As previously tipped (See The Goss, 18 Dec 2007), in 2008 the BBC will follow its success with Any Dream Will Do and How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? with a third reality TV competition, this time to cast a revival of Lionel Bart’s Oliver!. While full dates have yet to be confirmed, open auditions will commence early in the new year, with the TV series – taking its title, I’d Do Anything, from one of the musical’s songs - expected to air on BBC One in the spring ahead of a summer/autumn opening for Oliver! in the West End.

As with the BBC’s two previous musical theatre series, I’d Do Anything will be hosted by Graham Norton with Andrew Lloyd Webber “back on his throne” as a celebrity judge and mentor. However, unlike How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? and Any Dream Will Do, which found stars Connie Fisher and Lee Mead for The Sound of Music and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat respectively, Lloyd Webber will not produce the resulting stage production nor will it run in one of the West End theatres owned by his Really Useful company.

The musical is likely to be mounted in one of the houses owned by rival impresario Cameron Mackintosh, who controls the rights to the musical and who produced the 1994 Sam Mendes production at the London Palladium, on which next year’s Oliver! may be based. Mackintosh will also take part in I’d Do Anything along with other judges, still to be announced.

The panel – and ultimately the voting public – will be tasked with finding an actress to play the role of Nancy as well as three young protégés who will take it in turns to play orphaned urchin Oliver.

Bart’s 1960 musical is based on Charles Dickens’ literary classic Oliver Twist and, beyond its theatre fanbase, found legions of fans from the 1968 film version starring Mark Lester as Oliver, Shani Wallis as Nancy, Ron Moody as Fagin, Jack Wild as the Artful Dodger and Oliver Reed as Bill Sikes. The score includes now-famous songs including “Consider Yourself”, “It’s a Fine Life”, “As Long as He Needs Me”, “Oom-pah-pah”, “Food, Glorious Food”, “I’d Do Anything” and the title song.

Commenting on the I’d Do Anything programming, Elaine Bedell, the BBC’s controller of Entertainment Commissioning, said: “We’re really pleased to be building on the success of Any Dream Will Do with a new search for West End stars next year. Oliver! is a much-loved British musical so we’re sure the show will unite families and melt hearts across the UK as we watch some of Britain’s best new talent take centre stage.”

- by Terri Paddock