Ann's Angle

KEN WHARFE, for many years a member of Scotland Yard’s elite Royalty Protection Department, was the late Princess of Wales’s police protection officer from 1987 to 1993. He has written a new book about his time with Princess Diana and the royals and told me: “I hope people will remember her as she was at her best – a warm-hearted and fun-loving woman, who really did make a difference.” Closely Guarded Secret by Ken Wharfe is out now.

Last seen as the host of the ill-fated revival of Celebrity Squares, Life’s Too Short star Warwick Davis is to host a new daytime quiz show for ITV. He tells me: “I am pleased with the format and I think it will work out well. It’s a nice quiz show which people can actually play at home and should be good fun.”

Robin of Sherwood and Dynasty star Michael Praed, now appearing as Frank in Emmerdale, tells me that people are shocked that he is now grey. “I feel like saying, ‘actually I started going grey years and years ago but just dyed it for roles and things, so it’s nice for it to be totally natural now’.”

TV chef turned This Morning host James Martin reveals he is in the running to replace Chris Evans as Top Gear host. He teases: “Of course it’s one of the best jobs on TV, plus if you have a love of cars like me, it’s even greater as a role, but so far all I can say is that we are having some ‘talks’.”

Looking at the lack of ideas that TV has to offer these days, it comes as no shock that ITV is continuing its revival of vintage game shows by recommissioning retro-format Blankety Blank. Hosted originally by Terry Wogan, then Lily Savage, ITV hopes to lure Paul O’Grady back and make it a prime time hit. But so far, Paul has not shown much interest.

Lost interest in Emmerdale? You’re not alone – fans have been blasting the script writers over lame storylines such as Belle’s imaginary friend, Charity being allowed to run a public house despite her endless stints in prison and Rakeesh the corrupt lawyer allowed to serve in court. Insiders agree with you, but as one told me: “We are just the actors and have no say in the storylines.”

We all know Louis Walsh is paid to stir up gossip for the ailing X Factor show and despite having two failed bands in a row with Hometown and Wonderland, the ageing judge trills that rival Strictly Come Dancing is “on its last legs, I mean who watches that now?” Actually Louis, millions more than watched X Factor.

Why this is a shock every year I don’t know, but it appears that Will Young could be a step ahead of this year’s Strictly Come Dancing competition as he’s been taking dance lessons – for years. A source tells me: “He is an accomplished dancer, so I think people will spot that, but it was the same with Jay last year. A virtual professional dancer, who won the show.”

Miranda Hart will not be returning to Call the Midwife, despite suggestions from producers that she would. She had been due to reappear in the BBC period drama as loveable midwife Camilla “Chummy” Fortescue-Cholmeley-Browne, but Miranda told me: “I loved my time on the drama but I honestly can’t fit in with the filming this time around, which is a huge shame for me.”

The BBC has dropped 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.

Rita Simons and Samantha Womack are poised to leave EastEnders together in the same dramatic storyline. They confirmed their exit this week, after playing sisters Roxy and Ronnie Mitchell for nine years. Rita, who is appearing in pantomime this year, admits: “Once Sam decided to go, and also with Barbara Windsor gone, it seemed a good time to say goodbye.”

James Norton and Robson Greene, will return as the unlikely crime fighting duo, vicar Sidney Chambers and police inspector Geordie Keating, for a feature-length Christmas instalment of Grantchester. Filming starts next week and James told me: “I am overjoyed, as I think the show really suits the festive season – and I hope we have a huge hit with it too!”

Sex and the City star Kim Cattrall and Dad’s Army actor Toby Jones will star in the BBC’s adaptation of Agatha Christie’s The Witness for the Prosecution. The two-part drama, which has been adapted by Sarah Phelps from the short story of the same name, will also star Bloodline actor Andrea Riseborough. The murder mystery began filming in Liverpool this week.

Boomtown Rat and Live Aid founder Sir Bob Geldof is being touted for after-dinner speaking engagements by his agent. Sir Bob, who is worth millions, has no plans to donate the huge fees to the endless charities he is always begging us to donate to.

Dallas star Linda Gray is set to join the cast of Hollyoaks for a week in the autumn. She will play Tabitha, the mother of Marnie Nightingale, and tells me: “I was offered the role, loved it, and figured why not? I am an actress and I go where the work is.”

A WALKER’S crisps TV ad featuring Gary Lineker promoting a controversial ‘win a holiday’ game has been banned. But Gary can’t see any problems with it and will continue to be the face and voice of the snack brand, after signing a new deal.

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