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Former EastEnders star Nigel Harman has been cast as a Simon Cowell-esque character in the forthcoming X Factor musical.

Nigel – best known for his role in the soap as Dirty Den’s son Dennis Rickman – will play the part of a music mogul in the show, titled I Can’t Sing – which is due to open at the London Palladium next March.

The show, penned by Harry Hill, also reportedly features characters inspired by Tulisa Contostavlos, Cheryl Cole and Louis Walsh.

Simon Cowell revealed that he was impressed with the choice of Nigel to play his on-stage alter ego.

The hardest thing was – how do you find someone who’s good-looking, talented and can look like me?’ he said. ‘And then we found Nigel!’

Cowell added: ‘They completely ripped in to me – and they make fun of X Factor in a very positive way, it’s not a puff piece.’

Nigel, who left EastEnders in 2005 after Dennis was stabbed to death, has made a name for himself in the West End in recent years, most notably in the recent revival of Guys and Dolls and as Lord Farquaad in Shrek The Musical.

He is also due to make his debut in Downton Abbey this autumn as valet Mr Green.