Alexander Hanson is to play Simon Cowell in 'The X Factor' musical.

The 51-year-old actor - whose previous work includes roles in 'The Bill', 'Casualty' and 'Auf Wiedersehen Pet' - impressed everyone in auditions in London last week and had the music mogul "howling with laughter" as he looked on during the read through.

A source told The Sun newspaper: "He's not exactly a Hollywood A-lister but he does a bloody good Simon Cowell. Simon had to admit he was the right man for the job."

In the production, the stage Simon even sings a huge number called 'Falling In Love With Myself' - a send up of the judge's vanity.

The comedy musical has been written by former 'TV Burp' star Harry Hill, while Steve Brown - who was responsible for much of the music in satirical puppet programme 'Spitting Image' - has written the songs.

The storyline follows the journey of pop hopeful Shenise - believed to be loosely based on real life winners Alexandra Burke and Leona Lewis - who goes on a journey from a caravan park caring for her father who has an iron lung to win the singing competition.

The judging panel is made up of Geordie - based on ex-judge Cheryl Cole - a Louis Walsh-type character and Simon, who is revealed to be an alien at the end of the musical who actually controls the entire world.

Simon's record label SyCo has funded the £10 million production - due to run at the London Palladium next spring - and even though the show mocks his talent show he is delighted with the end result.

A source close to the star said: "He genuinely loves it. Simon knows that many people see him as a bit of a cartoon character so he doesn't mind being made fun of. It's a very funny script Harry Hill has put together and the songs are laugh-out-loud amusing."