James Bond: The People’s Choice

James Bond: The People’s Choice

Just Who do the Public Want to Step Into 007’s Shoes Next?

James Bond, we miss you. 007 has been an iconic character in our cultural heritage for over 60 years, but it’s been two years since No Time to Die (2021). For the last film, we collaborated with the talented costume designer, Suttirat Anne LarLarb, to design pieces for the famous spy to wear, and we can’t wait for the next instalment to drop.

However, there are some crucial things to iron out before then. Chief amongst them is who will step into the lead role. We also want to know the director, the direction of the film and the artist to perform the theme song. And who do the public want to see on their screens? We surveyed 2000 Brits to find out.

The Actors in the Frame to Play the Next Bond

James bond cartoon image showing survey results

It’s the big question on everyone’s lips: who will be the next James Bond?

We looked at the will of the people and who they want to line up as 007 in the next film. First we covered established actors.

Top of the pile was Tom Hardy with 37% of the vote. The Peaky Blinders actor is a master at transforming himself into new and intriguing characters. He played both the Kray twins in Legend and became Charles Bronson in Bronson. There’s no doubt he’d bring grit, humour and good looks to Bond. For many, it could be the perfect combination.

Despite being talked about as the next Bond for years, Idris Elba was only in second place with 31% of the vote. The Luther actor was followed by Henry Cavill (21%), Cillian Murphy (18%) and Tom Holland (12%).

Some of the other bookies’ favourites scored poorly amongst Bond fans. Michael Fassbender only had 8% of the vote and Aidan Turner just 9%.

But will the next Bond be an up-and-coming star rather than an established name? It very well could go this way. So, who’s in the frame?

Despite showing his acting mettle as the villain in Happy Valley and his nefarious side in McMafia, James Norton is the people’s favourite amongst up-and-coming actors to play Bond with 31% of the vote. His good looks and acting credentials certainly stand him in good stead.  

Other up-and-coming actors with the public behind them are:

  • Richard Madden (25%) – he’s already wowed us in Game of Thrones and Bodyguard
  • Aaron-Taylor Johnson (20%) – a real fan-favourite and many bookies’ tip to be Bond
  • Henry Golding (15%) – the star of Crazy Rich Asians is an outside bet
  • Rege-Jean Page (13%) – could he wow the Bond Girls like he did the ladies of Bridgerton?

When it comes to the men vs. women vote, the ladies would love to see James Norton don his tux as Bond – 28% of women backed him over the 22% of men.

And for the over 55s, it’s all about James Norton – 37% of people in that age group are in camp Norton.

A Fresh Faced Bond or a Wise Older Head?

In terms of age, the public want a younger actor in the lead role for the next film. In fact, the majority (47%) think Bond should be aged between 30-39. Sorry Tom Hardy and Idris Elba – that counts you out. As the last actor was in the role for so long, it makes sense to pick a fresher face for some longevity as 007.

But not too fresh. In fact, only 12% of Brits think a young Bond aged between 20-29 would be suitable, whilst 22% would prefer someone aged 40-49.

The Public’s Thoughts on a Female Bond

Yes, Barbara Broccoli has poured water on the idea of a female Bond, but what does the public think? We asked whether they’d be happy with a female actor in the lead role.

And it turns out we don’t want to break too far from tradition – 44% of people would be unhappy with the prospect of a female Bond and 28% would be very unhappy. Although nearly one in four people (23%) would be happy about it.

The Style of Bond: Gritty or a Return to Camp Fun

When the producers reboot the Bond franchise, they often think of the style of film they want and find an actor to fit.

The last time this happened was with Casino Royale (2006), where the films returned to the style of the books with a more grounded offering.

The question is whether it should stay gritty or return more to the camp fun of some of the earlier films? We asked the public. And 62% prefer a serious and emotional tone, compared to 38% that want more light-hearted fun. The latter is especially the case for the over 55s – 67% want a return to the older style Bond.

Digging deeper, we asked which of the previous actors should serve as the direction for the next instalment.

  • 39% said they wanted a continuation of the most recent acting style – gritty but with emotional stakes.
  • 37% however want a return to classic Sean Connery-style adventures, that are classy and closer to the novels.
  • 20% want more of a Pierce Brosnan feel with a mix of fun and serious moments.
  • 17% want something more like Roger Moore, campy fun with larger than life villains and romance.
  • Just 9% want a return to Timothy Dalton’s one outing as Bond – with gritty and down to earth spy plots.

Sequels or Standalone Films

From Casino Royale (2006) onwards via Quantum of Solace (2008) and through to No Time to Die (2021), the recent films have had increasingly connected plots and even served as direct sequels. Whereas previously Bond films were standalone stories.

We asked the public if they preferred single films or wanted connected plots? A huge majority of 65% prefer single films with standalone plots for each outing. Will they get their wish?

And what should the plot focus on next? Which of today’s real-world issues do we think 007 should tackle in his next film? Over a half of the public (51%) think AI would make a fantastic plotline – although the latest Mission Impossible film may have beaten Bond to it. Next in line was cyber attacks (38%), followed by information and disinformation warfare (25%) and the energy crisis (24%).

Next up in the Director’s Chair

Often the style and theme of Bond films come straight from the person in the director’s chair. So, who do the fans want to put their mark on 007’s latest adventure?

Danny Boyle was offered the chance to direct No Time to Die (2021) and fans still want him to have a shot with 31% voting for him. After all, he did direct Bond and the Queen as part of the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony. After the huge success this summer of Barbenheimer, it’s no surprise to see fans hoping to see either Christopher Nolan (28%) or Greta Gerwig (15%) at the helm.

Other potential directors in the frame include Edgar Wright (8%), David Fincher (7%), Christopher McQuarrie and Matt Reeves (6%). Returning Bond reinventor Martin Campbell got just 4% of the vote.

Delivering an Iconic Theme Tune

The opening credits for Bond films always set the tone from the off. They are a huge part of the series and we all have our favourites. Who could forget Shirley Bassey singing Diamonds are Forever (1971), Goldfinger (1964) and Moonraker (1979), or Tina Turner belting out GoldenEye (1995)?

We asked the public who should step up for the next instalment? Ed Sheeran is the favourite with a quarter of the vote (24%). Lewis Capaldi was a close second on 20%, while 19% of people are backing Adele to return.

Outside bets include Elton John (14%), Harry Styles (13%), Beyonce and Lana Del Ray (12%), and Dua Lipa and Arctic Monkeys (10%).


While we wait for the announcement on the next film in the Bond franchise, update your wardrobe with a little 007 styling. Discover our 007 cashmere collection featuring re-imagined James Bond outfits for elegant and luxury style this autumn and winter.