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Roger was a better kisser than Sean, but I liked both 007, says Bond girl Valerie Lyon | Movies | entertainment

Valerie never thought she would become an actress (Photo: Steve Bainbridge)

Two movie franchises were guaranteed to stick with Brits on TV in the ’70s: James Bond and Carry On. And while they entertained the nation in very different ways, there was one actress who, uniquely, brought her own brand of sexy and sophisticated glamor to both of them.

Valerie Lyon appeared in six of the 30 films made between 1958 and 1978 (not including Carry On Columbus in 1992). She was also a Bond girl in two James Bond films, The Spy Who Loved Me in 1977 and Never Say Never Again in 1983.

And she reveals in a new book that neither franchise has been the hotbed of chauvinism and sexism that the so-called “Awake Generation” would have us believe.

Quite the opposite. Valerie insists that these actors of the twentieth century, who are often unfairly viewed by modern society today, as politically incorrect, were in fact kind, respectful, and magnanimous by nature.

Despite starring in some of Britain’s best-loved films and TV series, Valerie, who was born in North London, never thought she’d become an actress. The woman who regularly appeared on screen with legends like Michael Caine, Tony Curtis and Peter Sellers, as well as comedy heroes Norman Wisdom and Morecambe & Wise, started her working life in a department store.

“I was a very shy girl working as an apprentice fashion buyer at Harrods,” she explains to the Daily Express when I met her at a hotel in London, her hometown.

“But I was influenced by the stars. I used to hang outside the doors of the theater collecting autographs. I had a couple of books full of them including those by Noel Coward, Rudolf Nureyev, and Margot Fonteyn.”

In fact, her entire career came almost by accident.

“I went to singing lessons with a friend just for fun,” Valerie continues. “Then I saw an ad in The Stage newspaper for a chorus singer. To my surprise, I got the job and that led to a role on the West End stage in Funny Girl with Barbra Streisand and then as a film extra with Morecambe & Wise in That Riviera Touch.”

Valerie with Sean Connery (Photo: Warner Bros/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock)

At 5′ 10″, Valerie was head and shoulders above most other actresses, and as her career developed, this led to her being landed roles as an intimidatingly gorgeous statuesque beauty. She was labeled a “glamazon” by the press and was even portrayed as a leather-clad, whip-wielding dominatrix in Revenge of the Pink Panther.

“I enjoyed being in charge,” she laughs. “In Carry On Up The Jungle, which is my favorite movie, I loved playing Leda, chief of the whole Lubby Dubby tribe. The rather skimpy outfit I wore was made as a tribute to the one Raquel Welch wore in A Million Years B.C.”

By the 1970s, Valerie was the object of admiration for millions of British men and became the only Bond girl who dazzled two 007 actors – Sean Connery and Roger Moore.

She also starred with the latter in The Persuaders, The Saint, and The Wild Geese, alongside Richard Burton and Richard Harris.

She and Moore developed a friendship based on their close working relationship, but it was purely platonic, according to Valerie. But she reveals with a glint in her eye that he stole an unscripted kiss from her in an episode of The Persuaders that he directed.

“And if anyone asks me who is better, Connery or Moore,” she expresses. “I always say Roger. He was such a lovely, warm guy…and an excellent kisser!”

Valerie has appeared in six Carry On movies: Carry On Up The Khyber, Camping, Again Doctor, Up The Jungle, Matron, and Girls.

In 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me, she played a flirtatious receptionist who makes a huge impression on Roger Moore’s 007 when he checks into a Sardinian hotel.

Telling him she had a message for him, Moore raised his eyebrows and told her, “I think you just delivered the message!”

Six years later, in another Bond movie, Never Say Never Again, she rolls in Sean Connery while fishing in the Bahamas and lands him in her bed. It was actually the first bedroom scene of Valerie’s career and she spent the entire morning under the sheets with Connery, perfecting the shoot for the cameras. “When his wife came in the afternoon to see a movie for us, he couldn’t get out of bed fast enough!” reveal

As Valerie said last year: “A Bond girl is forever! It doesn’t matter if you have a small role or are a leading lady, you are forever known around the world as a Bond girl.”

Her Carry On co-star Sid James hasn’t been blessed with the handsome looks of any of the Bond actors. “A face like a wrinkled bed,” Valerie jokingly points out. “But he was a lovely guy.”

In contrast to his on-screen persona as a lecherous predator, always chasing after girls much younger than himself, Valerie says the real-life master, like many of the Carry On cast, was an absolute gentleman. She adds that his only real vice was gambling.

