Ann's Angle

Jim Davidson, Lionel Blair and Evander Holyfield all stepped into the famous house as the latest series of Celebrity Big Brother kicked off last week – and I can reveal that the highest paid star to enter the house is in fact Jim himself. A source told me on my recent visit to Elstree Studios, where the fake house is located, that “Jim basically got what he asked for, and it was a fortune, whereas the others...”

Michael French, who plays David Wicks in EastEnders, tells me that he now plans to stay around for a long time on the soap. “I enjoy playing him and it’s a good team here,” he said. “I think the public love David too, in their own way, so I am staying put.”

Loose Woman Sherrie Hewson tells me that it was her idea to land a guest slot from Hollywood icon Joan Collins for the new series of Benidorm. “We got chatting on the set, and she told me she loved the show, so I spoke to the bosses and bingo there you go, she was in,” Sherrie revealed. “And let me say how fabulous she was – a true star.”

Former Emmerdale queen Adele Silva, who played evil Kelly in the show, is now appearing in panto in York, but tells me she would be open to a return to the rural drama. “I like the fact it’s a show built around returns, and I do think Kelly has far more to say, so who knows what the future holds?”

Len Goodman is clearly cashing in on his Strictly Come Dancing fame as a judge. He has just been signed by a discount food chain to promote their latest offers by using one of his famous catchphrases. Len reveals: “I thought the offer was good, so I figured why not?”

It’s odd to note that former EastEnders actor Nigel Harman spurned an offer to become a pop star from Simon Cowell over 10 years ago, but now he’s playing him on the West End stage in a new musical. Nigel tells me: “I did get an offer, but it was not for me. I was flattered, though...”

Remember the soap legend that was Bill Tarmey, who played Jack Duckworth for over 30 years on Coronation Street? Fans of his singing will love to know that his ‘best of’ album will soon be re-issued in digital formats, after pressure from devoted followers.

Jenny Agutter has revealed it was challenging shooting the Call the Midwife Christmas special in the summer. “It was fun, but boy we were all dripping under our habits and pretending to be so cold while filming” she said. “But I do think that it’s the better way around don’t you? It could have been so much worse.”

Simon Gregson, who plays Steve in Coronation Street, tells me he is trying to quit smoking for good this year. “Every year I do try, but so many of us like a crafty cig on set which makes it harder than ever to quit. I am being ruthless with myself this year, I will do it.”

It appears we all still love those Birds Of A Feather, which returned to ITV instead of the BBC. But so far despite a six-week return for Dorian and co, they have yet to confirm if they are going ahead with a Christmas special and a further series...

Rufus Hound won the Strictly Come Dancing Christmas special and tells me he wishes he had agreed to the full series now. He said: “I was asked a while back, but it’s a long commitment and I thought ‘well, I won’t do that badly on a one-off special’, but now look at me. I am over the moon.”

The recent Downton Abbey special over the festive season was the least-watched episode ever, with many fans thinking that Julian Fellowes may just be running out of ideas. ITV bosses though love the show, and have already commissioned yet another series of the drama.

Kylie is back on screen as a judge in the new series of The Voice UK, as a judge, but the singer tells me she is not the only one who needs a seat boost on the set for being tiny.

“Oh no there is someone else,” she teased, “and it’s not Tom Jones, but I will let you guess at this stage...”

Jeremy Piven, who returns in the drama Mr Selfridge on Sunday, tells me that the show is now as popular as Downton Abbey in the US too. “I am over the moon as the show has been so well received,” he said. “But you know I am not really that surprised, it’s a great drama with so much action per show. What’s not to like?”

Chris Tarrant may regret his decision to walk away from Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, as it appears that ITV may now wish to continue with the show, and with a new host to “revive its fortunes”.

ITV’s Adrian Edmondson-fronted factual programme The Dales will not return for a fourth series. A source tells me: “It was well received, but we had exhausted all levels of where we could send him yet again in the Dales, so we have called time on the show.”

West End singer Michael Ball has agreed to appear in the Sports Relief version of the Great British Bake Off with Mary Berry as “I am hopeless in the kitchen, and she is the best, so maybe I will learn something and put it to good use.”

There will be yet another murder very soon on Coronation Street. This time it’s Tina, with actress Michelle Keegan saying she wanted to quit the soap after four years, but she had not banked on them killing her off. She told a friend: “I read about what was happening in the paper. I had hoped I could have popped back now and then, but it was not to be.”

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