Diary: 'Hurly' Burley's racy ladies

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The Independent Online

Though keen to work my way through all 424 pages of Kay "Hurly" Burley's debut novel First Ladies, I must confess to having been waylaid by its acknowledgements section: a revealing roll call of the company Ms Burley keeps when she's not on Sky News encouraging celebrity divorcees to blub. The erstwhile ice dancer's first two thank-yous go to fellow chick-lit authors Tasmina Perry and Kathy Lette, who obligingly provided First Ladies with pre-publication puff quotes. Lord Mandelson, too, merits Ms Burley's gratitude, and claims on the cover that she "uses her unrivalled knowledge of the worlds of politics, media and celebrity to racy effect". (Yes, Peter, but is it any good?) Also thanked profusely are former taoiseach Bertie Ahern, who left office under a cloud of (alleged) dubious financial dealings; Damian McBride, who left Gordon Brown's employ when he was caught discussing whether to spread scandalous tales about the private lives of Tories; and Lord Archer, who was jailed for perjury. If you need help creating a work of fiction, I suppose there are worse people to ask.

* Alleged babydaddy Boris Johnson angered "Big Ed" Balls and others with his weekly Telegraph column, in which he suggested that the Labour leadership was to blame for "[getting] a load of aggressive crusties and Lefties to attack the Ritz hotel, to storm Fortnum's, and to cause so much argy-bargy that 4,500 police officers are obliged to waste their time (and our money) in putting out the bonfires and controlling events..." All of which, naturally, puts troublesome lefties in mind of another famous example of wasted police time – this one in Oxford, circa 1987, when a young Johnson and his chums from an unprepossessing university society called "The Bullingdon Club" (including one David Cameron) allegedly hurled a pot plant through a restaurant window, before scuttling off into the night pursued by the peelers. Some of the perpetrators of this "argy-bargy" spent a night at Her Majesty's pleasure, though Boris and Dave reportedly escaped, thus wasting fewer taxpayer pounds than their pals. In their defence, of course, Boris, Dave and co didn't launch their missile in the name of some misguided political cause; they were just amusing themselves.

* "Little Ed" Miliband told a "Celebration of Equality" dinner last week that among his favourite pop acts in his youth were Bananarama, Kylie Minogue and Rick Astley. A source at Labour HQ suggests he may have been innocently "trying to curry favour with the largely gay crowd". And Little Ed's music tastes do indeed appear to be malleable based on his audience: the focus-grouped list of Desert Island Discs he gave to the Labour Uncut blog during last year's leadership contest, for instance, included such boilerplate popular selections as Billy Bragg's Labourish anthem "A New England"; Robbie Williams' "Angels"; and Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. No Bananarama, though. Funny that.

* Private Eye editor Ian Hislop tells me he's in search of funding for his latest screenplay, which he describes cryptically as "sort of a First World War comedy". Though he doesn't much fancy appearing in front of the camera, he admitted at the Jameson Empire Awards, "I've done a first-rate cameo in a Greek TV series; you'll be seeing that later." Said series, it turns out, is To Nisi, a drama based on the novel The Island by Hislop's wife, Victoria. Currently midway through its 26-episode run, To Nisi is already one of the most expensive and well-received shows in Greek TV history. Given the success of subtitled Danish thriller The Killing, and the UK's manifest inability to fashion anything of such length and such quality simultaneously, might we expect To Nisi to arrive on BBC4 soon?

* One British TV event to look forward to is Julian Fellowes' Titanic. 15 April 1912 may have been a dark day for the 1,517 passengers and crew who died when the titular ship sank, but it's worked out very conveniently for Fellowes, who informs me that his lavish four-part drama about the tragedy will be broadcast on ITV1 over four consecutive nights from Thursday to Sunday next year, coming to a climax on the centenary itself. "It will be exactly 100 years to the day since the ship went down," Baron Fellowes explained at last week's Broadcasting Press Guild Awards. "We were lucky that the date of the 100th anniversary fell on a Sunday." Lucky for some.