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Geoffrey Hughes, best known as Coronation Street’s Eddie Yeats, passes away

The actor behind one of the best-loved Coronation Street characters has passed away. Geoffrey Hughes, who played lovable rogue Eddie Yeats from 1974 to 1983, died over the weekend after a long battle with prostate cancer. He was 68.

Geoffrey brought a charm and likeability to the character of Eddie and his partnership with Stan and Hilda Ogden, with whom Eddie lodged, was responsible for some of the most memorable character comedy in the soap’s history. It was Eddie who created Hilda’s ‘muriel’ on which was mounted her famous flying ducks and he was always to be found trying to earn a dodgy crust by selling suspect goods while working as a window cleaner or bin man.

As well as Eddie Yeats, Geoffrey is remembered for his turns as Ounslow in Keeping Up Appearances, as Vernon Scripps in Heartbeat and as Twiggy in the Royle Family. In an early role he even provided the voice of Paul McCartney in the Yellow Submarine animated film.

Away from acting, Geoffrey owned a small holding, ran a wood supply company and was even made Deputy Lord Lieutenant of the Isle Of Wight, where he lived with his with Sue.

Here are some classic clips of Geoffrey in action.

Eric Sykes has passed away: For anyone under 40, here’s who he was.

Eric Sykes, who has died age 89, was one of the most respected figures in radio, TV and film comedy. A writer, performer and director he worked with almost every significant comic in post-war Britain. He appeared with, wrote for or directed (among many other) Tommy Cooper, Tony Hancock, Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan and Leonard Rossiter.

Sykes was one of a generation of script writers and performers who were responsible for making the nation laugh from the 1950’s until the 1980’s, he has his own hit sitcom (called Sykes) and made all-star silent film The Plank.

He also worked uncredited on literally hundreds of productions and you will almost certainly have laughed at least one of his jokes without knowing its provenance. In an age when most TV comics write their own material (or like to pretend they do), people with the comic skills of Eric Sykes are becoming increasingly rare, perhaps the modern world would benefit from a new generation of old-fashioned, all-round gagsmiths of his ilk.

RIP Eric Sykes – a fine, funny man.

Dustin Hoffman in Luck: Is anyone getting any of this?

The show is set at a racetrack in California and follows the story of the owners, jockeys, gamblers and businessmen behind the operation. Hoffman stars as shadowy gangster Chester ‘Ace’ Rothstein and is as excellent as ever. There are other top billing turns, too, from the likes of Nick Nolte and Michael Gambon. Not a great deal happens – horses race, gamblers bet and backroom shenanigans unfold – but viewers and critics alike are struggling to follow the plot.

Befuddled viewers report on social networks that they are finding the series hard going and, at times, unfathomable. It seems to be something to do with the rather muddled and muttered dialogue, which the NY Times TV critic perfectly summed up as ‘needlessly opaque’. Everything is as transparent, it seems, as the smog in LA.

It’s certainly a slow-burner of a series and becomes a little clearer as the series continues, and as it comes from the pen of David Milch (writer of the sublime and hugely underrated Deadwood) you can expect it to be excellent eventually. The big questions are – how long will Luck continue to test viewers’ patience and how many will give up before things become a little clearer?

What do you think? Is Luck too foggy to forgive? Is it as plain as day to you? Have your say below.


Coronation Street: Michelle Collins to become Rovers Return landlady

Michelle Collins’ Coronation Street’character, Stella Price, is set to become the landlady of the Rovers Return.

The actress will buy the pub after current owner Steve (Simon Gregson) puts it up for sale to ease his debt problems, and she admits she is “quite excited” to become the manager of the iconic drinking establishment.

She said: “I’ve had my name above the door for quite a while now as manager, but now she’s actually going to own it. They struggle to get the money together to get a mortgage. And they’re turned down by a few people because they’re ‘too old’. But then you’ll see what happens. It’s quite exciting, being the owner of The Rovers.”

She is particularly looking forward to developing her character – who joined the soap this year amid much criticism about her Mancunian accent – and hopefully turning her into another memorable owner of the pub.

She added: “I’d love to create another iconic character. I think Stella seems to be a bit like the Mother Teresa of ‘Corrie’. Suddenly she’s everybody’s agony aunt.

