Vikki Stone makes TV history with ITV singing date show Romeo & Duet

Wednesday 13th April 2022, 9:23am by Jay Richardson

  • Vikki Stone will become the first female bandleader on UK television in 23 years, leading Vikki and The Heartbeats on ITV's Romeo & Duet
  • Created by David and Ivor Baddiel, the show sees potential suitors serenading love interests on a balcony
  • Musical comedian Stone is also nominated for best script at the Pantomime Awards for her version of Aladdin
Romeo & Duet. Vikki Stone. Copyright: ITV

Vikki Stone has landed a primetime Saturday night spot on television, leading the house band on ITV's dating show Romeo & Duet.

Believed to be the first female musical director of a house band on UK television since Jannette Mason on Antoine de Caunes' short-lived 1999 chat show Le Show, a Eurotrash spin-off for Channel 4, the musical comic fronts Vikki and The Heartbeats for the matchmaking-talent show hybrid, in which prospective suitors serenade potential love interests from a balcony, heard but unseen.

Vikki and The Heartbeats on Romeo & Duet. Copyright: ITV

Created by David Baddiel and his brother, comedy writer Ivor Baddiel (Off Their Rockers, The Stephen K Amos Show), Romeo & Duet begins this Saturday and is presented by Oti Mabuse, the former professional dancer who won Strictly Come Dancing in 2020 partnered with Bill Bailey.

Tweeting "can't wait for you all to see it!!", Stone added: "I think we can all agree that I make holding a flute look bad ass."

The Baddiels conceived the show in 2009. However, the idea was only picked up and developed by Goat Films for ITV when Ivor co-founded the production company last year.

"So when Ivor called to say ITV was interested, I said: 'That can't be true'" David told Jewish News.

"Essentially a single person is on a balcony and down below, out of sight, is a potential suitor who sings to them. It's about serenading and the show's original title was in fact Serenade Me" Ivor explained to the newspaper. "Its premise is to establish whether you can be attracted to or fall in love with somebody through the power of their voice alone.

"If the person being serenaded is interested enough to come down those stairs, there's a dividing wall with a heart that goes up to reveal the singer for the first time. Then the couple go off on a date to learn a duet."

David, who is currently making a Channel 4 documentary based on his book Jews Don't Count with Louis Theroux's Mindhouse Productions, confirmed he would not be crooning on Romeo & Duet. Yet he reminded the paper that he, Frank Skinner and the Lightning Seeds had enjoyed four number ones with his football anthem Three Lions. "But I can't sing so that's weird isn't it?" he admitted.

A former backing singer for Elton John, Stone has performed six Edinburgh Fringe shows, including a 2017 performance of her Concerto for Comedian and Orchestra, with the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland Camerata.

She wrote the musical #ZoologicalSociety, about a troupe of loveable zoo animals, with fellow comic Katie Mulgrew, as well as the Lyric Hammersmith's recent production of Aladdin, which is nominated for best script and best pantomime at this year's Pantomime Awards, presented on Tuesday.

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