IT’S always dangerous to forecast the result of TV talent searches.
But Jodie Prenger is the current joint favourite to claim the role of Nancy in next Saturday’s I’d Do Anything final.
The winner of the BBC1 series will be decided in a straight public phone vote.
And all the signs are that Jodie, 28, can expect strong support from viewers.
At the time of writing, the bookmakers have her in pole position, alongside Jessie Buckley, 17.
Third finalist Samantha Barks, also 17, is now the outsider.
Rachel Tucker, 26, can count herself unlucky to have been eliminated in this week’s results show – recorded on Saturday night and screened this evening.
Andrew Lloyd Webber said the sing-off between Rachel and Samantha left him with “an impossible choice”.
But despite Rachel’s strong performance this week, he was always going to save Samantha.
“I’ve got to think of where the show ultimately for Cameron is going to go,” was his telling comment.
That would appear to confirm that both Andrew and Oliver! producer Cameron Mackintosh would prefer one of the two younger Nancys left in the competition.
Cameron said he believed Jodie was not Nancy because she lacked the “grit” of the character.
Andrew believes Jodie could be Nancy and recognises the public support for her.
“I think there will be a lot of people who will think that she is what they feel Nancy to be,” he commented.
Andrew and Cameron, of course, have no say in the final show.
I plan to talk to Jodie again this week and believe she would be a worthy winner – against all the odds.
But the three finalists know it’s all to play for next weekend.
The final is screened between 6pm and 7pm on Saturday with the 12 Nancys reuniting for a special performance.
Joseph winner Lee Mead is billed to appear with the Olivers.
The results show is broadcast on Saturday between 8.45pm and 9.15pm.
And congratulations to Alderley Edge schoolboy Laurence Jeffcoate, 11, one of three youngsters who will share the role of Oliver.
There’s a full story in tomorrow’s MEN.
Monday 6:45am update: The online version of that story is here.
And overnight, Jodie moved in the betting odds to become the clear favourite – just.
But it’s still too close to call.
Latest William Hill odds: Jodie 11/8, Jessie 6/4, Samantha 9/4
I’d Do Anything: Jodie Wedding
I’d Do Anything: Jodie Prenger
Lord Leaps At Jodie
Jodie Would Do Anything For Corrie
Jodie Could Still Be Nancy
I’d Do Anything Official BBC Site