Blackadder star Rowan Atkinson to star as Fagin in the West End

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.”

’Perfect marriage’

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.