Pandora: Clooney's ex to liven up Beeb's Ascot coverage

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The Independent Online

To counterbalance the excitable Willie Carson, Lisa Snowdon will be bringing some much-needed glamour to the BBC's television coverage of Royal Ascot this year.

The leggy model and one-time squeeze of George Clooney has been chosen to front the corporation's prestigious fashion reports during next month's five-day royal meeting.

It's a big call-up for Snowdon, who has lately been stranded on the cable channel Living TV, presenting the reality show Britain's Next Top Model.

"I had no idea about this but it's true," says a spokesman. "You're absolutely right, Lisa's going to be giving her fashion thoughts throughout the week."

For years, the Beeb would dispatch cheerful Welsh designer Jeff Banks to the Royal Enclosure to do the costume watching, but I know who I'd rather be watching.

Walcott adopts poetic licence to attack Naipal

Stand by for some verbal fireworks. One of the great literary rivalries of recent times has just reignited.

The St Lucian poet Derek Walcott has launched a fresh attack on the novelist – and fellow Nobel Prize-winner – Sir V S Naipaul, with whom he has traded backhanded blows for years.

Walcott has branded Naipaul a "rodent in old age". In a delightfully bitchy poem, he attacks the Trinidadian-born author, a darling of the British literary establishment, for what he sees as his rejection of his Caribbean heritage.

The poem, which is called "The Mongoose", is reported in this week's New Statesman after it was recently read to an audience at the Calabash Literary Festival in Jamaica.

"I have been bitten. I must avoid infection/ Or else I'll be as dead as Naipaul's fiction," run the opening lines.

The poem also launches a humorous attack on Naipaul's later novels Half a Life and Magic Seeds: "The plots are forced, the prose sedate and silly/ The anti-hero is a prick named Willie."

Last night, Naipaul had yet to return fire on Walcott, but he has long standnig experience when it comes to dealing with such venomous squabbles.

The novelist shares a similarly fractitious relationship with his former acolyte, the American travel writer Paul Theroux, whom he has savagely denounced as a writer of "tourist books for the lower classes".

Mozza and manager part

Another day, another saga in the soap opera that surrounds the pop singer Morrissey.

The latest I hear on the former Smiths miserablist, currently embroiled in a bitter legal feud with the NME over comments he made on immigration, is that he has abruptly split from his manager.

He has severed links with a media-friendly chap called Merck Mercuriadis in favour of ie:music, who also look after Robbie Williams.

"Over the last five years, Morrissey and I have had three albums which entered the charts at five, two and one, and had 10 top 20 singles and sold hundreds of gigs all over the world from Earl's Court to the Hollywood Bowl," Mercuriadis tells me.

"I believe my penance is complete and Saint Morrissey has granted my absolution."

Class act

John Prescott's media profile is still sky-high, what with his much-publicised memoirs and appearances on the lucrative after-dinner speaking circuit.

Fascinating to hear, then, that after the recent "toff-baiting" events at the Crewe and Nantwich by-election, Prezza has now just signed on the dotted line to appear in a two-part television programme on the subject of class.

The show, which is being made by leading production company Tiger Aspect, should make entertaining viewing, since the former Deputy PM tends to get pretty excitable when it comes to class warfare.

Sadly, when I called Tiger Aspect's Soho offices yesterday, a spokesman rather crossly refused to talk about the project.

Murray wins a title!

However Andy Murray fares at this year's Wimbledon – and on current form let's not hold our breath – win, lose, or draw he's already bagged one award to add to the trophy cabinet.

The gloomy Scot has come top in a poll conducted by gay dating website Gay-parship, which has named him the male tennis circuit's sexiest player.

He gained 24 per cent of the vote, narrowly pipping the Aussie "hunk" Mark Philippoussis, who, despite being retired, was generously granted a wild card.

As for the women's category, the site's female members opted for the (rather less surprising) choice of Russian beauty Maria Sharapova.

pandora@independent.co.uk

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