Prior to the arrival of McMafia, BBC One’s highly-anticipated crime drama series centring on a family of exiled Russian Oligarchs and their global crime network, James Norton looked primed to play James Bond.
All of the trailers suggested as much, with the majority of Norton’s screen time taken up with shots of the actor wearing a smart suit and walking calmly through expensive looking gala events.
The first few episodes even saw Norton flex his action movie chops with a couple of well-choreographed fight sequences that brought to mind Daniel Craig in his early Casino Royale days.
But after eight episodes and a series that promised much but delivered little, Norton is seemingly no longer the man in the frame to play Bond.
McMafia’s slow pace, predictable plotting and unengaging characters haven’t helped with Norton given little further opportunity to showcase his suitability for the role thanks to a leaden script and a subdued performance.
Instead, fans sat through a series that too often pulled its punches. With shows like Game of Thrones earning widespread praise and fandom for the showrunners’ willingness to take risks, kill off characters and go against expectations, much was expected of McMafia.
But the show never quite delivered and, while a second series looks increasingly unlikely, Norton could be the one to pay the heaviest price.
Having debuted to a steady 5.6 million viewers on New Year’s Day, the series witnessed a significant slump in the episodes that followed, with that number down some two million a further four episodes in.
Norton’s 007 hopes have been dented too with Betway’s odds on the actor becoming the next James Bond drifting further from 2/1 to 5/2 following the series finale.
By contrast, Tom Hardy’s price has moved from 3/1 to 9/4, perhaps helped by the arrival of a first trailer for Venom, Hardy’s hotly anticipated Marvel superhero movie.
With Idris Elba and Tom Hiddleston increasingly unlikely to step up and back out at 6/1 for the role, the race to replace Craig is shaping up to be a two-horse one, with Hardy holding the advantage over Norton.
Betway’s Alan Alger, said: “Future Bonds are being judged on their current performances and that’s left McMafia star James Norton very unpopular in the betting over the past 24 hours.
“McMafia’s finale has been dubbed anticlimactic by a host of critics and with Norton at the forefront we’ve pushed him out to 5/2 from 2/1.
“The money has come back in for Tom Hardy since Sunday night and he’s now a big fancy to be named the next 007 at just 9/4.”