MI6 and the CIA would be hard pressed to crack all the mystery, secrets and clues around Bond 26.
Ever since Daniel Craig confirmed the upcoming movie will be his last time on Her Majesty’s secret service everyone has been desperate to know who will take over.
Idris Elba was a massive early favourite back in 2015, but his own denials and so much time passing had bumped him down the list.
Now he has shot back up to the top of every single UK bookies list. Why?
British bookies William Hill have slashed the odds on Idris Elba being named as the next James Bond from 9/2 to 7/4.
This is not just a shock, it is also the shortest odds anyone has been to replace Daniel Craig so far.
Elba is closely followed by odds of 7/2 for Tom Hardy, 5/1 for James Norton, 6/1 for Jack Huston, 8/1 for Tom Hiddleston, 10/1 for Aiden Turner, 12/1 for Travis Fimmel, 14/1 for Michael Fassbender, 16/1 for Ricky Whittle and 20/1 Henry Cavill.
So what changed?
Hollywood director and producer Antoine Fuqua, the man behind Training Day, The Magnificent Seven remake and Olympus Has Fallen, revealed details of a conversation with Bond producer Barbara Broccoli.
Fucqua told The Daily Star he heard her say “it is time” for a black actor to be cast as the iconic spy. Idris Elba has long been rumoured to be high of the Bond boss’ wish list.
He remains the only high-profle black star to be linked to the role.
Fuqua added: “Idris could do it if he was in shape. You need a guy with physically strong presence. Idris has that.”
However, Elba himself has long played down the idea. He would also be 47 when Bond 26, in theory, would begin filming.
The actor has already been beaten to the prize by fellow Brit actor David Oyelowo, who recently became the first black actor to play James Bond on the audiobook version of Anthony Horowitz’s latest OO7 novel, Trigger Mortis.
Horowitz himself casued a media storm when he said Elba was “too street” for the role.
The author denied this was a coded racist slur and explained: “Idris Elba is a terrific actor, but I can think of other black actors who would do it better.
“For me, Idris Elba is a bit too rough to play the part. It’s not a color issue. I think he is probably a bit too ‘street’ for Bond. Is it a question of being suave? Yeah.”