Chefs stay cool as ITV takes Hell's Kitchen off the menu

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The Independent Online

When celebrity chefs get the hump, they don't often go quietly. It is, therefore, with some trepidation that I can report the demise of Jean-Christophe Novelli and Gary Rhodes' TV show Hell's Kitchen.

The volatile duo, who took charge of the ITV programme after Gordon Ramsay defected to Channel 4, were recently informed that plans to make a third series this year have been canned. Sources at ITV say the decision to scrap the show, which was expected to become an annual fixture, was taken after recent efforts to lure Ramsay back into their stable failed.

"There are no plans to make another Hell's Kitchen at any point this year, and there's nothing in the pipeline for the show at the moment," I'm told. "We have just signed a two-year contract with JC, but that's for daytime shows, including one called Food Uncut."

Novelli tried to put a positive spin on the news last week. At the launch of the Edible Garden at his academy near Luton, he said he hadn't been keen to return to the show. "I don't feel it should be an obligation," he said. "I would have to be offered the right package; it can't just be the same old thing. Do you think the public really wanted to see me in Hell's Kitchen again anyway?"

Liz vs Liz: a right royal game of cricket

With the possible exception of Her Majesty the Queen, few Englishwomen are quite so effortlessly regal as Elizabeth Hurley. Appropriate, then, to discover that Hurley is raising a cricket team to take on the Royal Household at Windsor Castle.

Members of the RH say the Liz Hurley XI have arranged a limited-overs match against the Liz Windsor XI later this summer.

"It'll be a charity game, and we're waiting to find out if Hurley is going to actually play," I'm told. "We have 60 fixtures a season, often against celebrities, but this will be one of the most glamorous."

The identity of Hurley's players is unknown at present, but they're unlikely to include her cricket-mad former boyfriend Hugh Grant.

His lawyers recently told the press: "Mr Grant has not even seen Miss Hurley since Sir Elton John's civil partnership ceremony last year."

Slowhand's lost years

Like any good rocker, Eric Clapton has discovered that memories of his 1960s heyday aren't what they might be.

The guitarist they call "Slowhand" is writing his memoirs, with the help - as I revealed last year - of a ghostwriter, Christopher Simon Sykes.

However, sources close to the project report that Clapton has somewhat hazy recollections of his lengthy struggles against drug and alcohol addiction.

"He's been writing to a lot of old chums, asking if they can remind him of crucial details," I'm told.

Clapton's former wife, Pattie Boyd, is among those he's contacted. "I have indeed received a phone call," she said, at a party sponsored by Grand Centenario. "Will I help out? I might."

Park keepers

The writer PD James - Baroness James of Holland Park to you and me - has fallen victim to a minor act of plagiarism.

Denise Kingsmill, a Labour grandee who was recently ennobled by Tony Blair, has also chosen to describe herself as a Baroness of Holland Park.

Although the choice of title was OK'd by the College of Arms, some colleagues reckon it poor form, since it may lead to confusion in the Upper House.

However, Charles Mosley, editor-in-chief of Debrett's, says otherwise.

"This would only be a problem if they were Scottish lairds, when it would indicate ownership to a particular place," he tells me. "Whatever wealth these two might have, you can't say either of them actually owns Holland Park."

Becketts ready to carry on caravanning

The demands of high office won't stop Margaret Beckett regaining her rightful place as patron saint of British caravan enthusiasts. Our Foreign Secretary will hitch her champagne-coloured 'van to the family estate next month and head to France for three weeks.

It'll be a poignant trip, since Marge and her husband, Leo, were forced to cancel their traditional summer holiday last year on doctor's orders. "I had a double heart bypass, and they insisted that we stayed in endless posh hotels instead," reports Leo. "It wasn't my thing at all. There was a rumour that we'd be forced to give it up for good, but I wouldn't stop for the world. We're having the caravan serviced at the moment, and it'll be ready for action by the end of the month."

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