Within Britain, the years immediately following World War II were characterized by austerity, while the 1956 Suez Crisis made painfully clear that the United Kingdom was no longer the great political or military power it had always been proud of. “Britain at that point needed a new story and a new way of understanding itself,” John Higgs, author of Love and Let Die: Bond, The Beatles and the British Psyche, told BBC Culture. “For the last two centuries, we’ve known what we are – a global empire. The story we told ourselves was the story of Britain ruling the waves, and the sun never setting on the British Empire. Our sense of identity was gone. We needed a new one. That’s where Bond and The Beatles – and embracing the talk. They gave us examples of what we want to be.”
The sudden fall of the imperial status quo, along with a growing consumer society, paved the way for a radical change in British values, led by popular culture. As working-class musicians in northern England with little formal training, the Beatles challenged all preconceived notions about where the great art came from. Their appearance was stunningly androgynous, their accents were not toned down, and their followers were adorable. “The band’s unique sound and image suggest to young audiences that success does not mean following a specific path,” Kristen Feldman Barrett, author of A Women’s History of the Beatles, told BBC Culture. “The Beatles proved that trying something new and channeling your talents – no matter your background or who you are – can be a winning combination. That was a powerful message in 1962. It seemed to herald the future. And given the way young women appeared in the band’s early history – Including a devout female fan base – it was a future that also included women as major players. In this vibrant new world, the Beatles coded and illustrated, everyone mattered, and everyone was welcome to join in the fun.”
Love Me Do peaked at 17 in the UK charts, the first step in a meteoric rise to unprecedented heights of celebrity. Many British institutions had no idea what had hit them. Conservative politician Ted Heath, Lord Privy Seal and future Prime Minister, remarked in 1963 that he had found it difficult to recognize the Beatles’ accents in Liverbudley as “Queen’s English”. John Lennon repliedWe will not vote for Ted. Two years later, Heath’s party was duly voted out of office, and the Beatles were at Buckingham Palace to collect their MBEs.
Bond and the Beatles intimacy
Like the Beatles, cinematographer James Bond created a new model for British life. Ian Fleming’s novels, which began with Casino Royale in 1953, portrayed Bond as a largely reactionary character. It was the casting of Sean Connery, a working-class actor and former bodybuilder from Edinburgh, that turned the big-screen Bond into a dynamic, modern hero fit for the ’60s. Producer Albert R. “Kobe” Broccoli also reflected in his autobiography, “Physically, and in his public persona, he was too much to be an exact copy of an upper-class agent Fleming. And that suited us well, because we were looking to give 007 much broader box office appeal.” . Thus the modern action hero was born, combining a sense of classic English style with a ferocious transatlantic nonchalance, completely detached from the hilarious and aristocratic “noble heroes” of earlier British thrillers such as Bulldog Drummond. Some moviegoers were confused by Connery’s regional accent such as Ted Heath with the Beatles. “If you look at Dr. No, American reviews, they can’t put his accent, they think he’s Irish,” Lyola Chapman, author of Fashioning James Bond, told BBC Culture.