Pandora: Fagin's fans cough up for autographs

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The Independent Online

The Theatre Royal, currently hosting the West End production of Oliver!, has hit upon the sort of penny-pinching ruse of which even old man Fagin would have been proud.

The hit musical starring Rowan Atkinson only opened last week but is already reported to have taken £15m in advance ticket sales, some of which cost £47. Despite this, a bossy ultimatum has been given to theatregoers seeking Atkinson's autograph.

For the past few days, a notice, pictured right, has been pinned to the stage door, telling autograph-hunters that "owing to high demand", priority is being given to those with Oliver! programmes and memorabilia.

Some parents who have already paid for tickets are likely to be miffed at the idea of then having fork out for a programme, although a spokesman for the theatre insists the sign is only there to deflect professional collectors.

"We get dozens of them trying to get as many signatures as possible, so Rowan feels he would rather give preferential treatment to people who have actually paid to see him perform.

"We hope to take the note down once the heat is off."

M&S will not stretch to tights

Jasmine Guinness appears to be the latest victim of Marks & Spencer's promotional cutbacks.

Last year, it was reported that the cherubic beauty had spoken to the executive chairman Sir Stuart Rose about designing her own range of tights for the high street giant.

Two months on, however, and the phone at Guinness's Notting Hill home has yet to ring.

"Not yet. Sadly, I think it was all party chat," she confessed to Pandora at Sunday's European premiere of Revolutionary Road. "There has been no follow-up, and I think most retail businesses are quite busy at the moment."

The news comes amid reports over the weekend that the department store chain is planning to abandon its policy of using posh supermodels such as Elizabeth Jagger and Erin O'Connor in its advertising campaigns in favour of less glitzy images.

Having said that, at least Ms Guinness's services would not break M&S's bank.

"Even if I only got free pants and bras, I think it would still be the best job," she added. "It would be great."

Kray twin signed up Britton

As queen of daytime television, Fern Britton gives the impression that butter wouldn't melt in her mouth, so it is surprising to uncover correspondence between her and the late East End gangster Reggie Kray.

Next week, a collection of items owned by Kray and his twin, Ronnie, will go under the hammer at a London auction. One lot is a publicity shot of Britton in her days at the regional ITV franchise TVS. It reads: "Reg, with very best wishes, Fern, x."

Kray was clearly quite the philographist. His memorabilia incude signatures from Barbra Streisand, Patsy Kensit (whose brother was Reggie's godson), the Dire Straits guitarist Mark Knopfler and Motown crooner Jimmy Ruffin.

Armani man: Cipriani breaks cover

Danny Cipriani's pledge to cut back on public appearances so that he can "concentrate on his rugby" appears to be going swimmingly. Barely 24 hours after Wasps scraped a victory in Saturday's Heineken Cup match against Leinster, their star player was over in Milan knocking knuckles with the fashion supremo Giorgio Armani. A spokesman for Armani said Cipriani had hopped over to view the designer's autumn/winter show. As you do.

Osbourne's tirade causes a tremor

Contrary to what some people might think of us, it appears that even gossip columnists are still afforded the full protection of the law. Yesterday, it emerged that Kelly Osbourne was arrested a fortnight ago for allegedly slapping the thrusting Sunday Mirror reporter Zoe Griffin in a Soho nightclub. Osbourne has been bailed until March.

The origins of the alleged fracas? Griffin reportedly goaded Osbourne's beau, Luke Worrall, for not knowing what an earthquake was.

Morgan sets his relationship rules

Piers Morgan has laid down ground rules for his girlfriend, the Telegraph scribe Celia Walden. According to Heat magazine, she will let him sleep with Scarlett Johannson or Cindy Crawford. As for his paramour, he says: "She is only allowed to have an affair with England cricketers or Arsenal football players – if it enhances their performance."