Bond producer threatens to blow hole in Pinewood

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The Independent Online

Just as Daniel Craig prepares to give James Bond his 21st screen outing when Casino Royale premieres in London tonight, his producers have dropped a bombshell on the British film industry.

Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, who own the rights to the lucrative franchise, have announced that it could be the last time that a Bond film is shot in Britain.

Wilson blames the proposed move on a combination of increased costs in the capital and the Government's stance on film.

"London is the most expensive city in the world right now," he says. "To bring talent here and put them up here for long periods of time and the cost of doing business here is a factor.

"The Film minister position is a stepping stone for junior ministers to start to get into Government. It's hard to find anyone there for more than a year. That's just the way it is."

If Bond does emigrate, it will leave a gaping hole at his iconic home at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire. Of the 20 other Bond films, 19 have been filmed at Pinewood ever since the first - Dr No - was made in 1962.

Despite the comments from Wilson, the UK Film Council has responded that the UK "is one of the best places in the world to make a film".

"We will be doing all we can to ensure that every film that can shoot in the UK, including Bond, does," says a spokesman.

Geri pops back with an unlikely life story

Geri Halliwell is often hounded by the British press, but she appears to have found a more generous audience in the United States.

In March, Halliwell is due to address the prestigious Oxonian Society in Manhattan, where she will follow in the footsteps of past luminary speakers such as Sir John Major and the Duchess of York.

Organisers are billing her as a former Spice Girl who "turned her back on fame and fortune to become a United Nations ambassador." They add: "Halliwell's first child, Bluebell Madonna, recently born, was named in honour of Halliwell's friend, Madonna."

Both statements might read a little odd to British observers. Not only has Halliwell made several desperate stabs at forging a solo career since leaving the Spice Girls in 1998, she's also never registered on the Queen of Pop's social radar.

Richard's new chapter

For the past two years, Richard Madeley and his wife Judy have been busily promoting British novelists through their much-vaunted book club.

Now Madeley is hoping to emulate the success of those he's helped after he recently began writing a novel of his own.

"My synopsis and the first chapter have been accepted and I've got a publisher," he says.

"I'm really enjoying it. I've got the time to do it now.

"It's really fun to sit down and do some writing, and you can do it anywhere."

Unfortunately, Madeley won't divulge what the story will entail. He added that he is under strict instructions from his publicist to keep schtum for the time being.

Rebel, rebel

Newly appointed MPs tend to be an ambitious bunch, more than eager to win favour with their party's top brass.

So it's interesting to see that more than half of the Tories' 2005 intake have admirably decided to oppose David Cameron on one or more occasion when voting in the House.

The figure has just been published after research by the academically funded website, revolts.co.uk, which reveals that 29 of the said 53 MPs have flouted the official party line since Cameron's election as leader almost a year ago.

One of them, Philip Davies, tells me: "David is relaxed about us having different views on certain issues."

Art sale excites 'Star' hacks

News that the leader of the Communist Party of Great Britain, Anita Halpin, has just trousered a reported £20m from the sale of a painting the Nazis stole from her grandparents, has got ears pricked over at the Morning Star.

For years, hacks at the left-wing daily, considered the personal property of the CPGB, have been paid comparatively little for their efforts and the newspaper has been forced to operate on shoestring like budget.

So with Mrs Halpin's new-found fortune, could a boost in funding be on the cards? "It's a private matter for Anita Halpin," says the Morning Star editor, John Haylett.

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