BBC all at sea as Cherie denies Desert Island slot

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The Independent Online

There is an intriguing footnote to rumours of an impending appearance by Cherie Blair on Desert Island Discs.

Last month, Pandora reported that whispers had been circulating the corridors of Westminster that the PM's wife, right, had agreed to take part in the Radio 4 show, which would be aired sometime during the new year.

A spokesman for the programme refuted the story, claiming no such plans were in the offing either now, or in the near future.

Strange then that a helpful reader has since been in touch claiming to have seen a trailer broadcast on Radio 4's digital channel advertising Mrs Blair's forthcoming appearance.

"It was on the Freeview Channel clearly stating she would be on Desert Island Discs," I'm told. "But as it still hadn't happened, I wrote to the BBC a few weeks ago to ask why, but they didn't reply."

When I call Downing Street, a press officer denies any backing out on Mrs Blair's part, claiming not to know anything about the matter.

The BBC, meanwhile, claims the trailer was made in anticipation of Mrs Blair appearing on the show one day, although it's not quite clear why such a recording would need to be made so far in advance.

"It got aired by accident and was just an unfortunate mistake," says a spokesman. "Obviously, she's on our wish list, but there are no plans to have her on anytime soon."

Creative accounting may do for Ms Jagger

The huffing and puffing over Jade Jagger's tenure as creative director at Garrard shows no sign of abating.

Back in Autumn, Pandora reported Jagger's contract with the posh Bond Street jeweller had come to an end in June and that she was yet to put pen to paper on a new one.

While a spokesman for Garrard insisted both parties were "in discussions" over a new deal, some published reports claimed the company's number crunchers were baulking at Jagger's demands.

Now, six months since her contract expired, there appears to have been no advance on the deadlock.

"Still no news I'm afraid," says a spokesman. "Negotiations are going on."

It's not altogether clear when such negotiations might have taken place - when she's not carousing the London party circuit Jagger, left, mostly resides at her home in Ibiza - but the whole saga is beginning to make Ashley Cole and his Premiership colleagues look the model of negotiating expertise.

Gorgeous George fesses up

Despite his well-earned reputation as one of Hollywood's most prolific swordsmen, George Clooney has offered an insight into his strict Catholic upbringing.

"I was brought up with the whole bit, Catholic school, confession every week, everything," he tells The Catholic Herald. "When you're seven years old, you don't really have a lot to confess, and I remember figuring out that because there were so few of us, the priest would know who we all were. So I decided that I would only confess the things that I thought were OK for him to hear."

Clooney once confessed his Hollywood lifestyle gave him an "Irish Catholic guilt." Others might suggest that being able to claim Lisa Snowdon and Renée Zellweger as previous conquests is nothing to be ashamed of.

Richard who?

Tom Bower's biography of Lord Black of Crossharbour provided ample titillation for detractors of the deposed former Telegraph proprietor in 2006.

But what news of his tome on Express boss and former Big Ones chief Richard Desmond? The book was touted for release sometime in 2005, but is still yet to see the light of day.

Despite whispers that the completed manuscript was giving the lawyers legal migraines, Bower claims the delay is because his publishers don't feel Desmond's profile is high enough.

"Desmond has disappeared from public view and the publishers think he is unimportant at the moment," he says. "Nobody knows who he is. He needs to fall off the back of a yacht or something."

Sacré bleu! Beatles bashed

When it comes to culture, the French have a nasty habit of cocking a snook at all things British. In a letter to this month's Record Collector magazine, an organisation calling itself Le Club des 4 de Liverpool has launched an unprovoked missive at our most venerable of musical institutions, the Beatles. The society, which claims to be the leading Beatles fan club in France, denounce the group's latest record "Love" as a cynical exercise in money grubbing.

"Only audio freaks ... will find here something to satisfy their mind numbing searches," it claims in a lengthy memo. France's No 1 musical export is an over-the-hill rocker named Johnny Hallyday, born Jean-Phillip Smet. Perhaps they might care to switch their allegiance ...