The Diary: Kathryn Evans; Christopher Frayling; Andy Burnham; Louis Walsh

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The Independent Culture

Let's take a Peke

Kathryn Evans, the actress in the starring role in Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical version of the classic 'Sunset Boulevard', which premiered at the Comedy Theatre in the West End this week, seemed to come dressed "in character" to the afterparty at Meza in Soho. Evans, who plays Norma Desmond, a faded silent-movie star of a "certain age" who becomes sexually obsessed by a penniless young writer, turned out in a 1950s black and white polka dot party frock complete with a Pekinese under her arm and her mother in tow, bearing a second dog. The two women looked like rich, glamorous dowagers in the 1980s venue that shimmered with glitter balls and disco lights.

Wake up, Liz!

The Arts Council's outgoing chair, Christopher Frayling, turned misty-eyed as he talked about his years at the helm in spite of the mauling at the start of the year over proposed cuts. He said he was all for a successor who, like himself, was from inside the arts world. That way, you're well connected, although that has its drawbacks. "I know a lot of people and they have your number and they phone at 3 o'clock in the morning. But personally, I think they should have a good handle in the arts." The newly appointed Dame Liz Forgan may have to brace herself for broken sleep, but she has the comfort of the £40,000 stipend Sir Christopher secured for the post.

Party piece

It's not just the kohl-outlined-eyes look that makes the Culture Secretary Andy Burnham a convincing candidate as a born-again New Romantic. He is such a fan of 1980s rock and pop bands that he confessed to volunteering his vocal chords at a recent Department for Culture, Media and Sport Christmas party (the one to which journalists weren't invited), and belting out a high-octane karaoke version of "Total Eclipse of the Heart", a power ballad originally performed by the big-haired Welsh singer Bonnie Tyler, in 1983. Whether Burnham's rendition was accompanied by an impromptu backcombed hairstyle has yet to be confirmed.

Louis's boys

Never mind that Alexandra won it, JLS will prove the real winners of 'The X-Factor'. So said their mentor, Louis Walsh. Rather more surprisingly, he said he was far less convinced by the band at the outset of the talent show. "I didn't think they'd make it to the semi-finals. A group has never won the show," he said. In spite of their runner-up status, he's convinced JLS will be snapped up: "There's room for a boy band that young kids can latch on to." Perhaps they should ditch the cardies first.

Runners and riders

Animal rights activists may be offended at the prospect of 200 beasts, including eagles, horses, donkeys and camels, engaged in chariot races and other events on the O2 Arena stage in next year's blockbuster show 'Ben-Hur', but organisers say they have been consulting an international animal rights charity over the care of and facilities for the non-human cast. "We are in the final stages of signing them up as official consultants," said an O2 source. We long to hear details of the contracts – and the dressing-room riders.

a.akbar@independent.co.uk

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