Pandora: Alarm as Ben refuses to revisit classic 'Brideshead'

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The Independent Online

The new adaptation of Brideshead Revisited is yet to be released, but already one of the film's main stars, Ben Whishaw, has upset fans of the venerated 1981 version.

The Granada series, which starred some of the leading lights of British theatre, including John Gielgud and Laurence Olivier, is widely considered to be one of the finest British TV programmes ever made. Whishaw, however, who plays the part of Sebastian Flyte in the new film, has admitted that he has never found time to see it.

"I didn't watch it, and to be honest, I haven't even properly heard about it," he claims.

In a move that's bound to wind up the traditionalists further, he also claims to have based his tortured character on the controversial singer Morrissey.

"He said something like, 'They get you young and they sear you'. Sebastian knows what his nature is and believes he is going to hell."

I only hope Whishaw's statement has nothing to do with Jeremy Irons' decision to snub the project.

Last year, Irons, who originally played Charles Ryder, told me he'd been offered a part by the film's producers but had turned them down.

"They did approach me and ask me to be involved in it – they wanted me to play the part of Lord Marchmain – but I said I couldn't possibly put my feet into the footsteps of Olivier," he explained.

"Marchmain is also old and dying, so I'm far too young and fit for that."

Downey Jr says no to Murdoch's money

The actor Robert Downey Jr has delivered a withering snub to Rupert Murdoch's publishing house, HarperCollins.

This week, the edgy star returned a sizeable advance from the company to write what promised to be a particularly colourful memoir.

The book, which was due out this year, was billed as a "candid look at the highs and lows of his life and career".

Although a spokesman for the actor wouldn't comment on the U-turn, industry insiders reckon the release of a book chronicling Downey's drug-and-drink-sozzled past would have been disastrous considering his career is currently enjoying something of a renaissance.

This year, his film Iron Man has grossed nearly £300m and his next outing in Tropic Thunder, written and directed by Ben Stiller, is expected to be one of the summer's biggest blockbusters.

Downey's knockback represents a remarkable turnaround since the book deal was signed in 2006, when he told reporters: "I'm interested in being a writer. And that's kind of all I know right now."

A blub before breakfast

A wave of patriotic emotion overcame the Radio 2 DJ Sarah Kennedy yesterday morning.

Kennedy, who presents the early morning slot Dawn Patrol, began reading the highlights from the day's papers shortly before 7 o'clock, when she came across the uplifting story of Lance-Corporal Matthew Croucher being awarded the George Cross after throwing himself on a grenade to protect his comrades.

It all proved just a little too much for Kennedy, who began to have a little on-air blub.

"I feel quite tearful about it," she told listeners, before sobbing: "He didn't hesitate; he chose to save his colleagues and, well, good man, good man..."

Kennedy then swiftly moved on to some lighter reading, discussing the capture of the mass-murdering Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic.

Watch it, Dave

Scary times for David Cameron, part 1.

The Tory leader is playing with fire courting the youth vote, reckons metal-mouthed graffiti artist Goldie. "If David Cameron puts his hand out to youth, he's going to get it bitten off," he tells this week's New Statesman. "Guaranteed. I think he's bullshitting."

* Scary times for David Cameron, part 2.

There could be a nasty surprise awaiting Cameron when he embarks on his summer hols next week.

Dave is taking the family to the Padstow area of Cornwall, where he is thought to be staying in a property known as Fish Cellars. By all accounts, it's a lovely place, bar the fact that it's haunted. Locals claim that a curse was put on the land by a white witch around 400 years ago, resulting in numerous occupants meeting a grisly end and spooky goings-on ever since.

So it won't be much different to the Palace of Westminster, then.

Is Madge made of the right material?

As Madonna continues to fend off rumours about the state of her marriage, Emily Maitlis is the latest journalist to make unflattering assumptions about her love life.

This Saturday, the Newsnight presenter is presenting a programme on Radio 4 called Material Girls, which celebrates the 50th birthday of both the Queen of pop and the Barbie doll.

Ahead of its broadcast, she's penned a piece for this week's Radio Times, comparing the two icons' attributes.

"[Barbie] never opens her legs when she sits down – a mechanism in her hip ensures they stay chastely together in front of her," she writes. "Madonna, as far as I'm aware, doesn't have that mechanism." Meow!