IT'S hard to believe the producers of Dr No ever thought of anyone other than Sean Connery for the role of 007.

But in 1960 Connery was just a jobbing actor and the producers - Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman - were split on whether to cast an unknown as the smooth superspy or a big name star.

So among the actors considered for the role were:

Trevor Howard The English actor best known for Brief Encounter and the Third Man was nearly 50 when Dr No was made.

  • Stanley Baker: The Zulu star had made a name for himself as an action star. He also looked uncannily like Connery and after the 007 franchise became a huge hit would star in several spy caper cash-ins.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

Baker almost got the role but wouldn't commit to making three films.

Rex Harrison: The Dr Doolittle star lost out to Connery

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

  • David Niven: Quintessentially English but lacked the physical presence of Connery.
  • Richard Todd: Ian Fleming's first choice for the role.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

When Connery refused to do any more Bonds after You Only Live Twice a casting call went out again.

The role eventually went to former male model George Lazenby but others in the frame included:

  • Jeremy Brett: Turned down the role for fear of being typecast. Ironically, he was typecast 20 years later when he starred as the definitive Sherlock Holmes.
  • Peter Purves: That's right, the Blue Peter presenter allegedly applied for the Bond role - but didn't get it.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

  • Michael Caine: Not interested in playing another spy after three turns as Harry Palmer in Funeral In Berlin, The Billion Dollar Brain and the IPCRESS File.
  • Dick Van Dyke: Unsurprisingly, his English accent failed to impress. Had anyone seen him in Mary Poppins?

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

Other names suggested for the role included: Oliver Reed, Terence Stamp, Timothy Dalton (who thought himself too young in 1969 but would get the role a decade later), Roger Green (who filmed an audition), William Guant and chat show host Simon Dee.