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Friday, April 16, 1999 Published at 12:17 GMT 13:17 UK


Showbiz toast to Barbara Windsor

Barbara Windsor's screen husband Mike Reid joined her at the lunch

Barbara Windsor was honoured at a star-packed lunch on Thursday to celebrate her long-running showbiz career.

Jim Davidson, Dale Winton and Paul Daniels led tributes to the actress who made her name playing saucy roles in the Carry On films and has since gained a new lease of life playing landlady Peggy Butcher in the BBC One soap Eastenders.

Windsor thanked a lengthy roll-call of friends, from Carry On star Sid James to Warren Beatty, late jazz club boss Ronnie Scott and her on-screen son in EastEnders Ross Kemp.

The actress described her time in the soap as, "one of the happiest and most exciting times of my life".

"I remember thinking to myself, 'Bar, you may never make the Old Vic, but you have made it to the Queen Vic'," she said.

Windsor's screen sons and her TV husband Mike Reid were among the audience as were a number of her showbiz friends, including Danny La Rue, John Inman and Faith Brown.

Special tribute was also paid to the late Lionel Bart, who helped Windsor's early career, and Anthony Newley, who died on Wednesday.

The lunch at London's Dorchester Hotel, was organised by the Variety Club of Great Britain, which presented Windsor with one of its Silver Hearts for her "outstanding contribution" to showbusiness.

Stars out for Labour bash

[ image: Sir Ian McKellen: A Labour backer]
Sir Ian McKellen: A Labour backer
Patrick Stewart, Sir Ian McKellen and Ben Elton were among the celebrities to join Prime Minister Tony Blair at a £500-a-head gala dinner to boost Labour Party coffers on Thursday.

Comedians Dawn French and Lenny Henry were among the stars mingling with government ministers at the champagne dinner at London's Hilton Hotel.

The event, hosted by Home Secretary Jack Straw, was also attended by EastEnders star Ross Kemp, who has been campaigning for Labour in the elections for the new Scottish Parliament.

Star Trek's Patrick Stewart even turned up for the gala evening, pausing to tell reporters that "cool Britannia" was still buzzing in his American home. "When wasn't it cool?" he said.

Simply Red singer Mick Hucknall and Lisa Stansfield were also on the guest list for what has become an annual event in Labour's calendar.

Allen makes it two of a kind for Tracey

[ image: Strong British presence for Woody Allen's latest film]
Strong British presence for Woody Allen's latest film
Woody Allen has cast British comedienne Tracey Ullman as his co-star in his next film, which begins shooting in New York this summer.

It is the second time she's appeared in an Allen film, having previously portrayed the neurotic theatre actress in Bullets Over Broadway.

Four Weddings and a Funeral actor Hugh Grant and American actor Jon Lovitz are also reported to be appearing in the project.

As is usual with Allen, who is writing and directing the as-yet-untitled project, the plot is being kept under wraps until the film is finished.

Chart-topper Fatboy drops family hint

[ image: Norman Cook and Zoe Ball plan to marry this summer]
Norman Cook and Zoe Ball plan to marry this summer
Celebrity couple Zoe Ball and Norman Cook, who plan to marry later this year, may be about to become a triple act.

Cook, also known as chart-topper Fatboy Slim, dropped a hint to Radio One DJ Steve Lamacq that they may be planning to start a family.

"Half of me wants to get back in and progress further and the other half thinks I've worked so hard in the last year and a half, let's just go off and have babies," he said.

The couple, who met last summer in Ibiza, are engaged and reportedly plan to marry in Somerset on 20 August.

Robbie to headline castle gig

[ image: Robbie Williams: Headlining at the castle]
Robbie Williams: Headlining at the castle
Pop superstar Robbie Williams will headline this year's huge outdoor rock concert at Slane Castle in County Meath, Ireland.

Tickets for the event, staged in a natural amphitheatre in castle grounds beside the historic River Boyne, are expected to be snapped up soon after going on sale.

Details of the full line-up of six other acts performing will be announced soon and tickets go on sale next week.

Blur, The Charlatans and Red Hot Chili Peppers have also been confirmed to headline this year's Reading Festival on 27-29 August.

Winslet and Rush close to Quills signing

[ image: Rush won Best Supporting Actor at the 1999 BAFTAs]
Rush won Best Supporting Actor at the 1999 BAFTAs
Hollywood stars Geoffrey Rush and Kate Winslet are near deals to star in Quills, the story of the last days of the Marquis de Sade.

Rush, named Best Supporting Actor at this year's Baftas for Shakespeare in Love, would play the Marquis, who is put in an asylum because his writing is considered pornographic.

Kate Winslet would play Madeleine, a maid who is de Sade's contact with the outside world and who helps to get his popular but condemned writings out to the public.

Joaquin Phoenix is also in talks for a role in director Philip Kaufman's film, which will start filming in Europe this summer.

The film is based on the award-winning play by Douglas Wright.

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