The new Andrew Lloyd Webber talent show Superstar has kicked off on ITV1 with highlights from the auditions as the hopefuls were whittled down to the final 40.

And there were a few familiar faces among those auditioning for Jason Donovan, Mel C and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s sidekick David Grindrod, as they bid for the chance to become Lloyd Webber’s new leading man in his production of Jesus Christ Superstar.

Among the more recognisable faces were singer Jonathan Ansell, who previously found fame as a member of G4 – the pop opera quartet who finished second in the first series of The X Factor before going on to chart success.

And the singer fared well after Lloyd Webber called his audition ‘stunning’ – although his fate hung in the balance after he was forced to admit to the panel that he was already committed to another show.

Also impressing the judges was David Hunter, formerly a member of indie band Reemer, who previously toured with McFly.

The 24-year-old won himself a place in the final 40 after his rendition of the Myths and Hymns song Awaiting You won rave reviews from all the panellists, and left Mel C admitting, “I’m lost for words.”

Meanwhile Nathan James – who previously failed to make the cut when he auditioned for The Voice – went one better this time after he reached the top 40 as a member of the band the Rock Tenors.

Two of his bandmates, Jonathan Williams and Hugh Maynard, also made it through – but there was bad news for the fourth member of the band, Gareth Richards, was given the boot by the judges.

Others to make it through the initial auditions included Rory Taylor, whose band 54321 are regulars at Liverpool’s Cavern Club, dedicated Spice Girls fan Ben Forster – who won over Mel C with his rendition of Keane’s Somewhere Only We Know – and holiday camp entertaner Jon Moses, whose version of Empty Tables from Les Miserables proved a hit with the panel.

Sunday night’s show will see the remaining 40 put through their paces in a remote location dubbed ‘Superstar island’ – as their numbers are reduced to 30.