Daniel Craig as James Bond

English actor Daniel Craig (Layer Cake) was named as the next James Bond today, ending months of speculation over who would take over from Pierce Brosnan on Her Majesty's secret service.

In typically flamboyant 007 style, the 37-year-old swept up the River Thames on a power launch to a news conference, escorted by Royal Marines boats.

The first blond Bond wore a blue suit and red tie and posed for photographers in the shadow of Tower Bridge.

During exchanges with reporters he got a taste of the downside of superstardom that landing the role will bring, dodging personal questions about supermodel Kate Moss and actress Sienna Miller, both of whom have been linked with Craig.

Some of his comments were decidedly non-Bond.

"I'd like to thank the Royal Marines for bringing me in like that, and scaring the shit out of me," the actor joked.

Craig was hot favorite in the run-up to Friday's announcement, and his appointment to star in the next Bond film Casino Royale was all but confirmed when his mother let the secret slip to a regional newspaper earlier in the day.

While little known in the United States, Craig will be more familiar to British audiences after appearing in the gangster caper Layer Cake. He also played alongside Paul Newman in Road to Perdition and Gwyneth Paltrow in Sylvia.

Martin Campbell will direct Casino Royale, due for release in November next year, which takes viewers back to the beginning of the super spy's career.

"I certainly think it will be a little bit darker (than previous films) ... more character, less gadgets," the director said of Casino, which is expected to cost at least $100 million.

Craig promised to bring something new to a role immortalized by earlier incarnations Sean Connery, Roger Moore and Brosnan.

"It's not a question of redefining, but a question of taking it somewhere maybe where it's never gone before."

He said he spoke to Irishman Brosnan, who had described the decision by Bond film makers to drop him as a "body blow."

According to franchise producer Michael Wilson, Craig was chosen from a field of more than 200 potential 007s, and the decision took about two years to make.

Before becoming Bond, Craig will complete his work on the upcoming Invasion of the Body Snatchers remake, The Visiting, alongside Nicole Kidman, as well as finish work on his role in Steven Spielberg's Munich, which also stars Eric Bana.