Diary: Joly poor show, Batman

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The Independent Online

If you can't win an Oscar then gracing the cover of your school's magazine is surely the next best thing. Such is the source of an unlikely spat between Dom Joly and Christopher Nolan, whose new movie, Inception, comes out next week. At a panel debate with some fellow comics to launch the Sky Movies Comic Book season, Joly made an impassioned case for Nolan's Batman Begins as the best of all Batman movies. Just one caveat: he and Nolan both attended the prestigious Haileybury School in Hertfordshire. To Joly's chagrin, Nolan has replaced him as the school mag's favourite alumnus. "I'm gutted," he said. "I used to be the most famous from the school; they were always putting me on the front of the magazine. Not anymore." Joly's claims seem almost plausible until one consults Wikipedia: other Old Haileyburians include Prime Minister Clement Attlee and the incumbent minister of state responsible for policing and criminal justice, Nick Herbert.

* Christopher Hitchens is unwell, for which he has the Diary's unreserved sympathy. His throat cancer diagnosis has also elicited the conditional compassion of Catholic Herald contributor Francis Phillips, who offers avowed atheist Hitchens her prayers in a column sensitively entitled: "Perhaps throat cancer will move Christopher Hitchens to a change of heart". Naturally, Phillips wonders whether her 61-year-old fellow journalist will finally turn to God now that he must undergo chemotherapy. Perhaps she's less familiar with his anti-religious 2007 tome God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything than Hitchens is with, say, The Bible. Religion, he writes, "is a babyish attempt to meet our inescapable demand for... comfort, reassurance and other infantile needs." Doesn't Phillips' vain hope that he'll prove her right merely prove him right instead?

* Jon Snow burnished his cred interviewing Adam Buxton, of DJ duo Adam and Joe, about the rescue of BBC 6Music. Buxton's T-shirt bore the legend "Stephen!" This, 6Music listeners will be aware, refers to a call and response game ("Stephen!" "Just coming!") first aired by Adam and Joe, then inflicted by their fans on such bands as Fleet Foxes and Bat For Lashes, both baffled by the cries of "Stephen!" coming from crowds at their gigs. The underground trend even broke briefly into the mainstream, when a caller confused DJ Edith Bowman by yelling "Stephen!" live on Radio 1. Snow had a go too, shouting both "Stephen!" and "Just coming!" (not sure he got the call/response thing) to a thumbs-up from Buxton.

* Further newsreader news: interesting to hear Justin Webb chairing a Today programme debate, between Charles Moore and John Thoday of the Avalon Group, on whether the BBC should reveal the salaries of its 'stars'. Webb, we can only assume, earns somewhat less hosting Radio 4's flagship news show than does its elder statesman John Humphrys (who, as Webb's co-host yesterday, didn't cover this particular story personally). Which might explain why the corporation's former North America editor is still on the books of after-dinner speaking agency JLA. After all, stars such as Humphrys and Andrew Marr quietly relinquished their speaking gigs last year when the Beeb made clear such extra-curricular activity might be seen as inappropriate. Were the corporation feeling fair-minded, Webb could perhaps benefit from cuts to some of the BBC's more inflated salaries – whose, we couldn't say – thus removing the need for him to pursue this degrading commercial sideline.

* Also cagey about cash is the CBI, advertising in The Sunday Times for a successor to Director-General Richard Lambert. The remuneration package is described only as "competitive". Still, I'm interested... "With independence of mind and high intellect, [candidates] will show in-depth knowledge of business and ideally Whitehall and an absolute commitment to improving the future of UK business." I could blag most of that. (Apart from the in-depth knowledge. And the absolute commitment. And maybe the intellect.) Where do I sign?