M&S cancels Christmas for Everett and friends this year

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The Independent Online

Everett and Ramsay are to be told that their services will not be required to promote M&S's wares this festive season, after last year's high-profile campaign failed to turn around the chain's fortunes.

"Stuart Rose wants a more straightforward approach to business," says an insider. "The whole idea of celebrities attracting Christmas buyers didn't work last year and he's not the kind of man to hang around when it comes to making decisions about business."

In May, Rose had to announce that the supermarket's pre-tax profits had fallen an enormous 19 per cent in the past year. M&S's advertising agency, the snappily-named RKCR/Y&R tells Marketing Magazine they have only just been briefed on the campaign and nothing has yet been finally decided. A spokesman for Ramsay said that they had not yet been informed while Everett's publicist said he preferred not to comment.

* As Westminster types mutter about when we can expect to see the back of Tony Blair, here's news of the impending retirement of the PM's latest impersonator.

The actor Robert Lindsay tells me that his forthcoming portrayal of Big Ears in a drama about David Blunkett's affair will signal the end of his TV career.

Lindsay best known for playing Ben Harper, in the surprisingly popular BBC1 comedy My Family, wants to concentrate on working in the theatre.

"I am giving up TV: I've had enough of it," he tells me. "I have just finished filming A Very Social Secretary and it's the last bit of TV I'll do. I want to go back to the theatre. I am sure everyone will miss My Family - but not to worry. I expect it will be repeated for the rest of your lifetimes."

Of his performance as Blair, Lindsay adds: "I think a knighthood is out of the question now. I was coached for the part by Rory Bremner. He'd ring me up at night and give me tips."

* There is news of some extremely cunning marketing from Jamie Cullum.

I reported recently that the diminutive jazz musician, who shot to fame on Michael Parkinson's talk show, was forced to drop a trendy collaboration with the tough-talking rap star Pharrell Williams from his new album, Catching Tales.

Now it looks like his record company has decided to reposition Cullum and aim for quite a different place in the market. Universal Records is taking the unusual step of sending out copies of the CD to the headgirl of every private school in Britain.

Says a spokesman: "The predominant theme is of a younger appeal and the challenge for us is to ensure our marketing campaign does justice to the record."

I wonder what the girls will be swapping them for in the playgrounds.

* During his recent trip to India, the Prime Minister was reacquainted with his old friend Peter Mandelson. They shared a platform, according to hacks following Tony Blair's entourage, for a conference on trade.

"It was nice to see them working together again," says one. "But it was rather surprising, on looking round the room, to see two members of the Hinduja family there, too."

The Hinduja brothers were, as readers may remember, in communication with Mr Mandelson over the question of their gaining British passports, in circumstances that led to his resignation from the Government in 2001.

"Mandy must have seen them sitting there: everyone else did. But he studiously avoided looking at the audience," adds my mole.

* Germaine Greer is the first Australian cultural commentator to venture to discuss the Ashes. It's clearly sensitive ground. The feminist author of The Female Eunuch, who recently wrote a book called Boy all about beautiful young men, claims that she doesn't like the public displays of affection that were in evidence on the pitch.

"My father would be disgusted at all this kissing and hugging when ever they score a run," says the author, right. "And my father lived for cricket and managed a cricket team."

It's a relief to see that it is this unmanly conduct - rather than sour grapes about Monday's result - that has prompted her to speak out.