STRICTLY Come Dancing winner Stacey Dooley had better watch her back because she’s got a rival in the unlikely form of Zara McDermott.
When she first burst on to our screens on Love Island in 2018, few would have expected her to become the queen of BBC Three’s documentaries – but that’s exactly what’s happened.
Zara is landing her own set of factual shows under the umbrella title “Zara Uncovers . . . ” in a similar vein to “Stacey Dooley Investigates . . . ”
A TV insider said: “Bosses at the Beeb have been impressed with the two documentaries she has made for BBC Three on two extremely serious and delicate subjects. They’re always on the lookout for new talent who viewers, particularly younger viewers, will find relatable.
“They think they’ve found that in Zara, a worthy successor to Stacey who’s increasingly taking on a variety of different shows outside of her factual roots.”
Zara made her revenge porn doc earlier this year, which was inspired by two experiences of people sharing intimate images of her without her consent.
It was hugely successful, and quickly became the most requested BBC Three factual programme of 2021 so far.
Now she’s making another documentary on sexism in schools — set to air later this year. After that the Beeb will be lining up more topics under the new Zara Uncovers branding.
It’s only been three years since she appeared on Love Island in a series that spawned several TV stars. Dani Dyer will appear on EastEnders next month, Wes Nelson is about to go on Celebrity SAS Who Dares Wins and Dr Alex George campaigns on mental health.
But I’d argue Zara has turned out to be the cream of the crop.
GORDON PUTS GINO UP A LEVEL
GORDON Ramsay is unveiling a new cookery show in the US that could launch Gino D’Acampo’s career across the pond.
Next Level Chef sees the celebrity cook deliver a new format on Fox – a three-storey structure, with each level containing a different standard of kitchen and ingredients.
The Studio Ramsay show sees contestants challenged to make the best dishes they can with the varying quality of equipment and food, which reflects whether they’re on the upper, middle or lower level.
And Gordon has enlisted his mate Gino to be one of the mentors on the programme, alongside fellow chef Nyesha Arrington. The two restaurateurs have become firm friends thanks to their foreign foodie road trips for ITV alongside First Dates maitre d’ Fred Sirieix.
Gordon said: “This is the next evolution in cooking competitions. It’s big and it’s bold. I can’t wait for people to see it.”
The show could also air in the UK. Given the rapport of the three culinary musketeers, I’m surprised Gordon hasn’t involved Fred too. Maybe he’s saving the suave Frenchman for his next TV project . . .
The big five
THERE’S a trip down memory lane that will bring tears to your eyes on Channel 4 tonight.
Naked Attraction’s Best Bits celebrates five years of the show, and features several former contestants including a woman who went on to the dating contest to find a well-endowed man, only to get more than she bargained for.
IT’S JEN LENNON
JENNA Coleman seems to be channelling Beatles legend John Lennon.
The leading lady in ITV’s Victoria showcased this unique look as she nipped out for a coffee in chilly London this week.
It’s a far cry from the skimpy Seventies tops she wore in her most recent TV show, The Serpent, made in the hot streets of Thailand.
Jenna will need her coat again as she prepares to play another real life legend, war heroine Joan Bright in The War Rooms.
As executive producer, she’ll be wearing the trousers too.
GEMMA’S COUNTRY PURSUIT
AFTER starring in Hollyoaks and Strictly, Gemma Atkinson has got her eye on a very different role – fronting rural affairs show Countryfile.
The actress says she wants to help animals and is encouraging the same of Mia, the two-year-old daughter she has with fiancé and Strictly pro Gorka Marquez.
She said on the We Built This City: Greater Manchester podcast: “They haven’t got a voice, animals, so you have to be theirs. If I can teach Mia to be compassionate . . . she’s already like a mini David Attenborough.
“If I can combine my love of animals with working on telly, you might see me on Countryfile one day. I’d love that.”
She would certainly bring some Strictly glamour to the British countryside.
Julie’s unholy problem
SHE plays a religious woman in BBC1 drama The Pact which started yesterday and continues tonight but Julie Hesmondhalgh suffered an unholy problem.
She said: “My poor old menopausal knees, they’re absolutely done in from all the sitting by the bed praying that I did.”