In 1963, Lord Lucan married Veronica Duncan who would become the Countess of Lucan in the process. But the marriage was not a happy one. Lucan´s daily routine didn´t leave much time for romance as spent much of his time at the exclusive Clermont club, gambling away the family money and spending huge sums for private yachts, planes and expensive lifestyle. In September 1966 he unsuccessfully screen tested for a part in Woman Times Sevenstarring Peter Sellers and Shirley MacLaine. Feeling that he wasn´t meant to be an actor, he turned down a later offer by legendary Bond producer Albert R. Broccoli to screen test for the role of James Bond. It is unclear at what exact time the screen test was offered to him, but it could have been around the time Broccoli was looking for a new actor to follow into Sean Connery´s footsteps for ‘ON HER MAJESTY´S SECRET SERVICE’ in 1969. I found two sources that claim, Ian Fleming had even personally recommended Lord Lucan to Broccoli. As Fleming died in August 1964, he must have done so between the first and third Bond film where he was occasionaly present on the film sets and often spoke to the Bond producers. It is no secret that Fleming wasn´t an avid fan of Sean Connery and would have loved someone else portraying Bond on screen. Maybe things would have turned out completely different had Lord Lucan taken the screen test – who knows.
Despite several attempts of Veronica to reconcile, Lord Lucan wanted a separation and custody for his children. Arguing that his wife would not be capable to look after the children, they were made wards of court and taken in by their father. The Countess began to fight and took the case to court where a hearing was scheduled for June 1973. In a very clever move, the Countess used the time until the hearing for a four day stay at the Priory Clinic in Roehampton to have her mental state examined. In court, the doctors gave testimony that there was no indication that she was mentally ill. Lucan’s case depended upon Veronica being unable to care for the children, but at the hearing, he was instead forced to defend his own behaviour toward her. The judge ruled that the children were to be returned to Veronica and that she would receive custody. It was the beginning of a bitter dispute between the seperated couple and Lord Lucan began spying on his wife in an attempt to regain custody. Losing the court case proved devastating for Lucan. It had cost him an estimated £20,000 and by late 1974 his financial position was dire. As he drank more heavily and started chain-smoking, his friends began to worry. In drunken conversations with some of them, Lucan discussed murdering his wife and how killing his wife might save him from bankruptcy, how her body might be disposed of in the Solent and how he “would never be caught” – statements that were no empty promises on his part.
In the summer of 1974, the Countess of Lucan employed a new nanny for her children, 28 year old Sandra Rivett. The two women got along well together and Sandra always had her regular night off on Thursdays. On 7 November 1975 however, she was at home with Lady Lucan having taken the night off the day before. After putting the younger children to bed at about 8:55 pm, she asked Veronica if she would like a cup of tea, before heading downstairs to the basement kitchen to make one. As she entered the semi-lit room, she was bludgeoned to death with a piece of bandaged lead pipe. Her killer then placed her body into a canvas mailsack. Meanwhile, wondering what had delayed her nanny, Lady Lucan descended from the first floor to see what had happened. She called to Rivett from the top of the basement stairs and was herself attacked. As she screamed for her life, her attacker told her to “shut up”. Lady Lucan later claimed at that moment to have recognised her husband’s voice. The two apparently continued to fight; she bit his fingers, and when he threw her face down to the carpet, managed to turn around and squeeze his testicles, causing him to release his grip on her throat and give up the fight. When she asked where Rivett was, Lucan was at first evasive, but eventually admitted to having killed her. Terrified, Lady Lucan told him she could help him escape if only he would remain at the house for a few days, to allow her injuries to heal. Lucan walked upstairs and sent his daughter to bed, then went into one of the bedrooms. When Veronica entered, to lie on the bed, he told her to put towels down first to avoid staining the bedding. Lucan asked her if she had any barbiturates and went to the bathroom to get a wet towel, supposedly to clean Veronica’s face. Lady Lucan realised her husband would be unable to hear her from the bathroom, and made her escape, running outside to a nearby pub, the Plumbers Arms. As blood poured from her injuries, she cried: “Murder, murder! He has tried to kill me!”
Lucan called his mother between 10.30 and 11.00pm, asking her to collect his children from the house. He said that he had seen his wife struggling with an intruder through the kitchen window, entered, and scared the assailant away. He then drove to Uckfield in East Sussex to the home of his friends, the Maxwell-Scotts. Susan Maxwell-Scott’s meeting with Lucan was his last confirmed sighting. Meanwhile police had entered the Lucans’ house. A blood-stained towel was found in Veronica’s first-floor bedroom. The area around the top of the basement staircase was heavily blood-stained. A blood-stained lead pipe lay on the floor. Pictures hanging from the staircase walls were askew and a metal banister rail was damaged. At the foot of the stairs, two cups and saucers lay in a pool of blood. Rivett’s arm protruded from the canvas sack, which lay in a slowly expanding pool of blood. The bulb had been removed from the kitchen light fitting, but there were no signs of a forced entry. After Veronica Lucan was interviewed at hospital, the investigating officers realised it was imperative that they speak to the Earl. Breaking into his flat, they found his wallet, driving licence, spectacles and passport – but no sign of Lucan himself. Since that night in 1974, he has never been seen again.
The second last Bond connection can be found with author John Pearson (84), who was Ian Fleming’s assistant at the Sunday Times in the 1950´s and went on to write the first biography of Fleming, The Life of Ian Fleming, published in 1966. In 1973, he also wrote James Bond: The Authorized Biography of 007, a first-person biography of the fictional agent. After extensive research into the mysterious Lucan case and the illustrious gamblers at the Clermont Club, Pearson wrote The Gamblers, an account of the group of gamblers who made up what was known as the Clermont Set, including John Aspinall, James Goldsmith and Lord Lucan. The book was published in 2005.
The final Bond connection was made when Warner Bros. purchased the film rights to the book in 2006. The Gamblers was made into a two-part TV drama, Lucan, starring Rory Kinnear and Christopher Eccleston and was broadcast on ITV1 in December 2013. Rory Kinnear is of course known to Bond Fans for playing MI6 Chief of Staff Bill Tanner.