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
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’.
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
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
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?
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
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.
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
W?M: What did you like most about being
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.