THE countdown has begun to the release of the new James Bond film.

There's an exhibition in London celebrating not only the fictional spy but also the centenary of the birth of his creator, Ian Fleming.

A new 007 novel, Devil May Care, has also been penned by Sebastian Faulks to mark the centenary and a special edition of Fleming's children's story Chitty Chitty Bang Bang has also been published.

The focus, then, is well and truly on Fleming but did you know that he went to prep school near Swanage?

The new film, Quantum of Solace, starring Daniel Craig, Olga Kurylenko, Judi Dench and Gemma Arteton, is due to be released on October 31.

The For Your Eyes Only exhibition at London's Imperial War Museum, runs until next March.

Displays include everything from research notes for From Russia with Love to the blood-stained shirt worn by Daniel Craig in Casino Royale and the bikini worn by Halle Berry in Die Another Day.

Ian Lancaster Fleming, who worked in Naval intelligence during the Second World War, was born on May 28, 1908, second son of an old Etonian father and a beautiful, socially ambitious mother. Two more brothers were to follow.

After being looked after by nannies, Ian found himself at Durnford School at Langton Matravers, near Swanage, where pupils would be taken to bathe in the sea at Dancing Ledge, a mile and a half away.

In a book published to coincide with the London exhibition - For Your Eyes Only: Ian Fleming and James Bond - Ben Macintryre describes Durnford as a "traditionally brutal prep school". He claims it "epitomised the strange British faith in bad food, plenty of Latin and beating from an early age".

Macintyre quotes from a letter Fleming sent to his mother at the age of seven, saying: "My coff has grown to a whoping (sic) coff now. Don't tell Mr Pellatt (the headmaster) cause just this morning he said that nun of us had coffs.

"I am afraid that I do not like school very much."

But Macintyre adds that the school - which ceased to exist with the Second World War - made Ian no more ill nor miserable that anyone else.

The head's wife read to the pupils from popular fiction including John Buchan adventures, The Prisoner of Zenda and Bulldog Drummond yarns.

Durnford School's buildings became a ramshackle out-station of the Air Research Establishment's Telecommunications Research Establishment, devising Britain's radar systems from 1940-42.

Some were demolished soon afterwards although Durnford House still stands on the north side of the High Street.

As well as Fleming, Hester Chapman, the daughter of a master there, also found some fame as a novelist. Her books included She Saw Them Go By (1932) and The Great Villiers (1949).

Fleming went on to attend Eton and served in Naval intelligence in the Second World War.

Casino Royale was published in 1952. Eleven more Bond novels and nine short stories would follow - as well as Chitty Chitty Bang Bang written for his son - until the author died just 12 years later.