We’ve stepped into May and this Bank Holiday Monday we look back to the showbiz and media stories of April that brought us showers of wonder, bemusement and entertainment.


Family Mis-fortune is a Shih Tzu situation

Television presenter Tess Daly lost her smiley face last month after she announced she’d squashed her pet pooch in a car accident in March. The Strictly Come Dancing hostess was said to be ‘devastated after she accidentally ran over her dog and killed it’. RTÉ News reported.

The incident happened after builders carelessly left the door of Daly’s house open and Minnie, a Maltese Shih Tzu, decided to wander into the great outdoors and hide under her car.

“I’m horrified and devastated by this terrible, tragic accident. It has had a huge effect on the whole family and we are heartbroken at losing Minnie. This has, and continues to be, a very emotional time for us all.” Tess speaking to tabloid The Sun

The Irish news service went on to note that the loss of the family pet had also left All Star Family Fortunes host Vernon Kay equally as  devastated. Vernon, Daly’s husband, along with their daughters, were put in a miserable mood just days before they were due to holiday in the Maldives.

Tess Daly ran over her family pooch in March.

Neighbours mainstay Alan Fletcher – Doctor Karl Kennedy in the long running cul-de-sac saga – says he’s happy to remain on Ramsay Street for as long as Fremantle Australia bosses are happy to keep the character on-screen.

Fletcher first appeared in the serial back in 1987 as mechanic Greg Cooper however it is as Karl, first seen in 1994, that he’s become part of the regular Neighbours perfect blend.

“I just love my time there so much and it’s been such a wonderful job because I have had the opportunity to do other things and to be honest with you, working with Jackie Woodburn is a dream. Why would you think to go off and do something else that’s uncertain anyway?” – Alan Fletcher speaking to The Sun

2019 marks Alan’s 25th anniversary as Karl and next year Neighbours turns 35. He suggests producers will be planning celebrations for both landmarks in the Reg Watson devised production.


ITV rides a theme park idea

ITV Studios has announced that its commercial arm is in the planning stages of creating a number of theme park attractions based around some of its heritage and most well-known programmes. In a deal with London Resort the companies will transform a 535-acre site in Kent into a world of television-themed wonder.

The site will also host an entertainment district with bars, restaurants and hotels. As yet no content for the rides has been disclosed but with over sixty years of ITV programming there is endless opportunities to brand the rides and hospitality as programming.

Who wouldn’t want to eat in the restaurant Robin’s Nest or pop into Coronation Street’s Alf’s Mini Mart for a pork pie. Hotel wise there is endless choice. Check in to the Solana from Benidorm if you want to rough it, head back to the 1980s at the Don Carlos Hotel of Duty Free or relive the 1970s at the Crossroads Motel. If a guest house is more your thing then we could stay in Rigsby’s Rising Damp themed offering.

Attraction wise it’s expected to work mainly to iconic content such as Thunderbirds, recent hits like Saturday Night Takeaway and memorable assets such as Bet Lynch’s cleavage.

But maybe ITV should ponder the wider pool of brands, there could be a horror ride based around the face of Jim Taggart, a thriller attraction set in the Corrie roof-collapsing, fire-prone, factory or if we wanted a real disaster a Sean Tully experience.

“ITVS creates more than TV, building global franchises loved by generations of families, and we look forward to seeing one of our biggest global brands brought to life on such a grand scale right here in the UK.” – ITVS Global Entertainment executive vice president, kids content and distribution Steve Green, speaking to Broadcast

The attraction will be located at the Swanscombe Peninsula with the theme park part of the wider Ebbsfleet Garden City regeneration. Fans hoping to visit Roys Rolls for an over priced sausage roll or get have a pint at the Woolpack will have to wait a while, the work isn’t due to begin until 2021 with no opening date as yet announced.

Corrie’s Bet could be an attraction in her own right. Bet’s bouncy Rovers Return anyone?

BBC launch Writing Academy

The Beeb Studios Writing Academy will be headed by John Yorke who has overseen drama at both the corporation and Channel 4. The academy will offer creatives in the early stage of their careers the chance to develop their skills on some of the BBC’s long-running drama series. Let’s hope its done on talent and not box ticking.

