|B: Bond (photo: The Westminster Collection)|
The design itself takes its cue from the iconography of the film Bond, depicting the gun barrel and the 007 logo from the EON series. This is perhaps a little ironic, given that both elements were designed by Americans (and, of course, the films themselves would not have been possible without North American producers and finance). There’s a metaphor about modern Britain in there somewhere: Britain cannot go it alone? She is, in Tiger Tanaka’s words, a once great power? Or to be less cynical, Britain is global in its outlook and welcomes foreign investment, ideas and people? You decide.
In any case, one could argue that James Bond of the cinema is more quintessentially international than British. Bond is distinctly un-British in behaviour and style (in sharp contrast to, say John Steed and Harry Hart), the threats are global, the cast multinational, and Bond barely spends any time in the country. That said, there's no mistaking where Bond’s loyalties lie (the Union flag parachute in The Spy Who Loved Me is, of course, iconic and character-defining), and recent films, particularly in Skyfall and Spectre, have had more of a domestic focus.
Regardless of the pitfalls of defining what is quintessentially British, I’m rather thrilled that James Bond has been celebrated on the face of a coin. It’s testament to the character’s continued currency (if you excuse the pun) in popular culture, and is curiously appropriate, given Ian Fleming’s interest in coinage (as reflected, for example in Live and Let Die). Indeed, it’s only a matter of time before Ian Fleming himself appears on a £10 note.