‘War & Peace’ star James Norton has rapidly emerged as the red-hot favourite to land the vacant spot as the next James Bond, with the actor overtaking Tom Hiddleston, Tom Hardy and Aidan Turner in many bookies’ eyes.

The 30 year old actor is now considered as the overwhelming favourite to land the coveted licence to kill now that Daniel Craig has quit the role after four movies. ‘Poldark’ star Aidan Turner had recently risen to the top of many bookies’ lists, but the BBC announced on Wednesday (July 6th) that he was on board for a third series of the historical drama, effectively removing him from the running.

In the wake of this, many bookies reported an “unprecedented” number of bets being placed on Norton landing the part, to the extent that many suspended betting altogether.

James NortonJames Norton, pictured at the 2016 Olivier Awards, has emerged as the favourite to play 007 next

While Norton may not be the biggest name in the running – his few film credits include Mr. Turner and An Education, as well as a number of TV roles in ‘War & Peace’ and ‘Happy Valley’ – his topless scene in ‘Grantchester’ back in March this year sent many viewers into a frenzy.

More: Aidan Turner picks ‘Poldark’ over Bond as BBC confirms third series

It’s also been reported by various outlets that Tom Hiddleston – in the news a lot over the last couple of weeks for being one half of Swiddleston – has ruined his chances of landing the role of 007 by dating the American pop star Taylor Swift. Idris Elba’s odds also appear to be lengthening, even though he has been touted as Craig’s replacement for nearly a year.

William Hill spokesperson Rupert Adams told The Mirror on Wednesday, shortly after the BBC confirmed they had tied Turner down for a third series, that Norton had emerged from way back in the field over the space of two days.

“48 hours ago James Norton was not even in the betting for who will become the next Bond, he has been backed from 66/1 and is now the current 1/3 favourite. We would be astonished if he is not on the short list. His good looks and public school background make him a perfect fit for Ian Fleming’s 007.”

Ladbrokes spokesperson Jess Bridge told the Evening Standard a similar story: “We decided to take a breather whilst the market settled down. Betting has just reopened and due to the support yesterday and money wagered Norton is the odds-on favourite at 4/7.”

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