Veteran broadcaster Tony Blackburn has returned to BBC radio, announcing: “Good Lord, I’m back.”
Tony told me that: “I have had a difficult year personally, but I’m pleased to be returning to the BBC and can’t wait to get behind the mic again.” He has many fans, including Sir Roger Moore, who tweeted: “He’s back!” Tony, who spun the first-ever record on Radio One back in the 60s, says: “I am still as passionate today about music as back then. Just a big kid in a studio really.”
Former Coronation Street and Wild At Heart actress Lucy-Jo Hudson says she agreed to appear on the new Strictly-style dance show on ITV simply because: “It looked a lot of fun and that was the appeal, I mean I got to dance on a huge stage with lights and smoke. I really did feel like a pop star, which was amazing.”
Sheridan Smith, who is reprising her role as Fanny Brice for a national UK tour of the hit musical Funny Girl, is to star as a strong and complicated female lead character in Clean Break, a new six-part ITV drama series which will air this coming autumn.
Former Strictly Come Dancing judge Arlene Phillips tells me that Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber wants to revamp Starlight Express for the musical’s 35th birthday in 2018. They worked together on the original roller skating stage show in 1984 and have been in discussions about rebooting the musical in celebration of its anniversary.
I hear that recently departed EastEnders actress Rita Simons, who played Roxie in the soap, is already in talks about this year’s Strictly Come Dancing. A source revealed to me: “She loves the show and has visited many times, so it would be a natural move for her after of course being in the BBC fold for many years.”
John Prescott, Johnny Ball and Eve Pollard are among the celebrities who will explore what it means to be an OAP in Britain for Channel Four. The former Deputy Prime Minister, who is claiming he is doing it to try and put Hull on the map in its big cultural year, also declined to reveal just how much the TV company are paying the multi-millionaire for his trouble of appearing on camera.
She played Emma Peel in 60s spy series The Avengers, but Dame Diana Rigg will grace our screens in a more sedate role this autumn. A source tells me that Diana will play the part of a lady-in-waiting in the next series of Victoria, the ITV drama starring Doctor Who actress Jenna Coleman as the monarch. I will keep you posted...
Pointless host Alexandra Armstrong recently claimed a Palace source had told him that HM The Queen is a huge fan of his daily quiz show. Odd as no-one from the Palace can or will confirm this statement, so one wonders if maybe ratings are slightly down for the quiz and this is a great way of reminding people it’s on. Or maybe Her Majesty IS a fan...
Hugh Bonneville will always be Lord Grantham from Downton Abbey fame, and he tells me while filming the new movie Paddington 2: “I think that will be the thing I am most remembered for, and it’s a great thing to be honest. Like all actors I think my best work is yet to come, although again who knows, I may just end up an extra in some obscure TV show. It does happen, you know...”
Mezzo-soprano Katherine Jenkins will make her stage debut opposite leading opera singer Alfie Boe in a new version of the classic musical Carousel. The pair will lead a five-week run – comprising 41 performances – at the London Coliseum, home of the English National Opera, from April 7.
Hollyoaks star James Sutton is said to be leaving the Channel Four soap later in the year, but fans fear not, I am assured that his character will not be killed off. “I can’t say for sure,” James told me. “But I do know it’s an ending that could go either way, so who knows, I may just return for a third time.”
Former Coronation Street actress Michelle Keegan has left viewers baffled with her Essex accent. The soap queen took on the role of Tina Dean opposite Lorne MacFayden in Tina and Bobby, a three-part series about Bobby Moore which follows football’s first power couple. But many watching the show claimed she went back and forth between Northern and Essex accents, with one saying: “It ruined the show for me as her acting was also not that great too.” Can the soap star survive a public backlash?
One year after she won The Great British Bake Off, Nadiya Hussain has released her first novel. Part of a trilogy based on her own childhood and entitled The Secret Lives Of The Amir Sisters, the novel was ghostwritten by Ayisha Malik with ‘thoughts’ by Nadiya ... and yet she claims she is the author.
Gary Beadle, who played Paul Trueman in EastEnders for three years, tells me that filming Death In Paradise in Guadeloupe was “just like a wonderful holiday. I mean the place is magical, and yes you do have to make your own luck in the acting game, but then jobs like this are really the icing on the cake. I just hope we keep on going as I love spending six months here filming.”