Craig backed for Bond

Daniel Craig is still 'first choice' to play James Bond, according to producers.

British actor Daniel Craig poses during the French premiere of the new James Bond film 'Spectre' in October 2015 in Paris. Picture: AFP.

LONDON - The producers of James Bond, Barbra Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, still want Daniel Craig to play 007, according to the franchise's executive producer Callum McDougall.

The franchise's executive Callum McDougall insists the 48-year-old actor, who has portrayed 007 in four films beginning with 2006's Casino Royale, is wanted by co-producers Broccoli and Wilson to return to play the British spy in a fifth film.

McDougall told the BBC, "I know they're hoping for him to come back."

Craig's future as Bond has been the subject of much speculation in recent months with several other stars being tipped to take over the tuxedo from him including Aidan Turner, Idris Elba and Tom Hiddleston.

And last year, Craig - whose other 007 credits include Quantum of Solace, _Skyfall _and Spectre - said he would "rather slash" wrists than portray the spy again, but the comments were made during a gruelling promotional tour.

He also threw his Bond future in doubt when he signed up for 20-episode US TV series Purity.

His former co-star Dame Judi Dench, who played M opposite Craig three times, publicly stated she thought he needed a break from the Bond character.

She previously said, "I should think he is exhausted, absolutely exhausted."

Another blow for the franchise was the announcement that director Sam Mendes, who helmed the last two movies Spectre and Skyfall, was to step away from the franchise.