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Digital Spy: Anna Williamson's Showbiz Peek at the Week

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Anna Williamson as Alice Fitzwarren,
Dick Whittington

© Rex Features / London News Pictures/Rex Features

The turkey carcass can be hacked away at no more, shares in Rennie indigestion relief have sky-rocketed, and I'm 14 stone heavier thanks to the large brie quaffed entirely by myself... yes, my friends, the one day of the year we all give ourselves a hernia getting prepared for has once again passed us by in a glorious haze of gluttony and self-indulgence. Bliss.

Now, due to me being holed up in the New Wimbledon Theatre alongside Dame Edna and Sam Attwater for the past few weeks - slapping my panto thigh - a good telly-a-thon had been most overdue, and we weren't let down for the annual deluge of festive fodder, were we peeps?!

Much was my delight to see the family movie classics getting an airing once again for our nostalgic pleasure. Christmas just isn't Christmas without seeing John 'BeeZee' Lithgow mocking Dudley Moore in Santa Claus The Movie, or Gene Wilder prancing about in a dicky bow in Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory; yeees, we've all seen them a dozen times before, but, much like sprouts and Turkish Delight (who actually eats that by the way?!) we only get it once a year so we damn well make sure we suffer to enjoy it!

They say you learn something new every day, and whilst watching the latter movie for the umpteenth time, this year in the theatre green room, much was my delight when my fellow cast member Ben Goffe piped up that his dad is one of the original Oompa Loopmas! I am now the proud owner of a special signed picture of the original cast, thanks Rusty!

Talking of panto, if you haven't managed to get down to Wimbledon to see us yet, I hope you've been supporting your local production. There are some corkers out there this year. Obviously I'm a 'tad' bias to our show and we're thrilled to be getting some cracking audiences. Thanks to Barry Humphries/Dame Edna and the sheer draw she is proving to be, our backstage corridor after the shows has been like an episode of Parkinson. There's nothing quite so surreal as coming off stage, mid-costume change, to be greeted with Babs Windsor and Matt Lucas shaking your hand in congratulations, as one stands half in the buff in show knickers and sports bra! Gotta love the theatre.

Dame Edna, Dick Whittington pantomime at the New Wimbledon Theatre, London

© Rex Features / London News Pictures/Rex Features



David Walliams and his supermodel wife Lara Stone (ooh I'll pick up another name I dropped there) seemed to particularly enjoy their Christmas Eve trip to see us with Jimmy Carr and Heston Blumenthal (you couldn't make this up, could you?!). David was in fine spirits following his recent coup landing a judging spot on the next series of Britain's Got Talent, and his wife Lara (hello... new girl crush!) was just charming; slightly embarrassing that I only came up to her chest - I actually had to stand on tip toes and grab on to her shoulders to kiss her. Now I know how Tom Cruise must feel when he indulges in a PDA with Katie Holmes: inferior and foolish.

Now enough of my random vulgar name-dropping, but I will say, as so many of you have been asking, we're halfway through our panto run and Dame Edna is bearing up beautifully like the pro she is; with 12 shows a week it's no mean feat, believe me! The naughtiness and amusement factor has been taken up a notch and sees no sign of slowing – far from it, she's keeping us on our toes!! If you're one of the (un)lucky ones to be dragged up on stage by her for her nightly ridicule, just remember, you are involved in seeing a true legend at work.

Now, back to the predictable-yet-highly-enjoyable schedule of Christmas telly that clogged up my Sky+ box over the festive period.

For the first time in years, EastEnders had some proper competition, going head to head in the coveted 9pm timeslot with its Yusef/Zainab climax, with the will they/won't they of Matthew and Mary over in Downton. The latter won out in my house. Along with the other millions of Matthew Crawley fans, I awaited the much-hyped two hour spectacular of Downton Abbey with baited breath.

Downton Abbey Christmas Special 2011

© ITV

Syed, Zainab and Christian watch in horror as the B&B explodes

© BBC



Call me Miss Anti-social (and all my family did), but once it struck 9pm on December 25, armed with a revoltingly overflowing plate of turkey buffet, I holed myself up to enjoy a good dose of pomp and ceremony courtesy of Julian Fellowes's star-studded cast. Two hours later and finally Mary cracked a smile on that porcelain face as we were treated to the money shot; Matthew finally sorting it out and asking the 'fallen' Lady to be his wife! Ahhh nicely set up for series three next year; well done team, it was predictable but you gave us fans exactly what we wanted.

Over on BBC One, once we'd got over Shirley's superb lemon-sucking impression (believe me, this went to a whole new level!), Nina Wadia paid the price for taking the lead storyline by continuously exposing her ample bosom in one of Dot Cotton's nighties. My sarcasm aside though, no wonder Nina is away enjoying a well-earned break at the moment, for the performance she put in as abused wife Zainab was spine-chillingly convincing and powerful. If this talented actress doesn't win an award for this storyline, it'd be a crime in itself - the poor woman must be shattered!

Quick mention; nice to see long-suffering extras Tracey and Winston getting wheeled out for their annual 'featured extra bonus' - this year at Kim's Christmas party. No lines sadly this year chaps, but I have high hopes for 2012. Come on 'Enders, we love an underdog, put them out of their misery!

TV Titters

Simon Webbe on Strictly Come Dancing
Over on Strictly, Tess Daly channelling the 'Black Swan' look in a feathered frock... more like 'anaemic flamingo' (OK, OK, I'm only jealous!), Craig Revel Horwood's panto skills drifting from Dartford and 'treating' us to some fancy footwork AND dressing up as a giant bogey, a first for Sue Pollard for once looking quite plain and reserved in her Strictly 'garb' (you have nothing on Russell Grant, love), and Simon Webb and his 'incredible acting eyebrows' as he flung Katya Virshilas around with biceps big enough to crush the poor girl.

Happy New Year folks; 2012 promises to be a corker of a year! I'll be there every step of the way with you all, bringing all the juice and gossip from the world of entertainment. Anna x

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