Old trouper Christopher Lee, whose 250-film career includes one of the most memorable Bond villains, is in no doubt who has made the best 007 to date. Despite working with Roger Moore, and contrary to the general consensus so far that Sean Connery's Bond was the definitive, Lee has given the rosette to the ousted Pierce Brosnan.
As Daniel Craig was spilling blood in Prague in his early days as 007, 83-year-old Lee was attending the Bangkok International Film Festival, to introduce a special screening there of The Man with the Golden Gun.
The actor, who is still riding the crest of the wave created by his appearances in Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings, revealed that Fleming was a second cousin and golf course partner, who had originally wanted Lee to play Dr No in Bond's first film outing.
That intriguing piece of casting didn't materialise, but Lee got his chance to take on Fleming's spy in 1974, as the eponymous, elegant assassin with a third nipple and, of course, a golden gun.
"In my opinion - and I think I know as much, if not more about James Bond than anyone in the world, particularly about the characters on whom Ian told me Bond was based - Pierce Brosnan was by far the best and the closest to the character," he said humbly.
At the same time, Lee told the sceptics to lay off Daniel Craig - for the time being at least.
"No-one should have an opinion about him as Bond in any way, until the film comes out," he said. "There has been all this nonsense written: how can a man whose hair is blond play Bond, the 'blonde Bond'. It's just rubbish. You might say the film has already been condemned."