Ann's Angle

Former X Factor runner-up Andy Abraham is set to star in panto in Carlisle.

Andy will be playing the henchman Fleshcreep in the show, and tells me that he will still watch this year’s X Factor, but added: “It’s a great show that gave me a huge break, but I do think they should go back to what made it good fun all those years ago, and that was great voices and performances. With fewer stunts, it could be huge all over again.”

Keith Duffy formed ‘Boyzlife’ with Brian McFadden because he found himself being typecast. “It’s difficult having the band background and the Coronation Street background,” he said. “It’s difficult sometimes to get work. A lot of casting directors will think that I’ve got too much of a familiar face and won’t cast me, which is why I have gone back to music.”

We all know that Arlene Phillips didn’t exactly leave Strictly Come Dancing on the best terms. She was replaced by Alesha Dixon back in 2009, which kicked off a massive ageism row. Now though, she is keen to return and replace Len, who quits after this series and the Christmas special. “I would love it, I mean I am far more qualified than many that have been offered the role,” she said. Fingers crossed, Arlene...

Casualty star Jason Durr is quietly optimistic that his character, nurse David Hide, will rise to the occasion in the BBC show. “I think people will be surprised at the character that I am playing, but I think it’s great to mix it up and shock people who assume that you always play nice guys,” he said.

The Great British Bake Off host Mary Berry has admitted she would never get a tattoo at the age of 81, despite Dame Judi Dench recently having one. The TV star revealed: “No thank you! There’s absolutely no chance, I don’t see what is appealing about them, but again it’s not my age range is it?”

ITV has commissioned a new panel show starring Harry Hill. He made a brief return to the channel early in 2015 with an ill-fated attempt to revive the talent show format Stars in Their Eyes. Fingers crossed this time, that the show is a success.

Just Good Friends was an 80s sitcom starring Paul Nicholas and Jan Francis as former lovers Vince and Penny, who met up by chance five years after he jilted her at the altar. Insiders now tell me that after so many revival comedy shows, this is now next in line for an update – but is this one step too far and already outdated?

The stage is set for a spectacular weekend of celebrations to mark the unveiling of a statue of the late Dame Gracie Fields in Rochdale. The statue unveiling in Town Hall Square, Rochdale, on Sunday September 18 will mark the culmination of three days of activities to celebrate the remarkable life of the Rochdale-born singer, actress and comedienne.

BBC Two is to shine a spotlight on the career of Boy George after ordering a documentary. The singer, again on the comeback trail, tells me: “I think it’s rather funny that people want to look back on your life, when you’re still living it, but then again I have lived quite a lot already.”

Former Emmerdale actor Paul Loughran, who played Butch Dingle until 2000, will make the switch to Wetherfield as Craig Tinker’s dad. Paul told me: “I can’t believe it actually, as to be in one soap is great, but this is the gold, everyone loves Coronation Street don’t they?”

Lord Michael Cashman will briefly reprise his famous role as Colin Russell in EastEnders, 30 years after he first arrived in Walford. The 65-year-old appeared on the soap for three years from 1986 and tells me: “I got the call back while eating lunch in a cafe in London, and thought why not. I can’t believe it’s been 30 years though, where has that gone?”

Keeping Up appearances star Patricia Routledge is not a fan of remakes of the show, and has been telling anyone who will listen: “Why are they doing this sort of thing?” The actress, 87, was quoted as saying: “They must be desperate. Nothing to do with me. Let them get on with it, and remind me to switch off, please.” Not a fan then...

Coronation Street’s Maria played by Samia Ghadie explains it was the fans that requested more episodes of the show, and the bosses simply reacted. “I think some people would have the show as a live beam all day every day, because to many it’s realistic, but we’re all happy to do more episodes for the fans,” she said.

It appears that Dame Joan Collins is not as popular as she may have thought with her new theatre tour. Many blame the lack of PR her show is receiving, and are stunned that she is not a sell-out. But having dealt (or not dealt) with the Blackpool-based PR team, I am not surprised she is struggling to fill the venues as they never return calls...

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