Rowan Atkinson is to star as Fagin in the forthcoming West End stage production of Oliver!
The cast will also include the winners of the BBC show I’d Do Anything – one actress will play Nancy and three boys will take turns to play the lead role.
Blackadder star Atkinson, 53, said the role was a long-held ambition.
“In the 1980s I enjoyed doing a lot of West End theatre and since then have been distracted very much by Mr Bean and film-making,” he said.
“I had been thinking for some time about returning to the stage and the idea of the role of Fagin, which has long intrigued me.
“Some time ago I even played the role in a school production [so it] seemed like too good an opportunity to miss.”
Sir Cameron Mackintosh’s production of the Lionel Bart musical opens at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in December. It will feature a cast 100-strong cast.
Sir Cameron said he had been in discussions with Atkinson “on and off for many years”.
“To me this idea has always promised the perfect marriage of a brilliant mercurial role with a brilliant mercurial comic actor,” he added.
The 1994 London Palladium production of Oliver! played 1,366 performances over three years and made more than £40m at the box office.
Atkinson made his big-screen debut in 1983’s unofficial James Bond picture Never Say Never Again.
His other film credits include Johnny English, Four Weddings And A Funeral and Love, Actually.