Connie Stevens, currently starring as Maria in the stage version of The Sound Of Music, is one of ten newcomers nominated as breakthrough artist of the year at the South Bank Awards.

Stevens, who won her role in Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber's talent search show How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria, is nominated in the theatre category.

A total of ten categories are listed that represent the wide spectrum of entertainment, including pop, opera and television drama.

Alex O'Connell, Arts editor of the Times, described this year's nominees as a "cultural bumper crop [of] rising stars".

In The Music spheres, the classic nomination has gone to Alison Balsom for her trumpet playing; opera to Andrew Kennedy for his role as Ferrando in Cosi Fan Tutti; and pop to Archie Bronson Outfit for his album Derdang Derdang.

RAFI Gavron has been nominated in the film category following his debut role in Breaking and Entering.

Nominated for a contribution to comedy this year is Never Mind the Buzzcocks host Simon Amstell, who impressed with his stand-up debut at the Edinburgh Fringe.

Jane Harris, David Oyelowo, Jamie Shovlin and Jonathan Goddard make up the remainder of the selected ten with nominations in the respective categories of literature, TV drama, visual art and dance.

Melvyn Bragg, who will host the awards on Tuesday 23rd January 2007, said: "This award brings to a wide public the best of new young talent in the country many of whom, young as they are, are already out there making what could well be great and deserved reputations."

19/12/2006 16:14:20