Ann's Angle

I was lucky enough to spend some time in London with the brilliant Professor Paul Mealor, who many will know for his number one single ‘Wherever You Are’ from Gareth Malone’s choir TV show.

Paul also wrote and performed music at the wedding of HRH Prince William and Catherine – he is busy working on a new album for Decca right now and will have something new out in the spring.

The last-ever episode of Downton Abbey will air at 8.45pm on Christmas Day, after BBC refused to move Call the Midwife in a behind-the-scenes scheduling tussle. Downton’s Michelle Dockery tells me: “I am thrilled we are giving fans a chance to watch both shows, as I know they are so popular.”

She also teased: “It’s a tear-jerker, that’s for sure.”

Male ballet dancers are now centre stage, Darcey Bussell says. The former prima ballerina and Strictly Come Dancing judge claims the ballet spotlight has ‘dramatically shifted’ back onto men. Darcey will host a special on the BBC over Christmas and told me at the launch: “I do feel it’s changed, but in a good way and everything goes in cycles, so why not? I think also you will find the show interesting, as it gives it a totally different perspective.”

With two big shows ending, it looks like ITV might have found its next great prestige drama in the style of Mr Selfridge and Downton Abbey. ITV is partnering with Trust Me writer Charlotte Jones on an eight-part, 60-minute drama called The Halcyon, which examines World War II London from a new perspective. More soon...

Don’t miss ‘And Then There Were None’ on BBC One over the festive period. It’s the world’s top-selling crime novel with several movie versions already, but Agatha Christie’s classic is now a three-part TV series for the first time. The plot follows 10 strangers on an island that are killed one by one. Charles Dance, Miranda Richardson and Aidan Turner star.

It’s an accusation aired as much as the Morecambe & Wise Christmas Specials – that the BBC is filling its seasonal schedules with a record number of repeats. So this year the corporation has issued a pre-emptive attack by claiming that it will screen fewer repeats this Christmas and deliver more original programming than rival channels. A source tells me: “It’s simple – the BBC does spend more than anyone else on new programmes, but then people do love to see old favourites again and again.”

The BBC wants a third series of Detectorists, but Mackenzie Crook is not so sure. The BBC is understood to have offered creator and star Crook a third run of the BBC Four metal detecting comedy, but he is yet to make up his mind. He reveals: “I am flattered, I really am, but I need time to think if we have any more good stories to tell on this.” Hopefully so...

TFI Friday presenter Chris Evans has revealed the new, revamped series of Top Gear will hit our TV screens in spring next year. He tells me: “It’s all so exciting and I think totally different in many ways, yet will retain all the elements that Top Gear fans love, that’s for sure.”

It has been one of the most watched soaps for over 30 years, but Adam Woodyatt was so uncertain if EastEnders would take off that he kept his job in a butchers. He revealed: “I had no idea, so I asked if I could leave the job open which was very kind looking back, but thankfully all these years on I am still here.”

Christmas Day will be a little less sparkly this year as Sir Bruce Forsyth has had to pull out of hosting the Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special. A source tells me: “Sir Bruce is still recovering from a recent operation, but he has recorded a special message for the fans at the start of the show, as he knows he will be missed by all.”

Crossroads creator Hazel Adair has passed away at the age of 95. Ms Adair created the classic ITV soap – set in a motel in the fictional village of King’s Oak – with Peter Ling in 1964. It ran for 24 years and boasted 18 million viewers at its peak in the 1970s, before being axed in the 1980s.

Former Friends star Matthew Perry will come to London early next year to star in a new play he has written. Called ‘The End Of Longing’, he says it is about four broken people yearning for love. The production will run at the Playhouse Theatre in the West End from February 2 to May 14.

Sir Tom Jones controversially lost his seat on The Voice judging panel earlier this year, and it appears his departure had a hard impact on fellow judge Will.i.Am. He tells me: “He really was the voice of reason, and for that sure I do miss him. It was a big mistake letting him go.”

Emmerdale actress Charlotte Bellamy has revealed that her character Laurel Dingle will once again go off the rails. “I do laugh at what they come up with for us to do, and when you think it all goes on in that small village, but honestly the writers are brilliant the way they keep it all together,” she said.

Jailed murderer Rob Donovan is out for revenge on Coronation Street. Actor Marc Baylis said: “It’s a great return, and so well written, so I jumped at the chance. It will shock fans though, for sure.”

Share this post