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Could the next James Bond be a Scot?

By Giancarlo Rinaldi
South Scotland reporter, BBC Scotland news website

Published
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image captionNo Scot has played James Bond since Sean Connery had the role decades ago

For many people Sir Sean Connery remains the role model for portraying James Bond - even though it is decades since he played the part.

Daniel Craig is set to stand down after the latest movie comes out next year, and speculation has been rife about the identity of the next Bond.

With three actors from north of the border linked with the role, could the wait for the next Scottish bond be over?

'Blank slate'

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image captionConnery had a "unique opportunity" as the first to take on the role in the movies

Bond's cinematic story begins with Dr No in 1962, where Connery first played the part.

According to Dr Jonny Murray, senior lecturer in film and visual culture at the University of Edinburgh, that gave him a certain edge over those who would follow.

"I wouldn't want to pay any disrespect to his abilities and performances as an actor - which I think are very considerable - but I think there was also an advantage simply by being the first to play the role," he said.

"You get to set expectations, you get to set parameters."

He said Connery benefited from, effectively, a "blank slate".

"I think one of the big reasons why he still dominates public perceptions and expectations around the role is he had this unique opportunity in a way to create it from scratch," he added.

Was Bond a Scot?

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image captionIn Skyfall, Daniel Craig - as Bond - returns to the ancestral home

"If I am remembering correctly, the character is half Scottish, half Swiss - I think he had a Scottish father and Swiss mother," said Dr Murray.

"The books don't actually make very much of that."

In Skyfall, however, Daniel Craig returns to the ancestral home in Scotland.

"Before they start the journey, M, played by Judi Dench, asks Bond where he is taking them and he says: 'The past'," said Dr Murray.

"Once you get there you get a sense that Bond's Scottish past is in many ways quite a distant phenomenon for him.

"I think that does come across in the novels as well. I have always thought of him as a character who happens to have a degree of Scottish roots rather than someone who I would think of predominantly as a Scottish character."

Sam Heughan

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One name that has been linked with the role is Sam Heughan, who was born and brought up in Galloway.

He is best known for his appearances in the Outlander TV series.

Dr Murray said that kind of career change was not without precedent.

"Roger Moore's career before he took on the role was largely television-based," he said.

"I think the same could be said for Pierce Brosnan as well, which is not to say they didn't have profile as movie actors and movie stars - but at that point in their career, television was the basis for their reputation and celebrity.

"There would definitely be a precedent there, which wouldn't prevent someone like Sam Heughan from taking it on."

Jack Lowden

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Jack Lowden - who learned his trade while growing up in the Borders - would offer different qualities.

His recent roles have included playing a wannabe wrestler in Fighting with my Family.

"I suppose you might say he would be a Timothy Dalton-style choice for the role," said Dr Murray.

"They wanted to give a sense of this more introspective, more emotionally three-dimensional, gentle character."

He added that the Daniel Craig films had also seen more emphasis on trying to get inside Bond's head than there had been for most of the franchise's previous history.

Richard Madden

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Dr Murray said it was not hard to see why.

"You get a sense of just how influential the Daniel Craig Bond films have been on popular culture and other film and television fiction in the spy genre," he said.

"That sense in Bodyguard of the slightly confused, impetuous, undoubtedly heroic but maybe a danger to himself style secret serviceman - and his relationship with an older, more experienced female superior - feels quite like the dynamic between Daniel Craig and Judi Dench in the three James Bond films that they made together."

Good publicity

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Dr Murray said, ultimately, there was really no way of knowing who would get the role until an announcement was made.

"It is a bit like going to the bookies and taking a punt on whether it is going to be a white Christmas or not," he said.

"It certainly, I think, suits the franchise and the producers of the franchise to have this level of public speculation - because it keeps the brand and it keeps the movies very much in the public mind."

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