BLUE singer Antony Costa will star in the Grand Opera House pantomime Beauty And The Beast, along with Strictly Come Dancing’s Debbie McGee this winter in York.
Ant tells me: “I love the whole panto scene and this year looks great fun, plus I get to act, which is where I started off before I joined the group Blue.” Antony, though, adds he would love a role in a soap. “I mean both Lee and Duncan have done well in them, so maybe it could be my turn next, who knows?”
© Maycon Pictures
There’s a real festive treat as Sir Tom Jones joins forces with Beverley Knight to celebrate Christmas in style. They’ll host and perform a feast of gospel music in a one-hour special for BBC Two, which will be shown on Christmas Day. Recorded in Cardiff later this month, Sir Tom reveals: “This is the show I have been waiting to make for years, and I am so happy the BBC came on board with it.”
Coronation Street is on the lookout for another character to liven up Weatherfield in the same way that soap legend Maggie Jones’ Blanche Hunt did. A source tells me: “They have been secretly casting for months to find that perfect comedy foil, but so far nothing. They remain, as they say, hopeful.”
Actor Rupert Graves, Inspector Lestrade in the BBC’s Sherlock, tells me that he is thrilled that the Arthur Conan Doyle classic is still so relevant today. “He used to dine a lot at the Langham Hotel in London, which is just across from the BBC HQ now, so you do wonder if he had any idea just how successful his deer stalking detective would eventually be and still be so relevant today,” he said.
Coronation Street creator and soap pioneer Tony Warren had other big ideas. Before he started writing Corrie in the 1960s, he embarked on a totally different project, called Seven Bessie Street. This first show was based on theatrical people who all lived in the same house. A source revealed to me: “He loved the variety theatre so he came up with that as a background set in the late 50s. It’s a great script, but I don’t think it will ever be made now.”
BBC drama Peaky Blinders is fuelling a resurgence in men wanting to wear a shirt, tie and waistcoat. A source on the show tells me: “We get a lot of requests as to what the tailor we use is making, and we have seen how the show has influenced the street look of today’s youth, which is wonderful, people are looking smart again.”
Peter Kay is to return to stand-up comedy with his first live tour in eight years. The Bafta award-winning writer and actor, who won critical acclaim for his TV series Car Share, will be back on stage for the first time since his record-breaking tour in 2010. Peter tells me: “I do love the whole live audience thing and I keep getting asked, so I figured yes this would be a good time to do it, I hope you’re all coming along.”
Coronation Street actress Debbie Rush, who plays Anna in the soap, admits she still gets comments about her ill-fated workout DVD from a few years back. “I did it to get fit, but I never said on the label I will look like this for life, but people do get upset if that is not the case,” she laughed.
Sir Bruce Forsyth refused to speak to Jim Davidson again after he took over as host of The Generation Game. Jim said: “I don’t really know why, I mean we were never great friends but I think he did not want the show to go on without him. But Larry Grayson had done a terrific job, so it must have been me really.”
John Middleton broke the nation’s heart when vicar Ashley Thomas left Emmerdale. From January, he told me: “I’m appearing in a play touring the country called Strangers on a Train, and I’m playing a detective called Arthur Gerard. He’s a hard-bitten American cop who couldn’t be more different to Ashley – and I couldn’t be more delighted about that!”
BBC One is to air A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong later this month. The festive one-off follows the success of last year’s Peter Pan Goes Wrong which was watched by 2.6 million viewers. The plot of the new special is that the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society, who had been blacklisted by the BBC after ruining Peter Pan, force themselves back on air by hijacking a ‘live’ production of A Christmas Carol staged by a professional cast.
Jeremy Piven, who starred in the hit TV show Mr Selfridge, agrees that the show would make a great musical. He said: “I think it has all the right ingredients, and when you look at his story of course it would work, but like any good musical it needs great songs.”
Former EastEnders star Shaun Williamson tells me about his new role as panto villain Captain Hook. He said: “I’m appearing at the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury, and yes this is a real baddie role, as I normally get the kind-hearted buffoon roles. But it’s great to be bad on stage in this role.”
Bubbly TV presenter Kirstie Allsopp may always be persuading us to make our own ‘Homemade Christmas’ on her lucrative TV shows, but does she really do all that herself? I ask as I spotted her in the leafy area of Holland Park with what looked like Christmas presents. Naturally I am sure they were all homemade, but just a thought Kirstie...
She famously played scheming Cindy Beale in EastEnders, with her soap character embroiled in plotting to kill her husband Ian. Now Michelle Collins reunited with her former EastEnders co-star Adam Woodyatt, as she launched her new skincare company, Pellum Vero, at Champneys in Hertfordshire. Michelle tells me that this is a venture she has wanted to launch for such a long time. “I am truly passionate about it, and yes it works, I mean look at me, of course it works,” she giggled.
Strictly Come Dancing has landed the Duchess of Cornwall for its 2017 Christmas special! Although she probably won’t be cha-cha-cha-ing or two-stepping, Camilla will be appearing in a filmed segment welcoming this year’s contestants to Buckingham Palace for a traditional 19th century tea dance. Camilla as we know loves the show and is big pals with judge Craig Revel Horwood, about whom she let slip “he is a real pussy cat off the judge’s desk, but he plays his part very well.”