Andrew Lloyd Webber casts radio's bad boy Chris Moyles as Bible's worst villain King Herod in Jesus Christ Superstar

 

Would you pay £65 to hear Chris Moyles sing? Andrew Lloyd Webber is gambling that the answer is "yes" after announcing the shock casting of breakfast radio's "bad boy" as the villainous King Herod in a revival of Jesus Christ Superstar.

Moyles, 38, received a personal phone call from Lord Lloyd-Webber asking him to star in the rock opera, which will be staged at the O2 Arena in London's Docklands in September before it is taken on a nationwide tour to mark its 40th anniversary.

The Radio 1 presenter, famed for his abrasive style, is braced for pantomime boos from the audience when he appears as Herod, the Roman client-king of Judea who is said to have murdered his own family. Worryingly, Moyles is required to sing a song, in which he mocks Jesus's claims to divinity.

Moyles will, however, be joined by seasoned performers. Tim Minchin, the comedian and musician who co-wrote the award-winning Matilda, will play Judas Iscariot. The former Spice Girl, Melanie C, has been given the female lead as Mary Magdalene.

A Jesus will be chosen by the public, through an ITV talent show, Superstar, with a panel of judges headed by Lord Lloyd-Webber, who said he was looking for a "rock tenor".

Moyles's big number arrives when Herod performs the jeering song "Try It And See", with its lyrics: "So you are the Christ/You're the great Jesus Christ/Prove to me that you're divine/ Change my water into wine."

He also taunts Jesus by singing: "Get out you King of the Jews!" The DJ will miss some of his Radio 1 shows during the tour, giving a potential successor for the coveted breakfast slot a chance to shine. A source at the BBC said last night: "There will be some days that he will need to take as holiday because he won't be able to travel back to the studio for the show."

An initial 11 dates are booked for a month-long tour, which concludes in Sheffield. Tickets will be cost up to £65.

Moyles, who will be Radio 1's longest-serving breakfast host by the time his contract ends in 2014, said: "To receive a phone call from Andrew is very cool, but then when he asks you to be in his musical that's pretty amazing and there is only one thing to respond with... And that is yes! Absolutely! My mum's gonna be well excited."

Head to head: Herod vs Moyles

Herod

Epithet "The Great"

Predecessor Antigonus II Mattathias, executed by Herod

Kingdom Judea

Loved or feared? Roman client-king terrorised his subjects and executed his own family, including his wife

Greatest achievement Expansion of the Second Temple in Jerusalem

Moyles

Epithet "Moylesy"

Predecessor Sara Cox, axed by BBC

Kingdom Breakfast airwaves

Loved or feared? Lardy, laddish style divides listeners, censured by Ofcom for sexism and negative homosexual stereotyping

Greatest achievement A 52-hour Radio 1 show for Comic Relief

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