Martine up for Olivier award

Ex-EastEnder Martine McCutcheon was today up for one of Britain's top stage awards for her stint in West End show My Fair Lady.

The actress won huge acclaim for her role as the cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle who is crafted into a lady, although she missed many of the performances through illness.

McCutcheon has been nominated for best actress in a musical at this year's Laurence Olivier Awards, which were being presented at London's Victoria Palace Theatre this afternoon.

Her co-star in the stage production, Jonathan Pryce, has also been nominated in the male category for his performance as Professor Henry Higgins.

My Fair Lady originally opened at the Royal National Theatre in March but transferred to the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in July with huge box office demand.

Persistent ill-health resulted in McCutcheon withdrawing, five months before her contract was due to finish.

My Fair Lady has been nominated for a total of eight gongs, but has been eclipsed by the West End's other big hit musical Kiss Me Kate, which is up for nine.

Screen and stage star Lindsay Duncan is nominated twice in one category, with her performances in Mouth To Mouth and Private Lives both up for the best actress title. Up for the same award is Zoe Wanamaker for Boston Marriage.

The radio series turned cult TV show turned stage play The League of Gentlemen is up against The Vagina Monologues and Al Murray's The Pub Landlord in the best entertainment category.

The Oliviers - now in their 26th year - are seen as the highlight of the theatrical year for the

stage community.