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The Moore the merrier

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He’s been a saint, a spy and a Spitting Image puppet but today he’s happiest when he’s helping the world’s poorest children. Which? Money Quarterly’s Nick Cheek talks to Sir Roger Moore.

You’d probably raise an eyebrow at the idea that a man as suave as Sir Roger Moore,
made his first money ‘helping the milkman do his rounds on Saturdays for 6d or a shilling.’ From those humble beginnings in Stockwell, south London, Moore was to become one of Britain’s biggest TV and movie stars, with a string of hits in the sixties and seventies such as Ivanhoe, The Saint, and The Persuaders. But it was his record-breaking stint (seven films) as Britain’s favourite superspy James Bond (where he replaced another former milkman and future knight Sir Sean Connery, in the role), which
catapulted him to international superstardom. As 007, he travelled to the most glamorous locations, kept the world safe from the likes of Blofeld, Jaws and Grace Jones and managed to achieve the impossible by becoming the only man ever to look good in a safari suit. Danger was met with unruffled charm, criminal masterminds were disarmed with smooth one-liners and femmes fatales were disrobed with a smile and on one famous occasion a watch (in his 1973 Bond debut Live and Let Die).

Today, the 82-year-old former 007 works as a UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) Goodwill Ambassador and his missions are of a far more harrowing nature. Gone are the beaches, casinos and excesses of Bond, replaced by shanty towns, poverty and famine. Over the last two decades, Moore has dedicated himself to raising awareness and funds for those children devastated by war, hunger and disease. He was recruited to the UNICEF cause in 1991 by legendary actor Audrey Hepburn. He told Which? Money Quarterly: ‘Audrey and I were near-neighbours in Switzerland. She asked if I would co-host the Danny Kaye International Children’s Awards in Amsterdam ... of course I would. Audrey was one of UNICEF’s most passionate ambassadors. She introduced me to UNICEF and their work. Her passion was infectious and before I knew it she had, happily, recruited me to become a UNICEF Ambassador.’ So successful has he been in his Goodwill Ambassador role, that, in 2003, he was awarded a Knighthood in the Queen’s Birthday Honours. We were lucky enough to catch up the star of the upcoming Cats and Dogs 2: The revenge of Kitty Galore (seems he still can’t break the binds of Bond), as he jetted off on a UNICEF fundraising mission to Lithuania and discovered what he does with money, how much he does for charity and why, in his words, he’s ‘a mean bastard’ and a ‘terrible, unashamed ponce’.

MOORE MONEY

Which? Money Quarterly: Did you get pocket money as a child? If so, how much?

Roger Moore: My parents gave me 3d a week which gradually increased to 6d. Occasionally I also helped out family friends who ran a bakery – they didn’t pay me, but allowed me to take home as many buns as I could carry.


W?MQ: Who taught you about money?

RM: My mother and father taught me the value of money. One thing I remember vividly was how my father enjoyed a bar of chocolate on a Sunday afternoon. It was his weekly treat to himself. I was sent off with a 10 shilling note to get his chocolate and a packet of sweets for myself. In the shop, I reached in to my pocket for the note to pay with, and realised it had gone. I searched the gutters and bushes along the route home – moving slower than Shakespeare’s description of the schoolboy ‘crawling like snail to school’. I arrived home, to be greeted by my father. “Where is my chocolate, then?” I confessed that I had lost the 10 shilling note. Seeing how upset I was, my father produced the
note and said: “No, you dropped it on the floor before you left the house. Now let that be a lesson to you to look after your money.”

W?MQ: Are you a spender or a saver?

RM: A bit of both. I’m not an impulsive spender. If I go shopping, then I usually know what I want before I go out. Mind, once I find it and like it, I tend to just pay without shopping around. I only buy what I need and probably spend most of my money on entertaining and dinners.

W?MQ: Are you good with money?

RM: I don’t think I am – otherwise I’d be richer.

W?MQ: When did you buy your first house?

RM: I’d always rented, but once I was well into my Saint years (1962-1969) and had started a family, I decided I should buy. We bought a bungalow in Totteridge, North London. It was £7,500. That was in 1964. A few years later we sold it for £12,000
and I thought I was being a terrible profiteer.