Those fortunate enough to be deemed of writing standard will see them enrol on the paid-scheme which will see the students scripting episodes of Casualty, Holby City and EastEnders following an intensive 13-week classroom period.

The RTS note that the BBC Studios Writers’ Academy follows on from the original BBC Writers Academy, also created and designed by John Yorke, which ran from 2005 to 2013.

The Beeb are also venturing into creating a British Comedy Foundation. Headed by BBC Comedy boss Shane Allen the foundation will, the corporation note, ‘open the doors to new voices and furthering the impact of British comedy.’ Media babble suggests the body will engage and enable and enrich the under-represented and under-privileged. It will also be a catalytic body for industry opportunities, challenges and partnerships and celebrate heritage and promote British comedy’s vital role in our cultural life.


Don’t Chase the trolls Anne

Anne Hegerty has revealed that she was threatened with suspension from ITV daytime game-show The Chase after calling a troll a word that rhymes with ‘runt’.

The personality who was part of the star camp in 2018’s I’m A Celebrity was defending her ex-campmate Emily Atack when she wrote the naughty word in a response and while it gained 25,000 likes from social media regulars it didn’t go down well with bosses at ITV HQ.

“I tweeted a tweet last month, it got 25,000 likes, before ITV ordered me to take it down and threatened me with suspension.” – Anne told the actress playing Lorraine Kelly on the Lorraine show

Burying their head in the sand is where ITV Daytime execs usually locate when trouble with their talent breaks out.

Too sad to watch Fools

Nicholas Lyndhurst – best known as Rodney, or Dave to Trigger – in Only Fools and Horses says he can no longer bring himself to watch the old episodes which are regularly repeated on UKTV’s Gold channel.

Playing the younger brother of Del-Boy, played by Sir David Jason, brought him to millions of viewers over several series and specials of the Peckham based sitcom. However with so many of the regular cast no longer around Lyndhurst finds the reruns ‘too sad’ to view.

“I can’t watch it now. I don’t want to see friends who are no longer with us on screen… We used to go and surprise them on their birthdays. We used to wind them up. We used to tease each other. It was a family. So yeah, it’s sad. – Nicholas Lyndhurst speaking to The Daily Mail

The series began in 1981 and followed the adventures of the Trotter family and the wheeling-dealings of the family business, Trotters Independent Traders, based in the family flat high up in Nelson Mandela House. The first actor to pass was Lennard Pearce, who played Grandad in the series. Before his death in 1984 he told Nicholas how they’d ‘live forever’ thanks to ‘VHS recordings’.

‘I remember Lennard Pearce, who played Grandad, bless his heart, saying to me “Have you heard about these new VHS video recorder machines? That means we’ll now live forever. Did you ever think of that?”,’ – Nicholas Lyndhurst speaking to The Daily Mail

Happy days, the original regulars of Only Fools and Horses.

Social Media comes back to haunt soap actors

In the old days you’d say things when you’re young that you later regret – reflecting when you’re older and wiser – but it back then it was said and gone. Now the age of the internet is proving that you can’t always move on from previous utterances as someone has somewhere recorded them for future use. Last month stars from Emmerdale, Coronation Street and EastEnders all discovered that social media posts from years ago, even when deleted, can return to cause embarrassment.

For Emmerdale’s Shila Iqbal her posts proved terminal when her ITV contract was ripped up quicker than Ant could bump his motor into the back of an unsuspecting family. The actress who played Aiesha Richards had reportedly made a number of racist tweets in 2013.

There was more controversy for fellow ITV soap Coronation Street when it came to light newcomer Ryan Russell had posted sexist tweets as far back as 2011. Yet to be seen on screen Ryan will play Michael Bailey and after talks with ITV Granada bosses will not lose his job on the flagship saga. It wasn’t just ITV having to speak to cast about historic social media comments with EastEnders actor Danny Walters having to face BBC One bosses over homophobic comments posted way back to 2013.

