that Sean and Roger Moore had made a very good early stand that they were not in competition. They liked each other and they were different sorts of Bonds. And they let the world know so that they didn’t set up a publicity competition… neither of them seemed bothered. I think that Octopussy was very much “Miss World’s-long legged lovelies,” lot of tricks, beautiful costumes… the works! Whereas Never Say Never Again was definitely going for something more subtle. It was going for good acting and plot, and I think in all cases the acting was terrific. Barbara Carrera was an absolutely stunning beauty and Kim Basinger for instance was absolutely amazing. So that was the base line, it seemed that the whole storyline and the humour was not POW!! – thrust everything at them and do the absolute classic tricks and laughs. It seemed to me that it was on a more subtle level, which I like.

Did you take part in any promotion for the film?
They did ask me to go to Amsterdam to promote it, but I couldn’t. And I didn’t attend the British Premiere either because I couldn’t make that either. I really didn’t do much promotion – but I was in the trailers, which was nice!

Do you mind watching yourself on the screen?

It’s not very nice the first time. I’ve seen the film twice and I didn’t really like the way I looked, so I got a bit troubled about that. But I looked okay the next time. If you look like you’re in control and you’re relaxed and not uncomfortable, you’re pleased you’ve got that far. Sometimes you can think ‘Oh, why did I do that’ or ‘Why didn’t I do this’, and it can be quite horrid, but in this one I think everybody looked like they knew what they were up to.

Director Irvin Kershner with Executive Producer Kevin McClory at the Royal Charity Premiere of Never Say Never Again | Sean Connery and Irvin Kershner

ABOVE: (left) Director Irvin Kershner with Executive Producer Kevin McClory at the Royal Charity Premiere of Never Say Never Again held at the Warner Theatre, Leicester Square on Wednesday December 14, 1983. (right)Sean Connery and Irvin Kershner during the filming of Never Say Never Again (1983).

It was recently announced that Kevin McClory, Executive Producer of Never Say Never Again, is planning a new series of James Bond films. Would you appear in another, given the chance?
Yes, I’d like to play a bigger part. It was quite little this one.

So were you jealous of Barbara Carrera and Kim Basinger?
No, not at all. Over the years I must have been up for several Bond films, but I always go in with the attitude that I’m not a ‘Bond-Girl’. It was just a joke that they rung up and said come and do this one! Really, I’m not very tall and I’m not the classic Bond type at all. I doubt if I would be offered another, but I’d like to do one given the chance. It’s a marvellous thing to have said you’ve done a Bond film, but I have been up for Bond films in the past and I’ve never got the part!

Which films did you audition for?
Oh, I was up for a part in the one with Barbara Bach.

The Spy Who Loved Me?
Yes, that was the one.

What was the atmosphere on the set like between Sean Connery and Irvin Kershner – it is rumoured they didn’t exactly see eye-to-eye?
I had heard some bad stories before I started, and I’d also heard that Irvin Kershner didn’t stop and listen to particular actresses problems, but they seemed to be fine together. There was banter obviously, but they seemed okay together – they lunched and seemed pretty cheerful. I didn’t notice anything terrible. Actually, I had a lot of respect for Irvin Kershner because he was willing to take a lot of trouble over tiny little things. In one scene I had very little to say but a little look and a smile at the end. But he really made sure it was right. He was watching very closely, which you don’t always get. Providing the film is got in on time you usually have to notice these things yourself, they don’t always concentrate on these small details. I liked him very much.

Barbara Carrera as Fatima Blush with Gavan O'Herlihy as Jack Petachi and Pat Roach as Lippe in Never Say Never Again (1983)

ABOVE: (top left) Barbara Carrera as Fatima Blush [a name created by Ian Fleming for the screen treatment he co-wrote with Kevin McClory & Jack Whittingham, that ultimately became the novel THUNDERBALL] with Gavan O'Herlihy as Jack Petachi in Never Say Never Again. (top right) Pat Roach and Barbara Carrera in a deleted scene from Never Say Never Again showing Roach as the driver of the ambulance that brings Fatima Blush and Jack Petachi to Shrublands. (bottom left) In Never Say Never Again heroin-addicted United States Air Force pilot Jack Petachi has undergone an operation on his right eye to make it match the retinal pattern of the US President, which he uses to circumvent iris recognition security at RAF Station Swadley, an American military base in England.

Sean Connery seemed to take the view that he’d done six Bond films and Irvin Kershner was on his first – did this feeling come through?
One had this feeling that if Sean hadn’t been happy with something then he’d make sure that it was done again. I noticed a bit of argument, but on the whole everyone understood that Sean knew what he was doing, which is not surprising as he’s so professional.

Who are your favourite actresses in Bond films of the past?
I thought Barbara Bach was really one of the best, I thought she was stunning and well, Diana Rigg must rate as one of the top ones because she’s a proper actress. I love her in anything she does. She’s wonderful and of course there were some duff ones that looked stunning but couldn’t act.

Is Sean Connery your favourite James Bond?
Absolutely – he IS James bond, isn’t he?

Do you prefer working in theatre and TV or in films?
If the part is really going well and gives you a lot to bite on, then that is what keeps one happy. I’ve known deadly boring theatre jobs, deadly boring film jobs, and wonderful jobs in all of them. So I’m happy if I’ve got something to get my teeth into. That’s all that counts. I tend to find TV has been my best work because it is exactly the right size for me. I hope this doesn’t sound conceited because it’s not meant to, but my style is truthful and if it goes into areas of comedy or tragedy or whatever, it always starts with that. A camera can at any moment come right in and see what it ought to be seeing, I hope. I don’t switch things on or put in tricks. So I prefer television, sizewise and the amount of time you get on a take, which is obviously so much more than on a film take. We sometimes do a whole scene with four cameras, and this tends to work quite nicely for me.

Would you have liked to have played any of the other roles in Never Say Never Again?
I would have loved to have played the Barbara Carrera part. Although I thought Kim and Barbara were wonderful in the film. Also the men were marvellous. Klaus Maria Brandauer for instance was superb.

Well at least you would have been able to go to The Bahamas if you’d played that role!
Yes absolutely. That would have been wonderful.

So all in all the film was an enjoyable experience?
Yes, a nice thing to have done.

Shrublands Doctor Michael Medwin Sean Connery and Michael Medwin
Sean Connery and Derek Deadman From Russia With Love (1963) Gala screening after-party

ABOVE: FAMILIAR FACES - Also appearing in Never Say Never Again (1983) as the Shrublands doctor was British character actor Michael Medwin (1923-2020) another long-standing friend of star Sean Connery, who no doubt suggested him for the role. (centre left) Michael Medwin also attended the Gala Screening of From Russia With Love at the ODEON Leicester Square on October 10, 1963, and the after-party [L-R] Sean Connery's parents Joseph and Euphemia, his wife actress Diane Cilento, actress Mary Ure [wife of Robert Shaw], Michael Medwin, Robert Shaw and Sean Connery. As Never Say Never Again was a UK-based production other small roles were filled by familiar faces from British films and TV series, including Derek Deadman (1940-2014) as the porter who greets James Bond (bottom left) as he arrives at Shrublands and admires his 1937 Bentley 4¼-litre Drophead Coupe. The porter is later incapacitated by Lippe (bottom right) before his fight with James Bond.


Never Say Never Again FACT FILE