Ah, Mr Bond, we’ve been expecting you. For about twenty-two months as it goes. What took you so long?

No Time to Die was among the first films to pull its cinematic release with the arrival of Covid-19 on the scene early last year. And yet, this twenty-fifth Bond blockbuster had already been pushed back twice, long before the first cough had been heard in Wuhan. It seems like a distant memory now but it was the departure of original director Danny Boyle from the production that marked the first of many setbacks.

While countless lesser films retreated to online streaming through their delays, No Time to Die stuck it out. This, insisted producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, is an experience that demands a big screen - and even bigger audience. Frankly, with an alleged budget of up to £300 million, anything less would be a financial catastrophe.

With Boyle out, Beasts of No Nation director Cary Fukunaga stepped up to the mark, becoming the first ever American to helm a Bond film in the process. Fukunaga brought new ideas and new directions to the film and was joined by new writers and a new cinematographer, in the form of La La Land’s Linus Sandgren.

In one final twist - and, supposedly, at the behest of Bond himself - Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag, Killing Eve) was recruited to tweak the script. Hers was a licence to add humour and improve the character development of the film. Once done, the cameras were finally ready to roll.

Having made his debut way back in 2006’s game-changing Casino Royale, No Time to Die will finally see Daniel Craig hang up his tux and bequeath the role of James Bond to a hitherto unknown successor. Craig has been uniformly superb across the five features that mark his era, with the grit and vulnerability he brought to Bond saving the franchise from parody.

Alongside Craig, Ben Whishaw, Naomi Harris, Ralph Fiennes and Léa Seydoux are all back, as is Jeffrey Wright, whose Felix Leite head last seen in 2008’s Quantum of Solace. Rami Malek joins as big bad: Lyutsifer Safin, while Lashana Lynch looks set to make a splash as the new 007. Could it be that Bond has gone the way of Doctor Who and switched the gender of its lead? Only time will tell…