Ann's Angle

JONATHAN Ansell has recently starred in the pantomime Snow White and the Seven Dwarves at the Carriageworks in Leeds, and he told me backstage that he can’t wait to get back on the road again with his X Factor runner-up band G4. Jonathan said: “We re-formed as we all missed it and the response has been great ... we just need to land a slot on X Factor now to make it all fantastic.”

Such was the success of the recent Downton Abbey musical album, which was released for the festive rush, that another is already planned for this coming year. But who will they get to sing on it? Can Dame Maggie Smith be persuaded to recite a poem or sing a music hall song? I will keep you posted...

Jason Donovan has revealed he won’t be returning to Neighbours for the soap’s 30th anniversary celebrations. The actor and singer has contributed to an upcoming documentary which will look back on the show’s 30-year history, but his character Scott Robinson will not be heading back to Ramsay Street for the milestone.

Father Ted creator Graham Linehan has spoken about the possibility of adapting the sitcom for the stage. The writer reveals that he believes a musical version of the show could be a success. “It’s still getting great ratings as repeats and the public hold it in high regard, so I think why not give it a go?” he said.

After the ratings success of the Coronation Street spin-off ‘Rita & Me’ which focused on the fictional life on Rita, ITV bosses are now looking at other long-term characters that could receive the same treatment. But they have ruled out Eileen Derbyshire, who plays Emily, as she loathes doing any PR or going public about anything...

Long-running soap EastEnders will finally reveal how its character Lucy Beale was killed in a flashback episode, as part of the show’s 30th anniversary week. The bad news is that it won’t happen until next month, meaning another few weeks of endless ‘who did it’ stories...

“Lesley Joseph does all her own stunts!” Birds of a Feather star Pauline Quirke said to me while having a quick break on set. “She is a brave lady Ann I can tell you, because she knows no fear, whereas I trip up over a loose mat in the studio...”

Elizabeth Hurley’s new TV show ‘The Royals’, in which she plays the spoof Queen of a fake country, has yet to find a broadcaster here in the UK. She is keen to point out: “It’s a great show, but maybe they are seeing how well it does in other countries first.”

Last Tango In Halifax actress Sarah Lancashire found fame as Raquel in Coronation Street way back in the 90s, and she admits that it helped as “my father worked on the show as a scriptwriter in those early days, and so he had quite a few contacts looking back...”

Honeysuckle Weeks has explained why she thinks long-running drama Foyle’s War has been such a success. “I think people like to look back, not just at the time, but the stories and the clothes, how people managed and so forth, plus many have rose-tinted glasses,” she said. “It was tough for many and we do try to reflect this, but also add in some fun too – that is what makes Foyle so special to me.”

Les Dennis, who plays Michael in Coronation Street tells me he knew he was doing a great job in the soap when people started calling him by his screen name and not his own name. “You know then that people are connecting with you and it’s a great feeling,” he said.

Rachel Stevens will be joining the 2015 Strictly Come Dancing UK tour, it has been confirmed. The former S Club singer tells me: “I got the call pretty late, but I love the show and can’t wait to get back on the dancefloor again  ... I just hope I can remember the routines even a tiny bit.”

The X Factor Live Tour is proving as unsuccessful as the TV show now, with tickets being given away in droves and many dates only half full. It was once a huge sell-out, but given the low ratings of the last series who can blame the once-devoted public from staying away?

Emmerdale actor Jeff Hordley, who plays Cain Dingle in the soap, tells me having reached his mid-40s he now has his own allotment. “Yes I do enjoy growing my own veg and doing the garden,” he said. “I would have laughed a few years back if you had told me that, but it’s a great hobby.”

James Alexandrou will be making a guest appearance in Casualty on January 24. The former EastEnders actor, who played the original Martin Fowler in the soap, tells me he declined a return to Albert Square as: “I wanted to do something different, and at this stage in my career it’s easy choices for me, but who knows in the future?”

With Nick Hewer announcing last month that he will not return for the 11th series of The Apprentice, Lord Sugar ought to take care that he doesn’t end up having to recruit two new sidekicks. Karren Brady, the recently appointed Baroness Brady of Knightsbridge, would not confirm her return for the next series. Instead, she suggested that her seat in the House of Lords would factor into her decision.

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