Talent agents and quite possibly estate agents; after all, anything for a bit of commission, are feverishly pushing their clients forward.
Any thespian with the ability to down a martini - dear God! isn't that 98.7% of the acting fraternity? - are probably being told that they're in with a fighting chance of getting the lead in one of the biggest film franchises in cinematic history. It's finally happened then, Stallone is leaving the Expendables?
Regardless of gender (we're ready for a female leader of the free world, so why not a woman who can also rescue it from the brink of extinction?), nationality, creed, colour, religion, stature ("Darling, they don't mind that you're only 5ft 1; in fact they love you so much for the part, they're thinking of changing the 007 code name to 003.5") and sexuality (let's face it, the undercurrents of gayness have always bubbled pretty close to the surface), the latest incarnation of the nation's favourite super spy will in the not too distant future be presented to the waiting media by Barbara Broccoli.
Considering her name, it's astounding that he's never been a peace-loving vegan (hold on, do Brioni or Tom Ford design caftans?), hell bent on bringing to justice a megalomaniac cattle farmer. "You expect me to talk?" "No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to fry... and I think you should start with that nice juicy 16oz sirloin over there".
What would the next movie be called? My money's on 'You Only Live Twice (or Maybe Thrice Thanks to a Vegetable Based Macrobiotic Low Saturated Fat Diet)' Catchy! With his 'Meat is Murder' stance, Morrisey would surely be a shoo-in for the title song. John Barry, on the other hand, might spin in his grave at the thought of the sitar influenced rearrangement of the iconic theme tune.
Sadly, the choice to replace Daniel Craig will in all likelihood revert to stereotype: Male, straight, white and British. Moving away from these shores proved to be a disaster with George Lazenby all those years ago and producers are unlikely to make the same mistake again. If ever.
The names in the frame are already widely publicised and betting has reportedly closed on Tom Hiddleston. Others being hotly tipped include Idris Elba, Tom Hardy, Matthew Goode, Damian Lewis and Aidan Turner. Oh no, as if thousands of out of condition men didn't feel inadequate and bodily ashamed enough after Poldark, there's now the chance he'll be whipping off his shirt even more.
Fortunately, in my eyes only, at least, none of the above should be counting their chickens or their casino chips quite yet, because the one thing against all of them is their age. It isn't that they're too old, although Idris and Damian are both the wrong side of 40, the problem is that they're simply not old enough. Not by a long chalk.
As many others before me have pointed out, in the aforementioned 'You Only Live Twice' James tells Tiger Tanaka that he was born in the Year of the Rat which was 1924, making him 40 when the novel was first published in 1964.
This means that he should be (let me get the calculator out), heavens above, 92 years of age. Allowing for Botox, and I'm not certain Bond is the type of man who'd ever resort to the plastic surgeon, that definitely does put a different complexion, a very wrinkled complexion, on things. Forget 'Die Another Day', die any day might be closer to the mark.
Taking this into account, the number of people out there who could realistically play Bond are actually pretty thin on the ground.
The likes of Charles Dance, Anthony Andrews and Bill Nighy, who admittedly all have the requisite debonair charm, must alas be discounted since they are only in their mid to late sixties.
There are a few in their seventies, provided they had the ocassional late night, who could give it a good go, but frankly I'm not entirely convinced by either Ian McKelken or Derek Jacobi. One look at Viscious, the sitcom they recently starred in together would simply have Blofeld laughing. Mind you, he'd be the only one. Meanwhile, Ben Kingsley (Sexy Beast), Anthony Hopkins (Silence of the Lambs) and Ian McShane (Lovejoy) are perhaps a bit too psychotic and roguish. Richard Wilson, however, would be a novel choice, although all that Victor Meldrew moaning and groaning may not be the kind Moneypenny once dreamed of. And faced with another nuclear bomb to diffuse, he'd probably just stand there and complain: "I do not believe it'.
Apart from bringing back Roger Moore, the worst casting suggestion since, well, Roger Moore, the obvious octogenarian who springs to mind as having the necessary attributes, is of course Michael Caine. All the same, one must wonder how audiences would react to "The name's Bond, James Bond" being changed to "Hello, my name is James Bond. Not a lot of people know that".
And so we eventually come to those in their nineties. The men who are truly fit - I use the word advisedly - for the role. When you think about it, there genuinely is only one candidate who stands head and shoulders above all the others who have been and continue to be mooted.
At 94, he is the right age. He is the epitome of Britishness (despite being of foreign origin). As a young man, he had a distinguished career in the navy. He remains ruggedly handsome and still cuts a lithe figure. He is always impeccably attired and was number 12 in this year's GQ Best Dressed list. He remains remarkably active. He too has been accused of being jingoistic, xenophobic, sexist and flagrantly un-PC. Last, but not least, he has served Queen and country for longer than any man has a right to.
Therefore, please welcome your new Commander James Bond. M'lords, ladies and gentlemen, it's HRH Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh.Suggest a correction