Ann's Angle

Russell Brand has left his manager John Noel after 15 years to move to Hannah Chambers Management.

Russell tells me: “It’s all change, I have a brand-new tour, new baby, and of course a new style. I think it’s great to mix things up and take on a challenge which is what I am doing. Yes, I will be returning to films at some point, so don’t worry about that.”

Take note, Pointless fans. Following the success of 2015’s A Year of Songs, which reached number six in the album charts, and Upon a Different Shore, which was released in 2016 and peaked at number eight, Alexander Armstrong has begin work on his third album this week.

The Jo Brand comedy Damned, about the lives of jaded social workers, is returning for a second series set in ‘a post-Brexit world’. Channel Four says that the six-part series, also starring Alan Davies, will screen later this year.

Award-winning actress Sheridan Smith recently appeared in The Moorside drama, about the search for kidnapped schoolgirl Shannon Matthews. She told me: “I was fascinated by the story at the time, and we filmed it all in Halifax. But what we tried to do is tell the story. Not the news reports, but what happened. It’s a tough watch, but it was a tough real-life situation that we all know about too.”

After living in India for a month for the second series of BBC One’s The Real Marigold Hotel, dance legend Lionel Blair revealed why he won’t be enjoying a retirement there. “I missed my wife terribly,” he said. “Any time I thought about her, I’d well up. I’ve got three grandchildren too, and I just have to see them!”

Daytime TV fans were shocked to discover that one of Doctors’ regulars is quitting the soap. The series, based in a GP practice, dropped the bombshell about Dr Jimmi Clay, played by Adrian Lewis Morgan. He tells me: “He is not being killed off, which is great, but I am having a little break to do other things, but I may just be back.”

Channel Five is reviving Cilla Black’s classic dating show Blind Date. But not many people are happy about it, including Cilla’s old pal Christopher Biggins. “I think it’s a daft idea really,” he said. “I mean, who can replace her? Plus it’s all moved on and the format seems out-dated now.”

Coronation Street’s Ken Barlow will be left battling for his life once again, sparking fears for fans that actor Bill Roache could be quitting the cobbles. According to insiders, Ken will be seen fighting for his life after he suffers a second suspected stroke.

Lee Mead is returning to the role of Ben ‘Lofty’ Chiltern, but he’ll be working on the Keller Ward of Holby City, rather than the emergency department of Casualty. Theatre and music star Lee said: “I’m really excited to be coming back as Lofty, I’ve missed him! I’m looking forward to being in a new part of the Holby hospital and seeing what it has in store for him next.”

The Crown creator Peter Morgan has lifted the lid on the challenges of writing and producing the big-budget Netflix drama, and admitted that casting changes for series three are being considered. He said: “It evolves of course, like the real story of the royals, but casting is so hard because they are real characters, and people all have an opinion on them.”

Emmerdale’s Amy Walsh plays Tracy Metcalfe in the soap and tells me: “I like the way she is now progressing, as we all do in soap. When she first came on she was trouble and feisty, but now she is more human and relaxed, plus she is a fighter and I know that side of her will be coming out again soon.”

A year after she won The Great British Bake Off, Nadiya Hussain has released her first novel, part of a trilogy, loosely based on her own childhood and entitled The Secret Lives of The Amir Sisters. It’s disappointing, though that the novel was ghost-written by Ayisha Malik.

Recently seen as a guest judge on the BBC show Let It Shine, Lulu tells me how she keeps fit for her career. “You must be so careful with your health, especially in terms of what you eat and drink,” she said. “If I’m on tour I don’t talk until after 12, so from 12am to 12pm I don’t speak, not if you want to be able to sing every night. You have to care of yourself, it’s a job, and if you want to do your job, you have to be fit for it.”

Helen Flanagan’s return to Coronation Street has not gone down well with regular fans, who believe that she can’t act and is simply playing herself, with the words provided by a script writer. A source tells me: “We have extended her contract though, as she brings glamour to the show, which is what the new boss wants to see on screen.”

If you’re a fan of the cult 70s show The Persuaders, which was an action comedy series and starred Sir Roger Moore and Tony Curtis, check out the True Channel, where it’s showing nightly at 9pm.

After his chat show got dropped from ITV, Alan Titchmarsh can barely contain his excitement over his new Channel Five documentary series about the National Trust. He tells me: “It’s such good fun finding all kinds of secrets behind walls. I do hope that we get to make more, as I know there are lots of people like me who love to snoop around old houses.”

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