Mark Wright signs up for challenge show The Games and Michelle Keegan will be there to cheer him on… if she's allowed

IT’S had more false starts than most Olympic sprinters but ITV’s embattled new sports challenge show is finally on track.

Now known simply as The Games, its first big-name signing is pretty impressive, with bosses persuading Mark Wright to sign on the dotted line.

The former semi-pro footballer turned Heart FM radio host will shortly begin training for the show, which is expected to air in the spring.

A telly source said: “Mark is the first big name to confirm he will take part in The Games.

“He absolutely loves a challenge and will be going all out to win.

“Mark is really competitive and will be pushing himself to his limits in training to ensure he is in top condition for the show.

“He is an amazing footballer but when it comes to trying his hand at sports seen at the Olympics, including sprinting and javelin, Mark is a bit of a novice.

“Mark doesn’t tend to do challenge shows but The Games was a really exciting opportunity to try and excel at something new, so he jumped at the chance when he realised he could make the dates.”

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The source added: “His wife Michelle Keegan will be there to cheer him on if she is allowed.”

The show, which was previously called The Real 2022 Games, has been repeatedly pushed back because of the pandemic.

It was originally supposed to air in the same year as the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Stars including Christine McGuinness have also been in advanced talks to take part.

The show will be hosted by Holly Willoughby and Freddie Flintoff when it finally hits our screens.

I’ll give ITV bosses a gold medal just for getting it on the box.

After Life returns

AFTER Life made a spectacular return with a third series over the weekend, but already its writer and star Ricky Gervais is talking about a spin-off.

And top of the list of ideas is giving a show to Ken Otley, the camp showbiz agent on the Netflix hit.

Ricky said: “Ken Otley started off as a main character. Years ago I had the idea of the character Ken Otley, and I was going to play him and it was going to be a fake documentary about someone on the periphery of showbusiness.

“He’d be this sad agent living above a shop somewhere and getting the dregs of the entertainment industry.”

Ricky added: “Then After Life came along. I thought this could be a good character to have in After Life. Of course I couldn’t play him. That would be a bit weird.”

Vicky: I've shunned make-up

SHE’S become one of telly’s busiest leading ladies, but you won’t find Vicky McClure acting like a diva.

The actress decided to shun all make-up for her role as bomb disposal expert Lana on Trigger Point to try and encourage others to feel comfortable in their own skin.

She told the Radio Times: “I do feel a slight sense of responsibility.

“There is so much pressure on people, especially via social media. I would like to put a message out there, that you don’t really need make-up.

“It’s important to strip things back and be comfortable.

“My body isn’t fully toned; people will see the real Vicky, as well as Lana. I’m not hiding anything.”

Green screen goddess Liberty

LOVE Islander Liberty Poole transforms into a green screen goddess ahead of her appearance on this weekend’s Dancing On Ice.

The Brummie model showed off some of the behind-the-scenes tricks used to make the glitzy promotional images for the ITV show, which kicked off on Sunday night.

Former Nando’s waitress Liberty will be taking to the rink alongside pro partner and new boy Joe Johnson.

And unlike on Love Island, which Liberty appeared on in 2021, she’ll be expected to stay with him for the entire series.

Pat Cash

AUSSIE tennis legend Pat Cash is a vocal anti-vaxxer who refused to get a Covid jab.

But that didn’t stop him being a part of The Masked Singer on ITV, where he was unveiled as Bagpipes last Saturday.

And he reckons he was totally safe to be around on set – because he was swathed in a large costume.

Pat said: “There was a lot of security, testing and all that stuff going on, so I did what I had to do.

“So you know you follow the protocol, everybody did that, and more than anything, we were completely masked up, covered up and everything else.

“The production office often guessed hanging around the contestants was actually the safest place to be because they were so masked up and balaclavas and everything else were all on us.”

Nina eyes Walford return

STRICTLY star Nina Wadia has issued a ‘come and get me’ plea to EastEnders bosses.

The actress, who played feisty matriarch Zainab Masood, said she is ready to return to the BBC soap nine years after she left.

Nina said: “There is always a chance of a comeback. If Enders rang us and said come back, we’d gladly go.

“We had the time of our lives doing that show.”

And Nina, who last year appeared in Stephen Merchant's The Outlaws reckons the Masoods played a crucial part in boosting the BBC soap’s diversity.

She added: “I hope having families like the Masoods did open more doors for Asian characters. That was needed.”

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