Sir Tim Rice has given us some of the most brilliant musicals over the past three decades, from Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita to The Lion King.
Sir Tim’s latest film venture stars Dame Joan Collins and Pauline Collins in The Time Of Our Lives, and he tells me that Joan plays a former Hollywood star who’s on her way to crash her ex-husband’s funeral with a friend, played by Pauline Collins. It’s out in cinemas next March in the UK. Sir Tim is the executive producer and soundtrack supervisor and added: “Just go and see it, it’s a wonderful story and will make you laugh too.”
Strictly Come Dancing presenter Claudia Winkleman knows that she is not popular with everyone who watches the show and worries about it. “I do think ‘am I entertaining?’ and all that,” she said. “People like the show, so I don’t go on Twitter and social media, as I think it’s terrible what some people write about you.”
ITV political commentator Robert Peston recently secured an exclusive interview with former BHS boss Sir Philip Green. But Robert failed to mention that Sir Philip was a pal, and that a few years back he assisted and wrote a book on the one-time king of retail.
BBC One’s final episode of The Great British Bake Off bowed out with a peak of 14.9m viewers – the format’s biggest audience yet. BBC bosses can at least be happy that Channel Four, the new home of the show, will have a huge audience to beat and one insider told me: “Maybe it’s peaked already as it’s a long time to be away from our screens.”
Sheena Easton, the Grammy Award winning artist who has sold over 20 million records around the world, is to make her West End debut in the forthcoming production of 42nd Street. Sheena shot to fame on one of the first reality TV shows, ‘The Big Time’, and told me: “I have always wanted to appear in the West End and this is such a great show to be in. I can’t quite believe it.”
Martin Kemp is returning to the role of Vince for the Birds of a Feather Christmas special, reuniting with schoolmates Pauline Quirke and Linda Robson. Martin will reprise his gangstrer character and said: “I was so happy to land the role as I like the idea of making people laugh, and it’s such a great show and is still so fresh today.”
If you want to spot your favourite soap stars, pop along like I did to the Leeds Hilton Doubletree Hotel. They have the fantastic Sky Bar, which is the hottest place to be seen. On the night I was there I spotted Sherlock star Martin Freemanand recently departed Emmerdale star Sophie Powles both enjoying the delights of the cocktail menu. Who will you see?
Strictly Come Dancing’s Brendan Cole says he has no plan to take over the main judge’s role after Len Goodman. “I have had a turn as a judge on the New Zealand version of the show, and it was great fun for sure, but I could never replace Len,” he said. “I have no idea who they have in mind at this stage.”
It appears that Lorraine has more problems on her daily chat show. Ratings went up when she went on holiday and was covered in her role by Helen Skelton, formerly of Blue Peter. So much so that bosses are now hoping to lure Helen back in the new year, and some other special assignments on the show. Could this be the start of the end of Lorraine?
Every Saturday night Strictly Come Dancing comes live from Elstree Studios, specifically the George Lucas Stage. But did you know that hair and make-up get through 57 litres of spray tan and 504 cans of hairspray every series?! Ed Balls is now a fan of the spray tan, telling me: “I was cautious, but it does so much for you, and I am hooked.”
Emmerdale’s Louise Marwood, who plays Chrissie in the show, tells me she loves being the soap’s baddie. “I think it’s the best role, I mean she is vile, but the fans appear to love her more, so I must be doing it right.”
I say, I say, I say, I say, we’re talking about the butcher of Coronation Street Fred Elliot, AKA actor John Savident, who told me that he based the character’s annoying speech style on cartoon character Foghorn Leghorn. “I loved the way he repeated everything, and it stuck, people still say that to me now,” he said.
The unsung hero of Strictly Come Dancing, musical director Dave Arch, is a busy man all week. He tells me: “I get given the new tracks from the producers the Sunday after each live show, then the pro dancers have to approve these. My job is then to ‘choreograph’ all the musicians in the band in time for the next live show. I do about 200 arrangements a series, so it’s a lot of pressure.” Dave is becoming so popular that fans now want an album from his orchestra.
Seven celebrities including former Doctor Who Peter Davison and politician Ann Widdecombe are to forego sugar, cheap meat, bad fats and all processed foods for the second series of ITV’s Sugar Free Farm. Many fans though are bored with the series, claiming that it’s the same old people who will simply go on anything for airtime.