After his limited five-week stint earlier this year (See News, 10 Dec 2003), Jason Donovan will return to the West End musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the London Palladium this autumn. He’ll resume the lead role of Caractacus Potts from 7 September 2004, though exact dates for the length of his run are yet to be confirmed.

The Australian pop and soap star is well known for TV’s Neighbours - as well as for his on-again, off-again romance with one-time co-star Kylie Minogue - and for various pop songs in the early 1990s. He previously had success at the London Palladium in 1991, when he took the title role in Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. Donovan's other West End credits include The Rocky Horror Show.

In Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the role of eccentric inventor Caractacus Potts was originated on stage by Michael Ball, and is currently being performed by Gary Wilmot, who Donovan previously covered during his holidays in January and February.

Others in the current cast of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang include: Scarlet Strallen (as Truly Scrumptious), Christopher Biggins (Baron Bomburst), Louise Gold (Baroness Bomburst), Lionel Blair (the Child Catcher) and Tony Adams (Grandpa Potts).

The stage musical is adapted by Jeremy Sams with original music by the Sherman brothers. It's directed by RSC artistic director Adrian Noble, choreographed by Gillian Lynne and designed by Award winner Anthony Ward. The original children's book, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, was written by Ian Fleming. The £6.2 million musical, based on the famous 1968 children's film, is currently taking bookings up to 25 September 2004.

- by Terri Paddock