Comedy star Jason Manford has announced some big theatre news to the delight of fans. The TV star has confirmed he is to reprise his acclaimed West End role as the Cowardly Lion in Wizard of Oz on home turf in Manchester.

It will be a big Manchester theatre exclusive - as he's reprising the role just for the Palace Theatre run of the UK touring production in 2024. He announced the news in an Instagram post on Monday afternoon.

In it, he said: "Manchester!! I know I was only supposed to be doing the Wizard of Oz at the London Palladium but I couldn’t let it tour to Manchester and not be involved!"

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He added: "So for two weeks only I’ll be reprising my Cowardly Lion at the Palace Theatre. 24th April - 5th May."

Jason starred as the Cowardly Lion to rave reviews during the show's West End run earlier this year. He joins the already-announced Dancing On Ice star The Vivienne who will be playing the Wicked Witch of the West in the touring production.

Also announced today for the cast in Manchester will be West End star Allan Stewart playing The Wizard.

Jason says of his return to Oz: "This show is a real treat for all the family - audiences can expect the story they know and love with a modern twist and incredible staging. We can’t wait to transport the people of Manchester to the Emerald City.”

Jason will be treading the boards in Manchester next month when he stars in panto Jack and the Beanstalk at the Opera House. He's reprising his comedy double act with BGT star Ben Nickless in the upcoming show, with the duo playing twins.

His instagram friends and followers were delighted to hear the news of his return to the role especially for Manchester. His panto co-star Ben Nickless wrote: "I won't miss this one pal".

While Sarra Hoy wrote: "That’s amazing news Jason, we will def try to come along."

Jason Manford and Ben Nickless will play twin brothers
Jason Manford and Ben Nickless will play twin brothers in panto this Christmas

Principal casting for Manchester was also confirmed by theatre bosses today with Aviva Tulley (Book of Mormon, UK Tour) as Dorothy, Benjamin Yates (ITV’s Emmerdale; Jersey Boys, West End) as The Scarecrow, Emily Bull (9 to 5, UK Tour; Matilda UK Tour) as Glinda The Good Witch and Abigail Matthews as Toto (Bleak Expectations, West End; War Horse, West End).

The cast is completed by David Burrows, Adam Craig, Cole Dunn, Tyler Ephraim, Olivia Kate Holding, Thomas Kalek, Sadie Levett, Kelsie-Rae Marshall, Martin McCarthy, Rose Ouellette, Fanja Parent, Alexandra Regan, Nathan Routledge and Sydney Spencer.

Tickets are priced from £13 for the Manchester run at The Palace Theatre. They're available to buy online here.