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Soap gossip...

Byline: Tim Randall

IT'S official ... the much talked about EastEnders soap bubble featuring remedial Ricky and the gob that is Bianca will be screened at Easter. Actors Patsy Palmer and Sid Owen have already begun filming the one-off special entitled Home Coming, which is set in Manchester and will update viewers on their lives there. Apparently, there are no plans for the actors to rejoin the soap permanently.

FANS of Neighbours fans will be chuffed that an old face is returning this year. Benji McNair, who played the Kennedy's eldest son Mal in the mid-'90s, is reprising the role for six weeks. Benji says: "It's been five years since Mal packed his bags and went to England and that's five full years of doing other things for me. But I learnt a lot doing Neighbours and coming back for a stint is perfect. Let's just say he's not the Mal he used to be."

FIRST there was Dot and Jim - now prepare yourself for some more wrinkly romance with Corrie battle-axe Blanche netting herself a man too. Pensioner Archie Shuttleworth will be played by panto veteran Roy Hudd and, while Blanche may be totally loved up, the whole thing makes Deirdre want to heave. We know know she feels.

WHETHER it's Pat's earrings that make you throb or Beppe's hairy bits that get you going, enter the EastEnders Valentines competition and you and a mate could win a 40-minute tour around Albert Square and maybe even meet a cast member. All you have to do is describe in 40 words or less which EastEnder you'd marry and why. The closing date is February 28. For more details log on to bbc.co.uk/eastenders.

EX-HOLBY City and Brookside babe Lisa Faulkner is set to star in a new BBC1 drama focusing on the murky world of MI5 secret agents. Spooks, co-starring Keeley Hawes and Matthew Macfadyen, is being filmed in London and the South-east until March.

TWO Hungarian soap stars ended up legally married after a mix-up during a publicity stunt. Eszter Valko and Zoltan Hartmann acted out a wedding scene on a local radio show to plug their raunchy soap. But the station used a real registrar and after taking their solemn vows - from a script - the couple found out they were actually legally hitched. Deary, me. They are both now trying to get their marriage annulled.
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Title Annotation:Soap Gossip
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Feb 2, 2002
Words:398
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