“Sid loved to bet on everything and anything, even on whether I would be invited back after my first movie, Up the Khyber. When I saw him on the set, he said to me, ‘I knew you would come back.’ He bet on me and won!”

Valerie says Syed was also quick to defend his female colleagues from the casual misogyny that was rife at the time.

“A large number of bigwigs came up in the industry one day and one of them was… How do I put this?” She pauses… “You don’t act right with a little girl who works there. So Sid came over, warned them, and then made sure she was okay. He was such a lovely guy, he really was.”

Valerie Lyon in St

valerie in st (Image: ITV/REX/Shutterstock)

Although many of the Carry On movies seem noisy, even chaotic, Valerie insists this was not the case. “They were made on a tight budget and wanted to get things done really quickly,” she says.

Producer Peter Rogers had a reputation for being miserly, and Valerie gave an example of how little goes into movies: .

“But what did Rogers do? He brought truckloads of sand to Pinewood Studios and spread it all over the parking lot. And that was their beach. That was the Spanish resort of Elsbels!”

The lack of exotic locations—even scenes set in the Sahara Desert, in 14th Pregnancy, Follow That Camel, was filmed at Camber Sands, Sussex—didn’t hinder the success of films that made a fortune for the studio.

Valerie explains that at first, the producers offered the actors a percentage of the profits instead of a fee, but no one took it. “They obviously lived to regret it,” she adds.

Tight budgets aside, Valerie has nothing but fond memories of her time with the Carry On cast. You are baffled by some of the current negativity surrounding movies.

“The funny thing is that it is not considered acceptable today but it is still very much loved. And not just by people of a certain age.”

Nowadays she assists with guided tours of the Carry On filming locations. “When I do the tours, families come with kids who are now adults who have grown up on movies,” she says proudly.

Roger Moore as James Bond in 1980

Roger Moore as James Bond in 1980 (Image: GETTY)

Caroline Frost, author of Carry on Regardless, a new book about the popular movie franchise, is one of those people. “Like everyone of my generation, we grew up with them on TV,” she told The Daily Express. “It was the television equivalent of comfort food.

But, as a self-respecting feminist, when I began researching the book, I fully expected to be offended. I went in armed and looking for insult and misogyny and bigotry in all the forms we’d come to expect from so much humor of the era…and I just couldn’t find them. Hurtful but not offensive or nasty.”

She admits that the material is very era specific. “But, taken together, they present this beautiful social picture of a changing society.”

Frost explains how the writers and producers of Carry On were keen on social change in the 1960s and 1970s. “The changing role of women was also seen in these films,” she adds. “The women were smart [literally, in Valerie’s case!]And they did it gently. That’s where the genius lies for me.”

Dick Feddy, archivist at the British Film Institute, provides further evidence of just how clever the franchise is. “The Carry On films begin at a time in cinema which is really strong for British comedies,” he says. “The Second World War is over and the respect that many people had for institutions has vanished.”

He explains how the film franchise tended to satirize the arrogance of the people in charge rather than the institutions on which it was based.

For example, the first Carry On movie was Carry on Sergeant, a comedy about National Service.

“It’s not anti-military, it’s just anti-behavior of some of the officers,” Feddy says. “It showed how the recruits were against it from the start.

“A lot of viewers had the experience of being called out, so there was a real resonance. It was an incredible type of movie at the time that a lot of people can relate to. So with the next two — a nurse, a teacher and a policeman — they came up with a winning formula.”

However, as Feddy says: “When I made the films, they were contemporary. Now they’re period pieces. And we look at them with that affection that we have for period pieces. They reflect Britain and a range of attitudes that are long gone.”

They may be long gone, but there’s still a lot to love about the movies that kept us smiling through those decades. Valerie, who is now in her 70s, says she loves them now more than ever. And she still possesses a double factor disarming charm.

The interview concludes, this siren who lured James Bond to sleep and whipped the Pink Panther into her guise, offers a kiss.

What would the most famous of the Carry On cast think, sadly no longer with us? No doubt Kenneth Williams would raise his eyebrows and purse his lips in such a teasing manner. Mister James was babbling with his tender laughter. And old Babs Windsor will, of course, give an obscene wink and a naughty laugh. “Oh, cheeky!”

  • Keep going though: Getting to the bottom of Britain’s favorite comedies by Caroline Frost (Pen & Sword, £20) is out now. Guided tours, as well as merchandise such as Valerie’s 2023 calendar, are available at

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