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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 December 2006, 13:11 GMT
Watson back on TV after brain op
Russell Watson and Sian Reeves
Watson partnered actress Sian Reeves in the show's first series
Classical singer Russell Watson, who had a brain tumour removed this year, is to defend his title on the celebrity duets contest Just the Two of Us.

He will be one of nine professionals who are paired with famous faces when the BBC TV series returns on 2 January.

Ex-Blue Peter presenter Janet Ellis, cricketer Mark Butcher and actress Hannah Waterman are also taking part.

Sarah Brightman, Tony Christie, Wet Wet Wet's Marti Pellow and Carol Decker of T'Pau are among those joining Watson.

The programme - presented by husband-and-wife team Vernon Kay and Tess Daly - will run for six nights.

THE NINE CELEBRITIES
Luke Bailey (Casualty)
John Bardon (EastEnders)
Loui Batley (Hollyoaks)
Julia Bradbury (Watchdog)
Mark Butcher (cricketer)
Brendan Cole (Strictly Come Dancing)
Janet Ellis (ex-Blue Peter)
Gregg Wallace (Masterchef)
Hannah Waterman (ex-EastEnders)

Each duo will be judged by a panel of industry experts before viewers vote for their favourites.

The winner will be announced in the grand final on 7 January.

Last year, Watson took the crown after stepping in at the last minute to replace Rick Astley, who was the original partner of actress Sian Reeves.

In the final, they performed Great Balls of Fire by Jerry Lee Lewis, John Denver's track Annie's Song and I Would Do Anything for Love by Meat Loaf.

But in October, Watson was forced to postpone a tour when doctors diagnosed him with a brain tumour.

THE NINE PROFESSIONALS
Beverley Knight
Sarah Brightman (opera)
Jocelyn Brown (soul)
Tony Christie (easy listening)
Carol Decker (pop)
Natasha Hamilton (pop)
Beverley Knight (soul, pictured)
Alexander O'Neal (soul)
Marti Pellow (pop)
Russell Watson (classical)

He felt unwell while recovering from the operation and required further hospital treatment as a result.

The singer had been recording an album in Los Angeles when the tumour was diagnosed.

The BBC promised the latest series of Just the Two of Us would "maintain the standards set by hits like Strictly Come Dancing" and would be "vibrant and exciting".

"Each night will be packed with new and classic songs, accompanied by a 16-piece live band," executive producer Sumi Connock said.

"Once again, the pressure of performing live will challenge our celebrities to perform in ways that they've never done before."


SEE ALSO
Singer Watson postpones UK tour
31 Oct 06 |  Entertainment
Russell Watson back in hospital
06 Oct 06 |  Entertainment
Brain surgery for Russell Watson
29 Sep 06 |  Entertainment
Tenors' albums make chart history
19 Mar 06 |  Entertainment

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