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Thunderball was a radio drama adaptation of Ian Fleming's 1961 novel that first aired on December 10th 2016 on the BBC's main spoken-word channel, Radio 4.[1] It is the sixth of seven new James Bond radio plays produced by the station and starred Toby Stephens as the titular character for the sixth time.


The radio drama adaptation of Thunderball begins with a clandestine meeting between criminal mastermind Ernst Stavro Blofeld and Italian pilot Giuseppe Petacchi. Petacchi is in SPECTRE's pay to hijack a Vindicator delta-wing bomber in mid-flight by killing its crew and flying it (and its atomic payload) to the Bahamas. Meanwhile, in London, Bond's health is being assessed by his superior, M, who sends the agent on a two-week treatment at the Shrublands health clinic. At the clinic Bond encounters Count Lippe, a member of the Red Lightning Tong criminal organisation from Macau. When Bond learns of the Tong connection, Lippe tries to kill him by tampering with a spinal traction machine. Bond, however, is saved by nurse Patricia Fearing and later retaliates against Lippe by trapping him in a steam bath, resulting in the Count's second degree burns and a week's stay in hospital which jeopardizes SPECTRE's scheme.

In Paris, Blofeld convenes a meeting of SPECTRE's hierarchy to discuss their Plan Omega - a plot to hijack the Vindicator bomber and seize its two nuclear bombs, which they will use unless a £100,000,000 ransom is paid. The plan is delayed and steps are taken to liquidate Lippe (Petacchi's handler and the man tasked with delivering the organization's ransom letter) for his behavior. Details are provided by Dr. Kalyagin, the organization's physicist, who notes that Emilio Largo (the operation's commander) and his yacht, the Disco Volante, are on location in the Bahamas posing as treasure hunters. The operation goes according to plan and the greedy Petacchi flies the aircraft to its rendezvous where he is killed upon delivery. Shortly thereafter, the British Prime Minister receives a ransom letter from Blofeld threatening to destroy expensive piece of western property and a major city unless the ransom is paid. Bond meets with M and the quartermaster, Q, during which the agent is briefed on the theft. On a hunch, M sends 007 to the Bahamas to investigate.

There, Bond meets Felix Leiter, seconded to the CIA from his usual role at Pinkertons because of the Thunderball crisis. While in Nassau, Bond meets Dominetta "Domino" Vitali, Largo's mistress and the sister of the dead pilot Giuseppe Petacchi. She is living on board the Disco Volante and believes Largo is on a treasure hunt, although Largo makes her stay ashore while he and his partners hunt hidden treasure. After seducing her, Bond informs her that Largo killed her brother; Bond then recruits her to spy on Largo. Domino re-boards the Disco Volante with a Geiger counter to ascertain if the yacht is where the two nuclear bombs are hidden. However, she is discovered and Largo tortures her for information. Bond and Leiter alert the Thunderball war room of their suspicions of Largo and join the crew of the American nuclear submarine Manta as the ransom deadline nears. The Manta chases the Disco Volante to capture it and recover the bombs en route to the first target. An undersea battle ensues between the crews, while Bond fights Largo. Bond, now very weak from his efforts to disable the bombs, tries to get away, but Largo corners him in an underwater cave and easily overpowers him. Before Largo can finish Bond off Domino shoots him with a spear gun. The bombs are recovered and Bond is sent to hospital with Domino.



  1. "Bond is Back: new BBC Radio-4 adaptation of Fleming's 'Thunderball'", 19 September 2016. Retrieved on 11 December 2016. 
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