Monday, November 29, 2010

Michael Sophocles' X ratings

Big Brother’s got its Little Brother, and I’m a Celebrity and X Factor both have their ITV2 watchdogs.

But for the most insightful lowdown on The Apprentice, viewers are turning increasingly to the Jewish Chronicle where one of the most memorable contenders ever is fronting a weekly video diary.

It’s a fitting venue for Michael Sophocles, who Lord Sugar memorably suggested “take his trousers down” to prove he was Jewish after he failed a task because he didn’t know how to kosher a chicken.

Sophocles, who told spilled the beans on his fling with X Factor Katie Waissel to the News of the World recently, goes to the JC offices off Fleet Street each week, pointedly avoids the Boardroom and gives viewers his advice from the place furthest from the seat of power – the basement.

Worth watching for the intro alone.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Kate Middleton: a life in pictures

Twenty-nine years ago I parked my boy racer outside the gates of Highgrove, the family seat of the then Lady Diana Spencer and watched her peer at me quizzically as she drove up in the red Mini Metro Prince Charles had bought her.

I was one of a series of stringers turning out for the tabloids to clock the movements of the girl, at that stage, tipped to the next royal wife.

Ashley Walton, the Daily Express’s royal man, slipped in beside me for an update. Even in these early days his face was known to the future princess, as were his photographer colleagues who’d already snapped her dozens of times. She would smile at them, address them by name and wish them well.

I was still new to this game and a little fazed by the interest. Walton told me: “They know what we want. When we get the announcement and a decent picture of them together, we’ll leave them alone.”

I thought of that when I saw the Sun’s veteran royal snapper Arthur Edwards on TV last night reflecting on such prophecies and insisting Kate Middleton wouldn’t suffer the sort of endless papping Diana did because there wouldn’t be the market for it.

Yeah right. If he’d said she may reap the benefits of the odd super-injunction, I’d agree. Thankfully, he addressd that in print in a rather cringeworthy article that spoke of the return of "Diana fever".

But I’d prefer to take Andrew Neil’s view: no lessons have been learned from the Diana days and she’s in for the full works.

Looking like an up-market Cheryl Cole won’t help her privacy case much and the grooming she can expect will add a sheen to an already well polished English Rose.

When Diana died, the most cynical question asked in one Fleet Street newsroom was: “What are we going to do now for a standalone?”

Problem solved. No need to watch this space. It’ll be in your face soon enough.