This week Paul O’Grady’s fine, Joy Behar will still enjoy The View for the foreseeable and David Jason has more life stories to tell.

Kate praises NHS

Former GMTV presenter Kate Garraway announced this week that her husband Derek Draper is seriously ill having been infected with coronavirus. The husband of the Good Morning Britain regular “remains in intensive care and is still very ill” Kate noted in a statement read out on the ITV morning programme.

The statement also gave praise to the NHS team treating him, as she described them as “extraordinary”, adding that “I know that it’s only their professionalism, dedication and bravery that has kept Derek with us so far. I also know that they are working just as hard on all the patients in their care.” Draper appeared on GMB last year when Garraway was appearing in reality series I’m A Celebrity.

“I want to send a message of love and support to all of you going through this. You are not alone, we must all stand together and support each other.” – Kate Garraway

Fellow former GMTV host Fiona Philips said she had suffered symptoms of the virus that were ‘horrible’. Writing in The Mirror Fiona noted “I felt as though I’d been clobbered in my sleep. However hard I tried to get myself out of bed and on with the day ahead, something was holding me back.”

She also described ‘horrible gut pain’, ‘annoying, dry cough persisted’ and ‘ fiery throat’. Fiona is married to This Morning boss Martin Frizell who had to work from home in case it was the virus.


Comic Relief and Children in Need unite

Both television charity telethon brands are to come together for The Big Night In. The programme will see the BBC’s biggest charitable partners join forces for the very first time for a special night of television. The live show will offer some light relief and entertainment, whilst celebrating and rewarding those going the extra mile to support their communities in these troubled times.

“BBC One will bring the nation together for this special one off live charity event. I would like to thank both BBC Children in Need and Comic Relief for joining forces in these unprecedented times to provide their support to local charities, projects and programmes across the whole UK; and to all of the stars taking part in this unmissable night of entertainment when the country needs it most.” – Charlotte Moore, Director BBC Content

The show will also give viewers the opportunity to donate, for those who feel able to do so, to help support vulnerable people of all ages and backgrounds across the UK who will be significantly impacted by the crisis.

Funds raised on the night will be split equally between BBC Children in Need and Comic Relief to provide essential support to local charities, projects and programmes across the UK to help those most in need. This funding will not only provide vital emergency support to ensure vulnerable people of all ages are safe, warm and fed, but will also ensure that they are able to continue to learn, and stay connected in order to combat isolation and loneliness.


More life stories from Sir David Jason

In celebration of Sir David Jason’s 80th year Penguin and Century books are to release a third autobiography from the Only Fools and Horses star.

Entitled, A Del of a Life: Lessons I’ve Learned, the publication relives Jason’s extraordinary life and career from over 50 years in entertainment. From a trainee electrician to one of Britain’s most revered and loved actors, Jason shares heartfelt and hilarious wisdom with readers on subjects ranging from family to work, resilience to ebullience.

Told with his characteristic warmth and wit, Jason shines a wonderful new light on the characters and shows that fans have come to love him for, from Only Fools and Horses’ Del Boy to Open All Hours’ Granville, The Darlin’ Buds of May’s Pa Larkin and A Touch of Frost’s DCI Frost.

‘In my first two books, I enjoyed sharing my life with the great British public, and I was overwhelmed by their support and kindness. In my new book, A Del of a Life, I am delighted to share with readers some of the hard-won lessons I’ve learned along the way – how to dream big, how to work hard, and how not to fall through the gap in the pub bar…’ – Sir David Jason


The A Word May return

BBC One revealed this week that The A Word will return on Tuesday 5th May for a third series with series one and two now accessible as boxsets on BBC iPlayer.

Two years on and things have changed for the leading family. Joe (Max Vento) is 10 and living in two places at once, processing the seismic change in his life through the filter of his autism.

Alison (Morven Christie) and Paul (Lee Ingleby) are divorced and live 100 miles apart. Nicola (Vinette Robinson) has moved to London. Eddie (Greg McHugh) lives with his dad. Only Maurice (Christopher Eccleston) is holding it together. And if Maurice is the one holding it together, you know you are in trouble. A family is always a puzzle and this one needs piecing back together, albeit in a different shape.

New faces this series include Julie Hesmondhalgh, Sarah Gordy and David Gyasi.


Remembering Honor Blackman

Actress Honour Blackman passed away on April 5th aged 94.

Honour was known for several high-profile roles over the years including as Pussy Galore in the James Bond film Goldfinger.

“As well as being a much adored mother and grandmother, Honor was an actor of hugely prolific creative talent. With an extraordinary combination of beauty, brains and physical prowess, along with her unique voice and a dedicated work ethic, she achieved an unparalleled iconic status in the world of film and entertainment.

