OLIVER LANSLEY does an uncanny impression of late DJ and comic Kenny Everett. So much so that Everett’s former wife, Lee Middleton, said: “It’s as if Ev’s come back from the dead”.

Lansley was the last person to be auditioned to play Everett in the BBC4 biopic The Best Possible Taste and believes serendipity had a big hand in him landing the part.

“I’d just come back off holiday, so I had a big beard and I went in, met the casting director and did a couple of scenes,” he says.

The day before, he was heading to meet an actor friend and producer called Luke for lunch, when he received a call about the audition. “So I went into lunch saying, ‘Sorry I’m late, just been on the phone about this Kenny Everett thing’.

“Luke turned around and said, ‘I know all about that, Lee’s my stepmum and John Elkin’s my dad’,”

Lansley explains.

(Everett and Middleton had divorced in 1984 and she later married Elkin.) “Lee and John’s wedding is in the script because Kenny was best man and Luke was at that w e d - ding.

Jesus Christ Superstar, MetroRadio Arena, Newcastle JUST when it seemed the last Hosanna might have sounded for the stage version of this much-revived 1970s musical, Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber have come up with a 21st Century version which rocks us from Passion to Crucifixion.

Director Laurence Connor runs a flight of brutalist stairs down the centre of the stage and sets his Biblical tale against the political backdrop of modern-day England, opening with the recent riots and embracing Twitter, newsreel, video-reporting and even the muchderided gameshow phone voting process.

“King of the Jews, fraud or a lord, vote now,” demands demonic DJ Chris Moyles in the perfect guise of the bombastic King Herod, the gameshow host from hell.

Mel C shone as the tattoed, rastahaired, streetwise Mary Magdalene with the act one masterpiece of I Don’t Know How to Love Him to deliver to a near sell-out Geordie crowd.

Tim Minchin was simply superb as the character we, the audience, definitely don’t know how to love, the historically suspect Judas. The talented comedian, composer, songwriter, pianist and singer is your man if you want someone to rock our socks off with the song Blood Money.

Against this star-studded cast, Wearside newcomer Ben Forster (pictured with Mel C) put in an outstanding performance as Jesus. Other noteworthy efforts came from Alex Hanson, as cowardly Pontius Pilate, and Pete Gallagher, with his bass-voiced high priest Caiphas.

A fantastic night, with a TV talent showinspired audience seeing stars on all sides and offering a welldeserved standing ovation at the finale.

Steve Wetton “It’s Romeo and Juliet, but the thing that’s keeping them apart is his sexuality.”

The actor – whose previous TV credits include comedy Whites, which he wrote and starred in alongside Alan Davies – met Lee and John at their home in Berkshire.

“If there was ever an inspiration to make you put in the work and time, it’s getting it right for these people who Everett was incredibly important to,” he says.

“They speak about him with such warmth and affection. John will openly say that if Kenny was straight, he and Lee would still be together now, because they were soulmates. For him to say that comfortably is extraordinary.”

Middleton is played by former Coronation Street actress Katherine Kelly.

“Lee’s a remarkable woman and incredibly open and truthful. I think Kenny saw a lot in her that he wanted to be himself.

And the gay thing... she was originally with Billy Fury, the manliest rock ’n’ roll star on the planet.

“She thought of Kenny as her gay best friend, then she broke up with Billy and one day realised that Kenny was courting her. I think they just went, ‘I love you, you love me, I make you laugh, you make me laugh, let’s just give it a go and see what happens’.”

IT was crucial to Lansley that he and Kelly captured Lee and Everett’s chemistry.

“Your immediate assumption is, ‘He was gay so it was a sham wedding or a cover-up’. But it wasn’t, it was two people who were desperately in love but there was this obstruction in the way.

“He had issues [with his sexuality] because of his religion, and worried that people wouldn’t love him anymore. But when he finally came out, his parents and the public accepted him and it was fine, but this fear was his internal struggle.”

In the early 1960s, Everett was a DJ for pirate station Radio London. After joining then-new pop station BBC Radio 1, he developed his signature zany style of presenting with different voices.

In 1978, he was offered his own TV show, The Kenny Everett Video Show, which featured celeb appearances and his own sketches, with characters including lecherous Frenchman Marcel Wave, Sid Snot and Cupid Stunt.

“One minute he’d be really Scouse, the next he’d be American. He was like a conductor and had this orchestra of different voices at his disposal. One of his old radio producers called him a verbal cartoonist and I think that’s a brilliant way to describe him,” adds Lansley.

“It totally blew my mind, I just sat there for about ten minutes going, ‘Stop, I can’t process this’.”

The biopic tells of Everett’s relationship with Lee, who was the first and only woman he ever had sex with, before he came out as gay and died of an Aidsrelated illness in 1995, aged 50.

After his marriage broke down, he had relationships with men, but was still possessive of Middleton and insisted on being best man when she married Elkin. “It’s got all the ingredients of a classic love story,” says Lansley.