LINFORD HUDSON at the London Palladium is really THE man casting the spotlight, as he’s done for a galaxy of stars over 50 years. I helped co-produce a show at the legendary venue to celebrate his career as a spotlight operator.
He tells me: “Harry Secombe was a brilliant person, and Frankie Vaughan was a gentleman. I met a lot of different people; there are so many. Roy Castle never stopped smiling, but I also met Liza Minnelli and Lorna Luft ... when Miss Minnelli was on stage that was an experience. When she finished singing, she was on her way to the hotel, but the audience wouldn’t leave.” The documentary will be out via Maycon, hosted by Neil Sean and myself, in 2016.
Earlier this year, Aidan Turner set more than a few hearts racing in the hit BBC drama Poldark, but the actor tells me: “I don’t see myself as a sex symbol. I mean it’s nice that people do, but for me it’s just a job, and half the time it’s the character that you’re playing they like, it’s not really you, is it?”
Coronation Street will air Emily Bishop’s exit scenes on New Year’s Day as she bows out of Weatherfield to head overseas. It was announced last month that actress Eileen Derbyshire would be taking a break from the show, after she asked producers for six months away from the cobbles.
Bill Turnbull will not just be tending to his bees when he leaves BBC Breakfast in January – the presenter is also close to signing up to host a BBC quiz. He tells me: “I was offered it and it’s something I have always wanted to do, so it’s come at the perfect time for me.”
This Morning co-host Eamonn Holmes has revealed that he faces up to 10 weeks off work for a double hip replacement. He tells me: “I figured I better tell people why I am off, in case they expect me to come back looking like Brad Pitt after some secret surgery Ann, but I think while I am dreading it, I am also glad I have finally committed to it.”
Coronation Street’s Sally Webster will be taking on local politics in 2016. Sally Dynevor, who plays the comical character, tells me: “There is no sign of Sally’s ambition waning – she is going to be taking on local politics in a big way.”
Yet another remake seems to be on the cards with the classic 70s show Doctor at Large. After pulling in huge audiences on ITV3, it appears that bosses think an update would also work well on prime time ITV. It’s expected next year.
Professor Green has joined ex-Spice Girl Mel B as a co-host on the upcoming UK version of Lip Sync Battle. The show will see two celebs go head-to-head, showing off their lip-syncing skills as well as their dance moves, facial expressions and costumes. It will air on Channel Five next year.
Sharpe actor Sean Bean tells me he would love the show to return at some stage, but feels that at 56 he may be just a tad too old. “I mean I could have a part in it, but I would have to be his dad now or else it would just look plain daft, don’t you think?” he said.
Emmerdale actress Jane Cox has admitted that she wasn’t too pleased when she first heard about the Dingle family’s latest storyline. The actress’s character Lisa Dingle could be heading for heartbreak in the coming weeks, as her husband Zak betrays her by growing close to their friend Joanie Wright. She tells me: “I just hoped that Zak and Lisa would stay the course – you know, be different from the rest, really.”
Former Baywatch star David Hasselhoff has admitted he’s ‘broke’. The 63 year old actor tells me: “It’s tough when you may be working, but after taxes, travel and all the other extras, you are left with very little, but I am not complaining, I am lucky to be in work and have some great fans here in the UK.”
Call The Midwife star Helen George tells me she hopes her stint on Strictly could spark an offer to appear in a musical. “I think that I have found another calling and that is the musical stage, so hopefully someone will make that dream come true,” she said.
Darren Day, star of musicals and pantomime, has signed up for next year’s Celebrity Big Brother. Darren tells me: “I have been offered it many times, but my good pal Bobby Davro did the show and told me he had a good laugh, plus got paid so I figured why not, although I have no idea who I will be locked up with as yet.”
Nicolas Smith, the actor who played store manager Mr Rumbold in hit BBC comedy Are You Being Served, has died aged 81. Nicolas was also a songwriter and pianist who played very well, and a source tells me: “He had a secret in the fact that he supplied many TV shows with themes written by him, but under a different guise.”
Caroline Quentin says her latest character, Mrs Bumble, is a truly despicable piece of work, but adds: “It’s so nice to be nasty for a change.” The actress, last seen on TV trudging around Cornwall for a travel show, adds: “I think people have forgotten that I am an actress, but hopefully doing this role will remind people.”
Universal Stage Productions have announced that after 4,600 performances, and with the Victoria Palace Theatre’s previously announced refurbishment programme, the multi award-winning West End production of Billy Elliot the Musical will play its final performance on April 9 2016 as the production celebrates its 11th birthday.
Idris Elba may be touted as the next James Bond and of course is back on our screens in the BBC drama Luther, but did you know he got his big break appearing in the little-watched Channel Five soap Family Affairs? He tells me: “Not many people remember that, but I do owe the show quite a lot, and looking back it was great fun to make actually.”