The traditional Christmas Day speech broadcast to the nation each year by the Queen is to be performed this year by ... Helen Mirren!
Helen approached the BBC to suggest she replace the Queen this year after hearing that BBC chiefs had told the Queen the 'Estuary' accent she now speaks with would not be appropriate for Christmas Day television and could frighten young viewers.
The Queen, who is still able to write using only appropriately posh words, will be allowed to decide what Helen is to say during this year's speech and BBC chiefs have assured Her Majesty as soon as she can demonstrate to them that she's lost the Estuary accent the traditional role will be returned to her.
"We can't be fairer than that now can we guv'nor," said a BBC spokesman.
Having already won an Oscar for her portrayal of Her Majesty in Stephen Frears 2006 film 'The Queen', 67 year old Helen should fit into the role with ease.
"I'm not the Queen," admits Helen. "For a start I'm many years younger than her so I will have to make my face look very old and wrinkly, which in reality my face isn't, but the simple fact is there aren't any other actresses around who could ever portray her as well as I can, and surely it's better to have me doing the Christmas Day speech rather than scrap the whole thing altogether. Most people won't even realise it's me speaking the words and not the Queen, I really am that good. I can make myself look exactly like her, sound exactly like she used to, and I know how to do all the little frowns and grimaces we all so admire. And I know exactly how to raise my nose up to the sky like what she does...look."
After demonstrating the royal nose in the air Helen continued, "One wishes to assure Her Majesty and the nation that one will not let them down. Hopefully the elocution lessons now being arranged for the Queen will mean her Waynetta Slob accent will soon vanish so that Her Majesty will again be speaking proper, but if not I am ready to replace her for any of the bookings she has in her diary... and I don't charge a lot. Just a few quid, a few free drinks and a sausage sandwich is all I'd want, like."