THERE are some big changes looming in EastEnders with the arrival of a new producer later this year.
Insiders tell me that many of the cast are worried about their contracts and future on the show, as: “It’s set for a major overhaul, and we are looking at all major characters and plot lines for the next year.” Sean O’Connor, who is currently the editor of the world’s longest-running soap opera, The Archers, says: “I can confirm we will be making many changes with the show, but it will all be for the better.” Oh dear...
Former EastEnders actor Nick Bailey has a new audience ... and they’re wild, apparently! He tells me: “Jackie: The Musical is based on the 1970s and 1980s teenage magazine, and we’re touring the UK until the end of July.
“I think the musical is popular simply because it’s of a time when people were young and growing up, plus it’s full of great tunes too, so do come along.”
Maxine Peake has opened up about working with the late comedy legend Victoria Wood – and the blunt but invaluable advice that she gave her. Critically acclaimed actress Maxine said: “She was great and so full of fun, plus so gifted, but she told me to be open to all kinds of offers or ‘you will be like me and end up playing the fat northerner’, so diversify and change as much as possible, which is what I did.”
Vincent Simone has said he left Strictly Come Dancing at the ‘perfect’ time, suggesting the show had started to become too Americanised. The pro joined Strictly in 2006 and performed his last waltz in 2013. He said: “I love the show, but for me it’s about the dancing, and not all the gimmicks which it has become. Great happy memories though.”
Suranne Jones has promised that Doctor Foster will be just as nail-biting the second time around, when the drama returns to BBC One later this year. Suranne revealed to me that after reading the scripts for the show’s second series, she was left stunned. “You do wonder how they will top it and do all the stuff they did before, but they are great scripts for sure,” she said.
King of choirs Gareth Malone tells me that he tried to get Prince Harry on the Invictus Choir, but he said he’s not the greatest singer! “I told him I disagree as I think he had a strong voice,” he said. “But what can I do, I can’t force him to say yes. He may change his mind though, who knows?”
The BBC has confirmed that Michael McIntyre’s Big Show will be returning for a second series, but couldn’t confirm how many episodes, or when it might go out. However Alan Tyler, the acting controller of entertainment commissioning, said: “We are absolutely delighted with the success of Michael’s new show.”
Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain is to explore her Bangladeshi roots for a BBC Two cookery show. Nadiya will star in a new two-part travel food programme which will see Nadiya cook dishes from her childhood, share favourite meals with family and friends, learn new recipes and explore changes in food in the decade since she last visited Bangladesh for her wedding.
TV chef James Martin has admitted he was surprised at the public reaction to his departure from Saturday Kitchen. Now presenting on This Morning, he says: “I just figured that I would slip away and be forgotten, but it appears not to be the case, which is nice and I thank everyone.”
Catherine Tate is resurrecting her character Lauren Cooper for a 21-date UK tour. She reveals: “I get asked about her all the time, so I thought well, I can’t play her when I get much older, so maybe this is the right time to pay her another visit.”
Coronation Street actress and mother of two Samia Ghadie, who plays hairdresser Maria in the show, admits she has no skills in the salon at all. “I just flick people’s hair about or stick a roller in it, I would not be very good in a hair salon as I am not great at touching other people’s hair,” she said.
Strictly Come Dancing Winner Jay McGuiness is to lead an all-star cast in the European premiere of Big: The Musical at the Plymouth Theatre Royal from November 5-12, before transferring to Dublin for a Christmas run ahead of a planned West End opening next year. He told me: “This is exactly what I wanted to get out of appearing on the show.”
Channel Five is pushing further into entertainment with a comedy panel show fronted by Eamonn Holmes. He reveals: “It will have a topical twist with a news agenda, plus I think a sprinkling of celebrity too. I just hope people will enjoy it.”
BBC Breakfast presenter Naga Munchetty is not proving as popular as fellow co-host Louise Minchin ratings-wise. A source reveals: “Louise has a softer approach where as Naga is quite direct and forceful which can be hard for some viewers to take that early in the morning.”
Corrie favourite Liz McDonald is set to flee Weatherfield for Spain as actress Beverley Callard takes a break from the show. Beverley tells me she is grateful for the break, and hopes that Liz will be back soon fighting fit and of course behind the bar of the Rovers Return.
‘Drive’, the recent ITV show hosted by Vernon Kaye won’t be back, I can reveal. Starting off badly with ratings, it sunk even lower and now ITV bosses have decided to park it up once and for all.
Rupert Penry-Jones, dashing star of the legal drama ‘Silk’, tells me he was really sad the show ended. “I do know it was expensive to make, and in this day and age it’s a wonder things last so long, but I know we all enjoyed being on the show, it was such a good drama,” he said.