Cult Movie: Let's all raise an eyebrow to the one and only... Roger Moore

Roger Moore, playing secret service agent 007, James Bond, on location in England in 1972
Ralph McLean

I ONLY met Roger Moore once. He was performing a hastily knocked together rendition of Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head with Eamonn Holmes and Gay Byrne for some long-forgotten BBC Northern Ireland light entertainment extravaganza. Togged out in matching yellow macs and cheap brollies, it may not have been old Rog's finest hour but it was still a cultural sight to behold and it was James Bond in my workplace – not something you get to say every day.

When word arrived in Broadcasting House that this unlikely threesome were rehearsing across the road in the Blackstaff studios I swiftly made my way over to get a glimpse of the great man in action, if you can call weakly twirling a see-through umbrella and talking his way unconvincingly through a Burt Bacharach classic 'action'.

I remember being surprised at how he swore like a docker and messed around on stage but once I said hello he was every bit as charming as you'd expect a major-league star to be. A little bored, perhaps, but generous with his time. That, as I say, was the only time I ever met him.

He was the sort of guy you always felt you knew really well, though. That comes with the territory when you've been a halo-hogging hero like The Saint and one half of those millionaire playboys/international crime solvers The Persuaders, I suppose. In the 60s his face was rarely off the telly and the pleasure his work brought to millions shouldn't be sniffed at. Through the 70s he perfected his act and honed his style further.

He might just be my favourite James Bond as well. Replacing the nastiness of Connery's colder creation with a lighter more likable JB deserves some credit at least. He was always a dapper gent too, even when the decade demanded dodgier threads. To me he was old-school style personified, a dashing dandy with an eye for the ladies, a tongue always ready with a witty quip and an eyebrow permanently raised.

Ah, that eyebrow. His knowing little trademark that suggested that maybe he wasn't really taking this old acting lark as seriously as some. A cool little gesture to deflate pomposity and remind us that the entertainment business is about – well, entertainment.

For decades it's been the media shorthand for Roger Moore and an easy way to dismiss him as a mere lounge lizard who got lucky. It's been spoofed and mocked by everything from Spitting Image to Alan Partridge and Moore himself was happy to play up to it. That ability to send himself up when others may have taken offence is to his credit.

He was also a mighty fine actor at times. When I'm surfing through the daytime detritus on satellite telly, I can't pass a channel that's showing any of his old work without stopping for an episode or two – time well frittered away, in my book.

He may be gone but the work lives on and that's worth raising a glass, and an eyebrow, to.


Today's horoscope


See a different horoscope: