Manchester-born Danielle Hope is the latest West End star to be created by a BBC talent search, having won the final of Over The Rainbow.
Hope triumphed in the final against 17-year-old Sophie Evans, who came second, and 22-year-old Lauren Samuels, who finished third.
Saturday’s Over The Rainbow final marked the end of a long auditioning process for student Hope. Thousands of hopefuls auditioned for a chance to make it to the Saturday night series, with only 20 making it that far. Ten weeks of live weekend shows including critiques from a panel comprising Sheila Hancock, John Partridge and Charlotte Church and weekly voting by the television audience, saw Hope emerge as the performer the nation most wants to see slip on the ruby slippers and embark on an adventure in the magical world of Oz.
Hope joins Jodie Prenger, Lee Mead and Connie Fisher as stars taken from obscurity and thrust into leading West End roles by BBC series. The future also looks rosy for many of Hope’s fellow competitors; many runners-up from previous series have also found themselves in high demand.
Though the new production of The Wizard Of Oz, which will feature new songs by Andrew Lloyd Webber alongside the classic score from the Oscar-winning movie, begins its London run in March 2011, Hope has already well and truly begun her journey along that famous yellow brick road.