“They’re injecting a little bit of steeliness into her.”

X Factor 2011: Bosses tell hopefuls to ‘up their game’. Frankie is obviously s****ing himself!

That’s one hell of a poo you are planning Frankie!

X-Factor bosses have warned the show’s contestants to up their game. Producers of the ITV1 talent series are said to be furious with the behaviour and attitude of the hopefuls as they don’t think viewers can connect with them, and so have hauled the wannabe stars in for an urgent crisis meeting.

During the showdown, bosses slammed the contestants for “slobbing around” in the X Factor house in their pyjamas instead of rehearsing and performing, not making any effort with fans, turning up to shows in their slippers and failing to live up to the programme’s “brand”.

A source told the Daily Mirror newspaper: “The acts were told, ‘If you want to be a star, you’ve got to start acting like one.’ The lack of effort from some contestants has been disgraceful.

“It was a pretty fiery talking to from some of the senior production staff. The acts were told in no uncertain terms what was expected of them. The producers were worried about the criticism the show has faced this series and they worry the acts this year are not keeping the audience entertained.”

This comes as the show’s resident lothario Frankie Cocozza – who was in the bottom two last week – pulled three girls in one night after he was given the evening off from rehearsals by mentor Gary Barlow.

An insider told The Sun newspaper: “Frankie was desperate to break free from the treadmill of rehearsing. He’s a party animal at heart and producers were glad to see him having fun.”

Louis and Kelly’s X Factor feud, Frankie Cocozza furious with Coldplay song choice

According to newspaper reports, Louis Walsh and Kelly Rowland are no longer speaking and Frankie Cocozza has fallen out with Gary Barlow following a last minute change of song choice – though whether this is a ploy to give the ratings a much needed boost who knows?

The Irish music manager is reportedly furious with the way his fellow X Factor judge repeatedly talked over him on Saturday night’s (15.10.11) live show, and feels the US star is deliberately mocking his acts Johnny Robinson and Kitty Brucknell to get at him.

Louis – who also mentors Sami Brookes – is said to have told a friend: “Kelly has just waltzed in here from America and thinks she knows everything about the show.”

A source added to the Daily Mirror newspaper: “The way Kelly talked down to him was unacceptable as far as he’s concerned. There is no love lost behind the scenes and Louis and Kelly are not speaking off screen and haven’t since Saturday night.

“Louis is just putting all his time into his acts and wants to make sure Kitty, Sami and Johnny have incredible performances.

“He’s already working on their next songs and spent time with them on Sunday night as Kelly and Gary were relaxing with their singers in their dressing rooms.”

However, Louis and Kelly are not the only people on the show involved in a spat.

Frankie Cocozza – who narrowly escaped leaving the competition after his performance landed him in the sing off against Nu Vibe on Sunday (16.10.11) – was said to be furious when mentor Gary Barlow changed his song at the last minute to Coldplay’s The Scientist, and correctly predicted he would struggle for survival.

A source told the Sun newspaper: “There were a lot of fans waiting outside the studio.

“When Frankie popped out for a cigarette to calm his nerves he told them not to expect much because he’d been given a s**t song.

“He was grumpy about performing and rightly predicted it would land him in the bottom two. But he didn’t dare go against Gary. He was upset, frustrated and worried.”

X-Factor runners’ up One Direction to become movie stars! Heaven help us.

One Direction are to star in a movie about their rise to stardom. The X Factor runners up -  comprising Louis Tomlinson, Liam Payne, Niall Horan, Zayn Malik and Harry Styles – have been followed by cameras from their stint on the show last year until topping the UK singles chart last week with their debut track What Makes You Beautiful. And now ITV2 plan to show a feature-length film of their exploits.

A source told The Sun newspaper: “One Direction’s story is pretty incredible – from X Factor losers to chart-toppers in less than a year.

“We have been following the lads ever since they first embarked on their plans for pop world domination. The cameras follow them to the US where they worked on their first album and got into all sorts of mischief. The lads are pretty candid and we’re sure it will be a hit among their army of fans.”

James Corden’s production company Fulwell 73 are making the film, with X Factor chief Simon Cowell paying half of the £150,000 cost.

