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Wednesday 24 Sep 2014

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BBC One follows the Yellow Brick Road, with Over The Rainbow

Graham Norton and Andrew Lloyd Webber

Following the success of How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?, Any Dream Will Do and I'd Do Anything, Over The Rainbow reunites host Graham Norton and Andrew Lloyd Webber, who, along with a brand new panel of experts (Sheila Hancock, Charlotte Church and John Partridge) and BBC One viewers, will choose a Dorothy to perform in the West End production of The Wizard Of Oz next year. The show transmits with a weekend special on Friday 26 and Saturday 27 March, then the live studio shows start on Saturday 3 April (time tbc).

Viewers will see thousands of hopefuls turning up at open auditions across the country in Friday night's show, in a bid to become the newest star of the West End.

As the selection process continues, Saturday's show will showcase the final 20 "Dorothys" in a studio-based "sing-off"' – judged by the panel and Andrew, who will make a selection down to 10 girls.

Panellists Sheila Hancock, Charlotte Church and John Partridge,

The Wild Card

In a surprise "wild card" element of the show, after the panel – led by Andrew Lloyd Webber – has agreed upon the 10 finalists, viewers will be invited to vote to save one of the girls who doesn’t get through the panels' vote, to return next week.

Telephone lines will open for a set amount of time after these 10 girls have all performed a sing-off song and the contestant with the most votes will be revealed the following week, in the first live show to air on 3 April.

Viewers will find out the results of the "wild card" vote, and the 10 Dorothys will perform for their chance to stay in the competition and be critiqued by the panel and Andrew.

Viewers have the opportunity to cast their votes and the outcome will be announced in the results show. The two contestants with the least amount of votes will perform a "sing-off" and Andrew Lloyd Webber will decide which contestant he wants to remain in the competition.

Andrew Lloyd Webber commented: "I would like to bring something new to The Wizard Of Oz. I'm searching for a modern Dorothy, who can take the role much further, and continue to appeal to a wide audience.

"The film worked fantastically but we need some new songs for the stage show in addition to the much-loved originals from the movie. Over The Rainbow is of course one of the greatest songs ever written."

Andrew Lloyd Webber is also searching for a Toto, for a one-off gala performance of The Wizard Of Oz, when it hits the West End stage next year.

Jodie Prenger (winner of 2008's I'd Do Anything) will lead the search for Toto in April, at two open audition days (venue tbc). Viewers will be able to follow the dogs' progress across the series, as they do their best to charm dedicated cat man, Andrew Lloyd Webber!

Over The Rainbow Live Events

This May, Over The Rainbow fans are invited to have a go at singing at a series of free events around the country. The Over The Rainbow Live Events will give thousands of participants the chance to take part in their own musical theatre experience, with help from the BBC Singers, BBC musicians and some very special guests.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve never sung before – the events are aimed at beginners and open to everyone.

The Over The Rainbow Live Events will visit four UK cities in May – full details of the events and how to apply for tickets will be available online from April.

Notes to Editors

  • Friday 26 March, show to air 21.00-22.00, Saturday 27 March, show time tbc. Live shows start Saturday 3 April, times tbc.
  • Viewers will not be able to vote for a Toto. Andrew Lloyd Webber will work with a panel of experts – including Jodie Prenger – who will together decide on the winning Toto, based on the dogs' performance throughout the series. The winning dog will be announced in the final show.
  • Terms and conditions available at 10 dogs will be selected from the two open audition days, and the dog panel will select five dogs to continue into the competition.
  • The Toto selected will appear in a one-off gala performance of The Wizard Of Oz in the West End next year.
  • Open auditions for the Dorothy role were held in Glasgow, Cardiff, Belfast, Manchester and London. Auditions were held in front of the production team, David Grindrod (Casting Director) and his team of casting directors. The girls were invited to sing either Over The Rainbow or We're Off To See The Wizard as well as a song of their own choice.
  • From these open auditions, 110 girls were selected and invited back for call-backs in London. This was an audition in front of the panel.
  • From these 110 girls, 54 made it through to the call-backs at 'Dorothy Farm', where they worked with vocal coach Claire Moore, choreographer Kevan Allen and performance/acting coach Donna Soto Morettini. The girls were judged on their vocal, dance and acting abilities. The panel were also involved at this stage, and they decided on just 20 girls to take a step closer to being part of the final selection. The girls stayed on site at the 'farm'. The process was filmed throughout.
  • The 20 girls will go down to the final 10 in episode 2 of the series. In this pre-recorded show, Andrew and the panel will decide which of the chosen girls will go through.
  • One contestant will be voted off each week. The panel give their comments, then the phone lines are opened so that viewers can phone in to vote for the girl they'd like to remain in the competition.
  • All profits from the voting phone lines go to the BBC Performing Arts Fund – the official BBC Charity (reg charity number 1101276) which funds training and career development in the performing arts. From talented musical theatre students to urban music makers to choirs of all shapes and sizes, the aim is help people reach their musical potential. This year for the fourth year running, the Training in Musical Theatre scheme will offer up to £150,000 in bursaries to help aspiring musical theatre stars pay for their training. The Fund is the largest supporter of musical theatre training in the UK and many of the previous bursary winners are now performing on the West End stage as well on national and international tours. The scheme opened for applications on Monday 15 March. For more details, please see
  • The series is being made by talkbackThames. Executive producer is Suzy Lamb who is reunited with Andrew having executive produced his previous musical theatre productions for the BBC.


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