MUSICAL star Michael Ball
was so impressed with the form of Emmerdale babe Hayley Tamaddon
on this year's Soapstar Superstar competition that he's asked her to duet with him at his forthcoming Manchester concert.
Michael - star of Phantom Of The Opera and a host of other stage musicals - was one of the judges on the hit Manchester-based celebrity singing show last month.
He approached Hayley immediately after the show to appear alongside him on stage in Blackpool in March and his gig at the Manchester Apollo on Saturday, April 7.
"I really liked Hayley and I promised her she could come and sing at one or two of my shows. I have asked her to do Blackpool and Manchester with me," he tells me.
"What I noticed was her great voice and personality. I believe she has got a very bright future in the music business."
And it wasn't just Hayley who caught the eye of housewives' favourite Michael.
He was impressed with Corrie star, and eventual winner of this year's Soapstar Superstar, Antony Cotton
"I knew Antony could be in with a very good chance of winning. I wasn't surprised at all when he did win. He is a showman and a great entertainer and harnessed his honesty and vulnerability really well."
Michael's new tour will feature live renditions of some of his best-known musical hits like Love Changes Everything from Aspects Of Love and Les Miserables' classic Empty Chairs At Empty Tables, but it will also feature songs from his new album, One Voice, that may surprise quite a few people. Covers
There are covers of seventies rock band Rainbow's Since You've Been Gone and Aerosmith's I Don't Want To Miss A Thing, plus a version of the Daniel Bedingfield smash If You're Not The One.
"I wanted to record songs I liked but also to surprise a few people," Michael tells me.
"I will, of course, have to perform songs like Love Changes Everything because my fans will quite rightly expect to hear that. But I wanted to put in some stuff that would surprise people because they will come back and see my live show again."
Michael says his duet with Hayley is likely to be one of his better-known musical theatre songs, though. "I will probably go for something from Chess or Moulin Rouge," he says.
Michael Ball is at Manchester Apollo on April 7, for tickets call 0870 400 0688 or see livenation.co.uk