INSIDE THE TUBE

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The Independent Culture
Vanity Fair Fest

If column inches are any measure of success, then BBC1's version of Vanity Fair (above) has already been a huge hit. There is nothing like a BBC period drama to get columnists - many of whom probably haven't switched on their television sets since the last costume extravaganza from the Beeb - fulminating in full-on "why, oh why?" mode.

They will no doubt have further opportunity for rent-a-ranting after the broadcast of an Omnibus documentary tied in to the serial. The Whirl of Vanity Fair, to be transmitted by BBC1 on Wednesday 25 November, examines William Makepeace Thackeray's life, the character of Becky Sharp and the novel's continuing relevance. Academics DJ Taylor and Professor John Sutherland dissect the author's life; writers John Mortimer, Kathy Lette, Jonathan Coe and Nigella Lawson probe the concept of social satire; and Fiona Macpherson, editor of Harpers and Queen, social commentator Taki and socialite Liz Brewer discuss the Beckys of today. One such, journalist Anoja Dias, reveals how "gilding the lily" on her CV led to swift progress, followed by even swifter exposure and downfall.

I have but one quibble with the film. To borrow the pontificators' terminology for a moment, why oh why does every documentary these days have to include contributions from Max Clifford and Peter York? Do these men really need the oxygen of publicity?

Whatever happened to... Martin Kemp?

Time was when you couldn't open one of those men's style glossies without seeing the gorgeous, pouting features of Martin Kemp (below), more often than not in the company of his gorgeous, pouting brother, Gary. His 1980s New Romantic group, Spandau Ballet, were not to everybody's taste; with singles such as "Through the Barricades," and the gratuitous wearing of ponchos on stage. But there was no doubt they were stars - a status Martin (below) and Gary only sealed with their acclaimed performance as the East End criminals in Peter Medak's impressive 1990 gangster movie, The Krays.

Then things seemed to go all quiet on the Kemp front. There were rumblings about "TV movies in LA", but not much sign of Martin over here. Now, he's back with a bang. Following an appearance in Lynda La Plante's crime drama for ITV, Supply and Demand, we're going to be seeing a whole lot more of Martin from just after Christmas when he is playing a new regular character in EastEnders. Steve Owen, a nightclub owner, is described thus by the show's spokeswoman: "He's a bit of a charmer, and a lot of women are going to fall for him. He's streetwise and intelligent, not a thug. Although he's going to be involved in the odd dodgy deal, he is absolutely not another Kray Twin." Just as long as he doesn't break into "Through the Barricades" at his nightclub...

JR

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