Quantum of Solas

4 11 2008

As many of you will know, Iain Fleming the creator of Bond, had strong Lewis connections as his maternal grand-mother came from Scotland Street. The young Fleming used to spend his summer holidays on Lewis and this was where he first gained his love for living on islands, although his preferred islands in his later life came with slightly warmer climates. And Iain Fleming is of course immortalised in Stornoway, having Fleming Place (up at the old Lewis Hospital) named after him.

Just after the success of Dr No, the first Bond movie, the Hollywood film producer ‘Cuddy (Point) Broccoli, encouraged Fleming to come up with more film treatments of his Bond stories. Fleming was very keen to use Stornoway and the Isle of Lewis as the setting for a Bond film as he felt the island was every bit as exotic as Jamaica, Switzerland and the south of France.

Fleming produced a script for a film called Tweedfinger, with the action centering largely on devious deeds in the tweed mills of Stornoway. The Harris Tweed industry of the 1950’s and 60’s was of course synonymous with a rich and famous lifestyle, and so Fleming and the Harris Tweed Authority were keen to capitalise on this and to try and establish Stornoway as a St Tropez of the north west. The Town Council even went as far as planting a rubber plant in Cairn Gardens to try and encourage that image.

Flemings screenplay involved a ruthless tweed baron known as Tweedfinger who had an overwhelming desire for all things made of tweed. Tweedfinger was planning to destroy all of the worlds tweed patterns and to replace them with ones of his own.

This was where Bond and the British Government stepped in. Bond was to travel to Stornoway and infiltrate Tweedfingers mill as a carder and to try to find out when the evil deed was to take place.

The movie screenplay involved a number of set pieces, including;

  • a tractor chase around Sticky’s Mill, where Bonds MI5 souped up tractor was fitted with an ejector seat,
  • one of Bonds female conquests is found dead,  covered in a tweed dress which was of really heavy material resulting in her sweating to death,
  • a female LoganAir pilot (called Bobbans Galore) flies over all the rival mills and sprays nerve gas in all the pattern workshops,
  • Bond is strapped to a cutting table and one of Tweedfinger’sheavy’s‘ starts cutting a pattern under him with a big pair of scissors, getting dangerously close to ruining his suit trousers. This particular scene featured the famous dialogue…
BOND : ‘Do you expect me to waulk, Tweedfinger?’

TWEEDFINGER: ‘No, Mr Bond. I expect you to dye.’

Fleming’s Stornoway screenplay was unfortunately rejected by Broccoli and Hollywood as been far too unbelievable. Broccoli did of course use some of Flemings idea for Goldfinger, but that film didn’t turn out as good as it could have done, if only Stornoway had featured as the location. One final attempt was made to try and sneak Stornoway into a Bond film, when ‘For Your Eye Peninsula Only’ was mooted as a possible title for a later day Roger Moore film.