First and foremost a stand-up comedian, evergreen TV and stage performer Des O’Connor also had a string of hit singles in the 1960s. Last seen as the host of quiz show Countdown, he told me: “I was baffled by the game to be honest.”
Now he is back on tour and Des says: “I have not given TV up yet, but there is nothing right now that appeals. I mean I can’t cook or garden, so what can I offer to today’s shows?” Des is as brilliant as ever – check out his website for more details of his live dates. © Maycon Pictures
Sir Kenneth Branagh will direct the forthcoming new film adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Murder on The Orient Express, co-starring Dame Judi Dench and Penelope Cruz. The actor also takes the role of legendary detective Hercule Poirot. Ken has also recorded a new audiobook version of the bestseller, which is to be released next month. He told me: “I am such a fan of the character I could not resist.”
Sheridan Smith will show off her singing talents as she performs songs from her new album, accompanied by a live orchestra, in an ITV special to be shown this Christmas. Simply called Sheridan, the ‘TV extravaganza’ will see the Cilla actress performing an array of musical numbers as well as speaking about her life and career.
Prue Leith has revealed that she partly got her Great British Bake-Off judging job because after two auditions the producers had fallen in love with her and Paul’s chemistry. Prue said: “The first thing Paul said was ‘It’ll be fine, she reminds me of my mother-in-law!’ It turns out, he likes his mother-in-law!”
TV commentator Clare Balding has written a children’s book in time for Christmas, called ‘The Racehorse Who Disappeared’. Based on, she says, a real story. Clare reveals: “I do enjoy the writing process and it’s for children, but they can be your hardest critics, which is good.”
More bad luck for former Dynasty diva Dame Joan Collins. Her latest movie ‘The Time Of Their Lives’ failed to dent the box office, and now it appears that the DVD version is not faring too well either. A friend reveals that the actress had “put all her energies into making the film a success”.
Award-winning Coronation Street actress Dolly-Rose Campbell admits she wishes she could be dressed more ‘glam’ in her role as Gemma. “She is stuck in that shop serving burgers and covered in grease, so really I would love her to win the lotto, buy it and become a Carla Connor type – that would be fun!” she adds.
Debbie McGee has said being a part of Strictly Come Dancing has made her “nervous, but very happy too. I’m always giggling and having a good time. Everyone is so lovely on every level. I love all the other contestants, they make you feel so good and wanted.”
The BBC is shooting a Dave Allen biopic starring Game of Thrones actor Aidan Gillen. It has been written by Stephen Russell, who previously penned the BBC dramatisations We’re Doomed: The Dad’s Army Story, and Hattie, about the life of Hattie Jacques. Filming begins this month in Northern Ireland, with the drama paying homage to Allen’s television stand-up.
Former Strictly Come Dancing contestant Daisy Lowe tells me she is rooting for two pals on the current series of the show, but refuses to say who. “Having appeared on the show I think I truly know what they are going through, and yes I do have a favourite, but I don’t want to jinx it for them so I am keeping quiet,” she said.
Shayne Ward has told me his Coronation Street character, Aidan Connor, will become a lot darker in the next few months. He said: “I liked him at the start, but now it’s even better to play as he has a dark side coming out, which is a real challenge as an actor, and for me a real task as I am learning on this show all the time.”
Actress Jenny Seagrove believes her acting career could have gone a different way in many respects, and tells me: “I made some wrong decisions, and that meant I ended up with a career that might not have been stellar, but it was a good career.”
Jamie Lee Curtis is set to star in a new comedy set at a family-run funeral home. Entitled Quality Of Life, Miss Curtis will play the matriarch. She came up with the idea with former Will and Grace and Frasier producer Janis Hirsch, who is writing the script.
John Middleton, who left Emmerdale earlier this year in a deeply moving storyline, having played the village’s beloved vicar for over 20 years, is going back to the stage next year in a new spin on the TV play Strangers On A Train. John tells me he was happy to create a new character again and try something new. “I think and hope the public will let me move on from Ashley with this, and I think people will enjoy seeing another side to me,” he said.
Chat show host Graham Norton admits to me that there is no-one left alive that he would like to interview. “Of course some of the greats you do think ‘Oh I wonder what they are like’, but many of those have gone, and now we’re left with a batch of reality TV stars, which is not for great TV is it?” he laughed.
Poldark actor Aidan Turner is appearing in a new film this October alongside Jerome Flynn, called ‘Loving Vincent’. The film brings the paintings of Vincent van Gogh to life to tell his remarkable story. Every one of the 65,000 frames of the film are an oil-painting hand-painted by 125 professionals, who travelled from across the world to the Loving Vincent studios in Poland and Greece to be a part of the production.