Pembroke: Red under the BES

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The Independent Online
THANKS to the soon-to-bedefunct Business Expansion Scheme, we must breathlessly wait only until January to see the movie debut of 'Red' Ken Livingstone. Gouldens, the legal firm that used BES funds to finance other British productions including Leon the Pig Farmer and Kenneth Brannagh's Henry V, is raising pounds 70,000 for Seaview Nights, a comedy set in Blackpool about a bank robber who gets a crack on the head and wakes up thinking he's King Arthur.

James Bolam and ex-Eastender Anita Dobson star, but in an innovative bit of casting the Labour member for Brent crops up with a bit part as a political nutter who rants away on a soapbox at London's Speaker's Corner.

Cuddly Ken, for whom Hollywood surely beckons, last faced the cameras in the yet-to-be-screened television film, A Woman's Guide to Adultery, in which he gets up to mischief with screen lovely Amanda Donahoe.

Seaview Nights producer Lois Wolffe reveals that the former GLC leader took little persuading to accept the role. 'He promised to do anything but take all his clothes off,' she says.

RESIDENTS of the former Eastern bloc who celebrated the coming of captitalism so merrily when the Berlin Wall fell might wonder why they bothered when what they get is their thirteenth John Bull pub, which opened in Prague yesterday. The Czech Republic gave us Kafka and Dvorak. We have given them a mock-East End boozer complete with John Bull Bitter, etched mirrors and polished brass fittings.

'Everything has been done to give the John Bull the appeal of a genuine British pub,' says Tony Trigg, chief executive of Allied- Lyons Retailing. 'We even flew out a team of specialists to train the Czech bar staff in English pub customs.' Whether this includes grumpy service and unpleasant chucking out cries of 'Drink up, haven't you got no homes to go to,' is unclear.

DIRECTORS of the Glasgow-based Weir Group worked like Stakhanovites over the weekend to put the finishing touches to the pounds 16m deal to buy the Darchem engineering businesses from William Baird. Meetings started at McLay, Murray and Spens, before a bomb scare forced the group to decamp to Baird's lawyers, Linklaters & Paines on Gresham Street.

The wrangling continued until 5.30 on Saturday morning. Was this not another case of the macho City culture that holds that a deal's not a deal unless you stay up all night on coffee and adrenalin. 'I don't think so,' a Weir spokesman says. 'It was because our two guys wanted to get off on holiday.'