IT’S always wonderful to catch up with comedy legends like Bernie Clifton.
We were both guests at the party to celebrate 150 years of the City Varieties Theatre in Leeds. Music, memories and laughter were the order of the day under the supreme direction of general manager Ian Sime. If you have not been to the theatre for a while, check out their latest season. Both Bernie and myself were happily surprised and delighted, you will be too.
After being a successful chat show host, author and comedian, Paul O’Grady tells me that he is moving into the world of children’s books next. “I am writing one now, and it’s a lot harder as you have to think of how the child will read it, and of course to keep it clean,” he laughed.
Martin Kemp has revealed that he didn’t want to be killed off as Steve Owen in EastEnders. “I had just hoped to take a break and then, bang, I read I was going to be killed off,” he said. “But that is the chance you take as an actor, and I can honestly say I do miss being on the show.”
Strictly Come Dancing pro dancer Brendan Cole is one of eight celebs to have signed up for ITV’s new summer-time reality show, Flockstars. It’s hard to believe, but it will feature so-called stars actually rounding up sheep and geese. Yes, really. It’s an eight-week series too...
Sian Reeves was scary-crazy Sally Spode in Emmerdale from 2009-2010, and she reveals to me she would love to see her return. “Oh yes I get asked about her all the time and I think it would make sense that she would come back, but as ever it’s up to the writers,” she said.
Not great news for Vernon Kay. All Star Family Fortunes will be missing from the schedules for a while, as ITV plans to put the show on an extended break. A source reveals: “It’s been going on ages and the ratings are going south, so this seemed like a good idea. We may make a Christmas special, but we have no plans at this stage.”
Emmerdale is saying goodbye to a long-running character as Charlie Hardwick has decided to bow out from her role as Val Pollard. The actress is leaving to pursue new projects, but exact details of Val’s exit are currently being kept secret. She tells me: “I did a bit of theatre last year and realised I missed it, so that started it all off.”
Phil Daniels has reportedly said he thinks EastEnders should be axed and branded soaps “the opium of the masses”. He tells me: “I played Kevin Wicks in the show and it was meant to be a light comedy part. No-one though had bothered to tell the writers, as it was gloomier by the week, I was glad to leave.”
One-time X Factor girl group Little Mix are worried their time away from the spotlight will mean people have forgotten them. “We have been busy with the album and touring, but this job is relentless in many aspects, and people do forget you quickly,” Jesy tells me.
Downton Abbey star Laura Carmichael has said that talks are still under way for a big-screen version of the hit period drama. “We are all keen to have a go and all that, but it’s finding the exact date we are all free,” she said. “I think a movie would be amazing, given the fans’ response.”
Bonnie Langford could soon become a regular on EastEnders, I can reveal. Show bosses love her character of Carmel so much that she has already been offered a contract extension, with further options through to a year. You read it here first in The Press.
Dermot O’Leary has ruled out a Strictly Come Dancing role and dismissed a future as host or contestant. “I love the show and all that, but I have just got my Saturdays back after years of neglect, so I wouldn’t stop that now, would I?” he said.
Emmerdale actress Denise Black has revealed that viewers will see a sharper side to her character Joanie Wright when she returns. “I think she was way too soft first time around, and now she has to fight for what is hers … it’s been great fun to play,” she said.
One-time X Factor winner Leona Lewis is back with a new album and admits she found winning the show tough. “I was lucky as I had a great time and when you think about it, it was all new, but now it’s so demanding and far more taxing for whoever wins. I am glad I started out years ago now,” she laughed.
Kristina Rihanoff has revealed she came close to quitting Strictly Come Dancing last year, due to unwanted press attention. She tells me: “It’s been relentless at times, and you do wonder what best to do, but then I love being on the show, so I won’t be bullied out of it.”
The late actor Ron Moody may have recently exited stage left, as they say in the business, but did you know that the actor also was offered the lead role in Dr Who when it started way back in the 60s? I can reveal the actor liked the idea, but did not want to be committed to a long-running series.