If you want the definition of a perfect Saturday night TV show, just ask Ant and Dec.
The cheeky Geordie duo are masters at the art form, with their hit ITV series Saturday Night Takeaway making for ridiculously easy watching right in the middle of the weekend. I was lucky enough to visit the set at The London Studios to meet the boys. More coming soon, but for now I am preparing for ‘Ant vs Dec’...
Comedian Norman Pace will be joining the musical Rocky Horror Show tour, joining fellow comedian Steve Punt and Coronation Street actor Charlie Condou in sharing the role of The Narrator on the UK tour.
Harry Enfield is to play Prince Charles in Channel Four’s new comedy soap opera The Windsors. The broadcaster has announced the cast as filming begins on the new six-part series, and Harry tells me: “It won’t be cruel but good fun and I think the royals may just enjoy it too.”
Nick Grimshaw and host Caroline Flack will not be returning to The X Factor as Simon Cowell tries to save the singing competition from falling viewing figures. A source tells me: “It’s been a difficult decision but after the showing of last year’s figures Simon felt he had no choice.”
Michael Crawford will reprise his famous role as Frank Spencer in Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em in a one-off special for Sport Relief. Michael, well known as the Phantom of the Opera, is also looking to fill a London theatre as he prepares to return to the stage this spring. A source reveals: “It’s a great mix, as it reminds people what a great actor Michael is and also they may just book to see him too.”
The Vicar of Dibley could return to television. Star Dawn French has reiterated her belief that Geraldine Grainger could return to screens as a bishop. Dawn tells me: “I think it could work, and why not? Time has moved on and I think people would be happy for her to have the top job too.”
BBC Two’s social experiment The Real Marigold Hotel is to return for a second series. The first series, which saw Wayne Sleep and comic Roy Walker spend time in India with a view to retirement, has proved a ratings success and now the TV show is looking towards another clever mix of stars to go to another location.
Former EastEnders actor Bobby Davro has complained that he can’t get TV slots as he’s been pigeonholed as ‘belonging the 1980s’. The comic, a regular on prime-time variety shows of the 1980s and 1990s, accepts that tastes change – but he’s keen to prove that he’s still relevant. “They should bring back a form of entertainment for performers of my era, they should call it Still Alive at the Apollo,” he said.
Emmerdale’s new boss Iain MacLeod says the show is overlooked for awards. “It’s desperately unfair,” he told me. “I think we do some great work, and yet we seem to be the soap that year on year gets overlooked. I plan to change all that and bring our fans out fighting. They all want us to win, you know.”
BBC Two will delve into TV news and gossip in a live teatime format presented by Emma Bunton, Sara Cox, Rufus Hound and Aled Jones. A source reveals it’s nothing new, just a mix of previews and guests of shows that are coming up on the BBC’s channels. But if it’s a success it could be an all-year-round fixture.
The BBC is to air another tribute to Peter Kay’s comedy career – this one spanning six half-hour episodes. Peter Kay’s Comedy Shuffle follows on from BBC One’s Christmas special about the comedian, which was subtitled 20 Years Of Funny. The Beeb – which recently signed the comic to star in Car Share and Cradle to Grave, after a long career with Channel Four – said the new show will be a chance to ‘celebrate and re-discover’ Kay’s old work.
A statue of Morecambe and Wise is to be unveiled in Blackpool this autumn as part of the celebrations to mark the 75th anniversary of their theatrical debut. Eric Morecambe’s daughter Gail tells me: “Dad and Ernie would be very honoured and excited to know that the statue celebrating their 75th anniversary as a double act is to be sited in the foyer of the magnificent Blackpool Winter Gardens. This is where they appeared in the 1955 Royal Variety Show, it’s great news.”
Downton Abbey actor Brendan Coyle, who played Mr Bates, tells me he is hopeful of a movie version of the TV drama. “I think we all are, as we all miss getting together on location,” he said. “But you do, after all it’s been six years in total and you’re in people’s lives, which they love of course.”
Emmerdale actor Danny Miller says: “I take breaks alone, I make sure I’m not snapped out of Aaron’s dark mood. He is a complex character, so I know how it can pan out, but people ask do I find it hard to keep in character? I do, hence the breaks, but it’s great playing him, he is a one-off.”
George Clooney admits that he still watches old episodes of Downton Abbey. He told a source: “I think the show is great, and I loved making a guest cameo in it. Yes I was nervous, because when you love something you want to get it right, and I so did.”
The Great British Bake Off host Mel Giedroyc is to star in a new Radio Four sketch comedy show described as a ‘modern Round the Horne’. She tells me: “I have always loved radio comedy and this is my chance to really show some of the characters I have been developing over the years, I can’t wait to get started.”