I popped along to the Wakefield Theatre Royal recently to see the wonderful Cannon & Ball in their first play, which is set behind-the-scenes at a run-down theatre.
They find themselves involved in the crazy goings-on of compere Stu Francis and fellow comic Johnnie Casson – it’s a hilarious comedy play written by Bobby Ball that combines sitcom with variety and comedy. Part-play, part-variety show, Bobby told me backstage: “We just wanted to do something a bit different and fans appear to be loving it.” Judging by the sell-out crowd and standing ovation, I agree. Go see it now...
Brian Matthew, the Radio Two DJ who has presented ‘Sounds Of The 60s’ for more than a quarter of a century, is to be replaced by the BBC in a decision he described as “horrible”. Brian, 88, is Britain’s oldest regular radio presenter and has been with the station since 1954. Radio Two have decided to continue the show “without him”.
Pointless TV host Alexander Armstrong is already planning another album for later in the year after his last one fared well in the charts. He reveals: “I like the idea of going a bit more pop next time, and have a few ideas, but who knows what will happen when we hit the studio again?”
Ginger Spice Geri Horner is to feature in a documentary as part of the BBC’s ‘My Generation’ strand. She will look at the musical styles and fashions of the 90s and of course her own time as part of power house group The Spice Girls. She tells me: “I can’t believe that my time has already become nostalgia.”
Former EastEnders actress Kara Tointon tells me about her glamorous ITV drama The Halcyon. “Betsy is the singer with the hotel’s big band, and is so much fun,” she said. “I really love her style and of course the opportunity to sing. I think I would have suited that 40s period too as I look back now and wonder where all the glamour has gone.”
Producers of the upcoming West End production of Richard Harris’ comedy Stepping Out at the Vaudeville Theatre have told me a casting update. Natalie Casey will step in for Angela Griffin, who performed during the show’s UK tour, and now will no longer be appearing in the West End transfer which runs from March 1. A source reveals: “Angela has TV commitments that she is unable to move and insisted the show went ahead without her.”
Mrs Brown’s Boys creator Brendan O’Carroll is working on an entirely new show with the cast. He revealed a little more about All Round To Mrs Brown’s and said: “It’s a light entertainment show. Kathy (Jennifer) has got her own talk show, where Mrs Brown sits in and of course slightly interferes.”
W1A, the comedy about the inner workings of the BBC, will return for a third series of its self-referential mockery. The spoof documentary will see the BBC’s head of values Ian Fletcher, played by Hugh Bonneville, deal with the broadcaster’s new mission statement of doing ‘More Of Less’. Hugh told me: “I honestly don’t know how we get away with it but it’s great fun making it.”
Olivia Newton-John hinted to fans of Grease that there may be a reunion to celebrate 40 years of the hit film. She told me in London: “I think it would be great honestly, as I know it’s loved by so many people, but as to what we will do I have no idea yet.”
Police drama Inspector George Gently is coming to an end after 10 years. Actor Martin Shaw tells me that he is happy with the decision, but: “I know fans will be upset as they have grown attached to George and the team, but again I hope that he may come back at some point for a special or something like that.”
The Xtra Factor is set to be taken off the air by ITV after 12 years. A source tells me: “It’s simply too costly for too few ratings, and while we will support the show it basically means that we are now an app and on social platforms, with clips and extra content, as well as on YouTube, where X Factor clips perform strongly so no need for such a big production spin-off and a huge saving to the budget.”
As Corrie’s bad girl Tracy Barlow, Kate Ford has been marrying, manipulating and murdering her way through the Street for 15 years. Kate tells me: “There’s very little that Tracy hasn’t done, she’s done most of the sensational stuff. That’s why it’s nice that she is going in a different direction now. My scenes are more family-driven and real than they have been.”
Amanda Holden was in a good mood for the launch of her QVC homeware range in London recently. She told me: “Fans have asked me for years to get my name on something I love doing, so I figured let’s get on with it.” Amanda will also appear on the channel to help sell the stuff, and she hopes also to branch out into other areas too.
Let It Shine presenter Mel Giedroyc has explained that appearing on Strictly would ruin her enjoyment of the celebrity dance show. She tells me that she gets asked almost every year, but: “I said no. l love watching it so much, I almost didn’t want to spoil the pleasure by being on it.”
The new series of Call the Midwife had to be rewritten after Miranda Hart pulled out, its creator has said. Writer Heidi Thomas told me that she had written Miranda into the sixth series, but she withdrew at ‘relatively short notice’. It appears that Miranda is hoping to launch a Hollywood career, hence the decision to leave.