‘Ian Fleming’s Thrilling Cities’ on BBC Radio 4

Ian Fleming
© BBC Radio Four
In 1959, Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond, was commissioned by the Sunday Times to explore some of the world’s most exotic cities. Travelling to the Far East and then to America, he left the bright main streets for the back alleys, abandoning tourist sites in favour of underground haunts, and mingling with celebrities, gangsters and geishas. The result is a series of vivid snapshots of a mysterious, vanished world.

Fleming wote, ‘On November 2nd, armed with a sheaf of visas … one suitcase … and my typewriter, I left humdrum London for the thrilling cities of the world. All my life I have been interested in adventure and abroad. I have enjoyed the frisson of leaving the wide, well-lit streets and venturing up back alleys in search of the hidden, authentic pulse of towns. It was perhaps this habit that turned me into a writer of thrillers.’

In November 1963, the article series was published in a book, ‘Thrilling Cities‘ and includes material edited out of the original articles, and accompanying photographs of various cities.

Episode:Hong Kong
Date: Sunday, 8th January, 2017
Channel: BBC Radio Four
Time: 12:30AM – 12:48AM (GMT)

“In today’s episode, Fleming flies to Hong Kong – the most vivid and exciting city he had ever experienced. He enjoys a massage at the hands of an expert, and his senses are enchanted by the smells of the streets at night – from the ‘exciting dash of sandalwood’ in a joss-stick factory to the scent of frying onions and ‘sweet perspiration’.”

Episode:Tokyo
Date: Sunday, 15th January, 2017
Channel: BBC Radio Four
Time: 12:30AM – 12:48AM (GMT)

“In today’s episode, Fleming flies to Tokyo where he witnesses an astonishing ju-jitsu demonstration, has his fortune told and is attended in a bath-house by one of the prettiest girls he has ever seen.”

Episode:Chicago & New York
Date: Sunday, 21st January, 2017
Channel: BBC Radio Four
Time: 12:30AM – 12:48AM (GMT)

“In today’s episode, Fleming flies to the USA and visits the garage in Chicago where the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre took place. In New York, he thrills at the sight of the traffic lights changing from red to green in unison all the way down Park Avenue.”

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