Diary: Blessed booms for Cambridge

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The Independent Online

This column is delighted to report that the actor and coal miner's son Brian Blessed remains in the race for the Chancellorship of Cambridge University, and last week released his first campaign video on YouTube. The next Chancellor, Blessed booms, "must be a pretty energetic guy with huge vision, a love of life, a love of people and a deep appreciation of education. He must sweat blood to help people who are underprivileged; you've got to sweat blood. That's why I want to be Chancellor." He added: "Gordon's ALIVE!!!" (No, of course he didn't.)

* Frankly, this column's staff of one fears for the mental wellbeing of Señor John Bercow. Though he has nobly weathered the storms of his wife Sally's doomed participation in Celebrity Big Brother: The Richard Desmond Years, it seems there may be worse yet to come for the Cuban-heeled Speaker of the House. Speaking to Desmond's favourite showbusiness editor, the fragrant Ms Elisa Roche of the Daily Express, Mrs Bercow revealed yesterday that she'd be keen to take part in further reality television adventures, and was already signed up for a series of the increasingly inaccurately entitled I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! "I'd love to be on Loose Women or have my own show like [Daily Express columnist] Vanessa Feltz has done on [Richard Desmond's] Channel 5," she said. Mrs Bercow's loyalty to the Desmond brand family seems to have paid off: it was also announced yesterday that she would henceforth be contributing a weekly column to the Daily Star Sunday. Señor John recently described the Daily Mail as a "sexist, racist, bigoted, comic cartoon strip". I do hope the Star is more to his taste.

* On the subject of I'm A Celebrity..., we turn now to the titanic clash between two of its former contestants: Brian Paddick, and this column's favourite Estonian (I only know the one), Lembit Opik. The lucky loser with the thankless task of flying the tattered Lib Dem flag in next year's London mayoral elections was to have been unveiled last year, but the process was delayed when the party learnt that their only willing and eligible contender was Opik, also the star of my now-defunct sitcom pilot Anyone But Lembit. Once they had persuaded Paddick to run again, the party leadership dithered over when to announce the winner. Having decided to unveil Paddick (they hoped) at conference, they've now changed their mind and will, I hear, make the announcement this Friday. The Opik camp remains chipper. "If Lembit loses," an Opik loyalist (they're scarce, but passionate) tells me, "the party hierarchy had better watch out, as he's ready to let rip with a few home truths about the way things are being run internally." Brace yourselves.

* So the chill wind of recession continues to blight the spending habits of the Ecclestone clan. Last week, Tamara "don't call me a socialite" Ecclestone, 27-year-old socialite daughter of F1 boss Bernie, claimed her surname was "as much a curse as a blessing", and that she thinks "a lot more carefully these days before splashing out on a £700 handbag... My dad has always instilled in me the need to be careful with money. At 17, he gave me my first credit card. It was meant to be for absolute essentials. The problem was that we had a very different idea of what was essential." (Essential includes, for instance, the £370,000 Ferrari 599 she had delivered on Wednesday – her second.) Tamara's sister Petra was so keen to celebrate shedding the cursed Ecclestone surname that she spent an estimated £5m on her wedding this weekend: £310,000 for rental of an Italian castle; £400,000 for security; £500,000 for booze; £100,000 for bridesmaids outfits; £250,000 for hotel rooms; £250,000 for the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Eric Clapton, Andrea Bocelli and The Black Eyed Peas fees remain undisclosed, so maybe they just performed for the hell of it. Of course, I expect Tamara will get hitched at the local registry office when her time comes.

* Following Arsenal's 8-2 capitulation to Manchester United this weekend, no twit is tweeting louder for the manager's head than celebrity Gunner Piers Morgan. "If I was Arsene Wenger, I would resign," went one of his many 140-character musings on the topic. This, naturally, brought to mind Piers's own principled history of P45s. "Nobody's ever proved for a fact either way what those pictures were," he still bleats, about his unceremonious exit from the Mirror. You'd think, given his CNN viewing figures, that Piers might be more sympathetic to someone who is under fire for repeatedly failing to deliver the goods.