The X Factor returned to Britain’s television screens last weekend, bringing with it the expected auditory delight and horror for both judges and viewers alike, as contestants from around the country displayed their vocal talents (or distinct lack thereof) to the discerning ears of Gary Barlow, Louis Walsh, Nicole Scherzinger and the returned Sharon Osbourne.  It’s a show which has seen its success propel it into its tenth and apparently last season on ITV, but it’s not just the general public who have been taken with the concept.  Comedian Harry Hill has combined forces with Steve Brown to bring you I Can’t Sing! The X Factor Musical, premiering at the London Palladium next year.

With previews starting 27 February 2014, and general performances from 26 March, fans (and critics) of The X Factor will be able to watch former EastEnders star Nigel Harman bring the show’s creator, Simon Cowell, to life on the boards.  In a somewhat satiric portrayal of the judge, Harman’s Cowell will appraise the talents of two contestants (Cynthia Revo and Alan Morrissey) who fall in love during the gruelling audition process.  But the real draw is that it promises to be just that little bit irreverent, going ‘behind the microphones and under the judges’ desks’ and boasting of ‘a gloriously twisted tale of naked ambition, heartache, hunchbacks and talking dogs’.  Sounds perfect for a memorable evening in the capital, doesn’t it?

With music and lyrics by Steve Brown (of Spitting Image fame), the show will be directed by Sean Foley and choreographed by Kate Prince – and Simon Cowell himself is to co-produce.  Indeed, the man whose show inspired the musical has said that he doesn’t mind ‘being completely ripped apart’ for Hill’s entertainment purposes.  Apparently – for those of you who relish the thought – he ‘gets it in the neck throughout’ and we finally discover why he wore such high-wasted trousers in the early years.  Nigel Harman, who can be seen in the next series of Downton Abbey later this month, has hinted that his Cowell ‘will sing – and even dance’!

Harry Hill’s idea for the musical has been called ‘a stroke of genius’ and perhaps the key is that it ‘takes the mickey in a friendly way’; something only Hill can do and which has seen him receive 3 BAFTAs for his work and 7 British Comedy Awards.  Certainly, playing to an audience of over 2,000 in what some consider to be London’s most famous theatre requires superior talent.  The first musical to be produced at the Grade-II listed Palladium was the 1968 Golden Boy, starring Sammy Davis, Jr., but musical performances only really took off in the 21st Century, with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s take-over of ownership under his company, the Really Useful Group.  Since then, the music hasn’t stopped.

With the X Factor leaving our screens in mid-December, a trip to see Hill’s musical in the new year is sure to be a hilarious and magical way to keep ‘the journey to a dream’ alive.