Walters, who plays Keanu Taylor in ‘Enders, was lured over to the soap from now defunct ITV sitcom Benidorm. After a grovelling public apology the Beeb ended the matter. 


Rewind Quickies

[] Baby Spice sets up babba business. The company, Kit & Kin, sells eco-friendly nappies, wipes and skincare products. The singer sought funding on the online platform Angel Investment Network and raised £420,000 in just a week. Proving when she tells you want she wants, what she really, really, wants she, er, gets it.

[] Coronation Street‘s Sophie Webster – actress Brooke Vincent – has confirmed via OK magazine that she’s pregnant. The Corrie favourite was said to be ‘beside herself with happiness’. She went on to add that she has been playing songs to ‘her bump’ and is really excited at the prospect of being a mother. In other soapy baba news Hayley Tamaddon who has appeared in both Emmerdale and Corrie also revealed she is expecting.

[] Further baby news comes via Gordon Ramsay and his wife Tana who have welcomed their fifth child together, a bouncing baby boy called Oscar. ‘After 3 baftas and one Emmy… finally we have won an Oscar, please welcome Oscar James Ramsay’ the telly chef noted on social media.

[] Killing Eve will return to the BBC for a third series. Based on the Codename Villanelle novellas by Luke Jennings, the drama has become a massive hit with BBC audiences with over 46 million requests for the series on BBC iPlayer so far. The second series will transmit on BBC One and the iPlayer later in 2019.

[] Danny Dyer is to bring his award winning acting skills to a sequel to Human Traffic. Twenty years after its debut the follow-up will be, according to execs, a reaction to Brexit. Well that’s certainly more than Theresa May has managed.

[] Diane Abbott said sorry for breaking the law on a Transport for London train. While the Tories can sell arms to dubious countries and no one bats an eyelid a Labour MP cracks open a quick drink on public transport and the tabloids carry on like she’s slit open the throat of a pigeon. The Shadow Home Secretary said ‘A photo of me drinking from a can of M&S Mojito on the Overground has been circulated. I’m sincerely sorry for drinking on TFL.’

[] Emmerdale bosses at ITV Yorkshire have been blasted for hiring former Brookside actor Kris Mochrie for a current storyline. UK tabloids reported how the actor had been sentenced to two-years jail for supplying date rape drug GHB. Mochrie served 18 months prison following an appeal. In the ITV saga Kris plays Lee who has raped and drugged mainstay character Victoria Sugden.

[] The Daily Mirror informed us that darling of the 2010’s Katie Price has decided to put her son Harvey into care because she can’t give him the help he needs. The mum-of-five, 40, says staff at a care facility will be able to give Harvey the things she can’t, such as daily exercise and a healthy diet. The events unfolded on her latest reality series.

[] Kate Oates has been promoted into the position of Head of Continuing Drama, not bad for someone who began their major television scripting career on the worst version of Crossroads (the one from 2003) that was ever imagined. The new position means shows such as BBC Scotland’s River City and BBC Daytime’s Doctors is now under her control. Let’s see if any get a camp-revamp or a sensationalised-restyle.

[] Adele has split from her husband Simon Konecki whom she married in 2016. A statement released on behalf of the couple noted that they were “committed to raising their son together lovingly”.

[] Former Coronation Street star Amanda Barrie has praised paramedics who came to her assistance after she suffered an electric shock at her London home. The performer was pinned by both arms to the wall after tending to her fuse box following the electrics tripping at her flat in the capital. The 83-year-old alerted a neighbour and soon “incredibly good-looking paramedics” were on the scene  “Thank god for the NHS,” Barrie said. “My hair stood slightly on end. I lit up the West End.” The actress starred as Alma Sedgewick in the ITV soap between 1981-1982 and from 1988-2001. 

Brooke Vincent is celebrating her first pregnancy.

Kaplinsky talks boat burns

Natasha Kaplinsky spoke to ITV’s Loose Women about a ‘terrifying boat accident’ last year. The former BBC Breakfast presenter discussed with the afternoon show the incident, that almost killed her and her family, off the coast of Corfu and left them with severe burns.

