Emmerdale and The Royal star Natalie Anderson will join the cast of Fat Friends - The Musical.
Natalie has appeared in numerous shows, including Wire In The Blood and The Biz. She also appeared as Nessarose in Wicked in the West End, as well as Lady Capulet in Romeo and Juliet at West Yorkshire Playhouse. She will perform the role of Lauren in Fat Friends, originated on screen by her Emmerdale co-star Gaynor Faye.
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Beverley Knight and Michael Ball are among performers confirmed to take part in a musical theatre-themed cruise. Floating Festivals bills itself as the UK’s “first ever fully-themed musical theatre cruise”. As well as performances by Ball, Knight and Lee Mead, the four-night trip offers quizzes, lip-sync battles and musical theatre workshops, where passengers can learn dance, singing and acting skills. If successful they plan to turn the idea into a TV show too.
Debra Stephenson has been cast in the forthcoming Dusty Springfield musical ‘Son of a Preacher Man’. She joins Diana Vickers in the 2017 tour, which starts at the Churchill Theatre in Bromley in September. Featuring Dusty Springfield’s music, the show is directed and choreographed by TV judge Craig Revel Horwood.
BBC One’s Pitch Battle won’t be back for a second series, despite the talents of Gareth Malone and Mel Giedroyc. A friend reveals: “We had high hopes for the show, and sadly it’s not been taken to the viewing public hearts as we had hoped. It may come back in some form, but not sure what.”
Craig Revel Horwood always thought he was the only member of his family to have tripped the light fantastic, but he tells me that appearing on ‘Who Do you Think You Are’ really opened his eyes. “I now know why I love the stage so much, and where it all came from. It’s such a brilliant show,” he told me.
Miranda actor Tom Ellis has confirmed that he is ‘in talks’ about bringing the hit sitcom back to BBC One. Tom told me: “We’re talking about it, yes. Now it is difficult, and it’s just about scheduling and getting us all together in the same room, but we are talking about doing a few more bits in the future.”
Martine McCutcheon is back with a new album, and tells me that she would love to return to soap one day, as she misses the rigours of soap acting. “I know it sounds crazy, but back then it was a lot harder as there were fewer cast members, so you featured a lot,” she said. “But I did love it, and yes if an offer was made I would think about it for sure.”
She rose to fame as the Boddington’s model and then had that wonderful Lancashire twang in the famous ads. Now presenter Melanie Sykes tells me she is going back, 25 years on, to make a new ad with the company. “I am flattered to be honest, but I don’t think we will be filming anywhere exotic. Maybe Bury,” she giggled.
Margaret Rutherford will always be known as the harmless battleaxe of black and white British cinema. She famously starred as Miss Marple in a series of films in the early 60s, and now a TV docudrama is planned on the actress’s life. A friend tells me: “It’s all very top secret right now, but we know she was so well loved by so many.”
Actor Michael Gambon is to star alongside Murder She Wrote’s Angela Lansbury’s in the BBC’s new adaptation of the much-loved novel Little Women. Angela reveals: “I was so excited to receive the offer, and I knew it was the right choice. I think the drama will be a huge success as great writing never goes out of style.”
Britain’s best-known luvvie, Stephen Fry was stunned when his much-hyped US sitcom The Great Indoors was axed after only one series. He admits: “It came as a shock to me honestly, as I loved the cast and doing the show, but one can’t rely on these things and you have to move forward and look to the next challenge.”
Debbie Rush is leaving Coronation Street and the role of Anna Windass at the end of the year, ITV has confirmed. It will bring to a close her nine-year career as the Street’s long-suffering cleaner. Debbie tells me she wants new challenges, and denies she was unhappy on the show.
EastEnders has fallen to its lowest ever ratings. The BBC soap attracted just 3.4 million viewers recently, 600,000 less than its previous historic low. A source who is based out at Elstree, where the show is made, tells me: “Everyone is worried as the show has been in decline for years now, and all wonder who will face the axe in a bid to cut costs.”
Strictly’s Craig Revel Horwood says new head judge Shirley Ballas is the perfect choice. He tells me: “Shirley’s a fantastic replacement for Len Goodman. I’ve met up with her and she’s a laugh and a bundle of fun, I think she will really mix it up and people will love her from the off. But don’t expect her also to be that soft with the stars...”