22 June 2006

EUROPRIDE THE SHOW is getting bigger by the day.

SIR ELTON JOHN has agreed to top this bill of bills, with an "upbeat set" with his piano and band. I am thrilled and our audience will be too.

The cast of stars is now to be joined by ANDREW HAYDEN-SMITH the out gay kids presenter from CBBC TV. RUBY WAX is to make her singing debut with one of Shirley Bassey's standards.

Stop press: BILLIE JEAN KING, the lesbian tennis icon, will also appear onstage. Coronation Street is sending its most gay-friendly actors to add to the other surprise appearances.

2 July 7.45pm The Royal Albert Hall in London is the place to be!

Planning and casting a benefit show is a nerve-wracking business. When I agreed to help four months back, I was sure that the team which had mounted eight Equality Shows at the Royal Albert Hall could pull it off once more - a variety show full of stars who support EuroPride in London giving their time and talent to the greatest audience they could hope for. We would want international stars to attract the thousands of LGBT folk coming to London for the EuroPride celebrations.

My first call was to Elton John who is always so generous but he wasn't free. Nor was a string of other names who might top such a bill. Of course many of those who said yes so readily could on their own sell out the Royal Albert Hall - Heather Small from M People and her band, Stephen Fry, Julian Clary or Graham Norton, never mind the sell-out shows "Chicago" and "Mamma Mia". We wanted to ensure a strong lesbian presence onstage, so I asked my girl friends who they would most like to see and the unanimous answer was Never the Bride - and the rock band said Yes immediately. So did Sandi Toksvig and tennis icon Billie Jean King has agreed to say hello to the audience. I thought The Show was complete until yesterday when Ruby Wax asked could she make her singing debut with a Bassey standard. How could I refuse?

Then today, Elton called me at home to say he could make The Show after all. So at the end of his current "knackering tour" he is bringing piano and band to the Royal Albert Hall with an upbeat set that will raise the old roof. And still the stars keep offering help but I am not going to tell you who. You will simply have to call the Royal Albert Hall for your tickets NOW!"

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