The name’s Bond, James Bond, but will he be portrayed by someone other than Daniel Craig when he next appears on the silver screen? There were smiles and royalty in attendance at Monday’s world premiere of “Spectre” at London’s Royal Albert Hall, yet the nagging doubts still remain as to whether or not the current 007 incarnation has the desire to return for the next Film in the lucrative franchise.

Glamorous premiere

As befitted the occasion it was a glitzy affair for the premiere, as the ever-popular Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, plus Prince Harry added their distinguished presence to the guest list.

The royals were met before the screening by the stars of the latest Bond blockbuster and the director, Sam Mendes. First to arrive on the customary red carpet was Craig, but he was soon flanked by his glamourous female co-stars Léa Seydoux and Monica Bellucci.

Recent reports have suggested that Craig may not return for another reprise of his famous secret agent persona. When asked about the possibility of that and their choice for the next man licensed to kill in front of the camera, producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G Wilson were typically guarded about the possibilities. They quite rightly made it clear that they wanted Craig to continue.

Major franchise

With a big money outlay on each film comes the fundamental requirement for success and a new leading man is fraught with danger at the box office.

It helps if the star has appeal on both sides of the Atlantic. But with analysts valuing the 007 brand at around £13bn ($19.9bn), big bucks are at stake.

Bond down the years

Yet Bond has endured down the years and adapted to the would-be challengers to the sort of high-octane thrills and spills it traditionally offers up for its eager audiences.

The characters have developed more depth and the days of the Bond girl simply being an adornment to the main star have long since disappeared.

When Sean Connery decided to move on, many wondered how he could be replaced. But Roger Moore seamlessly took on the role and added a touch of English humour. Subsequently Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and Craig have been unveiled to ensure that an element of freshness and credibility has been maintained, an essential criteria when the part requires a degree of athletic prowess.

Forty-seven-year-old Craig was reticent about his future at the premiere of the 24th Bond film, although an alternative meaning could be interpreted from the words he used. There almost seemed to be an element of closure when he spoke to the BBC, saying that the part had “changed my life and I’ve loved every second of it.” The use of the past tense may have been deliberate or not.

Who could step in to the role?

If not Craig in the future then who else? Many years ago, singer Robbie Williams was once rumoured to be in the running. Given the penchant for Bond to be an all-action hero, Jason Stathamcould be an option given his background in such as the “Transporter” films. Colin Firth wasa hit with the ladies as Mr Darcy on screen and would add an air of sophistication to the part, but is eight years older than Craig.

The bookies seem to have thefavourites as Tom Hardy and Damian Lewis, although Idris Elba and Tom Hiddlestonhave their admirers as well. Elba, the star of “The Wire” wouldbe an interesting choice, becoming the first black actor to take on the character if chosen.

Hardy at 38fits the age profile and could almost have been auditioning for the role when he starred inMad Max: Fury Road”. He also scored highly among a poll of American Bond fans recently. Lewis may be a slightly surprising inclusion, but theHomeland” star would certainly look dapper in a suit.

For now though it is Craig’s role to lose and he is signed up for one more film. Yetrecent claims that he would prefer to “slash his wrists” rather than do another movie as the British agent, whether tongue in cheek or not, do not bode well. After almost a decade in the role, it may be time for a change.