Kirstie Alley is set to star in a US version of hit British comedy The Vicar of Dibley. The former Cheers actress, 56, will star in The Minister of Divine as a preacher who returns to the small town where she was once a teenage rebel.

Fox TV will make a pilot episode of the new comedy, co-produced by Vicar creator Richard Curtis, before deciding whether to go ahead with a complete series.

British comedienne Dawn French has played the lead role in The Vicar of Dibley since it began in 1994.

Since Cheers ended in 1993, Kirstie has had roles in several comedy sitcoms including Veronica's Closet and Fat Actress, which mocked her real-life battle with obesity.

In November 2006 she appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show in a bikini to show off her new figure, having lost a total of 75lbs.