The brilliant Jimmy Cricket headlined the bill at the Leeds City Varieties’ Good Old Days show last week, to a full house and a standing ovation.
Jimmy told me backstage: “I love playing here as Yorkshire people are so warm and friendly.” Jimmy is as busy as ever with a Blackpool season next year and a brand-new charity CD out for Christmas. For more information, check out his website.
Strictly Come Dancing Judge Craig Revel Horwood tells me that the current series will be sad for him, as Len Goodman is leaving. But he also said: “It’s good to refresh things and make a new version, so while we will all miss him, yes we are all keen to know just who will land his job next year, without a doubt.”
Former Coronation Street star Georgia Taylor is set to reprise her role as Toyah Battersby more than 13 years after quitting the programme. Georgia will return to screens in December and is heading for a Christmas reunion with half-sister Leanne, who is played by Jane Danson. She tells me: “It’s not a full-time return, but I would like to go back and forth if at all possible.”
ITV has commissioned a second series of ratings smash Victoria, starring Blackpool-born actress Jenna Coleman, who tells me: “I am thrilled because it was a risk. It’s a great story, and now so many countries around the world want to buy the show too, which is wonderful.”
Sir Cliff Richard has released a new calendar at the age of 75. The Living Doll star has unveiled his 37th calendar for fans in time for Christmas. Sir Cliff told me: “People ask if I use the airbrush on the pictures? Well I am a fan and any help is most welcome, but I will leave it up to the fans to decide...”
Actor Sir Michael Gambon will star alongside Helen McCrory in a new six-part ITV drama called ‘Fearless’. Recently filming at Westminster Live studios in London, Sir Michael told me: “It’s a great role and full of gripping drama set against the wonderful backdrop of London, which made it too hard to turn down.”
ITV’s deal to renew The X Factor comes as the entertainment juggernaut’s back-to-basics format appears not to have stemmed the show’s declining audiences. A source at ITV tells me: “If the new series of The Voice takes off, I can easily see this show being axed at some stage in the future.”
Actress Lesley Joseph has vowed to prove her doubters wrong on Strictly Come Dancing. At 70, she is the oldest female contestant ever to waltz onto the BBC show, which this year also features Daisy Lowe, Will Young and Ed Balls. “I have a lot of energy, and love a challenge, so I think I could do quite well on this. Fingers crossed anyway,” she said.
Following the shock news that Mary Berry has stepped down from her role in The Great British Bake Off tent, she told me at a showbiz event she is hopeful that she and Mel & Sue can team up again for a new format. “We all get on so well, it would be shame not to, and I know the girls are keen for sure,” she said.
There are big changes ahead for the Barnaby household when Midsomer Murders returns for a new series next year. DCI Barnaby and his wife Sarah will welcome a new rescue puppy called Paddy into their home when series 19 of the ITV drama takes off. Neil Dudgeon, who plays DCI Barnaby, said: “I will miss working with Sykes for many reasons, but we are giving someone a chance to become a TV star too, which is no bad thing.”
Spandau Ballet rocker-turned-actor Martin Kemp has been cast as Sam Phillips, the man who discovered Elvis Presley in Memphis, in the tour of Million Dollar Quartet when it plays in London. Martin tells me: “It’s a dream role as I was a huge Elvis fan when I was a child.”
Previously hinting that his days on EastEnders are over for good, Ross Kemp appears to have given hope to those wanting more from Grant Mitchell. He tells me: “I think it’s all down to the writers to and what they can come up with. If it’s good, I would return again, for sure.”