Actor Philip Glenister, famed for his role as the politically-incorrect detective in Life On Mars, has become the new favourite to replace ousted Jeremy Clarkson as the new presenter of Top Gear.
Best known for playing rough-and-ready DCI Gene Hunt , Glenister has replaced Great British Bake Off host Sue Perkins as most likely to take on the role, according to bookies.
Odds have been slashed from 10-1 to 2-1 after The Sun on Sunday reported that the BBC are considering hiring the actor-turned-presenter.
The BBC declined to comment on the speculation.
Glenister is a vocal car enthusiast and is about to present the second series of For The Love Of Cars on Channel Four
David Williams of Ladbrokes said: "All of a sudden Glenister is the hottest name around.
"We hadn't seen a penny for him before the weekend but in next to no time he's the new favourite. Punters seem convinced that something is afoot."
Simon Clare, spokesman for Coral, said they have slashed their bets from 10/1 to 2/1 for Glenister.
"We have seen a host of celebrities gambled on in recent weeks to take over from Clarkson and it is rapidly becoming one of the biggest novelty betting events ever", he said.
Behind Glenister, Perkins is the next favourite at 4-1 followed by Dermot O'Leary who has recently quit X Factor at 5-1.
Other contenders include Jodie Kidd, Steve Coogan, John Bishop, Johnny Vaughan and Stephen Fry.
Clarkson was the subject of an internal BBC investigation after he attacked Top Gear producer Oisin Tymon, splitting his lip and verbally abusing him in a 30-second assault on March 4.
He was suspended by the broadcaster on March 10 before it announced his contract would not be renewed.
The star received widespread public support - including from his friend Prime Minister David Cameron - in the aftermath of the fracas, and one million people signed a petition calling for the BBC to reinstate him.
But director-general Tony Hall said ''a line has been crossed'' and ''there cannot be one rule for one and one rule for another''.
Clarkson last week pulled out of his planned appearance hosting BBC satirical show Have I Got News For You.
The future of the show's other two presenters - Richard Hammond and James May - is also unclear, with both men's Top Gear contracts having run out.
Meanwhile, William Hill took a more cautious approach to the speculation, adding that all three presenters could be replaced.
It gave Philip Glenister odds of 8-1 to become a permanent presenter of Top Gear.
"The betting landscape on who will present Top Gear has really changed - from betting on who will replace Clarkson, it now looks like we are betting on three brand new hosts, " a spokesman for William Hill said.
"Although it sounds like BBC bosses are considering Philip Glenister, he is one of possibly hundreds of names they will be considering."