FRANK SINATRA would have celebrated his 100th birthday this year, and NBC news correspondent Neil Sean and I were invited to a star-studded gala evening at the world-famous London Palladium to celebrate the new show ‘Sinatra on Sinatra’.
His daughter Nancy told me: “I think dad would have loved this, the UK had a special place in his heart.” A celeb-packed after-show party was held at the Savoy Hotel, and may I say the show is just swell. As ever, Frank did it his way. The show is booking until September.
TV bosses are seeking young actors to star in a new structured reality show about life in the West End. A source reveals: “It will be great fun as people adore the world of theatre and what goes on behind the scenes. They are hopeful they can find the right people.”
Coronation Street fans are calling for soap favourite Les Battersby to be brought back to Coronation Street with an online petition. Actor Bruce Jones was famously dropped from the Street in 2007 and tells me he would jump at the chance. “I think he is still well loved and I enjoyed playing him, but again it’s down to the writers. I hope they look at the idea at least, though,” he said.
Former Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson is to be the subject of a new BBC documentary. Sir Alex Ferguson: Secrets of Success will air later this year and will be hosted by BBC reporter Nick Robinson.
Lawrence White won’t be disappearing from Emmerdale any time soon, as actor John Bowe has signed a new contract to stay on the show. Bowe told me that he and his real-life family are now on the move, explaining: “I’ve just signed a new contract with Emmerdale so we are all going to be moving closer to Leeds, where it is filmed.”
Former TV favourite Anthea Turner is all set for a comeback after winning a not-so-lucrative presenting job on Channel Five. She will host the Health Lottery slots on the channel – and fans will recall that Anthea launched the original Lottery show on the BBC way back in the 90s.
Channel Four has ordered two documentaries that will explore the secrets of the Royal Family, including Prince Philip’s courtship of the Queen. Insiders tell me that the Palace have given co-operation on certain matters, and that both parties are happy for close friends and associates to speak on camera.
New shows coming this autumn – ITV has rescheduled Julia Bradbury’s The Wonder of Britain and recommissioned Big Star Little Star, while Sir David Attenborough will front BBC documentary The Hunt.
Les Dennis, who plays Michael in Coronation Street, laughs off reports that he is now the older sex symbol of the show. “I love the way he has Gail and Eileen fighting over him, but I pity them really, I am hardly George Clooney am I? It’s great fun to film.”
The X Factor won’t be announcing the usual million-pound recording contract, after a previous winner stated: “You never see the money, it’s all ploughed back into your career, before they drop you for not selling enough...”
Coronation Street’s Wendi Peters explains to me why she’s opting to wear wellies and brave the elements to herd sheep, geese and ducks in a new show called Flockstars. Flockstars is a celebrity One Man and His Dog, and she tells me: “It’s great fun to film, and you really do get gripped into all the goings-on. I really did have a lot of fun doing this.”
EastEnders’ Harry Reid is looking forward to Gillian Taylforth returning to the show. “I am very excited about this as she was an original cast member and part of the history of the show. She comes back with such a great storyline too, I think fans will really enjoy it, but I can’t say much more right now,” he said.
Rita Ora has hit back at BBC insiders who have accused her of choosing ‘cash over credibility’ when she defected to the X Factor. “It’s not about the money for me, but hopefully giving someone a chance and seeing how they develop,” she said. “I liked Simon’s vision of the show and so signed with him.” Yes, for lots of cash Rita...
New game show Benchmark, hosted by Paddy McGuinness, has been pulled from Channel Four’s schedules after showing just nine of the 30 episodes that have been filmed. Four had high hopes for Benchmark, and a source told me: “It was seen as a show which could run for ages, and be their own version of Pointless.” Sadly not...
She has played Val Pollard on Emmerdale for over a decade, and as she prepares to bow out, actress Charlie Hardwick has admitted that she felt “overwhelmed” filming her last scenes. “It was happy and sad, because we are such a tight unit there, but I know it’s the right time to go and while I will miss it, it’s good to try new things, don’t you think?”
It appears that fans of EastEnders are not all fans of Danny Dyer taking opportunities to slip in his cockney rhyming slang into the script. A source tells me: “Danny thinks it lends itself to the character of Mick Carter, but many who watch the show outside London have no idea what he is actually speaking about.”