IT was one of the best BBC game shows of the early Noughties so I am delighted to reveal Friends Like These is coming back.
The Beeb is working on a reboot of the hugely popular series with Vernon Kay and Alison Hammond as the hosts.
The quiz show, which ran for three years from 2000, was previously hosted by Ant and Dec and later Ian Wright.
A TV insider said: “The BBC are filming a pilot for Friends Like These with Vernon and Alison in the New Year.
“Everyone involved in the reworking on the show is so excited to get started.
“They think they can make a real success of it.
“Friends Like These was a fun, family favourite TV show and it will easily slide back into the schedules.
“Vernon and Alison are good pals and have great chemistry off screen. So once the cameras are rolling those behind the reboot think it could be magical.”
For those of you who never saw the show, each episode saw two teams of five friends competing against one another in a series of head-to-head challenges in a bid to win a holiday.
The nail-biter series also saw celebs taking on the challenge, with the stars of Coronation Street and Casualty going up against one another to win cash for charity.
The source added: “If the pilot is a success, which there is no doubt about, there will be a full series commissioned, as well as a celebrity special.”
Bring it on.
BAKE OR BREAK TIME
AFTER eleven weeks of soggy bottoms, dough rolling and Hollywood handshakes, the baker’s dozen is down to just three.
Crystelle Pereira, Giuseppe Dell'Anno, and Will 'Chigs' Chirag will go head to head in tonight’s Bake Off final.
Their creations will have to be showstoppers to impress judges Prue Leith and Paul Hollywood.
Battle commences at 8pm on Channel 4.
SALES manager, Chigs, 40, from Leicestershire only learnt to bake during lockdown.
He used online videos and tutorials to hone his craft – and was awarded Star Baker twice.
He said: “The fact that I was the least experienced baker played on my mind a lot during this time.
“I just had to have a word with myself and remind myself that I am here and what an amazing journey it has been.
“I, a lockdown baker, is in the GBBO final!”
THE 26-year-old relationships manager from London says she was “desperate” to show off her heritage through her bakes.
And her authentic Portuguese-Goan pastry won her a Hollywood handshake.
She said: “It meant so much because it was such a sentimental bake for my family and me.
“Never in a million years did I think I would make it past week one, let alone make it to the final. I didn’t pack nearly enough clothes – I even ended up wearing some of the crew’s clothes towards the end.”
THE Italian engineer, 45, who lives in Bristol, got his passion for baking from his dad – who would make a cake every Sunday.
And Giuseppe has been a fan favourite from the off.
He said of making the final: “I felt sheer shock, and you can probably see it from my reaction to Jurgen’s elimination last week.
“I was not expecting him to go, I had him down as a guaranteed finalist from day one.”
Giuseppe added: “I was convinced that I was going to go after my even wonkier-than-normal leaning tower of Pisa.”
BLADES ON STRICTLY
THE Repair Shop’s popular host Jay Blades kicks off the Strictly Christmas Special line-up.
He will dance with Russian professional Luba Mushtuk.
Meanwhile, First Dates’ Fred Sirieix has been partnered with Aussie dancefloor pro Dianne Buswell.
KYLIE: I'D RETURN TO TARDIS
SHE’S planning to move home to Australia – but that’s not the only journey on Kylie Minogue's mind.
The pop star says she’d love to time travel again now pal Russell T Davies is back as Doctor Who showrunner.
Kylie played Astrid Peth alongside tenth Doctor David Tennant in Russell’s 2007 Christmas special Voyage of the Damned.
Fans were quick to spot Astrid is an anagram of Tardis so have always speculated the character could return.
Kylie said: “I loved doing Doctor Who and I know it has such a place in so many people’s hearts.
“Astrid was gorgeous. And of course Russell is so brilliant. Astrid turned to star dust so could make a return, and I would not mind that.”
Talking of travel, David has been unveiled in his latest role as Phileas Fogg.
He leads the cast of BBC’s Christmas epic, Around the World in 80 Days.
FRENCH LESSON IN SPELLING
SHE’S a comedy legend – but don’t ask Dawn French for an autograph.
The French & Saunders star joked that she struggles with her spelling while filming for Simon Cowell’s new talent show Walk The Line.
The judge came unravelled watching 6ft 4in rocker Darby, who performed Shirley Bassey's I Who Have Nothing.
Dawn said: “You are a fabulous contradiction, I mean what a belter of a song, and what passion and strength. You are a C O N T E N D T T D E N T D E N D E R . . . sorry I have always been useless at spelling!”
Fellow judge Craig David laughed: “We won’t be seeing you on Countdown.”
Walk The Line comes to ITV later this year.
ANNE’S DESIGNER WARDROBE
ANNE ROBINSON is well known for her designer frocks – and the Countdown host has revealed licence fee payers funded some of her outfits.
Referring to her choice of designer, Anne said: “We’d easily spend two or three thousand pounds on a Celebrity Weakest Link Alexander McQueen.”
KEELEY'S NEW LINE
LINE of Duty’s Keeley Hawes will star in another meaty thriller for the BBC.
She appears as Jo, whose dream holiday in the Canary Islands is turned upside down when shots ring out across the hotel complex.
Filming has already begun on Crossfire, which tackles a gunman’s attack on a holiday resort.
The show has been created by Louise Doughty, who had a big Beeb hit with Apple Tree Yard.
Louise said: “This is a drama about a group of ordinary people caught up in an extraordinary event.
“In extremity, each character is faced with a set of dilemmas, and at the heart of it is Jo, who booked the holiday and unknowingly put her family and friends – and herself – at risk.
“I’m fascinated by the idea of how so-called ordinary people respond to intense pressure.”
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