A woman should star as James Bond in the next 007 film, Sir Keir Starmer has said.
The Labour leader’s intervention came after the premier this week of No Time To Die, which Daniel Craig has confirmed will be his last outing as the secret agent.
The actor’s departure from the popular spy movies has fuelled speculation about who will succeed him in the role, which has been played by six men to date.
Asked on ITV’s Good Morning Britain on Thursday to name his favourite Bond actor, Sir Keir said: “I don’t have a favourite Bond, but I do think it is time for a female Bond.”
The remark sparked a backlash in some quarters, with Tory MPs seizing on the fact the Labour leader was calling for Bond to be played by a woman before the Labour party had been led by one.
Others poked fun at his remarks. Historian Dominic Sandbrook highlighted his failure to name a preferred Bond, remarking on Twitter: “Very reminiscent of Gordon Brown, who refused to tell Mumsnet his favourite biscuit.”
Sir Keir’s sentiments echoed those previously expressed by former prime minister Theresa May, however.
In 2017, after Jodie Whittaker was cast as the first female lead in Doctor Who, Mrs May commented: “I do like watching Doctor Who at Christmas. I think it’s a great move forward for girl power that there is going to be a female Doctor Who. And one day there should be a female James Bond.”
Lashana Lynch (left), Daniel Craig, Léa Seydoux, and director Cary Joji Fukunga (right) attend the World Premiere of 'No Time To Die'
Credit: Jeff Spicer/Getty Images for EON Productions, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, and Universal Pictures
However, the Labour leader’s view put him at odds with Craig, who has signalled his support for more diversity on screen, but said Bond should remain a man in the films.
“There should simply be better parts for women and actors of colour,” the actor said last week, adding: “Why should a woman play James Bond when there should be a part just as good as James Bond, but for a woman?”
Actor and screenwriter Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who contributed to the No Time To Die script, also disagreed with the suggestion that 007 should be recast as a woman.
“I think Bond is James Bond,” she said. “We just need to cook up someone to rival him.”
In addition, Halle Berry, who played the Bond girl Jinx in Die Another Day, argued against changing the sex of the role on the basis that the film franchise, deriving from Ian Fleming’s novels, was “steeped in history”.
In a bid to end chatter about the part being reimagined in future, last year the franchise’s producer Barbara Broccoli said: “James Bond can be of any colour, but he is male.”
She told Variety: “I’m not particularly interested in taking a male character and having a woman play it. I think women are far more interesting than that.”
The latest Bond film, which was released in cinemas Thursday, includes the first female and black 007 agent. Lashana Lynch stars as Nomi, the secret agent who inherits Bond’s title while he is in exile.