Jonny dances out of Albert Square and into the West End

Jonny dances out of Albert Square and into the West End

Jonny Labey is best-known for playing Paul Coker in EastEnders, joining the cast in 2015 as the grandson of Les and Pam Coker. 

But now he has landed a starring role alongside Will Young in the new mega West End smash Strictly Ballroom. Jonny, who also won the ITV show ‘Dance’, told me: “I can’t believe my luck as this is one of my all-time favourite movies too. So to be in this and appearing in the West End also is amazing. I want everyone to come and see it, we open on March 29.”

Alan Carr looks set to host a Les Dawson tribute show. The one-off special will mark 25 years since the comic’s death in June 1993. Daughter Charlotte Dawson said: “We’re in talks now and hoping to get lots of people involved.” As yet no channel is confirmed to air the show.

Did you know that Coronation Street legend Betty Driver first auditioned for the role of Hilda Ogden in 1964, before being persuaded instead to go for the role of Betty Williams – a role she’d play for 42 years? To this day her picture appears regularly on the screen in the famous Rovers Return pub.

Strictly Come Dancing’s Brendan Cole has been offered a book deal after the axe from the show – but he won’t confirm if it’s a tell-all book or simply one reflecting on his life in dance to date. He did tell a friend though that: “It still hurts and will further when the new series starts later in the year.”

Without a doubt best known for playing Cilla Battersby-Brown in Coronation Street, Wendi Peters’ extensive stage career includes productions of Oh! What A Lovely War and White Christmas. She is now starring in Ronald Harwood’s comedy Quartet which is currently running at the Everyman Cheltenham before embarking on a UK tour.

Former TV reporter and now MP Austin Mitchell was a regular on Calendar way back in the 70s. He tells me that he still gets stopped by people in the area to remind him of that fact and added: “I think the TV was far more powerful, plus the news was also vibrant and not so watered down when you look back at it.”

Coming soon to the BBC – yet another talent show, this time called The Greatest Dancer. The dance judge will be former X Factor judge Cheryl Cole, but the show will be produced by Syco Productions, which of course is owned by Simon Cowell, who is hopeful that the BBC may just take more of his shows now ITV are cutting back on the X Factor...

Former Hollyoaks star James Sutton tells me: “I was in Australia on holiday last year and actually rang Neighbours to see if I could be in the background of a couple of scenes... John Paul in Erinsborough! It didn’t happen in the end, unfortunately.” Ex-Coronation Street actor Ryan Thomas was far luckier though, and is now appearing in the soap.

West End and Broadway star Ruthie Henshall is to return to Chicago the Musical at London’s Phoenix Theatre to play the role of Matron Mama Morton. Joining her is the previously announced Cuba Gooding Jr as lawyer Billy Flynn. The show is currently scheduled for a one-year run beginning on March 26.

Strictly’s Kevin Clifton tells me that he has no idea if he will be invited back to the show this year, like all the others. “It’s a waiting game for sure, I would love to go back but it’s not down to me at all. Hopefully they will read this and sign me up again,” he added.

Suranne Jones has sent Coronation Street fans into a frenzy by revealing she’d consider returning to the famous cobbles for a charity special. Suranne played soap favourite Karen McDonald for four years. She told me “It’s a fun sketch, but I could never go back full time as I am way too busy, but I do miss the show obviously.”

With Alan Carr’s Chatty Man show getting the axe from Channel Four, the channel is now developing a new chat show which would be fronted by Jimmy Carr. The currently untitled format would see audience members asking the questions. Jimmy, who never fails to laugh at his own jokes, commented that he was “excited by the prospect”. 

The Sabrina the Teenage Witch reboot has found its Aunt Hilda in the form of UK Office star Lucy Davis. Davis played Dawn to Martin Freeman’s Tim in the original UK version of the hit comedy, and popped up in the Wonder Woman film last year. She is also comedian Jasper Carrot’s daughter...

Eammon Holmes and Ruth Langsford will front new Channel Five consumer entertainment show Do The Right Thing. The husband and wife duo will be joined by ex-MP Ann Widdecombe, radio presenter Roman Kemp, and TV presenter Michael Underwood for the new series. Eammon told me: “It’s That’s Life for a whole new generation and very exciting.”

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