James Bond will always be male, says franchise producer Barbara Broccoli

James Bond will always be male, one of the franchise's most senior producers has said.

Barbara Broccoli, who has worked on the films for more than four decades, made the comments amid mounting speculation over the gender of the next 007.

There have been calls for the spy to be portrayed by a female actor, after only being played by men since the first release in 1962.

Speaking to Variety magazine, Bafta winning director Broccoli said: "He can be of any colour, but he is male."

"I believe we should be creating new characters for women - strong female characters; I'm not particularly interested in taking a male character and having a woman play it."

"I think women are far more interesting than that," she added.

All the actors to play Bond have been male, despite calls for a female Bond. Credit: AP

The comments come just months before the release of the next film, No Time To Die, which has already had Daniel Craig confirmed as being at the helm for the final time.

No details have been given over who could replace Craig as Bond.

Piece Brosnan, who played the spy four times, has previously said he believes it would be "exhilarating" and "exciting" for a woman to play the role.

The latest installment in the franchise follows Bond after he has left active service and is enjoying a quiet life in the tropical paradise of the Caribbean.

With no licence to kill, the spy is taking a well-earned break; but that peace doesn't last long.

Earlier this week, producers announced Billie Eilish will write and perform the new theme song for the upcoming James Bond movie.