Bookies have trimmed the odds on a trendy 007 sporting a full beard in the next James Bond movie. Facial fuzz has never been more popular, with recent YouGov data suggesting 44 per cent of men in the UK have ‘full beards’ – up a third from five years ago. And while Bond has been staunchly clean-shaven so far, bookmakers are convinced MI6’s infamous super spy will break with tradition for Bond 25.

Ladbrokes say they’ve shaved the odds on a beardy Bond from 8/1 to 3/1 in the last two weeks. Meanwhile Betfred have sheared the odds on Bond sporting a furry cheek warmer from 10/1 to 4/1 in the past fortnight, following a flurry of betting activity. Betfred spokesman Peter Spencer suggested Bond’s ‘naval background’ – he’s a former Commander in the Royal Navy according to Ian Fleming’s novels – makes a beard a realistic proposition.

He said: “We’ve had scores of bets on this subject, and we’re 4/1 now that he shows true bristles in the opening sequence of Bond 25. Bond has always been clean shaven – but times are changing. One thing’s for sure, with a bearded Bond, Q will be busy. He may be able to sneak a dastardly device into 007’s specially-adapted beard trimmer…”

There have been two exceptions to Bond’s strict ‘no beards’ policy. In 2002’s Die Another Day, Pierce Brosnan briefly sports a beard in scenes where he’s taken captive by the North Koreans, while Daniel Craig is seen in 2012’s Skyfall sporting unkempt stubble. No Bonds, however, have made a beard their preferred style – until now.

man riding bike

Leading UK hair transplant surgeon Dr Bessam Farjo says a Bond beard on the big screen would only increase demand for ‘beard transplants’ – where hair is implanted into the face in patients who struggle to grow their own whiskers. Dr Farjo, founder of the Farjo Hair Institute, said:

“With beards continuing to set style trends in 2018, it would not be surprising to see 007 throwing away his razor, too. At our own clinic we experienced a threefold increase in cosmetic beard transplants from 2014 onwards, when the popularity really hit. And I can only see interest rising further.”

Not everyone wants to embrace a bearded Bond.

Graham Rye, editor of 007 MAGAZINE, said: “With Bond, audiences expect to see a smooth, suave sophisticated character – and for me that does not include facial hair. I don’t think Bond should reflect modern fashion trends. You need only look at the clothes and cars beloved of Bond over the years to realise that people copy Bond, Bond does not copy other people.”

Meanwhile Professor James Chapman, lecturer in film studies at the University of Leicester and 007 expert, added: “I doubt very much that we’ll have a bearded Bond throughout a whole film. It might be that, as in Skyfall, Craig will go scruffy for a while.”

Many commentators have traced the craze for bristles to the 2013 movie awards season, which saw a throng of male actors – including George Clooney, Ben Affleck and Bradley Cooper – attended the Baftas and Oscars with full beards.

bearded man with camera

A research paper published last week in the Journal of Evolutionary Biology found that men with beards are considered ‘more attractive’ than men who are clean-shaven. Current Bond Daniel Craig set to retire as his gun after next year’s instalment of the franchise. And bookies have installed Bodyguard’s Richard Madden as evens favourite to take the reigns.

The Night Manager’s Tom Hiddleston (3/1) is second favourite, followed by Tom Hardy (5/1) and Idris Elba, who’s drifted out from favourite two months ago to 16/1.