Peter Capaldi in The Ladykillers
Peter Capaldi in The Ladykillers
1. Peter Capaldi (6/4)

The current favourite - best known as fearsome spin doctor Malcolm Tucker in The Thick of It - got his first taste of acting at the Fort Theatre near Glasgow and recently returned to the stage in Graham Linehan's WhatsOnStage Award-winning adaptation of The Ladykillers (the new cast of which can currently be seen at the Vaudeville Theatre - click here for tickets).

2. Daniel Rigby (5/2)

Another hot favourite, Rigby trained at RADA before making waves in a host of stage acting roles. Most recently he starred alongside James Corden in the National Theatre's hit comedy One Man, Two Guvnors, in which he originated the role of Alan Dangle.

3. Ben Daniels (4/1)

WhatsOnStage readers may recall that Daniels won the 2001 WhatsOnStage Award for Best Supporting Actor for All My Sons. He told us at the time: "the older I get, the more I realise theatre's true importance". His other stage credits include Ibsen's The Wild Duck (Donmar) and Thérèse Raquin (National).

Rory Kinnear in Hamlet
Rory Kinnear in Hamlet
4. Rory Kinnear (6/1)

Kinnear needs no introduction to any theatre fan, having emerged as one of the leading stage actors of recent times. Currently starring opposite Adrian Lester in Othello at the National, his other credits at the venue include Hamlet, The Last of the Haussmans and Burnt by the Sun.

5. Andrew Scott (10/1)

Irishman Scott is one of the most dynamic and unpredictable stage talents. Recently seen at the NT Shed reprising his acclaimed performances of Simon Stephens' Sea Wall, his other credits include Emperor and Galilean (National) and Mike Bartlett's Cock (Royal Court), in which he starred opposite fellow Timelord contender Ben Whishaw - see below. Read our recent interview with Andrew Scott here.

6. Ben Whishaw (14/1)

The story of director Trevor Nunn plucking Whishaw straight from RADA to play the lead in his 2004 Old Vic production of Hamlet is now legend. Since then the wiry wunderkind has solidified his reputation in Royal Court plays Cock and The Pride, and most recently Peter and Alice, in which he played opposite his Skyfall co-star Judi Dench. Is soon to return ot the West End stage in Mojo, alongside Harry Potter star Rupert Grint (click here for tickets).

David Harewood in The Mountaintop
David Harewood in The Mountaintop
7. David Harewood (14/1)

Harewood may have found Hollywood fame recently thanks to Homeland (alongside fellow Brit Damian Lewis), but his talent has long been known to UK theatregoers thanks to leading roles leading roles with the National Theatre (Othello, His Dark Materials) and in Katori Hall's Olivier Award-winning The Mountaintop, in which he played Martin Luther King Jr.

8. Chiwetel Ejiofor (14/1)

Currently starring in A Season in the Congo at the Young Vic, Ejiofor has a solid theatre pedigree thanks to acclaimed performances in Othello at the Donmar, for which which he won an Olivier Award in 2008, and the original production of Joe Penhall's Blue/Orange at the Royal Court.

9. Russell Tovey (16/1)

One of the National Theatre's original History Boys (alongside James Corden, Jamie Parker and Dominic Cooper), Tovey has established a large fanbase and, despite concentrating primarily on television work in recent years has kept his toe in the theatrical water with appearances in A Miracle (Royal Court) and last year's Sex with a Stranger (Trafalgar Studios).

Benedict Cumberbatch in Frankenstein
Benedict Cumberbatch in Frankenstein
10. Benedict Cumberbatch (20/1)

The Sherlock star has gold-plated theatre DNA, with numerous starring roles at leading venues. Highlights include After the Dance and Frankenstein at the National (the latter of which he role-swapped with Jonny Lee Miller, both picking up an Olivier Award in the process), and Hedda Gabbler at the Almeida and West End. Read our 20 Questions with him here - it still gets thousands of hits every month! Although Cumberbatch doesn't have any current theatre projects confirmed, he's often stated his interest in tackling Hamlet.


Some other leading theatre names in contention:

Sheridan Smith (20/1) - three-time WhatsOnStage Award-winner soon to return to the West End in A Midsummer Night's Dream

Alex Jennings (20/1) - the National Theatre stalwart recently played Alan Bennett to great acclaim in Untold Stories

Daniel Radcliffe (20/1) - the Harry Potter star has cut is teeth in several stage roles, including currently The Cripple of Inishmaan

Sophie Okonedo (25/1) - the RADA trained actress, most recently seen on stage in Haunted Child at the Royal Court, is one of the leading female contenders