Roger Moore
Roger Moore has denied his comments were racist.

Sir Roger Moore has denied accusations of racism after he was reported as saying that he wanted the next James Bond to be "English English".

The 87-year-old actor, who played the role of the British spy in seven Bond films, made his comments in an interview with French magazine Paris Match.

It was suggested that he may have been alluding to reports that Idris Elba, is being considered for the role.

The Daily Mail reported that Sir Roger told Paris Match: "A few years ago, I said that [black actor] Cuba Gooding Jnr would make an excellent Bond, but it was a joke! Although James may have been played by a Scot, a Welshman and an Irishman, I think he should be English-English. Nevertheless, it's an interesting idea, but unrealistic."

In the magazine, the quote appears under the title "Idris Elba: le prochain Bond?", translated as "Idris Elba: the next Bond."

As charges of alleged racism circulated in the media, the veteran actor took to Twitter to defend his comments, suggesting that the true meaning was "lost in translation".

Sir Roger tweeted: "An interview I gave to Paris Match implies I said something racist about Idris Elba. That is simply untrue. #Lost in translation."

The controversy resulted in Sir Roger trending in the UK, with many social media commentators attacking the actor and highlighting the fact that Elba was born and raised in the East End of London.

Corey B King said: "This is nothing worse than an old live 70 plus years with all of that hatred in your heart....#rogermoore"

Jean Johansson tweeted: "What prevents @idriselba from being 'English English'? #rogermoore . Ignorant old fool."

One user described Sir Roger as being 'a bit racist' over his controversial comments.

Others, including comic actor Sanjeev Bhaskar jumped to his defence, ‏tweeting: "Been reading about this @sirrogermoore is a racist crap. Utter garbage. Check his @UNICEF work against what a #tabloid reports #rogermoore".

Boxer Lennox Lewis showed his support for Elba writing: "I heard #RogerMoore was misquoted. I hope so because I think @idriselba would make a great 007. What do u think?"

The first actor to play James Bond was Scotsman Sean Connery, followed by Australian George Lazenby, Welshman Timothy Dalton and Irishman Pierce Brosnan.

The Chester-born actor Daniel Craig is due to appear in the 24th instalment of the franchise Spectre, which is scheduled to be released in November.

Roger Moore, who like Elba hails from London, starred in seven Bond films between 1973 and 1985.

In December 2014, following the hack at Sony Pictures, emails suggested that former co-chairman Amy Pascal wanted Idris Elba to be the next Bond. At the time, Elba responded with a selfie joking "I thought Bond was meant to be handsome."

Elba is seen as the leading contender to play Bond once Daniel Craig retires from the role, with bookmaker Paddy Power making Elba the 7/4 favourite to play Bond.