It’s always been my pleasure to bring you all the latest celebrity news, and of course exclusive pictures first.
So imagine my surprise when I became the story by being asked to appear at London’s famous Covent Garden Actors Club for my own ‘Audience With’ night. It was a thrilling night of fun, laughter and memories, hosted by the brilliant Dean Caston. Check out their brilliant website for future shows at www.thecaa.org/contact-us. But now it’s back to the day job, and read below for all this week’s latest and exclusive news...
We all love how Grantchester’s formidable housekeeper Mrs Maguire always keeps vicar Sidney Chambers in check. And actress Tessa Peake-Jones, who plays her, tells me that the actor James Norton can be very naughty on set. “Because he has a serious role on the show, he does love trying to make us all laugh in the more dramatic parts,” she said. “I have mastered it now, but poor Robson Green can’t stop giggling, which annoys the director.”
Actor Hugh Bonneville has been cast as Roald Dahl in a biopic, that explores the life of the best-selling children’s author. Hugh will also feature in the new Thomas & Friends film as Merlin. The movie will focus on the Charlie And the Chocolate Factory writer’s marriage to Oscar-winning actress Patricia Neal, and the period in which he struggled to pen some of his most famous works. Set in the early 1960s, it will move between New York, England, and Los Angeles.
Jimmy Osmond is to play Teen Angel (which he played at the Piccadilly Theatre in 2009) in the current tour of Grease the Musical, starring Tom Parker from The Wanted, Danielle Hope and Louisa Lytton. Jimmy Osmond joins the tour for a couple of months on May 29 at the Birmingham Hippodrome and is to appear at Bristol, Southampton, Cardiff, and Dublin.
The BBC is developing Scaffs, a TV sitcom about scaffolders written by Fast Show and Bellamy’s People star Rhys Thomas. Set in Frinton-on-Sea on the Essex coast, the comedy will focus on working class characters. Rhys tells me: “The plan is a little bit Only Fools and Horses, but set now. There aren’t many things that really represent working class life on telly. That’s why I want to do it.”
Sir Derek Jacobi has attacked theatre bosses for simply hiring Strictly Come Dancing stars as a ploy to fill seats. Caroline Flack, Tom Chambers, Pixie Lott and Danny Mac have all landed West End roles after appearing on the show. The actor, whose career spans 50 years, commented: “It saddens me that one of the hooks to get people to go to the theatre is to present somebody whose name they know.”
Theatre bosses hit back, claiming: “It’s nothing more than sour grapes from an aging luvvie.”
TV cook James Martin confirms that the rumours are true. He is returning to Saturday morning TV with a brand-new cooking show, but this time it is on ITV. Many fans are less than happy, though, as they feel he simply walked away from the BBC show after the offer of more money from ITV – and of course appearing in that less-than-glamorous supermarket ad.
Rock star Bryan Adams tells me: ‘I’m doing the musical of the film ‘Pretty Woman’ and I’m writing the music. It’s going to open next year in 2018 on Broadway and hopefully come to the West End. It’s taken two years to write it.” Bryan also admitted: “It’s one of my all-time favourite movies, so I could not pass up this opportunity.”
The BBC’s Great British Sewing Bee has been given a new lease of life, rather than being axed as many suggested. It will now be back, but not until next year, and hopefully with the same team. A friend reveals: “There have been some issues, but now it’s all coming together and fingers crossed, all back for next year.”
Albert Square has a new resident family – and they are set to make an explosive entrance. Insiders say that Walford will never be the same again as the Taylors bring with them a mysterious secret ... but apparently many soap fans are fed up with the characters that now populate our soaps and long for the glamour days of Dallas and Dynasty, when the soaps focused on rich and powerful families.
Catweazle star Geoffrey Bayldon recently passed away at the age of 93. The actor also appeared in Worzel Gummidge, Porridge and Casino Royale. Geoffrey, from Leeds, was also in line to appear Dr Who, taking over as the Doctor from Jon Pertwee, but for reasons known only to him he declined to take on the role, and admitted years later that he “could have made a mistake”.
Mary Berry admits she skips meals in a bid to stay slim and confesses to being bored by some of her signature food. When asked how she didn’t pile on the pounds while trying each contestant’s offerings during Bake Off, she said: “I’m very disciplined. I skipped breakfast and ate a light supper ... lots of the food would go to the cast and crew.”
Live Saturday morning children’s entertainment in the tradition of shows such as Going Live and Multi-Coloured Swap Shop are to return to the BBC. From this autumn, CBBC viewers will get to quiz pop stars on a programme given the working title of ‘Live & Dangerous’. A BBC source tells me “buckets of gunge are at the ready”. While presenters have not yet been named, CBBC’s cheeky canine Hacker T Dog is expected to steal the show.