The Feral Beast: BBC takes the 'TMS' cake away from Selvey

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The Independent Online

'Guardian' cricket correspondent Mike Selvey has been dropped as a commentator from 'Test Match Special' after 24 years. The news came as a surprise to Selvey, a former England cricketer who only last winter was reassured he was a crucial part of TMS. "I am disappointed," he says. "Once upon a time TMS was part of a great tradition of BBC radio. But they are bringing in commentators with little knowledge of the game, especially of the cadences of Test match cricket." His departure will be a great disappointment to fans of Selvey's lugubrious manner. A BBC spokesman confirms the move, saying the aim is to "refresh the team", which is to include ex-England wicketkeeper Alec Stewart.

Tracey feels the wrath of a grandee scorned

Edinburgh grandee Magnus Linklater wrote a devastating attack on Tracey Emin in 'The Times' recently, damning her work as banal and predictable. Such an outburst from a self-confessed "buttoned-up British male" will barely register on Tracey's barometer of abuse. But could the piece have had the faintest whiff of sour grapes? Its publication came a few days after Tracey gave a lively party at the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh. Guests included top Scots such as Sotheby's chairman Lord Dalmeny, but Linklater, one of the grandest of the New Town elite, had not been invited.

Art blushes spared

p>Linklater's wife, Veronica, aka Baroness Linklater of Butterstone, paid a visit to Tracey Emin's 20-year retrospective currently showing in Edinburgh's Gallery of Modern Art. She was spotted peering at one of the works at very close range, explaining that she had forgotten her glasses. But perhaps it was just as well she couldn't make head nor tail of it – the work in question was one of Tracey's gynaecologically inspired pieces.

Georgia on some minds

It's a dilemma that hounds journalists and politicians alike – whether to break off a holiday during a crisis at home. For David Blair, diplomatic editor of 'The Daily Telegraph', the recent turmoil in the Caucasus was a no-brainer, and he rushed back from the South of France to his desk in SW1. Not so enthusiastic was the executive foreign editor, Con Coughlin, who has stayed put on his sun-lounger, also in the South of France.

Dictators rule reviewer's world

Deciding which of the Edinburgh Fringe's 2,000 plays to review can stump even the canniest critic. Lloyd Evans, the man from 'The Spectator', says his choice is often based on the title. "If it's got Hitler or Stalin in the name, I know the readers will want to read about it," he explains. At one play this year, Evans was bemused to find he was the only audience member in the stalls. Unfortunately the play overran, and Evans had to leave before the finish to catch his next engagement, leaving a cast of 14 players merrily performing to an empty venue.

Facts can't mar a good tale

Writing of Irwin Stelzer, Rupert Murdoch's "man on earth", the 'Evening Standard' last week said he was not a man to be trifled with, "as Jeremy Vine once found while chairing a press conference". The story goes that Vine was mortified after inviting a question from the "little man with the moustache at the back", only for him to introduce himself as Stelzer. The Beast hates to quibble but it was in fact Jon Sopel who made the gaffe at a debate held by Policy Exchange. But it's such a good story, we're glad of the excuse to tell it again.

'Tatler' under fire

An unexpected attack on 'Tatler' appeared in the 'Daily Mail' last week, which said the society mag was going out of fashion. "We know it's silly season, but we're a bit worried that 'Tatler' has lost the plot," bleated a fashion page column. "For a start it has a huge article on uber-WAG Alex Curran, then another piece that's all about knocking the royals for being naff." Apart from the irony of it all, it's absurd to suggest 'Tatler' is affected by the silly season because as any idiot knows, it is written at least three months ahead of publication.

Women win ... in the end

A whisper is going round that some 'Guardian' female staffers were unhappy that Olympic medal-winning women were not getting the coverage they deserved. Then, last Tuesday, a feature appeared in 'G2' saying three cheers for sportswomen, announcing they are finally getting the attention they deserve. That day the sports section's three front-page stories all featured men, but since then there's been at least one woman on the front every day.

Talking after lights out

It was lights out for 'Evening Standard' music critic Norman Lebrecht at the Edinburgh International Book Festival last week. He was forced to conduct his talk in the semi-darkness as strong rain caused the lights to fail in Charlotte Square. "It's like the Blitz, isn't it?" he quipped as he soldiered on in the gloom for half an hour until the generators kicked in, promoting his recent book, 'Maestros, Masterpieces and Madness'.