James Bond 23 Is Skyfall

Javier Bardem will be the villain

Skyfall, the title for James Bond 23, has been formally announced at a West End press conference disappointingly free of armed goons or men stroking cats. The news – widely speculated about online since domain names bearing permutations of the title were purchased by MGM and Sony Pictures – is hardly a big surprise. If you're holding a betting slip with 'Quantum Of Solace 2: Quantums Will Be Solaced' rip it up now, then come and work for Empire.

Entering to Monty Norman’s iconic Bond Theme, producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson were joined by director Sam Mendes who introduced most of his major cast. Judi Dench, French newcomer (and newest Bond girl) Bérénice Marlohe, Naomie Harris, and, of course, Daniel Craig. Perhaps the biggest surprise was the appearance of Javier Bardem, described by Mendes as “the villain of the piece”.

So what can we tell you about the new Bond ladies? At this point, not too much. The glamorous Marlohe enigmatically revealed that she’ll play “a glamorous, enigmatic character”, and Harris dismissed those Moneypenny rumours by announcing that she’ll play “a field agent called Eve”.

The venue of the press call - London's Corinthia Hotel - a one-time Ministry of Defence property wasn’t just a fittingly espionage-y setting for the announcement but a location for the shoot. Mendes explained that part of the film will be shot in Whitehall, as well as taking 007 to China – Shanghai and elsewhere – Istanbul and “remote” parts of Scotland.

Mendes explained that other commitments (and a lack of chairs) meant that absentees included Ben Whishsaw (“playing a part I can tell you nothing about in a scenes I can tell you nothing about”), Ralph Fiennes (ditto) and Albert Finney (ditto).

And what of the plot? According to the press release: "Bond's loyalty to M is tested to the full as her past comes back to haunt her. As MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost."

Skyfall doesn’t relate to any other Fleming or Bond property to date, and there’s no whiff of the mysterious Quantum and its devious schemes. “It’s its own story,” stressed Mendes. “It doesn’t connect with the other films. Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and John Logan have written a fantastic script and I think it has all the ingredients to be a fantastic Bond movie, including – to quash any rumours – lots of action.”

What about gadgets? “I can’t give much away,” said Mendes, “except that there’ll be lots of surprises”. Jam trousers, here we go.

Principal photography starts on Monday. Skyfall will land on our screens on October 26, 2012.