If you, like we, thought the 'Goldfinger' Aston Martin DB5 was the first ever to appear on screen with the famous number plate BMT 216A ... you're wrong too!
One day a mail from Stuart Whelan, Australia arrived:
'While watching an episode of The Saint called "The Noble Sportsman", made in 1963, I noticed the numberplate of the Aston Martin that was used in the episode and it rang a bell. It was BMT 216A so a quick check of my Bond liabrary and I found that it was the same as "The most famous car in the world".'
We was very surprised when we saw the pictures Stuart had attached - you can see them below. Immediately we contacted Stuart and started researching the issue. Below is our findings along with info supplied by Stuart and Dave Worrall.
The DB5 was 'Dubonnet Red' as it appeared in The Saint episode. The scenes were filmed on a road outside Pinewood Studios, at Black Park Woods and Dyrham Park Golf Club. It was used fresh from being announced as Aston Martins latest model, and photos were used for promotional purposes with the car carrying the BMT 216A plate.
The Saint episode "The Noble Sportsman" was first presented 9th January 1964 and "Goldfinger" hits the cinemas 17th September 1964. This means The Saint must have been shot much earlier than Goldfinger, but did the producers know, the car wasn't a movie virgin? It might even have been the same car used later in Goldfinger after a trip through the workshop of Q branch. We have often recieved questions regarding the number plate BMT 216A and this makes us believe, that the number plate is an coincidence. It might have been just one of the cars available.
Many thank to Stuart Whelan, Australia for notifying us, the Saint episode description and pictures.
TV series 118 episodes
(71 black and white - 47 colour)
Produced by Independent Television Commission (ITV)
Production number 3135
Episode number 34
Screenplay by John Graerme
First emmission of "the Noble Sportsman" episode - 9-Jan-1964.
The Saint investigates threats on the life of a prominent member of the nobility, Lord Yearley, who apart from being a successful property developer has gained much public acclaim as sportsman. Lord Yearley has a grown up daughter as well as a new wife (many years his junior) who has developed a relationship with an architect who works for Yearley. Is it this jealous lover the author of threatening letters to Yearley? Fortunately the Saint is one step ahead.
Roger Moore as The Saint.
Anthony Quayle as Lord Yearley.
Sylvia Sims as Lady Anne Yearley.
The Lord's choice of automobile is an Aston Martin DB5 with numberplate ... BMT 216A. (Yes, that's it!) The main sequence that we see the car featured is as Lord Yearley and his daughter are driving from London, where he has his office, to their estate in the country. We see the Aston Martin driving through the countryside and a clear view of the numberplate BMT 216A.
During the trip Lord Yearley attempts to overtake a truck only to find another truck coming in the opposite direction. He then finds that the brakes of the car have been tampered with and fortunately steers the car off the road into a roadside clearing where he manages to stop the car.
Other glimpses of the car are when he parks outside his office, when he drives up to his estate and when it is parked outside the estate.
From Luc Vancampenhout we received this additional information about the first screen appearance of BMT 216A in 'The Saint' (The Noble Sportsman):
BMT 216A is the first Aston Martin DB5 ever built, Development Project DP/216/1 registered on 1st May 1963. Dubonnet Red paintwork and slick grey interior. Equipped with Marchal fog units and side-mounted turn indicators.
Pictured on Aston's 1964 sales brochures. Tested by the magazine Autocar (issue 13 September 1963). First screen appearance in 'The Saint' before conversion for 'Goldfinger' and 'Thunderball'. (The car was loaned by Aston Martin to Pinewood Studios). Also pictured on the leaflet edited by Aston Martin 'Specification of the James Bond Aston Martin'. See pictures.
So BMT 216A in 'The Saint' and the gadget car in 'Goldfinger' and 'Thunderball' is really the same car before and after conversion.
Thank you very much Luc for sharing this information.