Silk star Maxine Peake, best known for her role in Victoria Wood’s Dinner Ladies, is set to star in a play about Leeds bike champion Beryl Burton, which will be performed in her home city to coincide with the Tour de France’s Grand Depart. Maxine told me over coffee: “It’s a great opportunity to appear at the West Yorkshire Playhouse and this is a cracking play.” Maxine added that she was delighted that the play would premiere in Leeds. “What better place to do it than in her home city?” Check out all the details at www.wyp.org.uk.
Fans of Emmerdale take note – the voice you hear from the sponsor of the bingo site just before the drama starts is that of former Coronation Street actress Sally Lindsay, who of course was a Rovers landlady.
Musical star Declan Bennett is joining EastEnders as Dot Branning’s previously unknown grandson. Declan tells me: “I can’t quite believe I am going to be sharing screen time with soap legend June Brown. It’s beyond words, as I always loved the show, and this is a great opportunity for me.”
Judges Craig Revel Horwood and Darcy Bussell spoke glowingly about the evolution of Strictly Come Dancing, with Craig commenting that the BBC’s increased investment was paying dividends. “It really is looking good, and we have bigger sets and props. I think the ratings reflect that people are just simply enjoying the show far more.”
Remember the wonderful globetrotting Judith Chalmers, who used to trot about on Wish You Were Here? A new TV idea is to look at the footage the suitcase queen filmed back in the 70s and 80s, and then look at how the area or resort has thrived or not in the intervening years...
Rock musician Matt Willis, soon to be seen in EastEnders, is not too nervous about the show, as it appears he did audition for the show many moons ago when just starting out as an actor before hitting it big as a pop star.
Former Strictly Come Dancing contestant Sophie Ellis Bextor, says she has the show to thank for allowing her to return to music in a big way. “I do owe the show a lot in terms of profile and people getting to know me all over again,” she said. “I will always be grateful for that.”
Coronation Street bosses have dropped further hints about Tina McIntyre’s departure from the soap, saying it will be ‘spectacular’. Although the actress playing her, Michelle Keegan, told me: “I do worry what they have in mind, as we have had a lot of deaths on the street of late ... it might be just one too many.”
Geri Halliwell is reportedly wanted to represent the UK at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. The former Spice Girl is said to be top of the BBC’s list of performers they would like to compete in the competition, and are hoping that she will accept their offer.
Les Dennis is joining the cast of Coronation Street, playing petty criminal Michael Rogers. Les tells me: “I can’t believe it, I mean it’s the best news for me, as I truly love the show, and just hope that fans warm to Michael even though he is kind of a bad penny.”
Spotted at the Harvey Nichols fashion emporium in Leeds – Strictly Come Dancing judge Bruno Tonoli, who told me he could not resist a dash into the store while the tour stopped over in Leeds for one night. “I adore this place, in fact it’s far better than the one in London, darling,” he giggled.
The stars of Strictly Come Dancing rested their weary heads at the deluxe Malmaison Hotel in the centre of Leeds, and my lips are sealed (for now) as to which star snapped up the glamorous executive suite, with stunning views over the city centre...
Huge audiences were expected for Hayley’s last scene on Coronation Street, but when the final ratings came in it appeared that it was not the case. Sources tell me: “It was basically overkill, with the media and storylines being crossed over into papers and TV shows, but we were happy with the ratings.”
Holly Willoughby has confirmed that she has no plans to leave This Morning. Yet ratings continue to decline on the show, and I can reveal that ITV bosses love the younger presenting team of Rochelle and Marvin Humes, who filled in a few times over the last couple of months.
Linda Nolan says her time on the Big Brother house was far tougher than she first thought. “What you see on your TV screen is not the same as being inside the house. I did the show because I was asked, and the fee was quite good, so it was a case of it’s better than signing on,” she laughed.
While his screen wife Sonia returns to Albert Square, James Alexandrou, who played Martin Fowler in EastEnders, is perparing for a stint in Hamlet at the Leicester Square Theatre in London. He tells me: “It’s a challenge and I can’t wait to have a go, but yes I am nervous.”
Jeremy Piven, now back as Mr Selfridge, tells me that his dream is to play Keith Moon in a big screen version of his life. “I have written the screenplay and spoken with the boys from The Who, so it’s all looking promising,” he said.