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Can you believe that The Grumbleweeds have been part of the UK comedy scene since the 1960s?
From TV to radio, pantomime, summer season, theatre and cabaret, unforgettable characters weave their way through their act, interlaced with fresh routines and impressions. I was lucky enough to meet both Robin and James as they appeared in London for an interview at Westminster Live. Still as funny as ever and packing theatres across the UK, do check them out because seriously they are just very funny, and we all need a laugh in our lives, right? Don’t grumble, just go and see the Grumbleweeds instead...
Strictly Come Dancing star Brian Conley has said he wants to stay in the competition for “as long as possible”. He tells me: “It’s hard work but also a great challenge, I never thought I would be able to do anything like they are teaching me to do. So yes it’s good fun, but my feet are killing me Ann, honestly.”
Dame Diana Rigg plays the Queen’s Mistress of the Robes in hit period drama Victoria. She tells me, laughing: “Getting in and out of horse-drawn carriages at my age! They are very high and impossible to get into and out of. I do it, but thank God I pleaded with the director to not make me do it on camera. There is a lot of huffing, puffing and groaning.”
Claudia Winkleman may be one of the highest-paid BBC female presenters, but she reassures us that she is just like you and me and reveals she travels on the tube four times a day without being recognised – even when she hums the Strictly theme tune. “I think without make-up no-one knows it’s me, which is handy on occasions,” she said.
Insiders tells me that Darcey Bussell and Shirley Ballas do not appear to be getting on while judging Strictly Come Dancing. A friend reveals: “It’s early days, but it appears that Shirley has not yet quite fitted in, and they were hoping for a bit more. She may find her feet, but staff have also noted a coolness between the two divas of dance.” Have you?
As the classic 80s series Dynasty returns in a brand-new Netflix revamp, actor Grant Show, who stars as billionaire Blake Carrington, tells me: “It’s glamorous, fun, and all the things you would expect of the show, but also up to date.
“You must remember we have more gadgets now and this plays a bigger part in the scheming and fun that we get up to on the show.” It’s well worth a view, he assures me...
Loose Women TV presenter Gloria Hunniford launched her book ‘My Life’ at the Langham Hotel in London last week, a venue she also stays at while filming the Rip Off Britain TV show. She reveals: “I decided to write a book after years of being asked, and you know I really enjoyed it. It was great fun and something for the archive now.”
EastEnders character Masood is returning to Albert Square, a year after leaving. Nitin Ganatra has said he is “overwhelmed” after fans welcomed news of his return as postman Masood. Nitin quit EastEnders in November 2016 after nine years in Walford, saying he wanted to explore other roles.
Debbie McGee may be one of the oldest contestants in this year’s Strictly Come Dancing but some fans were furious to find that Debbie is in fact ballet-trained, which gives her an unfair advantage. Debbie, though, reveals: “That was many years ago, and of course ballroom is so different and while I do enjoy dance, this is really tough but I am enjoying it.”
One-time X Factor hopeful Olly Murs has now joined The Voice as a coach, heading up the talent show alongside Tom Jones, Jennifer Hudson, and Will I Am. He is replacing Gavin Rossdale, who was dropped after the last series on ITV, due to the fact he appeared dull and bored. A friend tells me: “We need to bring in a younger audience, and despite a flop at hosting the X Factor, we feel he will be great on this show.”
Mikey North, who plays Gary Windass, has become a central character since his first appearance on Coronation Street in 2008. But nine years later the flame-haired hunk is due to be killed off. Insiders tell me that this is the start of many characters being shown the door as they try to stem the flow of people switching off from the once-popular show.
Michelle Gayle will be joining the cast of the tour of ‘Son of a Preacher Man’ from January, playing Kat and Alison. She will be taking over the roles from Debra Stephenson and Diana Vickers, who are leaving the tour at the end of this year. Gayle’s acting credits include Grange Hill and EastEnders, and as a singer she achieved six top-20 hits.
Strictly contestant and singer Alexandra Burke insists she will have some new music for fans next year. She said: “I really love this show and while I have enjoyed being in musical theatre, I do want to get back to recording. My fans keep asking me, so yes something new very soon, I promise.”
Emmerdale producer Iain MacLeod revealed that his original plan didn’t involve killing off the character of Emma Barton, until actress Gillian Kearney revealed she wanted to leave the role. “I think she felt it had gone as far as she could and I respected that, but we all wanted her to stay. She has been wonderful of course in the role.”