I was at the world-famous Cafe De Paris in the heart of London to meet the stars of the stunning stage production Strictly Ballroom. It features Will Young, who plays bandleader Wally Strand.
“He is a great character and of course has a hidden secret, but the musical is wonderful,” said Will. “If you love dance or musicals you will simply love this.” Will has not quite gone back to his music but adds: “I will go back into the studio when the time is right, but right now, it’s this.” The production premiered in Australia and is making its West End debut at the Piccadilly Theatre in March.
King of Bradford pantomime Billy Pearce tells me that in 2018 he will be celebrating 20 years starring in panto at the Alhambra Theatre. He said: “I can’t remember where the time has gone and honestly Ann, I love the place so much, and the audiences have always been great with me, so hopefully another 20 to follow.”
Fans of Cold Feet will be delighted to hear that filming is about to start on the eighth series. John Thomson, who appears in the show, admits it was a life-saver career-wise. “I had been in Coronation Street and then, well, TV work is hard to find. Good TV work is, anyway...” he remarked.
Comedy writer Barry Cryer, who will be 83 next month, tells me that he often gets calls now to simply comment on someone from the showbiz world who has died. But as ever Barry laughed: “I wonder who will be left when I go, or if there is no-one left it will just be put on Twitter and that will be that!”
Larger-than-life British actor Brian Blessed is known for his hearty, king-sized portrayals on film and television. But tells me he would love to land a few more comedy roles and added: “I think a lot of people expect you to just do the greats and all that, but I like appearing in fun things too.”
EastEnders actor Paul Nicholas brings a warm blush to the cheeks of those ladies who remember him from his days as lothario Vince in the TV series Just Good Friends. But he dismisses a reboot of the show and said: “I think in the digital age it would not work at all, which is a shame, but they were innocent times in many respects.”
The Nightly Show won’t be back on ITV. Insiders at the channel tell me that while the late-night chat show was a great experiment, it’s been decided that it would not make a great second run. Bad news for Dermot O’Leary as he had hoped that he may land his own chat show off the back of it.
American actress Teri Hatcher, comedian Alan Carr and leader of the Scottish Conservatives Ruth Davidson are among the stars taking part in The Great Celebrity Bake Off. Terri, who starred in Desperate Housewives, reveals that she loved the show but only watched the UK version as “it was so BBC”. Oh dear, does she know it has moved channels?
Mel Giedroyc is to join the cast of forthcoming West End musical, Company. The comedian and former Bake-Off host will play Sarah in the revival of Stephen Sondheim’s 1970 musical comedy. It’s a good offer, given her TV career is now rapidly on the slide.
The Fizz singer Cheryl Baker said she knew she was the worst skater on Dancing on Ice after she was eliminated from the competition. She said: “I enjoyed the show and thought it was great fun, but you know you’re the worst and as long as you know that just have a laugh, which is what I did, really.”
Alistair McGowan is to return to TV with a new impression show. The programme, provisionally titled Re-Dub! will feature a team of new and established impressionists who will re-voice topical clips to give them a comic twist. Ten half-hour episodes have been commissioned for broadcast on Sky One later this year.
Letitia Dean who plays Sharon in EastEnders, defends the silly plots that the soap now focuses on and reveals: “Of course it’s not like real life, I mean who wants to watch someone putting on a pan of beans or something? It must be heightened, and that is what gets people to watch.”
Strictly Come Dancing professional Anton Du Beke has kept up the guesswork as to whether he will return to the BBC show. Speculation about his future on the show has been rife following Brendan Cole’s revelation that he would not be returning after the BBC failed to renew his contract. Anton tells me: “I am just living in hope.”
Su Pollard is to return to the small screen in a new children’s TV series. The former Hi-de-Hi! star will be joining EastEnders’ Shane Richie, Jane Horrocks, Simon Callow and Anne Reid for the animated series called Claude, which follows the adventures of a beret-clad dog and his faithful sidekick, Sir Bobblysock, in the seaside resort of Pawhaven. It’s due out this spring.
It appears that not everyone is happy on the Emmerdale show now that it focuses on the younger, cheaper, actors. Freddie Jones, who plays Sandy, reveals: “I was driving three hours there and three hours back and doing three or four sentences. It was not worth all that driving, so it was my decision. I have decided to leave.” Freddie has starred in the soap on and off since 2005.