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Ten Things You Never Knew About Andrew Lloyd Webber

By
Over The Rainbow judge Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber

© BBC

This Friday, Andrew Lloyd Webber launches his fourth TV West End talent show, hunting for a Dorothy with the assistance of Graham Norton, Sheila Hancock, Charlotte Church and John Partridge. The Wizard Of Oz-themed Over The Rainbow looks likely to be another hit series, which in turn will create a theatre smash for the popular composer. But how much do you know about the man behind Cats and Phantom? Keep reading for ten fast facts about Lord W.

1. Andrew Lloyd Webber was born on March 22, 1948. His mother Jean was a violinist and pianist, while his father William was a composer. Musical genes definitely run in the family - and his younger brother Julian is a renowned cellist.

2. From the age of 3, Webber is alleged to have developed a passion for music. As a 9-year-old he could reportedly play the organ and violin, and had already composed a series of musicals.

3. Despite playing a similar role on his BBC One talent shows, Webber has claimed that he doesn't approve of Simon Cowell's 'nasty' approach to reality TV. "Simon Cowell doesn't work with the artists like I do. I don't see any point in saying to some 18-year-old, 'You're useless'. It doesn't interest me," he says. "My job is to get the best out of people."

4. Webber famously secured a respectable fifth place finish for the UK at last year's Eurovision with 'It's My Time'. However, it wasn't the first time the songwriter had attempted to pen a track for the competition. In 1969, he teamed up with Tim Rice on 'Try It And See'. But the tune was snubbed and not selected as the UK's entrant.

5. Despite his considerable wealth and impressive art collection, Webber insists that he isn't a materialistic person. He claims: "Music, architecture and pictures have always been my passions, and all that material wealth has meant for me, is being able to have some of the pictures I liked."

6. In 2006, The Sunday Times ranked the Lord as the 87th richest man in Britain with £700m. By 2008, he'd fallen to 101st, but still it's not bad going, is it? You could probably afford to do your shopping at Waitrose with that lot.

7. He may be best known for his grand West End productions, but Webber isn't averse to the odd novelty track. In 1992, Webber and Nigel Wright were the men behind the Nintendo-meets-Eurodance single 'Tetris', under the pseudonym Doctor Spin. They were also involved in the thoroughly irritating 1990 Timmy Mallett/Bombalurina number one 'Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini'. He's got a lot to answer for!

8. Hold yourselves back, ladies! Apparently Lord Webber is incredibly well-blessed in the trouser department. His ex-wife Sarah Brightman confessed as much on Graham Norton's Channel 4 chatshow. He initially threatened legal action against her comments because of the embarrassment it caused his son, who was starting school at the time. We're not quite sure if he was disputing the accuracy of her comments or just the fact that she said them.

9. Lord Webber is a MASSIVE fan of Leyton Orient Football Club. So much so, he almost missed filming an episode of BBC One show Any Dream Will Do in 2007. The composer was determined to watch a relegation battle match against Bradford, no matter what the cost.

10. What was the first record that Lord Webber owned? Apparently it was 'Love For Three Oranges Suite' by Sergei Prokofiev. The multi-millionaire also confessed to having a soft spot for the Rolling Stones track '(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction' during his rebellious youth. "It's the best record of the '60s," he argues.

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