This year was always destined to be a seminal one for the United Kingdom. Whatever your disillusion may be about Great Britain, the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and the London 2012 Olympics have and will draw the eyes of the world onto the British Isles. And a third comes in the form of Bond, James Bond.
It will be 50 years this October that the first 007 film - Dr. No - was released, which has sparked a flurry of special celebrations to commemorate a world so lavishly described by the debonair Ian Flemming in his post-Second World War adventure novels.
Notwithstanding film number 23 Skyfall, Beaulieu currently houses the franchise's vehicles in the Bond In Motion exhibition, while at the Barbican Centre it is the design of the films, from Connery to Craig, which are celebrated over motor engineering.
10 years ago, the Science Museum opened a grand exhibition to coincide with the films' 40th anniversary, and although the Barbican is restricted as opposed to the more spacious surroundings of its spiritual predecessor, once you embark on the tour you are thrust into nostalgia.
As something of a Bond almanac, it is a haven. Guest curator Lindy Hemming, costume designer on all four Pierce Brosnan films and Daniel Craig's opener Casino Royale, as well as an unsung hero of the Christopher Nolan Dark Knight trilogy, shows fondness for the films' former years. The opening set is lavishly golden, featuring mock-poles of Ken Adam's Fort Knox set from Goldfinger and a revolving golden model of of Shirley Eaton's doomed Jill Masterson from what is arguably the most iconic of all the Bond films.
Adam, poached occasionally by Stanley Kubrick during his Bond tenure, is a doyen of production design, and peering at his felt tip sketches of megalomaniacs' bases is hypnotic, while several screens throughout the walk-through showcase his grandiose sets which cemented James Bond as a film icon and as a film series. The one remaining golden Nazi bar from Goldfinger, as well as Odd-Job's steel-rimmed hat and Francisco Scaramanga's Golden Gun are all on display to prompt instant aura.
Tribute is paid to Flemming, with a succinctly informative room dedicated to his background, avec golden typewriter on display, but it's a brief sideshow away from the films' trinkets. M's leather-bound door, the original sheet for the first ever day's filming of a Bond film reinforce the grandeur of the films, and it's the Connery era where you inhale its history.
Complementing the glamour is grit. A Q Branch-themed room featuring some of 007's most memorable gadgets, it is a nifty and appealing set for men young and old who once fantasised about possessing Bond's boy's own instinct. Included is the pioneering attaché case which saved Bond's life on the Orient Express in From Russia with Love, as well as his Omega watches, Thunderball inhaler and more.
Dishearteningly, many of the costumes from the Scot's films have had to be recreated. Remarkably the dresses, such as Sylvia Trench's lavish scarlet dress in Dr. No, were disposed of once filming had ended, with the film-makers only beginning to belatedly retain such items during the Roger Moore era. A casino-themed room, it does however include Eva Green's head-turning Roberto Cavalli dress from Casino Royale, avec Jimmy Choos.
Ladies will also be delighted to know Craig's swim shorts appear, along with an exaggerated bulge, while Ursula Andress' bikini - the bikini - is a rare costume survivor from the 60s. The swimwear precedes a rogues gallery where fabulous props like Rosa Klebb's sharp shoe and Benicio del Toro's knife from License to Kill are some of the nefarious items encased.
Structurally, the exhibition is impressive until the tail-end, whereby you're advised to descend to the -2 level to the Ice Palace, charting Bond's affiliation with ski sequences. It feels like a token gesture, especially since it is tucked away in what feels like a muggy basement, but it does feature a minute model of Die Another Day's Ice Palace and Moore's ski suit from the legendary The Spy Who Loved Me pre-credits sequence.
The pièce de résistance is saved for the finale though. Like 2002's Science Museum effort, parked at the exit is an Aston Martin DB5. Photography isn't permitted until this point, and visitors of varying ages and nationalities snapped away like the paparazzi, which is apt since it is the Ken Adam-Connery era which are the sights to behold for your eyes only at the Barbican.
Follow Samuel Luckhurst on Twitter: www.twitter.com/samuelluckhurst