Scorching TV: Brian Conley rages at ITV purge on sitcoms

BRIAN Conley has had a pop at ITV bosses for axing comedy from its schedules.

Bosses at the network have pulled the plug on all of their sitcoms.

Hits such as Birds Of A Feather and Benidorm have been canned despite having millions of fans.

Veteran comic Brian said: “I find these decisions very weird. I think it’s a shame. We all need a good laugh – I think the world needs that.

“Comedy is a bit of escapism. It gives people the chance to have a laugh. The power of comedy is wonderful. It can bring people together.

“When you make people laugh it’s the biggest buzz. It’s a wonderful honour to be able to do that. So I’m surprised ITV doesn’t have any comedy any more.”

Brian has had us giggling for four decades.

He starred in sitcoms including The Grimleys and Time After Time.

And he’s now offered to help ITV bring back the laughs.

Brian urged bosses to commission a new sitcom – and says he’s up for starring in it.

He said: “I’m sure this is just a moment, a glitch, and it will just be a matter of time before they think, ‘We do need to do some more’.

“I get people saying they want to see me back on TV and I’d like to do a sitcom.

“I’m self-employed. So if something excites me then I’d do it.” ITV boss Kevin Lygo reckons it’s hard work making sitcoms a success.

He said Birds Of A Feather came to “a natural end” and warned the future of scripted comedy on his channel was “quite bleak”. But he reckons viewers can still get a giggle by watching ITV’s soaps.

He told them: “Audiences can get their fix of character-based comedy from Corrie.”

Couple of obstacles in way of love rivals

THERE’S double trouble brewing for the girls trying to bag hunky Alex Marks – because two new rivals are on their way.

In tomorrow night’s episode, producers will send in a professional dancer and a sexy singer.

First up is Worthing lass Charlotte, who has wowed audiences around the world as part of a classical girl group. Her job means she has loads of confidence and sex appeal.

And after three failed relationships, she’s ready to fight to win Alex’s affections.

A pal said: “Charlotte admits it’s hard to find a man that understands her line of work.

“She doesn’t always know what she’s doing for work from one month to the next and is so busy, and just wants to meet someone that understands.”

Also new is Annabelle, who is a ballroom and Latin dance champion.

The London-born beauty also runs her own swimwear label.

Producers reckon the girls will boost ratings.

A show insider said: “Just when the contestants thought their numbers were dwindling, producers are sending two new girls in.

“This is bound to cause plenty of drama and bitching.”

The Bachelor has been revived by Channel 5 after seven years.

The series has been so dramatic it’s been making global headlines.

Former Towie star Mark Wright is the host.

The action continues tomorrow night at 10pm on Channel 5.

Secrets of Kath’s two-faced writer

KATHERINE Kelly is a world away from Weatherfield these days.

Here’s the ex-Coronation Street star as a celebrity who’s recovering from a secret facelift.

And I want to stir an emotion in the audience. I’m not interested in dull certainty.

“I don’t want people to be scrolling through Twitter while they’re watching it – I want them to be gripped and on the edge of their seat.

Her character in Flack writes books about using natural remedies to stay looking youthful, so she can’t risk her fans learning the truth.

“I want them to feel something, whether that’s, ‘I hate her, she’s appalling’ or it’s, ‘I love her, I feel so sorry for her’. There is so much for viewers to choose from.

She’s the latest celeb facing a career crisis on the drama, which airs on digital channel W. Katherine jumped at the chance to be a guest star on the series, because she loves playing interesting characters.

“As a viewer myself, I want to watch something and invest my time. I want it to take a bit of my soul and be entertained.”

She said: “The most important thing for me is that the character is believable and authentic.

You can see Katherine on Flack this Thursday at 10pm on W.

EURO HOPE’S RICE & SHARP

MICHAEL Rice has been given a sharp new look before he heads to Israel. The singer had a full makeover for his first official photoshoot as the UK’s entry. And, as you can see in our exclusive sneak peek, he certainly looks the part.

Michael said: “I’m always laughing or smiling – when I have to do a moody look I start giggling. I’ve had three clothes changes, I’ve had my hair done, I’ve had my make-up done. The photos look absolutely sick.”

The UK hasn’t won Eurovision for more than 20 years, but Michael hopes to change that in Tel Aviv on May 18.

He said: “I’m excited to show everyone what the UK can do.”

You can see him in action at the London Eurovision Party on April 14.

Why life’s such drag for Divina

ALL Together Now judge Divina De Campo has hinted she’ll be competing on RuPaul’s Drag Race.

A UK version of the reality contest is currently being filmed for the first time.

Asked if she’ll be on it, Divina refused to rule it out and said: “I couldn’t say if I was going to be doing it.

“In TV land they don’t allow you to speak about anything until it’s done. I couldn’t possibly say.”

RuPaul’s Drag Race has aired in the US since 2009 and is a global sensation.

The UK series will be available on BBC Three.

Gooding Jnr wants to join British TV

CUBA Gooding Jnr wants to swap Hollywood for British TV.

The Oscar winner can’t get enough of shows made over here.

He said: “I’m a fan of everything from Game Of Thrones to Peaky Blinders, to Broadchurch to The Fall. I watch them all. I think they’re all fantastic.

“I know they might not all be continuing, but they’re the ones I’d love to be part of if it was ever possible.”

Cuba made his name in Jerry Maguire 25 years ago.

In recent years he has been in a string of hit TV series, including American Horror Story, Empire and American Crime Story.

He loves the UK so much he appeared in Chicago in London’s West End last year.

Last week he was back to party at the opening night of new musical Waitress.

Cuba said: “Working in London is always great – there’s a real sense of community here.

“The crews here work hard and they’re all about telling a good story.

“I’m working on a new film in London at the moment and I’m having a great time.”

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