“I will try not to cry…It was nearly a year ago. We were on holiday, on a boat with my parents, our children and obviously my husband. Something terrible went wrong with the boat after 15 mins of being on it, it was long enough for us to be very far away from anywhere. There was a leak, we now know, in the fuel pipe, the boat stuttered and stopped. My husband made a phone call to get some advice and he was advised to turn the key to see what was happening with the pressure. It was just like a James Bond moment, the whole boat just blew.”

Spending nearly an hour in the water before being rescued, the one-time 5 News personality revealed, actually helped with the recovery.

“My daughter Angelica, who was eight at the time, myself and my dad, who doesn’t swim, we were badly burnt at the time and we were all in the water for about 45 minutes before anybody found us, which we now understand to be a blessing in a way because the scars were much less because we were in the water for such a long time.”

Natasha says the whole experience has changed the way she looks at life.

“We are very grateful just to still all be here because life changes in a moment and I tell you what, it gives you an appreciation of how precious each day is.”

Loose Women airs weekdays from 12.30pm on STV, UTV and ITV.


Heart is Holden’on

There was a time when radio personalities had spent years crafting their art-form, knew the songs like friends and were a talent pool in their own right. Now anyone can have a crack at being a radio host, as long as you’re famous for something. Over at Heart Emma Bunton is buggering off from the breakfast slot and her replacement was announced as Britain’s Got Talent judge Amanda Holden.

This will bring a smile to Amanda at least, after she was seemingly elbowed from This Morning last year at the last minute. Holden had been lined up to fill in for Holly Willobooby while she was covering for Ant in the I’m A Celebrity Jungle. Anyway reports suggested one of the other hosts on the ITV daytime show didn’t want a Holden co-host so had the idea scrapped. While Amanda will co-host the morning radio show with Jamie Theakston, Bunton will continue to host a Sunday programme.


No Need To Panic

This month’s no need to panic comes courtesy of Digital Spy, who put all our minds at ease with the news:

“Katya Jones and husband Neil are both definitely returning to Strictly Come Dancing this year, so there’s no reason for fans to panic.”

Thank goodness for that, I was having sleepless nights over whether both would be back on SCD in 2019. It was even starting to worry my cat.


Bird’s flown the Nest

After thirty years it was a sudden and low-key exit for BBC One Scotland personality Jackie Bird. Seen to be as much part of the Beeb Scotland fixtures and fittings – along with their dated 1980s-style-logo, their meddling with the network BBC One schedule North of the Border and the awful New Years Eve programming – Jackie has departed the corporation in Glasgow for the final time as far as presenting the main news goes.

Jackie hosted her last Reporting Scotland on April 10th after three decades without any major on-screen reflection or big announcement. The BBC said in a statement “The hugely respected presenter has been the main face of Reporting Scotland for the last 30 years. However last night she left the studios with all but a few close colleagues unaware that she’d presented her final programme.”

“I’m not leaving the BBC, I’m just vacating the news desk… I’ve been fortunate to cover most of the major news stories in Scotland over the last 30 years. I’ve been planning this for a while. I thought I’d give it until Brexit was sorted, but I fear I might have to stay for another 30 years,” – Jackie Bird

Empty Cage, the BBC in Glasgow.

Rewind Quickies

[] Working with Piers Morgan must be enough to drive anyone to boozing, however Susanna Reid has given up alcohol after a doctor warned her drinking could leave her skin scarred. The Good Morning Britain presenter co-hosts with Morgan three days a week, which is probably a health-risk in its own right.

[] Sticking with GMB, I adore Richard Madeley as co-host on the show. The right side of fun, farce and f**k-ups. In his recent stand-in stint he managed to bring two glorious moments to ITV breakfast screens. First he banded words such as ‘dicking about’ and ‘shit’ around to viewers before later in his run turning up looking like Christine Lampard on a bad-tan day. Initially Dicky wasn’t sure why, other than maybe a bad-make-up issue, he was as orange as David Dickenson in a Tango factory. He later discovered, he told viewers, he’d slapped on fake-tan thinking it was aftershave.

