Bravo, as Ruthie sails off into a new musical cruise

Bravo, as Ruthie sails off into a new musical cruise

Ruthie Henshall’s multi-award winning career has seen her star in the most popular musicals of the past 30 years, including Cats, Miss Saigon, Crazy For You, Oliver, A Chorus Line, Les Miserables and Chicago.

But she tells me she has joined Bravo Cruise Of The Performing Arts 2018 – and here’s why: “It’s basically a West End festival at sea. Alfie Boe, Wynne Evans and Katherine Jenkins are also on there ... if you love musical theatre then this is the cruise for you, and I am so excited to be doing it.” Ruthie has also let slip that she plans a return to the recording studio and maybe even a West End return “now my children are a little older”. Can’t wait...

Coming soon: Cannon & Ball are among the veteran British stars sent to America in new ITV’s five-part series Last Laugh In Vegas. They are given one last shot at putting on their dream gig in the variety capital of the world, and cameras follow them living in a house together and show rehearsals and the big night itself. The boys told me: “It was great fun and I think the show will surprise a lot of people as well. We slayed them, but TV doesn’t always want to show that side of it nowadays, does it?”

After dismal ratings have plagued this season of X Factor, Simon Cowell has revealed he’s working on a new show. He told me: “I am looking at a dancing show, but with a difference of course. I think people will enjoy it and it will be totally different to what we have made before. Watch this space...”

Universal Pictures’ live theatre division has announced that it has reached an agreement with Barry Gibb, Yvonne Gibb, and the estate of Robin Gibb to develop a biographical stage musical based on the life story and music of the Bee Gees. Barry Gibb will serve as an executive producer on the project and it’s expected on the stage late 2018.

With his debut showtunes album out of the official charts after just one week, it appears that Jason Manford does not have a lot to laugh about as his ITV show ‘Big Heads’ also looks like being scrapped, as “It failed to pull in the figures, but may return as a one-off.” Right...

ITV has ordered a second series of Bad Move, its new sitcom starring Jack Dee and Kerry Godliman as a couple who regret moving to the countryside. Six new episodes have been ordered, to be filmed and broadcast in 2018. It’s written by Jack Dee, who told me: “I am so happy as I thought the public would enjoy it, but you never know until you go to air, do you?”

Veteran comedian John Cleese returns to his sitcom roots to star in Hold The Sunset, about widow Edith (Alison Steadman) whose children have grown up. He told me: “This is one of the best scripts I have read in a long time, and it has a heart, the great thing is also that it’s funny and will leave you in a happier place also.”

Written entirely in his own words, internationally acclaimed composer Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber recounts his fascinating life and remarkable career in Unmasked, which will be released in March. With his signature humour and self-deprecating tone, Lloyd Webber shares the details of his early personal and professional years, including his early artistic influences.

Multi-millionaire stand-up comedian John Bishop has added an extra episode to his In Conversation With ... series – featuring an interview with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Bishop is a Labour supporter who has taken part in Stand Up For Labour fundraising events – he even joined a football team of Labour MPs to beat 11 journalists at last year’s party conference.

Strictly Come Dancing’s Darcey Bussell to quit the show over Shirley Ballas drama? Not at all. According to the former ballerina: “I read all these stories but myself and Shirley do get on and that’s a good thing. But half the time the daggers-at-dawn stuff is written by women, which is odd.”

She’s best known for playing Lady Mary Crawley on period drama Downton Abbey, but Michelle Dockery looked completely unrecognisable in the latest episode of her new TV show Good Behaviour. She told me: “I am taking totally different parts and roles to move away from Lady Mary. I love her but I can play others too, which is important.”

Katie Derham, Judy Murray and Kimberley Walsh are among the stars taking part in Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special. Katie, who will be dancing with Brendan Cole, said: “Being parachuted on to Planet Strictly two years ago was the most joyful and challenging time. I really missed it when it stopped, but all good things and all that, plus now I am worried I have forgotten everything again.”

James Norton plays Alex Godman, the English-raised son of Russian exiles with a mafia past, in BBC One’s new thriller McMafia. Always changing his style to shock the audience, James tells me: “This is so different from Grantchester and all the other stuff, but I hope my fans will enjoy it. It’s not Sidney though!”

Ex-Blue star Duncan James star says playing Ryan Knight in Hollyoaks has left him wanting to do more acting roles. “I have enjoyed stage musicals and pantomime, but Hollyoaks was really hard gripping stuff,” he said. “Now I think I am ready for something a bit more dramatic next time around ... maybe even a Bond baddie, who knows?!”

There really is no escape from daytime TV host Lorraine Kelly, who is now on BBC One with game show Wedding Day Winners. Each week two happy couples and their families go head-to-head in a series of challenges to bag prizes including exotic honeymoons and a fully-paid-for ceremony.

Diversity star Ashley Banjo has been announced as the fourth and final judge for next year’s comeback series of Dancing on Ice. The performer first shot to fame winning the 2009 series of Britain’s Got Talent. “I truly love the show and now to be a judge is amazing,” he said. “I won’t be easy with people for sure, but I will be fair.”

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