Diary: Norton cool on Claudia show

News that Graham Norton's chat show may get the chop by budgeting BBC chiefs must have come as a shock to the normally ecstatic Irish TV host, who could be forgiven for feeling a tad persecuted of late. Certainly, when I accosted him at the launch of London's W Hotel last week, he seemed keen to put me right on one recent media misconception: that Claudia Winkleman is being lined up for a rival programme on Channel 4, potentially in the same Friday time-slot as his BBC1 show.

"I'm not nervous," he insisted. "Is hers a chat show? No, it's not. It's a totally different thing. And it hasn't even been commissioned yet. I'm not concerned in the slightest. If her show, which is only in the preliminary stages, gets made, it won't be a chat show. So why should there be competition?"

Calm down, dear. BBC1 boss Danny Cohen is said to be in a bidding war with C4 for Winkleman, who already hosts his channel's Film 2011. But given the Corporation's cash woes, can he afford her?

* This column's hard-won reputation for factual vagueness was burnished yesterday by my claim that John Bercow, the Cuban-heeled Speaker of the House, was forced to abandon a promising tennis career by a bout of glandular fever in his teens. Señor Bercow's biographer, Bobby Friedman, politely assures me that his version of the tale is, in fact, the correct one: despite being just two inches shorter than the current US Open champion, Kim Clijsters, Bercow proved too wee to compete as an adult. As the country's top under-12 player, he was coached by the former Wimbledon quarter-finalist Bobby Wilson, who told Friedman that, thanks to his height, Bercow "would never have been more than a good club player... As players get older they hit harder and volley more, so John found it more difficult. His was not an aggressive attacking game." As a tennis player, apparently, Bercow was popular, and known to be a considerate doubles partner. Sadly, the same can't be said of his tenure in the Speaker's chair.

* A stroke of luck for Jonathan Ashworth, Labour candidate for the Leicester South by-election (who, as I reported on Tuesday, hasn't had much luck at by-elections past: it was his bright idea to send campaign staff into the streets of Crewe and Nantwich in 2008 dressed as "Tory toffs", thus losing Labour the seat for the first time). Lib Dem candidate Parmjit Singh Gill, who was briefly the MP after a 2004 by-election, has pulled out of the race after a mere four days. Strangely, this was announced just as the Westminster press corps was preoccupied with the Budget. Singh said that after "much reflection" and discussions with his family (which, by all accounts, is large and very supportive) he'd decided to stand down, to be replaced by one Zuffar Haq. Might Singh have calculated, I wonder, that his chances as a Lib Dem in a by-election had diminished somewhat since 2004?

* One rare remaining electable Lib Dem is erstwhile leader Charlie Kennedy. This month, notes Prospect magazine, he was re-elected as Rector of Glasgow University: the first person to win a second term in the post since Benjamin Disraeli. A whopping 82 per cent of the student body voted for Kennedy, in a year when his party faces an ominous round of local elections. Cold comfort, I suspect, for Mr Clegg.

* More domestic details from the Gove household. The Education Secretary's wife Sarah Vine writes: "Whenever people start discussing football, something odd happens to my brain. It clouds over... as though I were gently falling asleep. A similar thing, I discover, happens when people talk about war. When the name Odyssey Dawn was first mentioned, my initial thought was: 'Didn't she win Eurovision back in 93?' Then I glimpsed the solemn faces of those around me, and realised that we were discussing matters almost as serious." Mr Gove is known to be one of the Cabinet's most hawkish members. Did he have Liam and Gideon round to the house for tea and flapjacks?

* A final achievement for the late, great Liz Taylor, who outlived her New York Times obituary writer by six years. Mel Gussow, a theatre critic for the paper, died in 2005, aged 71. His very first Broadway review was for Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, later made famous by a film version, starring Taylor.

highstreetken@independent.co.uk

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

HR Manager - Kent - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager / Training Manager (L&D /...

HR Manager - Edgware, London - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - Edgware, Lon...

HR Manager - London - £40,000 + bonus

£32000 - £40000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager (Generalist) -Old...

Talent Manager / HR Manager - central London - £50,000

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Talent / Learning & Development Mana...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam