Cape Town and South Africa have been linked to James Bond, secret agent 007, in a book just launched and called ‘Carte Blanche’, and as a film location, respectively.

On Wednesday ‘Carte Blanche’, written by American author Jeffery Deaver and the 25th James Bond book written, was launched at the Cape Grace Hotel, which features in the book, as does Cape Town in general, the predominant location in the book.  Many of the location names in Cape Town have been changed, yet are identifiable by locals, says the Weekend Argus

The book has James Bond arriving in Cape Town, to protect British interests against a potential terror attack, and he is given carte blanche to deal with the threat, with the help of a local policewoman.   The ‘Carte Blanche’ title is also the name of a new cocktail created for Bond, made from “Crown Royal whisky, a double, on ice.  Half a measure of triple sec, two dashes of Angostura. Twist of orange peel, not a slice”, the book describes.  This drink, as well as the trade-mark Bond Martini, shaken, not stirred, was served at the book launch.   In the book Bond orders Rustenberg Peter Barlow Cabernet, enjoys ‘Graham Beck Cuvee Clive. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.  The 2003 vintage.  It’s from Robertson, the Western Cape.”  He is advised to try bobotie and drink ‘Zulu beer’.  He has a sunset helicopter flip over the Cape Peninsula, and drives a Bentley Continental GT. 

The author chose Cape Town as the location for his book, as he has been coming to Cape Town for ten years. He says he loves South Africa, and wanted to set the Bond story in the Ian Fleming approach of places that are ‘beautiful and exotic and appealing’.   Deaver is not sure whether the book will be made into a film, but of his 30 books he has written, he has sold film rights to almost all, yet only three made it into a movie, he says.   Discussions are underway about a film, and Deaver said he would be in Cape Town for the shooting, “because of my affection for the Western Cape”.

Given that ‘millions of copies’ of the book will be sent to book stores in 20 countries, Cape Town’s visibility will surge, given the popularity of the secret agent, excellent news for a hospitality industry which is in dire straits.  Almost a quarter of a million copies of the new Bond book will be sold in the UK alone. 

Excellent news too is the speculation that a Bond movie is to be shot in South Africa.  Details are scant, but a Google search identified that movie director Sam Mendes and producer Barbara Broccoli were reported to have flown to SouthAfrica last month, and were apparently scouting for locations for a Bond movie.  It has been announced that Daniel Craig will play Bond again, shooting is to commence later this year, and a new Bond movie is due to be released in November next year.   No movie title has been mentioned in these reports, but could well relate to ‘Carte Blanche’, which means that the movie should be filmed in Cape Town.  The Times writes: “The book is written in short filmic scenes.  So it’s highly likely that we can expect actor Daniel Craig in Cape Town.”  Respected South African film-maker Anant Singh said to The Hollywood Reporter: “We are excited that the new James Bond film is considering locations in South and Southern Africa.  Film people love to work in our country.”  Once again, this would be excellent news for the marketing of Cape Town, with the resultant benefit to the hospitality industry. 

POSTSCRIPT 30/5:  The blogpost was written on the basis of newspaper reports.  I have since seen a copy of the book, and it contains the following additional interesting tourism, food and wine references: South Africans’ hospitality; eating biltong; buying jewellery at Gardens’ Centre; “crime is less of a problem than it used to be”, a character in the book says; Bond drinks a glass of ‘South African Constantia, clearly a reference to Vin de Constance, as he describes it as a ‘honey-sweet wine” which was a favourite of Napoleon; Bond drinks a glass of Stellenbosch Pinotage; Signal Hill, Lion’s Head, Table Mountain and the Twelve Apostles mountains are mentioned; Bond eats ‘sambal sauce’ as well as sosaties, yellow rice and ‘marog spinach’ in the Bo Kaap, but pulls up his nose at Mopane worms!;  Bond drinks “Three Cape Ladies from Muldersvlei” (a Warwick wine); Bond visits Franschhoek and says “it’s the most beautiful spot on (sic) the Western Cape.  A wine district.”  He eats at a restaurant in Franschhoek with one Michelin star, a reference to Le Quartier Français, one can assume; he drives along Victoria Road, alongside the Twelve Apostles, where a lot of the action happens at a fictitious deserted inn; Robben Island is mentioned, having been the prison of three South African Presidents – Nelson Mandela, Kgalema Motlanthe and Jacob Zuma; Graham Beck’s Cuvee Clive is praised highly – ‘this wine’s as good as anything you’ll get in Reims”; and the author concludes the book with an explanation about the ‘Table Mountain Hotel’ in his book:”its inspiration is the Cape Grace, which is just as lovely but is not – to my knowledge – populated by any spies”!

POSTSCRIPT 31/5 :The brand and tourism mentions in the book are priceless marketing, which no money could buy for those mentioned.  Mike Ratcliffe from Warwick is a very excited wine brand owner today, having heard the news about his Bond brand from this blogpost via Twitter.

POSTSCRIPT 1/6: @JeffreyDeaver has Tweeted that ‘Carte Blanche’ is doing well: “Very honored that Newsweek named #CarteBlanche one of 10 Must Read Summer Books”.  This is excellent news for Cape Town, the Winelands, Cape Grace, Graham Beck and Warwick.

Carte Blanche, Jeffery Deaver.  Hodder & Stoughton.  Exclusive Books.  R195.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio : www.whalecottage.com  Twitter: @WhaleCottage