[] Robbie Williams and wife Ayda Field have stepped down from their judges roles on ITV’s The X Factor. The pair were part of the 2018 series which failed, once more, to ignite ratings in the battle against the Beeb’s Strictly Come Dancing. The couple noted they were ‘gutted’ to be departing the Simon Cowell talent-search series.

[] Harry Windsor and Oprah Winfrey have partnered to create a documentary series highlighting mental health issues for Apple TV. The series from the Queen of American Daytime television and Prince Harry will focus on both mental health and mental wellness.

[] Jeremy Clarkson recalled on The Jonathan Ross Show the moment he was rushed to hospital in Vietnam after an abscess left him in pain. He praised medics for ‘lopping out’ his abscess. You can make your own jokes if you like.

[] In the midst of allegations that Stacey Dooley is dating her Strictly Come Dancing partner Kevin Clifton, her ex-Sam Tucknott has claimed he confronted the dancing pro over the romance the Metro paper reported. The free publication went on to note how Sam said he accused the pro-dancer of being a ‘rat’ and a ‘snake’ during a FaceTime call.

[] Meanwhile Karen Clifton’s former Strictly Come Dancing star partner, Jeremy Vine, jumped to her defence following reports her estranged husband Kevin is involved with his 2018 Strictly dance partner. Vine, on his Channel 5 show, said Karen was the one he’d always side with.

[] Sleaford Mods issued a statement after a female gig-goer, at their sold-out show in Bristol, claimed to have been sexually assaulted. The group took to Twitter on April 7th to make a clear statement on the matter: ‘We’ve had a report of a female fan being groped in the crowd last night. Touching anyone without their consent is not acceptable no matter how you dress it up. If you think groping women is acceptable don’t bother buying a ticket, we don’t want your money & you’re not welcome.’

[] George Riley will ‘never work at BBC again’ staff told. The Guardian reported that the one-time BBC Radio Five Live host will never work for the Beeb again after multiple accusations of sexual assault were made against the presenter. Riley was suspended in October 2017 and has since been dropped by the broadcaster the broadsheet noted.

[] Channel 4 were buzzing to announce that following a cracking second series their comedy Derry Girls, has been commissioned for a third series. The show will air for another six episodes.

[] It was good news in April for former EastEnders actress Danniella Westbrook who announced she’s been given the ‘all clear’ by doctors following her battle with womb cancer. The performer is of course best-known as Sam Mitchell in the beeb saga.

[] Former Emmerdale actor Kelvin Fletcher and Dancing on Ice professional Matt Evers said that they want to get their pubic hair styled into the shape of fellow All New Monty star and snooker legend Willie Thorne’s moustache. The pair also said they’d like to be the first same-sex skating couple on DOI.

[] As well as the male version of All New Monty ITV is to air charity ‘female editon’ once more. Now is there somewhere we can pay for Coleen Nolan to keep her clothes on? There’s just no need for that kind of graphic content on telly, not even for charity.


40 decades of our Audrey

April saw Coronation Street mark a happy anniversary for actress Sue Nicholls. Clocking up more than 2,700 episodes Sue Nicholls has now passed forty years in Weatherfield.

Sue, who started her television career over on Midlands ATV saga Crossroads as Marilyn Gates in the 1960s, has been part of several high profile television series across the years including The Fall and Rise of Reggie Perrin for BBC One, Not on your Nellie for ITV via LWT and became a favourite with young viewers in children’s series such as BBC One’s Rentaghost and ATV’s Pipkins for ITV.

It is however undoubtedly Audrey Potter, later Roberts, that viewers have come to love Sue for. Audrey first appeared on the 16th April 1979 when she arrived on Coronation St to celebrate the engagement of daughter Gail to Brian Tilsley. While not a regular at first, by the mid-1980s Audrey had married corner shop proprietor Alf Roberts and was queen bee of Weatherfield when Alf became mayor in the 1990s. Since those early days she’s seen her ‘Alfie’ pass away in 2000 and survived the death-wish of Richard Hillman.

