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The supertanker set

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The 007 stage: the biggest set I've ever done
Ken Adam Artist
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Not only the biggest set I have ever done [You Only Live Twice], but it was also very, very successful. It worked extremely well for the film.

The only disadvantage was after we finished shooting, the locals near Pinewood – because the outside structure was just steel and so on to hold the thing up – and they hated it, so I had to pull it all down, and we had over 600 tons of structural steel in that set, so I said I'm not going to make that mistake again, and in fact, when… on… which was it, the film I did before Moonraker... The Spy Who Loved Me. I had to design the interior of a supertanker which swallowed up three nuclear submarines. Even though I had reduced the submarines somewhat, I built a stage around it which... which is the 007 stage now, so they couldn't complain about that. And even though that stage burned down, I think, once or twice, it has been used again and again and again on other productions as well.

Sir Kenneth Adam (1921-2016), OBE, born Klaus Hugo Adam, was a production designer famous for his set designs for the James Bond films of the 1960s and 1970s. Initially, he trained as an architect in London, but in October 1943, he became one of only two German-born fighter pilots to fly with the RAF in wartime. He joined 609 Squadron where he flew the Hawker Typhoon fighter bomber. After the war, he entered the film industry, initially as a draughtsman on This Was a Woman. His portfolio of work includes Barry Lyndon and The Madness of King George; he won an Oscar for both films. Having a close relationship with Stanley Kubrick, he also designed the set for the iconic war room in Dr Strangelove. Sir Ken Adam was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2003.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: You Only Live Twice, The Spy Who Loved Me, Pinewood Studios

Duration: 1 minute, 44 seconds

Date story recorded: December 2010 and January 2011

Date story went live: 11 November 2011