I ABSOLUTELY adore light entertainment, there’s nothing better than new talent-fests like X Factor and prime-time personalities on Strictly Come Dancing, sequinned up to the max, doing a quick-quick slow with a fixed grin.

It’s the sort of stuff that you can sit and enjoy with your granny and your nieces and nephews, as well as your partner on a Saturday teatime. Or a perfect indulgence before a big night out – nothing too dramatic or involved to make your brain hurt.

Show concepts are often a lovely descendent of what drew families to crowd around the box in the past. So, the classic Come Dancing inspired Strictly and the magic of Torvill and Dean was reborn for the 21st century with Dancing On Ice.

A new Ice series starts imminently. I’m bagging my place on the sofa right now – and I insist on being on charge of the remote!

All that murder on the dance floor we’ve been obsessed with lately will seem pretty tame when Gareth Gates hits the rink with a vengeance. Bradford’s favourite pop star son is among the celebs said to have been lined up for the show.

I bet he’s good on ice, as he grew up near to the Bradford rink and no-doubt spent time there as a youngster. I used to love a trip there – I was so jealous of those great skaters who could glide around backwards.

The memory of Bradford and the excitement of this new series has made my mind up – I’m going to get my skates on and learn how to do it properly. Leeds gets an outdoor rink at this time of year and I’d love to show off there!

Ice skating has a camp image but macho sportsmen like Lee Sharpe and Kieran Bracken seem to really take to it.

This time Greg Rusedski’s supposed to be in the line-up. Samantha Mumba, Suzanne Shaw and Natalie Pinkman are also picking out sparkly mesh costumes, if you believe the press reports.

Apparently Hollyoaks actor Chris Fountain and Tim Vincent, formerly of Emmerdale, are there too. Bizarrely, it’s also said that Aggie McKenzie, one half of Kim and Aggie the cleaners, is raring to show the nation just what she can do on ice.

Will she take her rubber gloves off? I suppose if she doesn’t wow the judges she can always run the Hoover around after.

Whatever happens, you can be prepared for a whole new goldmine of ‘exclusive’ interviews in the celebrity mags with headlines like: “Gareth: I’m back from the rink!” and “Sam’s dreams are on ice!” or “Tim: I’m just a skater boy!”


TALKING of Gareth Gates, let’s hope his icy commitments this year leave him enough time to plan his wedding, because it’s been announced he’s getting married next New Year’s Eve.

The former Pop Idol star proposed to dancer Suzanne Mole on New Year’s Eve and the couple have agreed to tie the knot a year on. Gareth, 23, and Suzanne, 32, have been dating for five years.

He said: “After a great Christmas, I proposed to Suzanne on New Year’s Eve and she said yes. We are both extremely happy and look forward to planning our wedding and life together.”

Have you noticed that people, ridiculously, still raise an eyebrow when they’re presented with a happy heterosexual couple where the female is the older of the two? No-one notices when it’s the other way round, or in same-sex relationships. I wonder why that is.

At least she’s not old enough for shop assistants to mistake her for his mum – which happened to a mate of mine’s partner in PC World, much to everyone’s embarrassment.

“Ooh, they can be like this at that age, he’s just like my son,” joked the employee, when the younger partner said something that suggested he was picky about his computer accessories. “He’s not my son,” was the reply. Oops!


I CAN’T seem to get through a column without mentioning my friend Alan Carr – he’s doing so well at the moment, his DVD the Tooth Fairy was number two in the Christmas chart.

He’s up for umpteen showbiz awards, including the South Bank Show Comedy Award, and he’s got his own TV vehicle without Justin Lee Collins lined up – a camp-as-a-row-of-tents quiz show called Alan Carr’s Celebrity Ding Dong.

Yet on New Year’s Eve he shunned the London nightlife scene to herald 2008 in Leeds at my bar Fibre and club Mission.

He and his mates had a great time glugging champagne in the VIP area, then he whisked my sister away to a house party at 4am.

I couldn’t go as I had to look after the club!

I am sure it was a big improvement on last year – he told Friday Night Project viewers that he was buying a chicken in a late-opening supermarket when the midnight bells went.