It's the live final of BBC One's search for a new Nancy in I'd Do Anything this weekend. There are three girls left; Jodie, Jessie and Samantha. They're fighting it out for a place in a new West End production of Oliver! We caught up with the show's musical guru Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Who's going to win?
I'm very intrigued because I have not a clue who's going to win this. It's very open, rather exciting. We had a fantastic day where we worked with Liza Minnelli yesterday. I got Liza to give a master class to the three girls and she coached all three of them for 20 minutes individually. So that must make it worth the girls having got into the programme in the first place. At the end of it Liza said to me, and I said to her, they're all three very, very good and very different. I think Saturday will be a very interesting ride.
How gutting was it for Rachel to have done Cabaret and then not to have got to work with Liza Minnelli?
She was so good, Rachel. I had the most agonising choice because I'd saved Rachel three times before and I thought that if the public still aren't voting for her and she's still in the bottom two - well, she's not going to go any further in the competition. So if I save her for next week, she's not going to get through to the final two. So that's the reason why I thought it would be best to have Samantha because Samantha is young and has got everything going for her. Rachel of course has worked a lot in the theatre and will work again. I have to say it's the most agonising thing I've ever had to do.
But do you secretly have a favourite that you'd like to win?
No. I thought early on in the programme that there was going to be another frontrunner like Connie and Lee that was called Jessie. And it didn't happen because Jessie, having started off with two or three really great performances. One performance which I think is the performance of the series, was her doing The Man That Got Away which of course was one of Judy Garland's songs. But she hadn't really come forward since that time. But she's got a very good chance I think now because having worked with Liza Minnelli of all people, Jessie's probably closer to Judy Garland/Liza Minnelli territory than the other two girls. Jodie, of course, was terrific as well. I really don't know. It depends entirely on who does what on the night and whether or not one of them really pulls something out of the bag that maybe we haven't seen.
Is there a general sense on the panel of who'd they'd like to win?
After the show on Saturday, before the results show, Cameron [Mackintosh] and I met and his people as he put it, (which means his director because obviously he's producing the show) both thought that it would be between Rachel and Samantha. So you can imagine my shock, horror when I discovered it was Rachel and Samantha in the bottom two. I don't know where we go from here because I also have to think of how Cameron is going to get this production on and obviously I've never worked with the director on his shows, so I don't know him. So I'm second guessing, but in a way I'm rather relieved that this week I don't have a vote.
How do you think this series has gone down compared to the other two series?
I think it's gone very well. I think it's perhaps difficult for the public to get their head around the idea of both casting Oliver and Nancy. And of course the thing we had with the Sound of Music is that everybody's got such a clear idea of who they think is right for Maria or who they think is right for Joseph. I think it's less clear with this because I think many people could play Nancy and I think many people could do it in different ways. It hasn't got that sort of definitive link with the public. But in many ways that makes it even more exciting because it means that I have no clue what's going to happen on Saturday.
Are you planning any more shows? What are your future plans?
I have got my own new show coming on next year, which is my sequel to the Phantom of the Opera, which I think is going to be called Phantom: Once Upon Another Time. But that will come on in November next year, probably, if everything goes well. So I'm going to have to see whether I can fit another series in and indeed whether I do one in America perhaps and give Britain a year off. I don't know. It's been very nice to have been asked, and asked again. I also have to remember that it's no good thinking of these shows in isolation. There has to be a show at the end of it. We are different to other shows because there is a real prize of a real job in the West End. If we haven't got a show, we don't have a television show.
Do Saturday night ratings matter to you? You're up against the final of Britain's Got Talent...
It obviously matters. I think we're doing very well considering everything. We don't get the bells and whistles that, say, Britain's Got Talent has. We don't have a BBC Three programme, we don't have a BBC Two programme, we don't have a constant reminder, we don't have all of those repeats. I think if I were ever to do this again I think I'd want to. Because the footage of Liza Minnelli that we have for Saturday night, of which they'll probably only be showing about three minutes if we're lucky. But there is an hour there of television gold, absolute magic. It's a shame that people won't see. So I think we're doing incredibly well when you consider the BBC doesn't have the kind of machine ITV has.
Have you spoken to Simon Cowell about the two shows and any rivalry?
No I haven't spoken to him about the two shows. I last saw Simon when I did Idol.
Looking ahead to Saturday night - winning isn't everything is it? All the other Josephs and Nancys do pretty well, don't they, even if they don't win?
We've just had Seamus, who was obviously one of our Josephs who went relatively early in the programme, he's just opened as Che Guevara in Evita in Liverpool and has had fantastic reviews. So, I would not worry if I were any of the girls in the final because something will happen. I think the younger one, possibly, I would recommend that if they don't win it that they do a little bit of training before they go anywhere else because they've got time on their side. But, it's been a fantastic journey and I love doing it because I get very emotionally caught up with the girls and their careers and their journeys.
Because it's such a good public audition process, do you get first pick of any of the wannabes that don't make it?
I always tell them to keep in touch. In fact, two of our Josephs are in productions that have nothing to do with me at all. Ben's in Hairspray and it's very rewarding when that happens. It doesn't quite work like that. We have a very good casting agent for the show who does all of the preliminary casting and he keeps very close tabs on what's going on. So the girls know to call him. He knows everything that's going on, not just in the West End, but all over the country so they've always got access to somebody who knows what's going on.
Have any of your friends in the theatre world thanked you for uncovering a whole new wealth of talent?
I think what they're most pleased about is the fact that attendances in theatre right across the board, all over the country, including amateur theatre, have gone up by about 25%. There's much, much more interest among young people now than there ever was. Theatre now is very much a cool place to be. It's completely changed. That's what the television shows have done. They've totally changed the attitude of young people towards what can go on in musicals, and in all sorts of theatre. I've been to plays where you see a young audience and they say, 'Well, we're here because we went to go and see Joseph or Sound of Music and then we wanted to go and see something else'. I was at the National Theatre and saw Warhorse but there was a whole group of schoolkids who put their names down because of the Joseph programme.
The live final for I'd Do Anything is on Saturday 31 May at 6pm and 8.45pm on BBC One.
Lord Lloyd Webber was talking to Newsbeat entertainment reporter Natalie Jamieson.