Licence to thrill revoked as plan to project 007's image onto Big Ben rejected


James Bond has been thwarted by council officials, after they rejected John Bercow-sanctioned plans to project 007's image onto Big Ben.

A PR agency wanted to use the Elizabeth Tower to "celebrate Bond's London heritage" plus the role of Parliament and the River Thames in the climax of Spectre, the latest blockbuster movie in the franchise.

Premier Public Relations Ltd held talks with the office of Commons Speaker Mr Bercow, who provided his backing for the projection involving an image of Bond - played by Daniel Craig - on the clock tower.

But Westminster City Council refused permission for the project, ruling it is "wholly inappropriate" for images and advertisements to be projected onto historic buildings.

In December 2012, the Commons Administration Committee recommended refusal for a similar request for images relating to the Bond movie franchise to be displayed on the Elizabeth Tower and Big Ben.

It is also not the first time Mr Bercow has been overruled by the council over such projections.

The Foreign Office confirmed last August it had received permission from Mr Bercow to have "#timetoact" displayed on the tower as part of the campaign to stop sexual violence in conflict before the council refused the project.

For the latest application, the lights on the east dial of the clock were to be switched off shortly before 7pm on February 22 to allow the Spectre logo to be projected on to it.

Plans submitted to the council added a countdown or "a count up to 007" would have then taken place on the clock face before Bond was projected onto the tower for two hours.

A "private viewing party" for media and VIPs was planned on board the Symphony boat on the River Thames.

But Westminster City Council case officer Jennie Humphrey, in a report refusing advertisement consent the application, wrote: "Projecting images and adverts on the city's historic buildings is wholly inappropriate.

"The imagery would diminish the appreciation of the building compromising its historic integrity.

"By virtue of its size and illumination the advert would also harm the visual amenity of the Westminster Abbey and Parliament Square Conservation Area as well as the Westminster World Heritage Site."

A spokeswoman for Mr Bercow told the Press Association: "All requests to beam an image onto Big Ben require the agreement of the Speaker but it is ultimately a matter for Westminster City Council as to whether to grant permission for any such displays to take place.

"The Speaker agrees to such requests on a case-by-case basis, subject to the approval of the council who consider such applications in line with national planning guidance, and with the consideration that Parliament is a Grade I listed building and a Unesco World Heritage Site.

"I can confirm that the Speaker was content for the image to be projected as long as the correct permissions were obtained from Westminster City Council.

"The decision of the council not to give its approval on this occasion is not a matter for him."