Diary: West returns to the golden age

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The Independent Online

The Americans make such wonderful television drama; why can't we? This familiar lament must be partly responsible for the vain-drain of British actors to US screens. And it was reiterated last year by Dominic West, the British star at the heart of The Wire, who told the Today programme that the UK "does costume drama brilliantly", but that there's "a lack of high-end drama". Perhaps his prayers have been answered, for West, 41, has been named as the star of a new BBC2 drama that is being talked up as this country's answer to Mad Men. The Hour, a six-part series scheduled for broadcast next year, will feature the Old Etonian as Hector Madden, the posh anchor of a TV news show in the mid-1950s, when the medium was in its infancy. Ben Whishaw and Romola Garai will star as his fellow journalists in the show, by the award-winning screenwriter Abi Morgan. A drama about the golden age of hackery seems destined for knowing, glowing reviews – as long as the media tossers of today don't find it all just too depressing.

* More from the melancholy political afterlife of Miliband (D), former future Labour leader, whom I imagine spent yesterday evening slumped on the sofa beneath his notorious 13 Nudes – perhaps a healthy glass of red in hand (perhaps a whisky) – watching Dave, PM, make nice with Hu Jintao on Newsnight. Power, Miliband (D) will recall regretfully, means international travel, a security detail and the attentions of the press pack. Nowadays, hungry hacks have eyes only for his brother, and it seems even Miliband (E)'s people have trouble remembering the ex-Foreign Sec, let alone his whereabouts. A call to a top Labour spinner went south yesterday when I asked whether Miliband (D) had been in touch with his brother to congratulate him on the arrival of his newborn, Miliband (S). Yes, he/she insisted icily, everyone has been in touch with everyone else, all is well, but, of course, David is "out of the country". Er, is that what he told you? Because, according to reports, Miliband (D) was spotted at lunchtime in Portcullis House, chatting furtively to that other historical Labour figure, Phil Woolas.

* Yesterday, The New Yorker's 14-page profile of humble-as-humble-pie Rory Stewart yielded the young MP's musings on the traits he shares with Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Lord Byron, Lawrence of Arabia and the fictional demigod Achilles. Today, having read another few thousand words, I can report that the down-to-earth Old Etonian, soldier, diplomat, academic and author, 37, has no ambitions to become Prime Minister. He would much prefer, he told the estimable organ, to be "somebody who made some kind of intelligent, lasting contribution to political thought". Well, it's always advisable to start small.

* What with "No" being the answer to the question "Are there any depths to which Lembit Opik declines to stoop in the pursuit of publicity?", it should come as no surprise that the ex-MP for Montgomeryshire is now a contestant on ITV's I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! More surprising is Lembit's firm conviction that it will help him to win the Lib Dem London mayoral nomination, despite the best efforts of his exasperated party leadership. Lembit, I'm told, expects to generate enough goodwill in the jungle to launch a "campaign blitz" upon his return, establishing him as the only "credible" (seriously) candidate. This will, of course, mean resisting the charms of such glamorous female contestants as Gail Porter, Britt Ekland and "Dr" Gillian McKeith. "We hope he makes a splash," a Lib Dem party spokesman told me – preferably not too far from a piranhas' nest.

* Yemen! Land of sun, sand, scuba and the new al-Qa'ida. Presumably encouraged by its nation's fame-inducing role in two recent bomb plots (the "underpants" and "toner cartridge" ones), the Yemeni tourist board held an impromptu press call at the World Travel Market in London yesterday to promote the Republic as a holiday destination. Elsewhere in the ExCeL centre, a meeting of the International Institute for Peace through Tourism was under way. Nobody thought to combine the two?

highstreetken@independent.co.uk

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