When a man has evaded marriage until the age of 75, he has probably earned the right to wear pyjama bottoms on his wedding day. And that is precisely how Michael Winner will be attired when he finally ends the longest bachelordom in Britain.
"It's still on, 1.30pm at the Chelsea Registry Office," the film director and food critic assured The Independent. After an on-off courtship lasting 50 years, Mr Winner will tie the knot this afternoon with Geraldine Lynton-Edwards, 70, a dancer who met her fiancé when she auditioned for his debut film in 1957.
Aged 16, Miss Lynton-Edwards had a role in his short film The Square, which was released that year.
Michael Caine and his wife Shakira will be witnesses to the nuptials. But they needn't dress up. "I shall be wearing pyjama bottoms," Winner revealed. "They are handmade pyjama bottoms by Turnbull & Asser and they are very comfortable. They do actually look like nice tartan trousers.
"It's true that not many people get married in pyjama bottoms but then not many wait 50 years to get married. As Michael [Caine] told me, the important thing at our age is to wear whatever feels comfortable."
Winner, who admits he can be an irascible life partner, wants the entire event wrapped up as swiftly as possible. He said: "There won't be dancing or speeches. We've chosen the shortest possible wedding version. I think we can cut it down to four minutes. Michael [Caine, again] wants to get home to Surrey. I want it to pass charmingly and sweetly."
There will be a little food. "I bought the cake. We'll be having that beef dish that comes in strips with rice. What do you call it?"
Winner, who credits Geraldine with nursing him back to health from a life-threatening illness, has experienced no last-minute doubts. "I don't have any nerves. I don't want my life to change in the slightest. I've known her for so many years. I'm a Scorpio and we hate change. I'm a recluse but Geraldine's more adventurous."
Instead of inviting 200 wedding guests, the Winners attended a luncheon yesterday with "the people that really matter in my life – David Frost, Lord Lloyd-Webber, the photographer Terry O'Neill and the singer Chris Rea".
Winner has sold exclusive rights to the wedding to Hello! magazine and will give the proceeds to the Police Memorial Trust. Geraldine "has bought a dress from a major designer but I'm not allowed to see it". The couple will honeymoon at the Hotel Splendid on the Italian Riviera.
The couple had received "absolutely no presents", Winner said, although the billionaire retailer Sir Philip Green sent "enough flowers to fill six apartments".
With his long list of former girlfriends, can Winner really promise his bride that she need not fear his famously roving eye? "My head will always be turned by a pretty girl – but looking isn't the same as eating."