Could the West End’s future Edna Turnblad have not just the manly muscles but a manly beard as well? Hirsute TV presenter Justin Lee Collins has reportedly been approached to tackle the cross-dressing lead in Hairspray at the Shaftesbury Theatre, following Brian Conley, who takes over from Michael Ball in July (See News, 15 Apr 2009).

Collins is a comedian and TV presenter known for programmes including The Saturday Night Project and the series of documentaries entitled Bring Back…, in which he attempts to reunite the cast members of shows including The A Team and Grange Hill. He made his West End musical debut last year, making a guest appearance for three performances only in Chicago at the Cambridge Theatre (See News, 3 Dec 2008).

Speaking to The Stage newspaper, Collins said that, after making a trip to see Hairspray, he was keen on the job: “They (the producers) have sounded me out and I would absolutely be interested. I did not think I would be before I saw it, but I loved it. I think it’s just one of the best shows around.”

He’s also still considering a return to Chicago, whose producers have been wooing him as well: “They have asked me back to do a full run, which, if I can do it - and I would genuinely love to - would be a six- to eight-week commitment. I am so busy with other things that right now I could not do it. But in the future, whether that’s later this year or sometime next year, I would do it in a heartbeat, because I absolutely loved it.”