“With absolute commitment to her craft and total professionalism in all her endeavours she contributed to some of the great films and theatre productions of our times. We ask you to respect the privacy of our family at this difficult time.” – Family Statement

Honour was born in Plaistow, East London, in 1925 later attending the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. She also undertook martial arts training that would later help her get ‘action parts’ in the James Bond movie with Sean Connery and ITV’s The Avengers where she played Cathy Gale alongside co-lead Patrick Macnee as John Steed.

By the 1990s she was a regular in Central Television’s sitcom for ITV The Upper Hand as Laura West.


ABC hit back at reports Joy Behar to leave The View

ABC has hit back at reports that Joy Behar is planning to leave The View when her contract ends. A report by Variety claimed that the 77-year-old co-host would retire from the show when her contract ends in the summer of 2022. The broadcaster has now released a statement saying that “this is not true” and point to the full quote.

“Joy was asked what happens at the end of her contract and as she herself made clear in the interview, if she’s ‘as fabulous in [2022] as I am now,’ she will be in her seat at the table.” – ABC

Joy has been part of the daytime show since it launched in 1997 although spent two years away when she was sacked by ABC in 2013. She was brought back to the show in 2015 following a decline in the ratingsLast month Joy went into self-isolation due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Fellow co-host Meghan McCain, who has clashed with Joy several times on the show, tweeted to say Joy won’t be leaving if she has anything to do with it. The View is currently airing new live episodes on ABC but with the co-hosts presenting at their homes via webcam.


Weekly Quickies

Equity, the British trade union for actors, has come to an agreement with the BBC, ITV and Channel 4/S4C over their payments for soap actors during the coronavirus halt in production. Performers on BBC shows such as Holby City, Casualty, EastEnders, Doctors, River City and Pobol y Cwm (produced for S4C) as well as Channel 4’s Hollyoaks and ITV’s Coronation Street and Emmerdale will receive a monthly wage during the hiatus.

Channel 4 this week is reported to be slashing its programming budget by £150m and furloughing almost 100 staff. The cutbacks are part of a plan to enable the Public Service Broadcaster to ‘survive’ the COVID-19 crisis. The publicly owned service, like the BBC, only operated as a commercial network has also seen reports that some MPs and those at the channel fear it could be sold off into private hands.

EastEnders got a bit ‘politically correct’ according to one of its former actors Billy Murray. Speaking to The Mirror as part of the show’s 35th anniversary celebrations this year he noted; “I liked playing Johnny Allen for about the first year and I got to work with some terrific actors who became friends… Unfortunately [the character] became a victim of politics on the show when they decided there should be no more gangsters and suddenly I found myself making cups of tea for Dot Cotton.”

John Bowe spoke about how he “nearly died” following a battle with coronavirus. The actor, best-known for his role in ITV Yorkshire saga Emmerdale spoke on social media about the symptoms of COVID-19. ‘Will this headache never stop? Intermittent dry cough like clearing some froth. Very sore throat. Shortness of breath. Very tired. Chest feels like there’s smouldering fire.’

Paul O’Grady, according to a tabloid was apparently also battling again coronavirus, but his BBC Radio 2 producer Malcolm Prince told his social media followers it was fake news and, having spoken to Paul on the telephone, Malcolm confirmed the comedian is fine. Paul’s friend, actress and artist, Jayne Bickerton also poo-pooed the news reports on O’Grady being ill.

Coronation Street story producer Lindsay Williams spoke about the rush to get episodes ‘in the can’ in a special feature with the Coronation Street Blog. “On the last Friday before we halted production we actually shot 7 scenes in just a few hours with some amazing work by the cast…  I think everyone left the building feeling really proud and privileged to be part of Team Corrie.” Corrie is of course on hold while the UK ‘locks down’ to beat COVID-19.

Holby City is to fall off air following the transmission of this coming Tuesday’s episode. The medical based drama will resume ‘at some point’ later in the year. The series is currently on its Covid-induced production break. The programme, based at the BBC Elstree Centre, has several ‘big plots’ in process at the moment.

Ripper Street actor Benjamin O’Mahony has joined Hollyoaks as Victor – the ‘big boss’ behind the County Lines drug empire.

Tracy Beaker is back with brand new stories in The Tracy Beaker Podcast. In the podcast series Tracy Beaker continues to be loud, fiery – and still somehow always manages to find herself in trouble. Tracy is played by Macy-Blossom Tench, who makes her acting debut in the podcast.


ITV looks to support indie sector during lockdown with £500k development fund

ITV’s Director of Television, Kevin Lygo, this week announced the creation of a £500k development fund targeted at the independent sector to help producers during the crisis.

“ITV’s success is based on the ideas that are brought to us by indies from across the UK and we don’t want that to stop.  We have this money specifically available to ramp up development over the next few months so we can hit the ground running when current restrictions are lifted. We want to reassure the indie community – small or big, regional or London – that ITV is very much open for business and we have the resource to invest in ideas for the channel.” – ITV’s Director of Television, Kevin Lygo

The fund is designed to accelerate the search for new ideas and content for the channel to play in the later part of 2020 and in 2021.

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