British bookmakers are so convinced Colin Salmon will be crowned the first black James Bond, they've halted bets on who'll succeed Pierce Brosnan as the superspy.

LADBROKES took the drastic action after taking six bets of up to $900 (GBP500) in the space of an hour, scaring bosses into closing the books on the bet entirely.

Movie bosses have kept the identity of the proposed 007 secret, but EWAN McGREGOR, Colin Farrell, Clive Owen and Salmon have all been touted to replace Brosnan - who was sacked after four Bond films.

A Ladbrokes spokesman says, "In the last 24 hours we have had a number of inquiries about Colin Salmon being the next Bond. We have been forced to close the book for the time being.

"In a one-hour period on Tuesday (30NOV04) afternoon we took six bets of up to GBP500 each which are huge sums for what is really a novelty wager.

"Three people opened new accounts with us to place the bets. The usual wagers on this type of thing are GBP10 and GBP20."

02/12/2004 13:51