Ann's Angle

We last saw the gorgeous Jason Merrells on Emmerdale in the role of Declan Macey back in 2014, and from the moment he left, fans of the show have been hoping he will return.

Jason told me during a recent interview: “I think we did everything we possibly could with Declan.” Is he returning? “not at the moment” doesn’t mean forever, so could he return as Declan at some point? Well, only time will tell, but Jason added: “I miss the speed of the show and the buzz you get from the crew and team every day.”

Plans have been revealed in Blackpool for a new statue in tribute to Morecambe and Wise. The eight-foot sculpture is to mark the 75th anniversary of the comics making their debut as a double act in 1941. It will be unveiled in the Winter Gardens in October.

Remember the great Sunday Night drama ‘House of Elliot’ which featured two sisters making it big in the world of fashion in the 20s and 30s? Insiders tell me they are keen to revisit the series but moving it into the world of the 50s and 60s, along with a brand-new cast.

Former EastEnders actor Declan Bennett has secured the title role in the new production of Jesus Christ Superstar at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. Declan played Charlie Cotton in the soap. As a solo singer-songwriter he achieved five UK Top 20 singles and a UK Top 20 album with Brit Award-nominated boy band Point Break.

The BBC has axed its drama Dickensian after just one series, despite spending an estimated £10m on the show, including creating a purpose-built set. Despite its all-star cast, the series written by EastEnders veteran Tony Jordan using characters from Dickens novels failed to retain its audience after a successful launch on Boxing Day.

X Factor bosses are ‘in talks with ITV’ to stay on the air for three more years, but I can reveal if that deal fades (and it’s looking more so now with the arrival of The Voice from the BBC) then the X Factor may just find a home on Sky One ... where even less people will see it.

Indian Summers, which stars the great Julie Walters on Channel Four, won’t be returning for a third series after the ratings dropped off in the second season. A source reveals: “It’s an expensive drama to make and so it’s with a heavy heart we have decided to pull the plug on the show.”

The Voice winner Kevin Simm has failed to break into the top 20. Far from achieving The Voice’s first number one, 2016 winner Kevin, who appeared to be on course for his single All You Good Friends to enter the Top 10, ended up debuting at number 24. The show now moves to ITV next year.

Dawn French will play the lead role of cook Gina Vincent in a new Sky One drama Delicious. She reveals: “I just liked the look of the script and think it’s so well-written and a fun thing to do, so I agreed.” Lenny Henry of course was Dawn’s ex-husband, and he too played a Chef in a TV show way back in the 90s.

Former Coronation Street actor Richard Fleeshman tells me: “I’m appearing in the nationwide theatre tour of the classic musical Guys and Dolls. I’m playing ladies’ man and keen gambler Sky Masterson.” He said how much he owed Corrie for four years and added: “It was the start of everything for me. It was a big learning curve and I even got to film with Sir Ian McKellen, for goodness sake! Which was amazing.”

Spice Girl Mel B tells me she owes her big showbiz break to the one and only Bernie Clifton. “I appeared with him when I was starting out and he was great, so kind and helpful, plus the experience was invaluable. He still makes me laugh loads now – he’s a star in my book,” she added.

Former Emmerdale actress Verity Rushworth has just announced that she is expecting a baby in the summer, which means that Emily Atack will now take her role in the upcoming production of Breakfast At Tiffany’s. She is sharing the role with Pixie Lott.

BBC One’s Elizabeth at 90 reigned supreme after the special documentary peaked with almost 9m viewers on the Queen’s birthday. Insiders reveal that the show has also been sold around the world to over 200 countries who also want to embrace and enjoy the recent celebrations of our monarch.

Mr Selfridge star Jeremy Piven has revealed he would welcome a film version of the ITV series, after so many fans requested it. “I think it’s a great idea and with a film we could go deeper into some elements of his life that we did not on the TV series. I am all for it,” he said.

Former Girls Aloud singer Kimberley Walsh is to star in London’s answer to Sleepless In Seattle, having started rehearsal workshops for the production which is to be called Sleepless and based on the 1993 film starring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks. Kimberley, from Bradford, tells me: “It’s honestly my favourite film ever so this is a real gem for me.”

Glenn Close, who stars in Sunset Boulevard at the London Coliseum, is not proving the huge draw people had hoped. The musical is wonderful of course, but the high price of the seats plus the lack of positive PR means that many shows are not selling out, which is what is needed to make a profit.

Former Brookside actress Claire Sweeney will play the role of Baroness Bomburst in the West Yorkshire Playhouse production of the musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang from August 3.

Michael McIntyre’s chat show on BBC Two was a flop and he admits: “I don’t like anything that is not, well, just me chatting to an audience. “I find it hard to do, plus I don’t like to sit still as people know, so I knew it was not my greatest moment in the world.”

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