Hell hath no fury like an ex-minister scorned

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The Independent Online

The sight of David Blunkett hitting the warpath has become the most amusing, not to say commonplace, spectacle in modern politics.

Since quitting the Cabinet in November, the former home secretary has spent much time writing outraged letters to newspapers that describe him using the adjective: "disgraced".

Now he's gone a step further, and started firing off stern bollocking letters to the readers of those newspapers, too.

Pandora was yesterday shown a correspondence between the former minister and Sun reader Malcolm O'Neal, who recently sent him a hostile e-mail.

O'Neal had described Blunkett as "twice disgraced", criticised his living arrangements and noted: "your illiterate column in The Sun is awful".

Rather than tossing this abusive missive into his "trash" basket, Blunkett decided to compose a rebuttal, fully one side of A4 in length.

"Forgive my sarcasm but I don't think you should assume you know the facts at all," reads a sample passage.

"Thank goodness my working-class constituents think differently to you in my own constituency, where the media couldn't even find one of my political opponents who was prepared to bad mouth me."

"It is of course refreshing to find someone whose bigotry, nastiness, and sheer bile, is displayed with such vigour in your communication!"

Blunkett fails to defend his Sun column in the (otherwise) exhaustive e-mail, but it's spirited stuff, all the same.

Broadway boycotts Red Vanessa

Not for the first time, Vanessa Redgrave's principled left-wingery has got in the way of her acting career. The noted firebrand, left, is unable to find a New York venue willing to let her star in a production of the hit play Breath of Life.

Producer Robert Fox recently asked several prominent theatres to host a revival of the show, co-starring Maggie Smith, later this year. Unfortunately, most have already declined, citing Redgrave's pronouncements on Israel.

"The Schubert Organisation, who own Broadway's biggest venues, won't do the play with Redgrave in it," I'm told. "It's a nightmare for Fox, as he always uses Schubert houses, and they also invest in his shows."

"He's now faced with having to either re-cast, or trawl around for an alternative theatre, and investors."

Redgrave isn't the only Brit considered verboten in the US at present. The New York Theatre Workshop recently cancelled a run of Alan Rickman's My Name is Rachel Corrie, after being told that it would upset the local Jewish community.

* Like Martine McCutcheon before her, Tamzin Outhwaite has discovered that the road from soap actress to Hollywood superstar is strewn with hazards.

The former EastEnders beauty is calling time on her film career following the failure of her debut flick 7 Seconds.

Despite co-starring Wesley Snipes, 7 Seconds was ridiculed by critics, and went straight to video when it was released in the US last year.

That experience has, perhaps understandably, convinced Outhwaite to give Hollywood a wide berth for the time being.

"I've been out celebrating getting a part in a movie so many times, only for it to fall apart some way down the line," she complained, at the launch of her latest TV series, Vital Signs.

"Also, you can make a movie only for it never to actually be released. With TV there is always a proper start date and transmission date."

* If you thought Boris Johnson's wife had it tough, try being married to his official biographer, Andrew Gimson. Friends report that Gimson, a respected Tory scribe, is keeping guilty secret: his wife, Sally, has decided to stand for election as a Labour councillor.

She's fighting the Gospel Oak seat on Camden Council, until recently occupied by David Mills's brother, John.

"Normally, Gospel Oak would be a pushover for Labour, but after Jowell-gate, it could be close," I'm told.

Nonetheless, Gimson won't be helping out. "I will certainly not be canvassing for Sally," he tells me. "She's had my personal vote for some time, but politically we take very different sides."

* The life story of Ricky Gervais is rapidly becoming the greatest rags-to-riches tale of modern times.

In an interview with tomorrow's Heat magazine, the creator of The Office is asked how he rates the US version of his hit TV show.

His reply is eerily reminiscent of one of alter ego David Brent's deadpan speeches to camera: "I make more money from the US version than I ever did with the English one," Gervais tells us.

"I get paid a lot of money for each episode every time it gets shown, and they've done more than 50 of them now. In fact, I've got far too much money. It's pretty embarrassing."

If Mr Gervais finds his great wealth so embarrassing, perhaps it would make sense for him to shut up about it.

pandora@independent.co.uk

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