Phantom star Michael is on song again for ITV this Christmas

Phantom star Michael is on song again  for ITV this Christmas

West End and Broadway star Michael Crawford is to guide seven well-known celebrities through a singing and dancing musical theatre extravaganza.

All Star Musicals is coming to ITV this Christmas, on a date to be announced. The show will feature a cast of famous faces who will each perform an iconic number from a hit musical, supported by a chorus line, to a packed house at the London Palladium. Michael told me: “I think it’s a great idea, and what a place to perform in. I’m so excited for those taking part.”

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ITV has unveiled the ensemble cast of veteran entertainers for a new TV series. The line-up of eight acts will venture to Las Vegas to work on putting together a brand-new variety show. The line-up features double act Cannon & Ball, Bernie Clifton, Mick Miller, Bobby Crush, Kenny Lynch, 60s pop idol Jess Conrad OBE, Anita Harris and Su Pollard. Cannon & Ball tell me they were thrilled to get the job as “It meant we were not stuck in the jungle, or worse than that cooking...”

Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders are to reunite to film a new television special. It is believed the duo are set to record a show together later this year at the newly re-opened Television Centre studios. However, all other details about the project are currently being kept under wraps. The top-secret special is still in development and exact details have yet to be confirmed.

Martin Clunes tells me that his devoted Doc Martin fans are called ‘Clunatics’. “They are the most wonderful people and know so much about the show, even more than me which is odd,” he said. “But seriously they have helped the show become such a success, and we are so grateful as they have taken the show and this grumpy doctor that I play to heart.”

Dame Joan Collins declared on TV that “no-one over 45 should do Strictly Come Dancing”. However, bosses at the show let slip to me that she was more than keen to do it a few years back, but as always there was that thorny issue of a fee. Could that be the reason Dame Joan is not that keen on the show now?

The BBC has commissioned another 204 episodes of Pointless and Pointless Celebrities. Comedian Alexander Armstrong and co-host Richard Osman are to return to front 165 daytime and 39 primetime celebrity episodes of the show, taking it up to its 10-year anniversary in 2019.

Pop fans take note as it’s been revealed that Atomic Kitten’s Natasha Hamilton, who has previously starred in Blood Brothers, will take on the role of Julia at certain locations of the new tour of ‘Fat Friends’, which opens at the Grand Theatre in Leeds later this year.

Coronation Street actress Catherine Tyldesley tells me despite her debut single failing to chart, she will press ahead with her music career. “It’s a passion, and I know it sounds so cliched when you’re a soap actress, but I do love doing both and I think at some point I would even love to do a musical,” she said. “Anything singing is fine by me.”

TV presenter, music hall star and sitcom actor, Sir Bruce Forsyth left behind a huge legacy of work. But now fans can look forward to a huge Christmas special which will focus on his very popular BBC years. A friend reveals: “He was for so many years part of our lives, and we have planned a show that will celebrate all that, plus quite a few surprises.”

The Gold channel is to air Dinnerladies Diaries, a three-part documentary series based on Victoria Wood’s personal diaries. Gold will give viewers a glance into Victoria’s notebooks, her backstage photos and studio records – all of which have never been seen before. The three-part series will also feature interviews with the cast and friends of Dinnerladies, as they reminisce about one of Britain’s most loved comedies on its 20th anniversary.

James Alexandrou, who played Martin Fowler in EastEnders from 1996 to 2007, has landed a new stage role. “I’m appearing in a play called The Knowledge at the Charing Cross Theatre, it’s a comedy-drama about a group of men doing the training, known as The Knowledge, required to become a black cab driver,” he said. “Best of all it’s very funny, so I figured this would be great for me.”

ITV has confirmed that Jack Dee’s new family sitcom, Bad Move, will be back for a second series even though the first one has yet to end. Jack told me: “I was asked to write a few more episodes, and I think people are liking it, so yes we will be back next year, which is great news.”

‘Lewis’ actor Laurence Fox – son of James – tells me he suffers stage fright. The 39-year-old, currently touring in Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing, reveals: “You just have to get over it. I mean you are being paid to give a great performance and you feel as if you’re letting the side down if not, so while it happens, I have many tricks to overcome it.”

Property and home-making expert Kirstie Allsopp says that people take her too seriously, and while she may be very wealthy herself, she loves helping others out with her homemade shows and ideas. “I do think we live in an age where it’s all about pushing people for a reaction,” she said. “Years ago people were glad when you offered and showed how to make things.”

Poirot legend David Suchet will star as a newspaper baron in a new BBC drama, penned by Doctor Foster creator Mike Bartlett. The 71-year-old actor joins an all-star cast, including Charlotte Riley and Ben Chaplin, in Press, the story of two competing newspapers. David told me: “Given all the problems the press have right now, I think this will be explosive, and I hope I can do it some justice.”

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