By Ben Seabrook
LONDON, July 17 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - With a woman to play the role of sci-fi TV character Doctor Who for the first time in 54 years, British betting companies on Monday cut the odds on a female taking up another of the other most famous fictional male roles - James Bond.
For while Doctor Who fans were divided over 35-year-old Jodie Whittaker becoming the 13th and first female Time Lord, bookmakers said this could be a sign of wider changes to come.
Two major betting firms shortened their odds on a female James Bond - with Gillian Anderson, best known for her role in "The X-Files", the frontrunner amongst the bookmakers.
William Hill cut its odds to 12/1 from 20/1 on a female Bond while Ladbrokes cut its odds to 10/1 from 12/1. Anderson, 48, was the frontrunner for the role at 16/1 with Paddy Power and 33/1 with William Hill. "Jodie Whittaker getting the nod is just what the doctor ordered and there's no doubt its sparked plenty of speculation on whether the next James Bond role will go to a female," Paddy Power spokesman Lewis Davey told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
"We've certainly been shaken and stirred by the news and have already significantly cut the odds on X-Files star Gillian Anderson to be 007."
However it was seen as unlikely that any change would be quick for Britain's most notorious spy with Paddy Power running odds at 1/50 for the new James Bond to stay male, with Tom Hardy the favourite to take over from the current Daniel Craig.
To date there have been seven actors play James Bond in 26 films dating back to 1962.
"It would certainly shake and stir things up if James Bond became Jane Bond, however at this stage it remains an outside chance," said Labrokes spokeswoman Jessica Bridge.
(Editing by Belinda Goldsmith @BeeGoldsmith; )
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