Diary: Hurley Burley gets fit for purpose

A Murdochian rebuke to the ageist BBC made flesh, Sky News anchor Kay "Hurley" Burley continues to report the news vigorously, if not rigorously, despite her advancing years.

But Burley's Julia Bradbury-like features are hard-earned, the three-time recipient of What Satellite TV magazine's "Most Desirable Woman on TV" award writes in The Mail on Sunday: she recently blagged a fitness holiday in the Canary Islands, burning calories the better to beat the hell out of the news (or photographers).

"Fitness at any age is a must," a trainer informs Ms Burley, 50, with a comforting hug. Burley then remarks on her dance instructor's resemblance to national treasure Peter Andre, whom she once drove to tears: "I moved further to the back," she writes, "anxious not to make [him] cry at my attempts to mirror their moves."

The Andre episode is a more suitable source of humour, Burley presumably decided, than the time she was described as "dim" by Chris Bryant MP; the time she claimed the "entire eastern seaboard of the United States" had been "decimated by a terrorist attack"; or the time she mistook Labour chancellor Stafford Cripps for a Midlands-based infantry regiment. Expect a fitness DVD in time for Christmas.

* Strong words were exchanged last week by Mark Pritchard MP and the Cuban-heeled Speaker of the House, John Bercow. Pritchard, normally known for unfailing politesse, is deputy chairman of the 1922 committee of Tory backbenchers, many of whom would happily see Señor Bercow scurrying from Westminster, never to return. But Señor Bercow, I'm reminded, has a powerful ally in 1922 Chairman Graham Brady. The pair were once thick as thieves on the right wing of their party, before Señor Bercow pursued his fragrant wife Sally (she of the tiresome hashtag) to the political centre, like an unsuspecting mouse scampering towards some poison-infused morsel. "Graham doesn't agree with John on a number of issues," a Tory insider tells me. "But there's also a loyalty there. When it comes to the nonsense between Bercow and Pritchard, Graham is one of the few capable of discreetly banging heads together and sorting this farce out."

* Celebrity ice-dancer Angela Rippon blames none other than Lord Birt, blue-sky specialist, for the culture of ageism at the BBC. Rippon tells the Western Daily Press that when she was a small-screen regular, aged approximately 50, and Birt was director-general, he informed her: "Angela, you just have to accept that you have had your day. You have to make way for the younger women that are around." "Cheeky sod!" is Rippon's appraisal. "Well, all I can say is, 16 years later, I'm still here, working – and where are you these days, John?" According to Wikipedia, Birt's current employer is the UK's largest independent generator of renewable power from landfill gas. Knowing Birt, however, this may just be hot air.



* Andrew Marr spoiled many a scrambled egg on Sunday when he conjured that image of his jug-eared teenage self, coming over all queer at the thought of Susannah York (1939-2011, RIP). Yesterday's instalment of Start the Week may, too, have roused the Tunbridge Wells letter-writing community. Marr's guest, the American political philosopher Michael Sandel (of the 2009 "Leith Rectures", said Marr, below, in a tantalising spoonerism) had applied, the presenter explained, "the ideas of Kant ... to a series of modern day-to-day problems". Sandel enthused: "We have to look at Kant as the fullest expression of a broad tradition of freedom." Radio 4 listeners will recall Marr's recent controversial mention of another Kant: Jeremy, not Immanuel. Those with particularly keen ears will have been shocked, therefore, to hear both Marr and the Californian-accented Sandel pronounce the philosopher's name to rhyme not with "pant" or "rant", but with "Culture Secretary".



* Leftist Lord Lipsey, one-time chair of the Fabian Society, is nonetheless a fan of The King's Speech, in which George VI gallantly defeats his crippling speech impediment. Lipsey watched the film while preparing, like a number of other Labour peers, to disrupt the passage of the AV referendum bill with a filibustering all-night sitting yesterday. "Blimey," he was heard to cry during said screening. "There's a thought! How many hours do you think we could use up with a half-decent stammer?"

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