It will hardly be the biggest casting shock when producers of the long-rumoured Bridget Jones musical confirm Sheridan Smith as their leading lady.

And now it appears an announcement could be imminent, after author Helen Fielding, who is adapting her book for the stage, gave the Legally Blonde star her blessing on Twitter. Recent messages between the two have included comments such as "You're a bloody genius, darling. You ARE Bridget Jones" and, more recently, "missed you too ... you were so fab", suggesting that rehearsals may already be underway.

The new musical, which is tipped for an early 2012 West End premiere, reunites Billy Elliot’s director Stephen Daldry and choreographer Peter Darling. Other rumoured cast members include Bertie Carvel and Julian Ovenden as love rivals Mark Darcy and Daniel Cleaver, while pop star Lily Allen has penned songs for the show.