Tony Earnshaw: Would it be better all round if Dr Jones finally hung up his hat?

That notorious grump Harrison Ford is alleged to be urging Steven Spielberg and George Lucas to kill off his greatest screen incarnation, archaeologist extraordinaire Indiana Jones.

Reports leaking out of Hollywood via "an unnamed source" have the 68-year-old star signing up for a fifth outing as the fedora-hatted hero but only if he can bid farewell to the character on his own terms.

George Lucas, who created Indy in between chores on the first Star Wars trilogy, has spoken of his desire for the franchise to continue with Transformers star Shia LaBeouf stepping into Indy's boots. The 24-year-old Los Angelino played Indy's son in 2008's Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

Insiders claim Lucas is loath to see Indy die, preferring an alternative scenario where the ageing Ford can appear in cameos, supporting LaBeouf as he drives a new series of films into the 21st century.

Ford, on the other hand, wants his own way. He is pushing for the as-yet untitled Indy V to culminate in the death of Dr Jones. Spielberg is said to be considering his request.

Ford's appeal mirrors a similar plan he had for Han Solo, who he believed should have died in Return of the Jedi, aka Star Wars: Episode VI. Lucas refused and Solo lived to see the end of the evil Galactic Empire.

But he firmly refused to have anything to do with any further Star Wars projects, and brushed off suggestions that he might make a brief appearance in any future sequels should Lucas announce them.

Ford's publicist has denied the star has made any reference to Indy's uncertain future and wary observers are treating the story with much caution. Still, with Ford nudging 70, there's only so much action and derring-do a sexagenarian hero can perform.

There was much discussion last spring over Indy's revival in the fourth film, which came 20 years after the previous instalment, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Some claimed the film was too little, too late, with the emphasis on extraterrestrial visitors a far cry from the first film's supernatural roots.

And naturally all eyes were on Harrison Ford. Older, greyer, slower, he still resembled the rollicking adventurer from Raiders of the Lost Ark but he lacked zip. No-one wanted a creaky tough guy but the passage of time underlined it. That's what we got.

Perhaps that's Ford's point – if indeed he actually made it. Being a film star is like being forced to constantly view a celluloid version of Dorian Gray's hidden picture. It's there, unavoidable, on a huge cinema screen.

No-one wants to be reminded of their mortality. By killing off Indiana Jones, maybe Harrison Ford is buying his real self some extra time.