Downton Abbey star, Rob James-Collier, is priced at 66-1 to be the next James Bond by William Hill.

A lesser known star in the running, he has been added to the market which could see him step into the most challenging role of his career so far.

The Salford-born star had a brief stint in Coronation Street as Liam Connor, before stepping into the role he’s best known for, first footman and under butler Thomas Barrow in the award-winning British historical drama, Downton Abbey.

He has stepped into the spotlight as a likely contender for the next 007 ahead of the highly-anticipated release of the second Downton Abbey film, which is set to be released on April 29.

The Bolton News: Daniel Craig stepped down as James Bond after No Time to Die (PA)Daniel Craig stepped down as James Bond after No Time to Die (PA)

Since Daniel Craig stepped down from the franchise last year following No Time To Die, speculation has been rife over who will take his place.

James-Collier was first linked with the role in 2015 after an article picked him as a potential contender, with his relative obscurity placing him in a good position to make the role his own.

In fact, he already boasts some credentials which would prove useful for the role, having been awarded the Sexiest Male award at the 2007 and 2008 British Soap Awards.

It looks increasingly likely that a relatively obscure actor will take on the role - particularly one that fans wouldn’t expect as Barbara Broccoli and her team confirmed they were looking to do “something entirely different with the character” this time around.

The star previously that he was worried his role in Downton Abbey would ruin any future chance of a career in Hollywood. However, Broccoli has stated she is looking for a “British actor of any ethnicity” for the role.

Speaking of the addition, a William Hill spokesperson said: “Rob James-Collier would be a solid fit for the role of James Bond, as his impressive credentials yet relative obscurity mean he could really make his own mark on the prestigious role.

“Any leading actor who’s set to appear on the silver screen this year could be a contender, as 007 needs to be someone who’s fairly popular and very talented - just like Rob.”

Visit the William Hill website to see the full list of James Bond contenders.