First Bond Girl drops in on warship at Cannes

Just look at some of the places you could attend in the 1950s for a night out in Portsmouth.

Thursday, 28th April 2016, 6:00 am
Just some of the places of entertainment in Portsmouth in the 1950s. This is just half the page.

This shows just half of a page from The Evening News with the huge range of cinemas and theatres that were open and were well attended before the advent of mass television viewing.

This also, no doubt, was why Portsmouth had a marvellous transport system – to enable patrons to get home after the shows. If only it were the same today.

On the facing page we see part of the 44,000 crowd that squeezed into Fratton Park on the opening day of the season 1950-51.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Eunice Gayson posing next to Petty Office Alan Walker and other crew members. Picture: Alan Walker

I like looking at these photographs as I always look to see if my late father is in there somewhere.

On this occasion I think I can say a definite yes.

Have a look at the chap in the centre with a suit and tie and slicked-back hair.

That is a ringer for my father when he was aged 30.

Eunice Gayson posing next to Petty Office Alan Walker and other crew members. Picture: Alan Walker

He had not been many years back from Egypt where he had spent four years repairing damaged shipping at Port Said and Alexandria during the Second World War.

Back in 1955 the Portsmouth-based cruiser HMS Sheffield visited Cannes for the film festival and while she was in port several stars of the day paid the ship a visit.

On this occasion Eunice Gayson was on board, much to the delight of the sailors.

Petty Officer Alan Walker, now of Southsea, was the lucky man to stand next to Eunice in the picture at the foot of the page.

Who was she? Well, she was the first Bond Girl.

She appeared in the first two films, Dr No and From Russia With Love, playing alongside Sean Connery as his girlfriend.

She was supposed to have been cast as Miss Moneypenny but as we know that went to Lois Maxwell.

For a number of years she played the part of the baroness in the stage production of The Sound of Music at the Victoria Theatre, London.

Two of the songs she sang were cut from the film version.