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Omid Djalili in Oliver!

Producers of Oliver! at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane have revealed that comedian Omid Djalili will be taking over the role of Fagin when Rowan Atkinson leaves the show in July.

Like Graham Norton and Gareth Gates before him, Omid will be making his West End debut in the show in what looks to be a long line of unusual casting moves made in the West End. Omid is one of Britain’s most successful stand-up comedians, with his record breaking shows at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, sell-out tours and being only the second British comedian to be given his own HBO special in New York. His hyperactive style, including bellydancing, singing and countless different accents have gained widespread audiences through his numerous appearances on comedy shows such as Live at Jongleurs, Room 101, Have I Got News For You and Live at the Apollo.

However, Omid Djalili is actually better qualified to take on such an iconic role than his comedy career would suggest. A trained actor, he has appeared in a number of films including Casanova, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, Gladiator, The Mummy and The Love Guru. He gained huge popularity in America after playing Nasim the janitor in the sitcom Whoopi. While Rowan Atkinson gained critical praise for peppering the role of Fagin with his own comedic nuances, Djalili looks set to do the same with his own unique style and, perhaps just as importantly, a fantastic singing voice.

Rowan Akinson leaves Oliver! on Saturday 18 July and Omid Djalili steps into Fagin’s shoes on Monday 20 July 2009.

Published: 12/02/2009 16:57:32