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Murder on the Farm; Emmerdale trio axed.

THERE'S going to be a bloodbath in Emmerdale - and it's not the cattle who are heading for the abattoir.

Bosses have axed three of the ITV soap's long- running stars.

Actor Paul Opacic, who plays sex symbol Steve Marchant, Johnny Leeze, (farmer Ned Glover), and cockney postmaster Vic Windsor, played by Alun Lewis, will all be out by the end of the year.

And I fear more characters could be on new producer Keiran Roberts's hit list.

The ruthless cull follows those at rival soaps Coronation Street and EastEnders who have axed a host of unpopular characters in a bid to boost ratings.

The contracts of all three stars of the Yorkshire soap - which gets around 10 million viewers - won't be renewed at the end of the year.

Show chiefs have dramatic plans to get rid of womaniser Steve in a gripping storyline.

One option has him jailed for knocking down Kathy Glover (Malandra Burrows), putting her on a life support machine in a big Christmas blockbuster.

"It's a real shock that so many of the show's stars are going," my source tells me.

"Everyone is fearful this is just the start and more will be asked to leave.

"Like all the soaps, the pressure is on to gain more viewers and the thinking is it's time to get some new, young blood in."

The massacre at EastEnders will see 10 characters axed including Sanjay and Gita Kapoor, Michael Rose and wife Susan, Ruth Fowler and George Palmer.

Coronation Street producer Brian Park was dubbed "the axe man" for getting rid of dopey Derek Wilton, Don Brennan and Maureen Holdsworth, to name but a few.

LENNY'S

HOTEL

BELLE..

I CAN only presume dreadlocked rocker Lenny Kravitz has been doing the dirty on his singer girlfriend Natalie Imbruglia.

Judging from the US musician's cloak-and-dagger performance while out with a mystery beauty, I don't think he wanted the ex-Neighbours star to discover his illicit dalliance.

Lenny, 33, arrived at London's trendy Metropolitan hotel on Tuesday night. Ten minutes later a people carrier containing the girl - a dead ringer for Lenny's ex-wife, actress Lisa Bonet - pulled up.

My snapper explains: "She dived into the hotel lobby, where I saw Lenny waiting for her in the lift.

"She got in the lift and snuggled up to him before going upstairs."

After an hour she re-appeared and jumped into the car. Minutes later Lenny rushed out, got into the car and they sped off."

TV'S GOTTA HAVE LISA

LISA Tarbuck's recent stint on The Big Breakfast has certainly done wonders for her career - she's landed a deal to front a new fashion series.

Lisa, daughter of veteran comedian Jimmy, is presenting She's Gotta Have It on Channel 4.

The eight-parter will look at the latest trends and advise on bargains.

"Lisa is a natural TV presenter and has great fashion sense so she was an obvious choice to front the show," my C4 source told me.

She's sure to get a few tips from chum Johnny Vaughan. He was impressed by Lisa when she stood in for Denise Van Outen who was on her hols recently.

As I revealed last week, my sources at Planet 24 who make The Big Breakfast claim Johnny is worried that he is being overshadowed by Denise so he is plotting for Lisa to step into her shoes.

LEE'S NO TO CRISP pounds 1/2m AD

MONEY just can't buy Lee Evans - much to the frustration of advertising chiefs at Golden Wonder.

They offered the comic pounds 500,000 for a series of ads to promote their crisps, but rubber-faced Lee, 34, remained deaf to their pleas.

A pal says: "Lee's not keen on doing adverts and anyway he's far too busy with other projects at the moment.

"His work schedule is incredibly gruelling and although he finds it very hard to say no to people he has just had to."

Lee, the star of last year's hit slapstick movie, Mouse Hunt, is currently busy promoting his new film, There's Something About Mary, which gets a UK release this month.

And I'm mad with jealousy because he got to snog the gorgeous Cameron Diaz in it.

That aside, his nights are about to be busy with his sell-out stand-up tour, which starts a run at London's Apollo Theatre on September 14.

B*WITCHED sisters Edele and Keavy Lynch are so superstitious I'm surprised they have time to make singles.

Edele says: "I have to touch everything five times. Sometimes I'll walk past something and bang it with my right arm, so I have to go back and bang it with my left arm."

Her sister adds: "I always hated being put on the right for photo shoots or dance routines." Weird.

YOU won't be seeing any naked pictures of Live And Kicking presenter Zoe Ball with a snake a la Anthea Turner in Tatler magazine.

She tells me: "It's not because I wouldn't do a naked photo shoot, but I just wouldn't want to get that close to a snake."
COPYRIGHT 1998 MGN LTD
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1998 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Wright', Matthew
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Sep 3, 1998
Words:840
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