In other soap landmarks over at EastEnders Letitia Dean recorded her 2000th edition last month. Letitia has been with the show, on and off, right from the start in 1985.

‘hmmmm’ Audrey’s been walking the Weatherfield cobbles of Coronation St since 1979.

Gogglebox is off for June

Gogglebox’s June Bernicoff has said she rarely watches television following the death of her beloved husband Leon. The pair who reviewed programmes for the Channel 4 show, along with a host of faces from across the UK all in their own front-rooms, has noted finds it “difficult” to watch telly without him beside her.

The pair met in 1955 at a teacher training facility and after many decades of marriage became one of the popular regulars on the viewer-critic based show in 2013. After 57-years together Leon passed away in 2017 aged 83. Now the 81-year-old widow has spoken about her life without her companion. 

“I don’t watch much TV these days, if I’m honest. I find it difficult. I’ve been reading a lot more, or listening to the radio, but I just feel restless whenever I sit down to watch it. I find myself getting up to make a lot of cups of tea and I can’t settle.” – June Bernicoff speaking to The Mirror


Safety Warning

Former Coronation Street performer Qasim Akhtar has urged people to wear helmets after he was injured in a quad bike accident. Qasim is best known for playing Zeedan Nazir in the ITV Granada saga and was reported in late April as recovering after sustaining a fractured arm and bruised lung.

He advised fans, and indeed Quad Bike riders, to ‘wear helmets cos… even though legally you don’t need to, that saved me from a fatal injury for real’.


RIP April

We bid farewell to Tyne Tees Television and newspaper racing pundit Doug Moscrop who died aged 77, EastEnders actress Sandy Ratcliff departed aged 70, The Archers actor Edward Kelsey passed aged 88 and Rex Garrod – who created CBBC’s Brum car and was a feature of Robot Wars on BBC Two – died aged 75.

It was also the month that actress Georgia Engel – best known for her work alongside Mary Tyler Moore – died at 70 while Fawlty Towers actor John Quarmby, passed aged 89. The Bill actor John McEnery passed aged 75, Trainspotting performer Bradley Welsh was murdered aged just 42 while CBBC star Mya-Lecia Naylor passed at 16.

Comedian Ian Cognito died while performing on stage aged 60, former Liverpool FC captain Tommy Smith had his final whistle at 74, actor Seymour Cassel passed aged 84, movie director John Singleton died aged 51 and Dallas legend Ken Kercheval passed away aged 83. We should also take a moment to remember Minnie the Maltese Shih Tzu as mentioned at the start of the Rewind.


Traffic Jam out of Weatherfield

It seems Coronation Street regulars are taking to the highway and waving farewell to Weatherfield at an alarming number lately. The tabloids have laid blame at the huge number of episodes produced a week, which bring with it long hours and tough filming schedules.

There was a time, amazing to think now, that Corrie aired just twice a week. It had the luxury of rehearsals, quality writing, well produced characters and a mix of comedy and serious storylines. Today the need to flag up ITV’s ratings has seen the show become, like Emmerdale, a schedule work-horse. And, according to insiders, cast are not happy.

One former regular, Sally Lindsay, spoke about how hard the graft was even over a decade ago at ITV Granada and that was before the show increased its output to ridiculous levels from four a week to six episodes. Sally played barmaid Shelly Unwin from 2001 to 2006.

“Coronation Street is a northern powerhouse training ground, if you take it as it is and you learn from it. I remember doing 18 scenes in one day – I’d be dead now.” – Sally Lindsay speaking to The Guardian

Over recent weeks seven regulars have decided to depart the cobbles with Lucy Fallon, Kym Marsh, Tristan Gemmill, Connie Hyde, Bhavna Limbachia, Katie McGlynn and Faye Brookes all departing. ITV should look to EastEnders, who only produce four editions a week, and realise that less is more. At this rate all that will be left is the meerkats at the start and end.

Coronation Street is ITV’s longest running serial turned soap opera.
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