Sir David Jason is to release a second autobiography following the success of 2013’s My Life, which has sold more than half a million copies to date.
My Lives will be released in October this year, focusing on his much-loved television roles. He’ll tell us about backstage pranks which were funnier than the final episodes, and how he created his on-screen chemistry with other actors such as Nicholas Lyndhurst. He said: “Ann, people ask me so many questions about shows, so that got me thinking it would be great for a book.”
EastEnders’ Shane Richie is coming back to ITV show Benidorm when series 10 starts filming in the Spanish resort soon – and he’ll be joined by comedy duo Hale & Pace. Shane reveals: “I am thrilled as comedy has always been at the heart of me, and I love the show. It’s like a Carry On film on TV.”
The BBC is to broadcast a new documentary series about the history of opera, in collaboration with the Royal Opera House. Presenter Lucy Worsley tells me: “It’s an honour to film inside such a splendid opera house and bring opera out into the open. I really think people will enjoy the whole series as it’s of our time, in essence.”
Could Les and Janice Battersby be returning to Weatherfield? That’s from actress Jane Danson, who let slip in an interview that she was “hopeful as then we would have the full family back, and I do think it makes sense, and fans want it.”
She added: “Why not? People do move away and then return, but there is an element of risk also...”
The One Show host Alex Jones has revealed that she took part in a Welsh nationalist student demonstration in Aberystwyth in 1995 during which eggs were thrown at the Queen’s car. This has not gone down well with BBC bosses, who despite her being on maternity leave want ‘a serious word with her’ about this revelation.
Big Heads is yet another show hosted by Jason Manford. It’s a new primetime physical game show that sees members of the public donning enormous celebrity heads, and competing in a series of fun physical games in front of a live studio audience. Jason said: “It has all the hallmarks of a hit show.”
Emmerdale’s Lucy Pargeter tells me that playing Chas in the show is great, but: “You do wonder what is next for her, because so much as happened and yet they keep finding things that leave you shrieking with laughter at her exploits. I don’t want her to be boring though, that would be the end for me. Keep it fresh!”
Saturday Night Takeaway with Ant & Dec may be going to Disney World for the final episode, but I can reveal this is simply because Disney are funding huge parts of the show. They will benefit from the exposure to millions of British homes, and hope that lots of us will then visit the attraction in Florida.
A musical based on the life of Cilla Black is in the pipeline, and a nationwide hunt is on for an unknown actor to play the leading role. Produced by Bill Kenwright, the musical is based on the ITV drama which starred Sheridan Smith. Bill tells me: “I think her background will surprise many people, and Cilla herself was keen for this project to take off, so it is nice to make it happen.”
Downton Abbey’s Tom Cullen is the latest star set to join the cast of new BBC drama Gunpowder. Tom, best known for his role as Lady Mary’s unsuccessful suitor Viscount Gillingham in Downton, will play scheming villain Guy Fawkes in the new three-part drama, which follows the build-up to the notorious Gunpowder Plot intended to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605.
Gary Barlow has predicted his Let It Shine winners could be bigger than Take That, after the band Five to Five triumphed in the BBC talent search recently. Barlow, 46, commented: “My email is full of offers for these guys, I do think they will have a big career and I am hoping good things will happen for them.”
The old Coronation Street set is now derelict and partly destroyed. Sold by Granada TV for millions and soon to be turned into flats, a source tells me: “It’s such a shame as it holds a lot of memories for many people who worked there, and of course the millions of fans who have enjoyed the show for years.”
I’m A Celebrity ... Get Me Out Of Here winner Scarlett Moffatt has been given a primetime TV show following her stint co-hosting Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway. Scarlett, who found fame sitting on a sofa commenting on TV shows, is now being hailed as a ‘star’ by Channel Four.
Dame Diana Rigg is to join ITV’s royal drama Victoria, playing the Duchess of Buccleuch. Best known for her 1960s TV roles in The Avengers, Diana plays the young Queen’s new Mistress of the Robes, who was said to be renowned for speaking her mind. Dame Diana tells me: “It’s a juicy role and that is all one can ask for as an actress, plus she was very naughty, which is also a wonderful gift.”
Buffy the Vampire Slayer star Anthony Head has put himself in the running to be the next Doctor Who. Admitting he would not turn down the job, he said: ‘I think the role and the show are great, and yes if someone asked me, why not? But no-one has asked...”