W?MQ: As you got more money, what was your strategy – did you spend it, save it or invest?

RM: Fortunately, I had a business manager who advised me and saw the money was taken care of – money for taxes was set aside and I knew how much ‘pocket money’ I had each month.

W?MQ: Where is your money invested?

RM: In the bond market – no pun intended.

W?MQ: Would your friends describe you as generous person?

RM: No, they say I’m a mean bastard.

W?MQ: What the most expensive item you’ve ever bought (not including houses)?

RM: Oh, that was undoubtedly a Rolls Royce in the late 1970s. I’d always resisted buying such a flash car, as I thought it was rather ostentatious. But my business manager at the time said I should buy a new car, and a Rolls would be a comfortable for the family. I wasn’t so sure, but went along with it. He was right, it was lovely – but I did feel a bit of a ponce driving it.

W?MQ: What do you love about money?

RM: The feel of a new note. I remember when I was a young actor in Rep, we were paid £9 a week – and always in crisp £1 notes. I felt like a millionaire. I always like to have a few crisp notes in my pocket. Unlike the royals, I do carry cash.

W?MQ: What do you hate about money?

RM: The thought of not having enough.

W?MQ: How do you prefer to pay?

RM: I prefer not to pay if at all possible. I’m a terrible, unashamed ponce.

W?MQ: Who looks after your money?

RM: It is invested by my business manager.

W?MQ: Who advises you about money?

RM: Again, my business manager – why employ one and not listen to his advice?

MOORE CHARITY

W?MQ: What work are you doing with UNICEF?

RM: My work is primarily in raising funds, awareness and PR. It can be in the form of a field visit, a donors lunch – where I court and further enthuse supporters of UNICEF – or maybe interviews with foreign press. It’s a bit of everything and anything to help really.

W?MQ: What are your future UNICEF projects?

RM: I am about to head to Lithuania for a fundraising trip. From there I go to Munich for the German committee and pick up a DIVA Lifetime Achievement award. Not that I like collecting awards for myself, but this one carries a €50,000 donation to UNICEF. Then it’s off to London to launch a new campaign for the committee there. I then have a couple of weeks off before a fundraiser in Israel and then, most likely, Moscow.

W?MQ: Where has your work with UNICEF taken you and what has affected you the most?

RM: It has taken me around the world from the developing world of South America and Africa, to the wealthy developed world of the USA, Australia, Europe, Russia and beyond. What affected me most was seeing innocent children brutally injured and handicapped by war and hearing small children telling my wife Kristina that
they haven’t eaten for 36 hours. And one of the worst horrors was when I met a young girl, a child, who had turned to prostitution ... why? To help feed her brothers and sisters and to buy herself a bicycle. I felt sick that we should have come to this. I gave my UNICEF aide some money and asked he buy her a bike. But I cannot go around the world buying bikes for children.

W?MQ: How can people support UNICEF?

RM: Well, primarily by helping UNICEF financially, which is of course the most important thing to us. UNICEF receives no funding from the United Nations, and it is run purely on the donations it receives: be it a Government donation, or an individual’s one off or regular donation – perhaps by purchasing UNICEF greetings cards or gifts. Every penny counts and goes to the children.

MOORE MOVIES

W?MQ: You said in a recent interview that you retired from film and TV work. We hought you were doing voiceover work for the new Cats and Dogs film.

RM: I didn’t realise I had retired. I do indeed still work. I voiced Cats & Dogs II and Gnomes & Trolls: The Forest Trial. I also front quite a few documentaries. I enjoy documentary and voice work as I’m not required on set all day every day.

W?MQ: Do you miss the movies?

RM: I miss the film sets, and the camaraderie of my friends there. There’s something quite magical about driving in to a studio at 7am, and an hour later emerging from make-up looking a hundred times better than when you walked in.

W?M: What did you like most about being James Bond?

RM: Aside from pay-day? I loved working with terrific directors such as Lewis Gilbert and Guy Hamilton. It was a joy to go to work. You don’t get that feeling in many jobs. I’m very lucky.

 

 

 

 
 
 

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