(Apologies – the original Movable Type layout of the below has been mashed and pics lost by the MEN’s move to WordPress)

HARD to believe, but Queen singer and legendary showman Freddie Mercury would have turned 60 next month.

To mark the date, ITV1 will screen A King Of Magic, a documentary celebrating the life of the man who helped define popular culture in the 1970s and 1980s.

It will include interviews with Mercury’s mother Jer Bulsara and sister Kashmira Cooke – and never before heard audio interviews with Freddie, who died in 1991.

ITV say that after long negotiations they have also obtained “unparalleled and exclusive access” to Freddie’s close friends, including boyfriend Jim Hutton, who I interviewed three years after Freddie’s death.


ABI Finley was in tears after winning through last night to the next round of How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?
The Prestwich student’s performance was criticised by the judges after she had sung Nobody Does It Better in the first live BBC1 show, having shone in rehearsals.
But Abi, 23, now one of nine girls hoping to land the role of Maria von Trapp in a new London Palladium production of The Sound of Music, had an explanation. She couldn’t hear the music.
“Vocally, you were so tight tonight,” said vocal coach Zoe Tyler. “Nobody does it better? Unfortunately, they do. You had some bum notes, which I was really shocked to hear, quite frankly. You’ve got to do better.”
Abi responded: “It gives me something to work towards next week, doesn’t it?”
Co-producer David Ian, who like Andrew Lloyd Webber, has put £2m into the West End musical, said: “For Abi to be in the abbey – we can’t have bum notes in the abbey.”


IF you’re wondering where Cat Deeley has got to, wonder no longer.
The former host of Manchester-based Stars In Their Eyes is presenting a second series of American TV hit So You Think You Can Dance.
Screened on the Fox network, the search for America’s No 1 dancer is now down to the last four, with a two-hour final next Wednesday night.
Some doubted the wisdom of importing an English presenter. But award-winning Brummie-born Cat has proved them wrong.
Her revealing exclusive TV interview with Kylie Minogue – shown on Sky One last month – showed just what an expert TV performer Cat is.
Even allowing for the fact that Cat and Kylie are friends, the ex-Fame Academy and CD:UK presenter ensured she obtained the answers the world had been waiting for about the Aussie singer’s cancer battle.


AND talking of Life on Mars guest star Marc Warren…
Get the garlic, crosses and stakes ready, Hustle actor Marc is about to get his teeth into a new TV adaptation of Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel Dracula.
He takes the lead in the BBC1 production which begins filming this month in and around the West Country.
Lined up as a possible Christmas or New Year treat, the 90-minute film co-stars Line of Beauty’s Dan Stevens as Lord Holmwood and Thunderbirds actress Sophia Myles as his fiance Lucy.


IT looks like the end of the road for hit ITV1 drama Life Begins.
Caroline Quentin returns soon as Maggie Thornhill for a third and almost certainly last series of the show.
Created by Bramhall-born Mike Bullen and first screened in 2004, the final six episodes again co-star Alexander Armstrong as Maggie’s husband Phil.
He says: “This is probably the last series as Caroline is pretty insistent that we should stop while we’re ahead, even though ITV wanted us to do a fourth series. I think she talked to everyone on the show about her decision.”


ABI Finley aims to be one of your favourite things after winning through to the final ten in a TV search for a new West End star.
You may have seen the Prestwich student impress producer Andrew Lloyd Webber on Saturday’s edition of BBC1’s How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?
Now Abi, 23, could be in line to take the starring role in a new production of The Sound of Music, which opens at the London Palladium in November.
Her ambition is “to be the first Jewish nun”. That will be tested when we get to vote for our favourites in a six-part series of live shows, hosted by Graham Norton, starting this coming Saturday. And there’s already been a twist in the tale.


DAWN French spent four weeks talking to some of the funniest women in Britain and America.
The result is Dawn French’s Girls Who Do Comedy, a three-part series which starts on BBC1 at 10.15pm a week tomorrow.
It begins with a dazzling number of talking heads but develops into something rather interesting and, at times, revealing.
The series is dedicated to comedienne and broadcaster Linda Smith, who was interviewed before her death from ovarian cancer in February at the age of 48.


MAX Beesley and Tamzin Outhwaite will check in several guest stars when Hotel Babylon opens its doors again in the New Year.
The five star TV hotel welcomes Kacey Ainsworth in her first role since leaving Albert Square’s Little Mo behind.
She plays a tabloid journalist in a storyline which also involves the unlikely pairing of Chris Moyles and Chantelle.
Other guests in the second series include Kelly Brook as Lady Catherine Stanwood, a former hotel receptionist who got lucky, and Ronni Ancona as a Tory MP.
Cherie Lunghi and Russ Abbott play husband and wife and David Walliams is a cult leader. Wonder if he’ll try out the hotel pool?


YOU meet many remarkable people in this job. Marie Stubbs is right up there near the top of the list.
Now the former head teacher, played by Julie Walters in ITV1 drama Ahead of the Class, is coming out of retirement for a new Channel 4 series.
Marie aims to try and turn around some of the UK’s worst performing schools in the four-part series called The School Fixer.


SURPRISE TV hit of the week is a series about offshore fishermen based in the north east of Scotland.
BBC1’s Trawlermen netted five million viewers on its first trip out to the stormy North Sea on Monday night.
That’s just two million fewer than the number watching top soap Emmerdale at the same time – and a massive three million more than ITV1’s multi-million pound flop Love Island.
It’s a fascinating “eat, sleep, fish” series about a hidden – and dangerous – world, featuring the crews of several boats playing for high stakes.