The Diary: The Archers; Serpentine Gallery; Mig Kimpton; Jeremy Deller; Princess Alice

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

Character building

Scott Arthur, the actor who recently joined The Archers as Ambridge's Welsh barman, confessed he had no idea how big the BBC Radio 4 show was before he was cast as Rhys, the barman who for the past year and a half has been quietly pulling pints as one of the soap's non-speaking characters. That is, until last week, when he uttered his first words to locals at The Bull pub in a Welsh accent: "I didn't think anyone knew about The Archers because it's on radio. I hadn't comprehended how big it is. Since doing it, it's been quite strange [discovering] how many avid listeners there are," he says. Five million listeners a week, according to RAJAR's last quarterly figures. Rhys featured in yesterday's mid-weekly airing, in which he decides to move into a flat above the shop in Ambridge, so it sounds as if he is there to stay. Arthur, who may not be aware of Nigel Pargetter's abrupt New Year outcome (the writers can silence characters as quickly as animating them), has set his sights on staying: "I would like him to get some meatier storylines, maybe fall in love..."

Rain, rain, go away

Some might have felt that the rain took away from the Serpentine Gallery party last week, in which the pavilion – with its specially designed garden – was unveiled to starry guests. Opportunists saw the benefits of being offered an elegant Burberry umbrella to carry around with them for the evening. So elegant was it, in fact, that some revellers forgot to hand theirs back. The gallery is trying to tot up how many umbrellas went missing that night, but Burberry, the official sponsor of the party who had its fleet of models, including Alexa Chung, decked out in branded clothes, were comforted by the fact that most guests were "good-natured" enough to hand back the umbrellas of their own accord. Having stayed until the end of the party, the Diary observed a number of attendants politely asking guests, including this one, to part with these forgotten umbrellas hanging off their arms.

More power to your flowers

Mig Kimpton, a "floral designer" for the stars (Sting likes "warm, rustic colours", Ian McKellen prefers a "multicoloured" bouquet, Elton John "loves white flowers"), believes we are in the midst of a floral renaissance. "We are at a golden age for flower-arranging. A culture of craft has been encouraged by Changing Rooms and Kirstie Allsopp," he says. The florist-performer has taken his show on the road – he did a couple of flower-arranging sessions with the RSC and is to spend an afternoon before a literary audience at the Royal Festival Hall for London Literature Festival discussing flowers this Sunday. Kimpton says flower-arranging may become the new knitting in celebrity circles. Eva Mendes was heard saying "my thing is flower-arranging" in a recent interview.

A welcome return

The Turner prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller is to stage a large joint show with David Shrigley next February at the Hayward gallery, which will include an array of new sculptural works and a "very technically challenging" film as the show's pièce de résistance. Deller, whose burnt car from Iraq nearly made it on to the Fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square a few years ago, will be showing his ouevre on one floor, while Shrigley will be showcasing his works on a separate level. The car will not feature, he says. A major show of Deller's work is overdue, and it is commendable that the Hayward is rolling it out.

The king's feast

Princess Alice, the Countess of Athlone and the youngest granddaughter of Queen Victoria, made history in 1938 when she became the first woman to sit down with Saudi Arabian princes for a meal. She described a dinner with King Abdul-Aziz in a desert oasis, years later: "I thanked him very much for inviting me as he had never before asked a female to an audience or a meal... The dinner with the King was entrancing and by now I had got over my embarrassment at being the only female among over a hundred guests." An exhibition of photographs of her trip will be on display in the Royal Geographical Society from Monday.