007 agent, film star and former Launceston College student - A look into the life of Roger Moore
Most people remember the late Sir Roger Moore as the effortlessly cool 007 agent James Bond, but many in our little community will also know that he spent a brief time as a student at Launceston College, after evacuation from London during the Second World War.
The star’s brief encounter with our little Cornish town is recorded by Duncan Williams in a 2014 issue of SORTED magazine, which goes into depth about his time spent in north Cornwall as an evacuee.
A young Roger Moore was first evacuated in 1939 to Worthing in Sussex and soon became very homesick. It was when his father came to visit him and noticed how the separation from his parents had affected him, that Roger was put on the next train home to London. He was then sent to live in Chester with his mother, but as no bombs had dropped on London by 1940, the pair returned home, only for Roger to be evacuated again after the Blitz.
In the summer of 1941, Roger was carted off to Bude where he and two other evacuees stayed on a farm. It’s said that he enjoyed life there, swimming in the Tamar River and eating many a blackberry and apple pie with clotted cream.
With his life temporarily being based in Bude, Roger attended Launceston College - but unfortunately he did not enjoy going to school as much as he enjoyed swimming in the Tamar and eating fruit pies.
He told Duncan, a former Launceston College student himself: “I can’t say that I liked Launceston College, possibly because I was expected to study hard. I wrote to my parents begging to come home and adding that I’d happily cycle all the way back to London as I only had sixpence and that would not buy a train ticket.”
With this, his parents promptly put him on the train back to his beloved home city.
Of course, after the war, life went on for the Moore family, with Roger eventually ‘falling into’ the world of film after landing a role as an extra in the movie Caesar and Cleopatra in 1945. He was spotted by a talent scout and went to study at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) before starring in plays at the Cambridge Arts Theatre and was ‘seduced by MGM’. He first became well known as Simon Templar in the hit TV series ‘The Saint’, then of course became known to everyone as the third actor to play James Bond.
Duncan, who was given the chance to chat to the famous star a few years ago when Cornish based biographer Frank Worral invited him along to meet the 007 star, was director of SORTED’s publishing company SCM Ltd at the time and did several interviews which were used in the men’s magazine.
He said: “It was a pleasure to meet Roger Moore, particularly because of his connection with Launceston College. I was something of a Bond film nut as a kid and can promise you I saw ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’ nine times when it was first released, which included several screenings at the old Lanson flea pit, The Tower Cinema, formerly in Market Street.
“Roger Moore was promoting the publication of his autobiography at the time I met him and was in great demand to give journalists an interview about his life and recollections. He eventually agreed to turn up to meet me at Elstree Studios in Hertfordshire. This was very familiar territory for him, having acted in dozens of episodes of The Saint back here in the 1960s.”
Roger turned up to meet Duncan right on time in a small, black Smart car - a little different to the flashy Aston Martin which famously appears in the James Bond films.
As a journalist and editor, Duncan has been fortunate enough to meet a number of British stars over the years, with some being more pleasant to speak to than others: “But in Roger Moore’s case, I can honestly say that he left quite a lasting impression of being a genuinely decent person. He was always first to mock himself and his acting style, yet was quiet and modest about his years of dedicated hard work for the United Nations Children’s Trust.”
He added: “I feel that Launceston would be wise to acknowledge Roger Moore’s link to the town more often. Perhaps his evacuation years at our school were not his happiest, but his short attendance at the college must have helped shape him, even to the smallest degree.”
To read the full article with Roger Moore in SORTED magazine, go to https://issuu.com/duncanwilliams/docs/sortedmagazine2014c/58