Seven British Myths Kept Alive by James Bond

Daniel Craig living the life of 007 at the premiere of Skyfall. (Photo via AP)

For 50 years, the film adaptations of Ian Fleming’s Bond books have helped cement the U.K.’s reputation as a suave, chic land. Alas, it doesn’t take an undercover investigation by MI6 to reveal that the reality is a bit different. If anyone has ever tried to sell you on the following Brit falsehoods, don’t believe a word of it.  

1. We’re sophisticated drinkers
The notion that a British man would order a classy cocktail like Bond’s signature martini and have specific requirements for its assembly is laughable. Most are happy so long as their tipple is wet and contains somewhere north of 3.5 percent alcohol. Incidentally, a British bloke’s idea of boozy refinement is ordering the second least expensive wine on the menu.

2. We all have sexy accents
Sean Connery and Daniel Craig’s delicious inflections might make Americans shudder with pleasure but most Brits are lumbered with woefully unerotic accents. There are cities in the UK whose population speak in a way that Yanks might find curious or endearing but never beddable.  

3. We introduce ourselves surname first
The name’s Margolis: Ruth Margolis. This is the first and last time I will ever announce myself like this. It’s really not a thing. However, you will find that certain sorts of British men (ex-public school boys mostly) still only ever refer to each other by their last names.

4. Our secret agents are hot and highly competent
Want to know what a British spy looks like? Zone in on the plainest person in the room. The swarthy, good-looking gentlemen depicted by Fleming wouldn’t last five minutes undercover. But who would suspect the sweaty, anonymous pen pusher in the ill-fitting grey suit? And certainly these highly trained, facially unremarkable spooks would never ever leave important documents pertaining to terrorism on public transport. Or would they?

5. MI6 has fancy gadgets
As well as the zippy cars and beautiful women, Bond would have you believe that British spies have access to cutting-edge gizmos, from jet packs to submarines shaped like crocodiles. So it’s disappointing to learn that in real life, the best we can do is stuff a recording device in a fake rock.

6. Our men folk wear tuxedos to casinos
The average British male would rather stick forks in his thighs than don a tux and attempt to fasten a real bowtie. Few would wear one voluntarily and never to somewhere they’re likely to gamble away that month’s paycheck. They might reluctantly hire an ill-fitting, mothball-smelling penguin suit if an invitation insisted or their girlfriend made them.

7. British men are lusted after by exotic beauties
He’s an impossibly handsome master spy with a cool car and six-pack that you can feel through his cummerbund, but clearly it’s Bond’s inherently sexy Britishness that lures the ladies. I suspect many a lesser Brit specimen has tried to bed a pretty foreigner using only his Sean Connery impression and failed miserably.

Do you agree with these myth-busters?

Ruth Margolis

Ruth Margolis

Ruth is a British freelance journalist who recently swapped east London for Brooklyn. She writes about TV for Radio Times and is working on her first novel.

See more posts by Ruth Margolis
  • Monkey_pants

    Perhaps if the average British man took more of an effort to become a sophisticated drinker and dress well they might have more success with exotic beauties.

    • Barbara Barrey

      Rubbbish !!!!!

  • Artemus Rex

    Saying most British men are not James Bond is like thinking all American women are comparable to those in American beer television ads and that they find beer-swilling pot-gutted guys who watch television all day attractive. It’s all advertising.

    • Monkey_pants

      Stereotypes about the British are so much better than the ones about Americans . . . .

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1017442067 Brent Rossow

        Some, anyway. Not so much when it comes to dental hygiene….

  • Caz

    We like our a drinks to have 3.5% alcohol?! what a load of rubbish -that wouldnt get a cat drunk! lol, i would’nt drink a pint of anything less than 5%.

  • An American Woman

    Don’t you realize–to American women, ALL British accents are sexy. All of them. Really. Even the ones you don’t think are. I promise

  • Spencer

    I’m a male, and I think all British accents are sexy, because I’m an Anglophile :D

  • Howler1969

    I’m overweight, middleaging, long graying hair and beard, with tattoos, and ride a a large motorcycle. But because I have an English accent, I’m a god amoungst men here in the US. I am somewhat of a Scotch and beer snob though.

  • http://twitter.com/Retancourt28 Violette Retancourt

    This is tongue in cheek right? The writer doesn’t actually believe Americans think the James Bond series is an accurate representation of England?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1017442067 Brent Rossow

      Yes, because we Americans, being unable to separate fact from fiction, think that (1) Bond movies are documentaries fully representative of reality and (2) ALL British men act and dress exactly like the spy in said documentaries.

      • Duncan Cunningham

        Brent, thank you for your comment. It made my day.

  • http://www.facebook.com/elizabeth.k.lewis Elizabeth Lewis

    You might be surprised by just how sexy American women find the most horrid British accent

  • Jon

    I thought British men were more like Austin Powers.

  • Southern Gent

    A great many Southern USA men enjoy the way most British women speak. In my line of work, I regularly have contact with a Liverpudlian lady, and I try to keep her on the phone as long as I can to get my ”Brit fix.”

    • Polly

      I received a call from an American chap who had inadvertently misdialled & initially assumed he was through to his English relative ‘Patrick’. (My voice isn’t THAT deep).
      Quickly realising his mistake, I suggested he redial but some 5 minutes later he was still on the phone chatting.
      I kept reminding him of the cost of this transatlantic call & the response I received was “Forget the cost, just keep talking” I just love your accent where are you from?”
      “I’m from Sussex SE England” I replied & you?
      “I’m from Texas”
      He was such a sweetie, I think we both enjoyed the chat, albeit by mistake.

  • http://www.facebook.com/niamh17 Tracy Robinson

    I have an Essex tinged accent and everybody loves it here which is so embarassing because I think its horrible. Bless em though for their nice comments!

    • Polly

      There’s nuffing wrong wiva Essex accent Trace…

  • Manc

    was gonna say, I’ve got a Mancunian accent and live in Missouri, I’ve fighting them off with a shitty stick

  • Saint Jackanapes

    As an American I thought that most Brits
    were drunken slobs who get tanked up and go to soccer games not to see the
    game, but to bloody the Euro visitors and get bloodied up themselves. I
    was under the impression that Brits live for this idiotic behavior. But as an
    American while we don’t behave that way at American Football games (fights do
    occur – but the Brits do it on a HUGE scale) we mostly act like jerks while
    fighting over females in dive bars. Now that’s something worth fighting for. At
    least that’s what I’ve heard from the no-necked hyper-testosteroned
    knuckle-draggers that enjoy this as some sort of sport. Myself – I wait until
    the Neanderthals are outside picking up teeth and I slip out the back with the
    females they were fighting over. But I’m sure that my equivalent is over there
    across the pond. To be honest I’m all for The UK and where my genes came
    from over there – we may be different, but we’re the same and we should always
    be allies.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tom.dailey.71 Tom Dailey

    Actually, rather spot-on. Personally, I found that a YANK “accent” went over SPLENDIDLY in Maidstone, Kent as half the birds waiting for a pint, wanted to talk to this somewhat unremarkable fellow who was 64 at the time… me. Still, if you matriculated from Harrow, then Cambridge or Oxford, you don’t NEED to visit the ATM, and therefore comes YOUR “beauty”
    Tom – Denver

  • Arthur Peenis

    Maybe the next Bond movie could feature this… “Fancy some kinky duffel bag in the bath action, Mr Bond?”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/28/world/europe/britain-riveted-in-death-of-spy-gareth-williams.html?pagewanted=all