Could the notorious curse of The Exorcist be real? Actress Jenny Seagrove, who opened in The Exorcist at the Phoenix Theatre in London’s West End, tells me: “The play is pretty full-on and yes at times frightening, but we want the audience to be shocked and enjoy it.”
Jenny, though, admitted: “I do now listen out for every noise when I am in the theatre alone, that is how much the play has played on my mind.” Jenny as ever gives a splendid performance, and it’s well worth going to see.
Olivia Colman will take over the reins from Claire Foy to portray The Queen in hit Netflix series The Crown, it’s been officially confirmed. The Broadchurch actress will play Queen Elizabeth II in seasons three and four of the show, which are expected to be released in 2019. Insiders tell me that this will help her break through in the US. Congratulations, Olivia.
It was recently announced that Hannah Spearritt is set to join BBC soap EastEnders later this year. But she tells me that she has not quit singing all together after her years in S Club 7. “I love music and yes, the band, but I want to be an all-rounder and appearing in such an iconic show is amazing ... I never dreamed I would get the role at all.”
Best known for her role as Karen in Coronation Street, actress Suarrane Jones will star in Vanity Fair on ITV. Due to air next year, filming has begun on location in Budapest and the UK for the lavish adaptation of William Makepeace Thackeray’s classic novel. She tells me: “I always wanted to do a great period drama piece, and this is it.”
Coastal Railways With Dame Julie Walters is another travel series with a difference. She told me: “I don’t really bother with a script on the show, as I like to natter to folk and see where the story goes, plus going to all those wonderful coastal towns and the history. I really have enjoyed making the show, and I hope it shows when it comes out next year.”
ITV has ordered Al Murray’s Make Christmas Great Again, a one-off TV special starring Al Murray, as his Pub Landlord character. The channel says: “We have some great guests and surprises. We think he will be something special this festive season.”
Julian Fellowes, the writer of Downton Abbey, Young Victoria and Gosford Park, has moved on to musicals with The Wind In The Willows. He tells me that he was so worried at first about doing it and added: “Firstly it’s the Palladium, and while you have a great cast it’s simply nerve-wracking. But after the success of it, yes, I am now tempted to look at other options that may fit in the musical world. Downton, the musical maybe?”
Actress and singer Sheridan Smith looked happy and healthy as she returned to TV work, filming new ITV drama Clean Break in Richmond last week. She told me she was very nervous about launching her new musicals album and added: “Oh yes, I mean it’s something I have always wanted to do, but again it’s bound to make me wobble a bit. I just hope people like it enough to buy it. What more can I ask?”
Sir Ken Dodd vowed he will never retire as the veteran comedian was honoured with a lifetime achievement award. The recently-knighted comic told a star-studded crowd at the British Music Hall Society he had the “best job in the world” and told me backstage: “I never thought it would last this long, and I am just hoping that they don’t find me out, but honestly I just love my life as a comic.”
Comedian Jason Manford released his first ever studio album, A Different Stage, on October 6. Sadly, unlike Bradley Walsh it failed to make a dent with the buying public, and plummeted down the charts. Jason may wish he picked a better PR team as like so many they failed to bother to push this otherwise excellent recording from the comedian turned singer...
The car Eric Morecambe was driving when he suffered his first heart attack is set to fetch around £100,000 when it is auctioned off next month. Morecambe bought the Jensen Interceptor Mk I Coupe in September 1968 for £4,500, but just two months later he suffered a heart attack at the wheel, at the age of just 42, while driving back from a gig at Batley Variety Club.
Neil Dudgeon is best known for his role as DCI John Barnaby in the hit series Midsomer Murders. He told me on set: “I’ve been very, very lucky. Within eight months of leaving drama school I got a part in a play at the Royal Court in London called Road. It was a big hit and it opened doors for me.”
‘Endeavour 68’ filming has got into full swing as Abigail Thaw joined co-stars Shaun Evans and Roger Allam while shooting in London. Abigail, the daughter of Morse star John, admitted to me she was a tad worried about joining the show, but: “I had visited the set so many times when I was younger, so it kind of feels like home in many ways, and I know Dad would be so proud of me joining his part of this great legacy.” It’s on screen next year.
The Great British Bake Off’s move to Channel 4 was “not a snatch” from the BBC, the outgoing C4 chief executive has said as he defended its acquisition. David Abraham said: “It was up for grabs and we simply made an offer, it was accepted and so we all moved on. I am thrilled now at how well it’s doing.”
Radio One’s flagship Breakfast Show has suffered a blow after registering its lowest ever weekly listening figures this past quarter. Hosted by £350,000-a-year DJ Nick Grimshaw, BBC bosses claim they plan to stick with him for the foreseeable future, and have “big plans”. Maybe, but will anyone be listening?