Hit & Run: Why Coldplay really are yellow

Having watched arch rival Family Guy clean up at the recent Emmy nominations, Simpsons fans now have further reason to despair with the announcement that Coldplay (right) are to guest star in an episode from the upcoming 21st series, screening this autumn.

World-renowned for their sense of humourlessness, the sob-rockers certainly have a lot to live up to: hundreds of hallowed names have graced Springfield in its 19-year run – starting with Tony Bennett and including Stephen Hawking, U2, Michael Moore and Britney Spears – even if an increasing whiff of comic desperation has surrounded recent choices (hello, Tony Blair, right).

Where The Simpsons was the first show to repeatedly roll out the red (or should that be yellow?) carpet, countless others have followed, deluged by A-listers looking to show off their funny bone, boost their credibility, or simply take a break from Hollywood/touring/taking charge of the country. But as anyone who saw Geri Halliwell (top right) in Sex and the City will know, making a good impression in a hair's breadth of screentime isn't easy. So, in a spirit of unexpected generosity to Chris Martin et al, here are some all-important dos and donts of the celebrity cameo:

Do be prepared to have the mickey taken out of you

Ricky Gervais's Extras found a host of famous faces scoring brownie points by oh-so-gamely essaying caricatured versions of themselves, from the improbable – Daniel Radcliffe as a chain-smoking womaniser – to the prophetic – Kate Winslet declaring "If you do a film about the Holocaust, you're guaranteed an Oscar," four years before her turn in The Reader proved exactly that.

Do the unexpected

Want to show that you're savvier than your average star? Then forget airbrushed US sitcoms, and head for an altogether quirkier kind of show: take a tip from Johnny Depp, who helped bolster his image as Hollywood's hippest heartthrob with his unlikely appearance as one of the "suits you" salesmen in The Fast Show.

Do pick a show you love

Don't just instruct your agent to nab the first role available, lest you end up dressed as an offensive stereotype in Horne and Corden (and yes, we mean you Will Young). Rather, think about what you would actually watch if you had time between all those Pilates sessions, awards ceremonies and save-the-world missions. Take a leaf out of popstrel Taylor Swift's book, she, you'll remember recently featured in favourite show CSI. Adherence to this rule will also make all that gushing pre-publicity less hassle.

Don't fall out with the show's star

The cameo is a great chance to extend your celeb buddy network, so steer away from any on-set ego battles, or you might find your career sliding downhill as quickly as you can say Lindsay Lohan, whose six-episode stint in Ugly Betty was cut short amid reports of a feud with the show's lead.

Avoid real-life partner

No one likes to see couples airing their love in public, and that's no different on the small screen. As with Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston in Friends, when the inevitable divorce comes, you will be forced to endure endless daytime repeats of your connubial japes, like some ghastly, ineradicable televisual tattoo.

Hugh Montgomery

Nick Drake: music to lose girls by

"Wrist-slasher music" one ex- girlfriend used to call it. And if she considered my love for such classics as Joy Division's Closer, Joni's Blue, Bruce's Nebraska, Radiohead's The Bends and the collected works of Leonard Cohen distressing while we were together, imagine what she'd have made of the stuff I listened to once we'd split up.

Depressing music is a male coping mechanism. So it's no surprise to hear that, last week, Brad Pitt – following a move into his own pad after a row with Angelina (where would we be without Grazia magazine?) – began to blare out the very sound he was feeling in his tortured soul. According to neighbours, "Brad is miserable." How do they know? "There have been a couple of nights when we've heard him playing Nick Drake music quite loudly!"

Poor Nick Drake. In spite of the fact that not all of this most British of folkie's songs are particularly sad (check out "Hazey Jane II", from 1970's Bryter Later), he has, postmortem, become the poster boy for wrist-slasher music. Brad should watch out. The other Hollywood A-lister with a known obsession for Drake's music was Heath Ledger, who, frustrated at not being able to get a film of the singer's life off the ground, made a short video to one of Drake's songs before taking a "toxic combination of prescription drugs".

Reports that Angelina has just downloaded the Hannah Montana 3 Soundtrack have yet to be verified.

Simmy Richman

Confessions of a sunbed addict

Huddling outside the office in the pouring rain, sucking on a damp roll-up. Deciding that, at noon, the sun is indeed past the yard arm and there's no harm in a tiny glass of pinot grigio. Poking down a Big Mac then following it with a McFlurry chaser. These health transgressions pale into insignificance compared to the crimes against wellbeing that the average sunbed user commits every time they enter their tanning parlour of choice. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified UV-emitting beds and booths 'carcinogenic to humans' so anyone topping up their tan has to be an idiot with a death wish, right?

I am that idiot. Despite evidence of the deadliness of sunbeds, a 10-minute stand-up session in the glowing warmth, wearing not a stitch while listening to the pumping beats of the tanning attendant's favourite R&B album, is a fabulous feeling, especially in the sun-starved winter months. But there are mitigating circumstances – as an eczema sufferer, a dermatologist once recommended I expose my scales to the sunbed's glare. At least that's my story, officer.

Anonymous

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