Belfast Telegraph

'You must be sparkly inside and out for me to stand up'

All Together Now Celebrities arrives on Christmas Eve, but who will hit the right note when it comes to impressing the 100?

Christmas chorus: Rob Beckett with his All Together Now co-star Geri Horner
Christmas chorus: Rob Beckett with his All Together Now co-star Geri Horner

By Gemma Dunn

All Together Now is back - but not as we know it. Serving up a dose of festive frivolity, the hit BBC One entertainment show is set to return with a one-off Christmas special. And this time it's a host of all-singing celebrities taking the plunge.

Hosted by comedian Rob Beckett, the famous faces - much like their civilian predecessors - will sing their hearts out in a show-stopping bid to win over TV's toughest judging panel, the 100, headed up by Spice Girl Geri Horner.

Because, much like before, the more of the 100 (a mix of great singers from every corner of the music industry) who stand up and join in, the higher the scores and the nearer the celeb comes to being crowned winner.

So, just who is in the star-studded line up? Hoping to win over the nation is reality TV personality Gemma Collins, former footballer Chris Kamara, showbiz reporter Alison Hammond, EastEnders actress Laurie Brett, rugby player Ben Foden, Love Island winner Amber Davies, comedians Omid Djalili and Sara Pascoe and Outnumbered actor Tyger Drew-Honey.

"I know Alison Hammond from doing This Morning," begins Horner (46). "She's so wonderful; she's got that joy inside of her heart. That's what you've got to be - sparkly inside and out - for me to stand up."

"I'm looking forward to it, because with the 'normal' people that come on you obviously have to be quite generous and kind, but with the celebrities you can sort of say whatever you want," quips Beckett (32).

"I'll be let off the leash, like, 'Look at the state of that, Kamara'. You can't have a six-year-old girl coming on going, 'I've never sung before' and you go, 'Oh, come on'.

"You have to be supportive. Whereas, if it's Alison Hammond, you can have a pop back.

"I mean, Gemma Collins is going to be something else. I think she might absolutely nail it."

"I'm thinking she'll be like Diana Dors, Marilyn Monroe - that blonde bombshell kind of thing," Horner concurs.

"I think they'll go for it, I think they'll like her," Beckett says of the 100. "If she comes out in a good mood and she's charming, she can really get them. She's a real force of nature.

"And it will be interesting with Sarah Pascoe - as I've done comedy with Pascoe for years. She's half-mentioned that she sings and that she really loves the show, but when you've got a mate doing it, you're like, 'Oh, don't be awful, please'."

The 100, rightly so, isn't short of an opinion or two. So, would the pair be up for the challenge, themselves?

"How can I? I can't sing anything, so anything you give me I'll ruin," Beckett cries.

"I actually wouldn't want to do the show, either," admits Horner, who has packed out arenas worldwide and is set to embark on a UK tour with three of the other Spice Girls next year.

"I wouldn't want to be a contestant, because it's not like a normal performance. A normal performance, you go out and the majority of the time, it's dark. And British people are very polite - they'll clap anyway," she insists.

"You get that feedback; you can tell whether it's not as you hoped. But this is instant. Can you imagine you're singing there and nobody's standing up? I'd be like, 'Okay, I'm going.'"

"Some of them lose the 100 in the first sentence," Beckett recalls. "They walk out to silence and they'll say something that the 100 might think is a bit arrogant, or a bit off - and that first sentence can have a big impact. Even before you've started singing, you're being judged. It's so intense.

"I know a lot of celebrities and some of them have a high opinion of themselves that's not always backed up.

"So, this is why I'm really excited about the show. I'm excited about that moment when they walk up and 20 seconds in they go, 'Oh, I ain't that good, am I?'"

"That's not fun, when someone really thinks they're good," Horner agrees. "Sometimes, you can't call it, because you think, 'Oh, this is a great song, I like them' and they just fall absolutely flat on their bottoms. Or sometimes, someone comes in and they look like they've stepped off the bus - and then they suddenly go, 'Wow'."

"What's great about the celebs special, as well, is we've got a real mix of people who make you go, 'I didn't know they could', or 'Can they?'" notes Beckett, who is back on tour with a brand new stand-up show in 2019.

"So, there's that sort of mystery about it, which is good, rather than just having people that we already know can sing, doing this."

All Together Now Celebrities, BBC One, Monday, 7.15pm

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