Daniel Craig's mother blows the new James Bond's cover

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The Independent Online

"Obviously we are thrilled to bits," Carol Olivia said. "It has come at a very good time in his career. He has worked extremely hard all his life and this would be his biggest populist role. I think he could bring something very interesting to the part. It will be life-changing," she told the Liverpool Daily Post.

The new 007 has been a favourite of the producer Barbara Broccoli since she began the search for Pierce Brosnan's replacement earlier this year.

And while both Sony or Craig's agent would not confirm the news, it seems certain he will starring in the 21st Bond film, Casino Royale, which returns to the start of the spy's career. The bookmaker William Hill refused to take any more money on Craig, and filming is expected to start in January.

Clive Owen, Ewan McGregor, Jude Law and Colin Farrell were also named as possible contenders for the role.

An official announcement confirming Craig will be the new Bond is expected today. He will be the sixth James Bond but the first blond actor to play the part, and, in contrast, to the Etonian background described by Ian Fleming in his novels (though his education was curtailed by an incident with a female teacher), Craig left secondary school at 16 and left the Wirral for London.

He joined the National Youth Theatre and then Guildhall Drama College, where he studied alongside Ralph Fiennes and Ewan McGregor. His film career began with The Power of One in 1992, and he later gained recognition with the hit TV series Our Friends in the North in 1996. He rose to prominence in Hollywood in the 2002 Sam Mendes movie Road to Perdition with Tom Hanks, Sylvia with Gwyneth Paltrow, and Enduring Love with Rhys Ifans. He also played opposite Angelina Jolie in Lara Croft: Tomb Raiders.

He is said have had a relationship with Kate Moss and, last week, was linked to Sienna Miller.

Antonia Quirke has described him as "easily the best, if not the only, actor of his type in the country" in The Independent.

Popcorn Magazine said he was "One of Britain's finest and committed actors" and Gaby Wood in The Observer said "his film roles show off an extraordinary range, and an exceptional grasp of rawness and complication."

Casino Royale, an adaptation of Ian Fleming's first James Bond novel, will be directed by GoldenEye film-maker Martin Campbell. In the book, the spy is introduced as a more youthful and ruthless character than the films.

Screenwriter Paul Haggis has already said that the new Bond will be reinvented as a younger character with no gadgets. Brosnan, who appeared in four Bond films, is now 52.

Craig joins a Bond dynasty of Brosnan, Sir Sean Connery, Sir Roger Moore, George Lazenby and Timothy Dalton. There was also an unofficial spoof of Casino Royale featured David Niven as Bond in 1967.

It also seems likely that the life of Fleming will be made into a film after Warner Bros have agreed to back a script by Damian Stevenson. Fleming, a journalist and a banker, drew his inspiration for the debonair, vodka-martini-sipping spy from working with Naval Intelligence during the Second World War.

Previous 007s

* SEAN CONNERY: 1962-1971


* ROGER MOORE: 1973-1985

* TIMOTHY DALTON: 1987-1989

* PIERCE BROSNAN: 1995-2005