James Norton tackles James Bond rumours – and urges fans not to bet on him as the next 007

The McMafia and Happy Valley actor is bemused to find he's the bookies' new favourite to play James Bond

James Norton (BBCPictures,mh)

James Norton has urged fans not to place any money on him as the next James Bond – despite what the bookies say.

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The Bafta-nominated actor, who stars in new BBC drama McMafia, has long been 0n the list of potential 007s alongside Idris Elba, Michael Fassbender, Aidan Turner and Tom Hardy. But now his odds have dramatically improved and he’s the favourite to play MI6’s best known fictional secret agent when Daniel Craig finally retires from the franchise.

The rumours might, of course, have something to do with his opening scene in McMafia. There he is, grim-faced and dressed in a tuxedo and striding into the V&A (and towards the camera), looking every inch a James Bond.

“I did say to James Watkins, the director, are you just baiting me and stoking the rumour fire with scenes like that?” he revealed. “When it’s reported in the press, people assume that I’ve co-ordinated the scene, but I promise you I didn’t. The truth is that it’s total speculation.”

The Grantchester actor told Radio Times: “It’s really humbling and flattering, but to have my name next to the likes of Tom Hardy and Michael Fassbender is just mad. If you’re thinking of putting a bet on me, keep your money in your pocket.”

James Norton and Maria Shukshina in new BBC1 drama McMafia (BBC, JG)
James Norton and Maria Shukshina in new BBC1 drama McMafia (BBC, JG)

The next Bond film is already in the works, as Daniel Craig has agreed to return for one final outing in 2019. After that, producers will have to pick their next 007 – but who will they choose?

In the meantime, Norton will arrive on our screens on New Year’s Day in McMafia, playing a man who’s trying to escape his mafia family’s legacy of violence and crime. But a tragedy draws him back into the family business – and he must confront some dangerous people, including the Russian mob.

“Some people have asked me if I’m worried about getting death threats for exposing how the Russian mafia works,” he said “That would be nothing new. Playing  [Happy Valley villain] Tommy Lee Royce, I’d get death threats buying milk in my local shop.”

Radio Times magazine cover
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McMafia will air on New Year’s Day and again on Tuesday 2nd January – both at 9pm on BBC1