Simon has previously predicted that the group can be the biggest boy band in Britain since Take That.

He said: “You’re going to see an explosion happen here the likes of which we haven’t seen since Take That – and I think that’s exciting.”

Sounds like compulsive viewing.

Red or Black axes two contestants

Simon Cowell’s Red or Black has axed two contestants after tightening security checks.

The ITV1 game show has come under fire since it was revealed 31-year-old Nathan Hageman – who scooped the £1 million jackpot on Saturday (03.09.11) – spent two-and-a-half years behind bars for attacking former lover Amy Edwards and now show bosses have vowed to be more careful when choosing contestants.

A source told the Daily Mirror newspaper: “One of the contestants hadn’t been totally honest with us when they sat down with producers.

“This was revealed during the subsequent Criminal Records Bureau checks. The crime wouldn’t have necessarily precluded them from going on the show – but the fact that they weren’t honest from the beginning most certainly would. The second person’s crime was serious enough to warrant them being sacked from the show.

“Although their convictions came up in the checks, after we re-looked at the circumstances surrounding the crime, the decision was made to terminate their time on the show.”

An ITV spokesman for the show – which is hosted by Ant and Dec and co-produced by Simon’s production company Syco – added: “ITV has reviewed the background checks on remaining contestants from Red or Black. As a result of this we have asked producers to remove two contestants from this week’s shows. Red or Black will continue on these occasions with seven rather than eight contestants.”

Viewers of last night’s show saw Andy Morton, a 26 year old accounts executive from Grinstead lose out on a million after picking the wrong colour during the final round.

Britain & Ireland’s Next Top Model Episode 4 Review

I didn’t to a review for last week’s episode of Britain & Ireland’s Next Top Model. There was one reason for it, and one reason alone. I simply didn’t find looking at yet another group of girls with model aspirations that interesting – all equally hopeful of being chosen by the judges panel, some more disillusioned about their ‘beauty’ than others. So I thought I wouldn’t put you guys through reading about it.

But we are back and this time there will be cuts! This is the semifinal.

This week the judges made all the girls who made it through the first hoop, step in front of the camera and put their looks to the test. It was time who of the hopefuls were photogenic and who were not? All dressed in short, short black dresses, they had to do group photo shoots. This meant really making an impact on the judges and stand out from the crowd. While some succeeded, others simply didn’t have a clue and it was quite funny to watch.

Trying to add some drama to the first round of eliminations, the judges called out twenty-two names as they stood there, high above the crowd of wannabe-models as to show their ‘power’.  The unlucky twenty-two were told to leave the room as soon as their names had been called and wait elsewhere for the goodbyes. Descending the staircase to deliver the bad news, Elle once again managed to show off her amazingly long legs (high heels also helped!), bbefore telling the girls that “unfortunately the girls left in the other room… had not made the cut.” Cue happy screams. Far too predictable I think.

Having culled the hopefuls down to a manageable size, it was time to see which of the remaining girls were possible model material.

Model Test 1 – Make-up and Hair: Slap on the war paint, style the hair and place two girls together in a small glass cabinet to model watches.

In my opinion Daniella and Danielle just looked awkward. Everything was just in the wrong place, no super models there… And with Joanne and Laurie  just looked, as the judges pointed out, like two girls on holiday together having found a photo booth.

Model Test 2 – Au Natural: No make-up, just a bikini and heels allowed… Every girl’s nightmare?!

Having ‘inspected’ the each of the girls, looking at all the wrinkles, natural flaws and dare we say it cellulite (surely not… not on models), the judges now had a choice to make. It was time to make twenty-two turn into twelve.

The episode culminated with Elle having a one-on-one with each girl to tell her the good or bad news. As expected there were tears of happiness and tears of sadness. And in an ‘interesting’ turn of events, Elle and the judges decided to bring thirteen girls instead of twelve to the final…

Unsurprisingly, Amy, the love child of Florence (of the Machine) and Noel Fielding make the cut – she certainly has the face of a model. As did these ladies. Must say that I’m getting totes bored with the ‘dramatic’ scenes that are getting far too predictable…

Did the judges make the right choices? Let us know in the comments below!