Media families 20: The Bedells

Geraldine Bedell, journalist, married Charles Leadbeater, left- wing guru and journalist; her sister Elaine Bedell is a TV producer, married to Clive Brill, formerly a BBC radio producer and editor
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The Independent Online
No media family is closer than the Bedell clan, headed by sisters Geraldine and Elaine, who live across the road from each other in London Fields, had their latest babies 12 days apart and until recently shared a nanny. Beneath the sparkling CVs of the stars of the east Islington media scene are gnarled East End roots: their parents were cousins, the girls grew up streets away from where they now live, and they remain closer than friends.

Today, Geraldine, a journalist, and Elaine, a TV producer, are both scarily high-powered superwomen with five kids between them, perfect figures and a strong resemblance to Juliette Binoche. Geraldine (age, a closely guarded secret) read English at Oxford, got noticed as an actress (notably in Richard Curtis's As You Like It, with Rowan Atkinson), married a banker, and had two children (one of each sex, naturellement) before, in 1991, becoming a legendarily unflappable writer for the Independent on Sunday. Indeed, she is not unlike the heroine of her first novel, Party Tricks - written during a third maternity leave, natch - who, after being roughed up by a villain the night before, writes a feature on party dresses, drives to the country to interview a Nazi millionaire and then dashes out to a fashionable restaurant with her sexy new bf. She is currently a feature writer for Night & Day, and another novel, plus possible baby, are on the schedule.

Elaine, four years younger and evidently keen to avoid her sister's long shadow, got a first in English from Leeds and, after winning a BBC student radio documentary competition, promptly became the youngest ever network producer for Radio Four. After relaunching Start the Week with Russell Harty, she became Clive James's producer, winning a BAFTA for Clive James on the 80s along the way. After a brief period working for Geraldine's old friend Rowan Atkinson, she is now a director of Clive James's company, Watchmaker Productions; she took two weeks off to have baby number two (she also has one of each), employing a separate nanny at work.

Despite their synergistic media careers, the Bedell dynasty begins to diverge when it comes to their choice of men. Geraldine is a New Labour babe whose recent novel is a frighteningly plausible thriller about the party's rise to power. Her first husband, John Norton, is now married to Mo Mowlam MP; earlier this month she married Charles Leadbeater, 38, former Independent features editor, now one-man Demos think-tank, New Statesman columnist and author of a forthcoming left business bible, How to Make Money out of Thin Air. The couple met at a Christmas party hosted by Martin Jaques, guru of Marxism Today; the best man at the East End wedding was Demos honcho Geoff Mulgan. "I didn't really have a stag night," joked Charles during his speech. "We had a small seminar."

Elaine, on the other hand, married her childhood sweetheart Clive Brill (not to be confused with Clive James), whom she met when they were cast as Natasha and Pierre respectively in a school production of War And Peace. Another upwardly mobile east London boy, he read English at Oxford and then joined the BBC, becoming producer of The Archers (presiding over the death of three characters in one year) and Citizens, and, at the age of only 28, commissioning editor for series and serials on Radios Three and Four. He has now left the BBC and is directing the collected works of Shakespeare on CD. However, luvvies for Labour Elaine and her husband are not: Clive voted Liberal Democrat at the election and prefers cooking (fave restaurant: Livebait) to Tony Blair.

Luckily for the Bedell family, some things go deeper even than politics. Religion/sex? No, silly: all four share a passionate interest in clothes. Charles - certainly the neatest and perhaps the most fashionable man in journalism, whose wedding list included a pounds 68 loo brush from the Conran Shop - used to step out with the FT's fashion doyenne, Alice Rawsthorne. For his wedding to Geraldine he wore a pounds 1,400 suit by tailor to the stars Richard James, who dressed Liam and Patsy for their nuptials and Tom and Nicole for the Oscars. Geraldine wore a dress by John Galliano; Elaine wore a jacket by Jasper Conran; Clive wore a Kenzo suit. Those East Enders sure know how to dressn