Charlotte Church, Sheila Hancock and John Partridge have launched the latest TV talent search and say, unlike other shows, it will be about ‘nurture not torture’.

Over The Rainbow will see BBC One viewers choose a Dorothy to star in a West End production of The Wizard Of Oz next year, featuring new songs written by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

The series begins with a weekend special on March 26 and 27, with the live studio shows kicking off on April 3.

John, who, along with playing Christian Clarke in the BBC soap, has a wealth of musical theatre experience, said the audition process is about ‘nurture not torture’.

Sheila, who’s recently been starring in the stage version of Sister Act, added: “I think in some reality shows people are chosen because they are laughably bad. It’s not like that on this show, really it isn’t. We’re looking for talent.”

She said she had once been blasted as being ‘unendurable to the ear and unbearable to the eye’ and the review was ‘etched on my soul’.

Asked who was the Simon Cowell figure on the judging panel, Welsh singer Charlotte said: “It’s hard to judge at the moment if anybody will actually play that role. Maybe John is the most straight-talking out of us all.”

The first show will see thousands of wannabes audition to become the West End’s newest star.

The second will showcase the final 20 Dorothys with a sing-off judged by Lord Lloyd Webber and the panel, who will whittle them down to 10. Viewers will have a ‘wild card’ vote to save one of the girls who does not make it.