A bookmaker has stopped taking bets on who will play the next James Bond, after receiving a number of substantial bets on actor Colin Salmon.
Salmon has already been in three Bond films and Judge John Deed
Ladbrokes made the move after receiving six £500 bets on Salmon to take the role. The Judge John Deed star would be the first black actor to play Bond.
However rival firm William Hill received no bets on Salmon, dismissing them as a "stunt" to boost his profile.
William Hill continues to accept Bond bets, with Ewan McGregor as favourite.
A spokeswoman for Salmon would not reveal whether the actor had been approached regarding the role, vacated by previous Bond actor Pierce Brosnan.
Salmon, 41, has already appeared in the Bond series - playing M's chief of staff, Charles Robinson, in the last three Bond films.
His spokeswoman denied that bets had been placed on Salmon to improve his chances of winning the lead role.
"I guess everybody would like to play Bond," she said.
Film studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer was unavailable for comment.
"The identity of the next Bond actor is one of the most closely-guarded secrets of the film industry," said Ladbrokes spokesman Warren Lush.
"These substantial bets on Colin Salmon came from nowhere.
"Our alarm bells started ringing - we felt somebody might be trying to use insider knowledge - so we decided to close the bet straight away."
Dougray Scott is among those tipped by bookmakers to play Bond
William Hill spokeswoman Jenny Prest said they had received no unusual requests for bets on potential Bond actors.
"You can normally see where surges in betting have come from - if there has been a news report that certain actors are being considered, for example," she said.
Other actors linked to the role include Dougray Scott, Clive Owen, Hugh Jackman, Colin Farrell and Eric Bana.
William Hill has offered odds of 500/1 that sacked Tory frontbencher Boris Johnson will be the next Bond.