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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Stuart Heritage

Daisy May Cooper as M: does that mean James Bond is turning into a comedy?

Daisy May Cooper in Am I Being Unreasonable.
Does she reach the Denchmark? Daisy May Cooper in Am I Being Unreasonable. Photograph: Alistair Heap/Boffola Pictures

You can have the good news first. At last, the ceaseless pounding drumbeat of speculation over who will play the next James Bond has paused. A semi-official moratorium has fallen over the shrieking clickbait dedicated to wondering aloud whether Aaron Taylor Johnson or Idris Elba or about eight people from Game of Thrones or any actor seen in public in a suit will be chosen to succeed Daniel Craig as James Bond.

Now for the bad news: this has happened because there is now a ceaseless pounding drumbeat of speculation over whether or not Daisy May Cooper from This Country will be the next M. For this week, everyone has suddenly decided that this is a thing, even though it probably isn’t.

Several outlets have reported that Cooper is either definitely going to be M, or in discussion with Eon Productions about becoming M in the next Bond film. The rationale for this reporting is either that producers want her because she is close friends with Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who wrote some of the last James Bond film, or because they think she “opens the door to [the franchise] being a bit lighter and more comedic going forwards”.

It’s hard to know exactly where to start with this, isn’t it? There’s the fact that, just a month ago, producer Barbara Broccoli told reporters that no script exists for the next James Bond film, and no casting decisions have been made whatsoever, and that it will probably be two or three years before any sort of casting announcements are made. So, even if this story was true, this would mean that Broccoli would be prepared to stake the entire future of a 60-year, $7bn film series on whether or not the most sought-after leading movie stars of the day have a convincing screen chemistry with the woman from Am I Being Unreasonable.

And then there’s the C-word just sitting there, daring us not to gag. James Bond might still have a place in the world – currently the best way for that to happen would be to rip off the visceral flesh and blood stuntwork of the Mission: Impossible films – but not if it means making it comedic. The world needs a James Bond comedy like it needs to be smashed in the shins with a golf club. A wry quip here and there might be OK, but please let’s not make it an out and out comedy. We deserve better than that.

But maybe I’m being shortsighted here. Maybe Daisy May Cooper would be a brilliant M. As a source – who might just feasibly be Cooper’s manager, but what do I know? – told the Times: “Daisy is a proper Rada-trained actress who everyone wants to work with. She is funny, has bags of personality and is very hot at the minute.” Maybe she really does have the heft to follow in the footsteps of Ralph Fiennes and Judi Dench.

Or maybe comedy is just the way things are going. Maybe a new James Bond is an opportunity to reset the clock on the series, by pretending that Daniel Craig, Pierce Brosnan and Timothy Dalton never existed and simply revert back to the cheeky, improbable whoops-a-lummy Bond of the Roger Moore era. Sex jokes, cheap sets, slapstick, inappropriate age differences, the lot. Full Austin Powers. What the hell.

If this really is the way that 007 is heading, then the least we can do is lean into it and turn it into the best version it can be. If Daisy May Cooper is going to be M, then let’s hire Charlie Cooper – Daisy’s brother and the co-creator of This Country – as the new Moneypenny. We would also need a Q. My sincere recommendation would be to keep the new character off screen at all times, yelling at Bond from another room. Daisy May Cooper proved she could do this incredibly well in This Country, as her character’s mother, so let’s get her to do the same here. And now, with these supporting roles secured, we would finally be in a position to hire the performer most suitable to play 007 in this lighter and more comedic Bond: the double-taking pigeon from Moonraker.

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