Wednesday 28 September 2016

Sir Bruce Forsyth vying for Santa role in charity Downton Abbey skit

Published 03/12/2015 | 00:06

Sir Bruce Forsyth is among the stars helping out for Text Santa
Sir Bruce Forsyth is among the stars helping out for Text Santa

Sir Bruce Forsyth, Gordon Ramsay and Gok Wan are in the running to be Downton Abbey's Father Christmas as they audition in front of Lord Grantham.

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As part of charity campaign Text Santa, celebrities are invading ITV's top television programmes on December 18 for a three-hour special.

Sir Bruce puts on a show for the Lord, played by Hugh Bonneville, posing with a top hat and cane. Wan carries a Santa outfit as well as a measuring tape, while Ramsay is dressed in head-to-toe white - befitting a chef.

Others to audition include Jim Broadbent, Michelle Keegan and Warwick Davis, while Brenda Blethyn turns up in character as DCI Vera Stanhope from detective series Vera.

Joan Collins, 82, will feature in a specially-written sketch for Benidorm. She first acted in the show in February 2014, when she appeared as a guest star and played Crystal Hennesey-Vaas, chief executive of the Solana Hotel Group.

The special programme will also see Coronation Street's actors morphing into characters from the soap's history in a Back To The Future crossover, with a special guest star. Meanwhile, Emmerdale stars will lead a sing-along.

The sketches will be part of a live show fronted by Christine Bleakley, Alesha Dixon, Caroline Flack, Amanda Holden, Paddy McGuinness, Stephen Mulhern, Olly Murs, Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby - who will be wearing their Christmas jumpers.

Schofield launched the appeal on December 1 with #pipknit, appearing in every ITV programme throughout the day - including I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!, where he was featured in the opening credits.

Viewers will be encouraged to donate via text in support of Macmillan Cancer Support, Make-A-Wish UK and Save the Children.

Films about the charities will be presented by Ant & Dec, Bradley Walsh, Julie Walters, Martin Clunes, Amanda Holden and Myleene Klass.

Little Mix are set to perform, as well as the winner of the X Factor.

Text Santa is now in its fifth year and has raised £21 million so far for UK charities. All donations to Save the Children's international work will be matched pound for pound by the UK Government up to £5 million.

McGuinness, who has been a Text Santa host from the beginning, said the show was unpredictable.

Asked what he would be doing on the night, he said: "As always, I don't have a clue! Last year, Alesha and I had a rap battle. The year before we put people in a giant Christmas tree, and another time we covered Mark Wright in gunge! Maybe this year I'll have a rap battle with Olly!"

Willoughby said: "In the past, I've swapped clothes with Phillip and changed my hair colour on the night. This year I'm looking forward to us all being together for the night and celebrating Text Santa. We've got loads of great things planned."

Press Association

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