Pandora's People to Watch in 2009: The chef, the comedian – and a lawyer named Jaws...
Thursday 01 January 2009
Will he stay or will he go? After the arrest of Damian Green, Martin's position as Speaker of the House grows ever more precarious in the eyes of MPs. They must be careful what they wish for. Reports claimed George Galloway is sizing up a bid to oust him.
They say a week is a long time in politics. For the boy Miliband, those five days over Labour's autumn conference must have seemed an eternity. The banana photo, the speech, the "Heseltine moment", and then the ignominy of being sideswiped as a novice. With the appointment of the internationally-connected Lord Mandelson to the Cabinet, it could be the Foreign Secretary's turn this year to watch nervously over his shoulder.
After Labour donors' annus horribilis of 2007, last year wasn't much better for Tory benefactors. Carphone Warehouse mogul David Ross and party treasurer Michael Spencer were embroiled in rows over shares and Wheeler, a gambling magnate, told me he may turn his attention elsewhere should the party not make sufficient Eurosceptic noises before the European elections.
Point to prove
The fiery chef became the catering industry's first high-profile victim of the credit crunch in October when it was announced his two remaining restaurants in Chelsea had been placed into administration. Just two months earlier, I revealed his third venture, Tom's Place, had shut down after a long-running dispute with the locals over the smell of chip fat. Don't expect Aikens, or his formidable wife Amber, to take rejection lying down.
He was left high and dry after his employers, Honda, said they were quitting Formula One due to the economic crisis. But Button lost not only his ride, he also lost his arm candy. In September, I noted his ex, the model Florence Brudenell-Bruce, was being wooed by the "millionheir" Henry St George.
The ruthless divorce lawyer they call "Jaws" was forced to heed his own advice not to remarry when I revealed he had sought the services of Fiona Shackleton to handle his divorce proceedings. A wave of credit crunch-inspired splits will no doubt keep him busy in the new year. Plus, he owns the Nicky Henderson-trained Punjabi, which is Pandora's tip for the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March.
Just weeks after succeeding Evan Davis as the BBC's Economics Editor, Flanders slipped away on maternity leave. Lehman Brothers collapsed, others followed, and Flanders missed the economics story of the century. Since then, the Beeb's "voice" of the crisis has been the over-exaggerated vowels of her business counterpart, Robert Peston. I'm sure he'll be more than happy to share the stage with Flanders when she returns to work in the coming weeks.
The Vogue editrix will need the full force of her shoulder pads to shrug off rumours her reign as the Ice Queen of Conde Nast is almost over. Rumour has it Paris Vogue editor Carine Roitfeld could replace her this year. At least her daughter, Bee Shaffer, seems to have found herself a suitable buck. Last summer, I learnt Bee had begun seeing the younger brother, Freddie, of her ma's former protégé Plum Sykes.
Could he be the man to turn around the Staggers? The mag has enjoyed a bright start under the former Granta editor, buoyed by new writers and investment. But don't confuse him with his former Observer colleague, al-Q'aida expert Jason Burke. The Evening Standard once did, wasting his time by asking him to write a piece on terrorism.
Since that call to Andrew Sachs everyone has taken a chunk out of Ross. His return to TV on 23 January is weighing up to be the year's most anticipated media event. Thin ice, chum. Thin ice.
Scored a hit in 2008 with Ghost Town, Gervais's first lead role in a Hollywood film. This year he is hosting the Golden Globe Awards releasing his directorial debut This Side of the Truth, which could propel him to global fame. But, for goodness sake, don't suggest he is on some flash Hollywood diet, as I did last August. When I reported he'd been spotted in London's Ivy restaurant fighting the temptation to try his companions' puddings, he worked up into a frightful lather.
2008 was a year to forget for the oddball Liberal Democrat MP – dumped by a Cheeky Girl then failing in his bid for the party presidency, despite, as I reported, dipping into his own pocket to hire a swanky spin doctor. He was recently spotted at a charity bash on the arm of an alluring Asian woman who won a holiday for two in Kenya. Could he be heading for a sunnier 2009?
In a year in which most people's personal wealth nosedived, the former PM's coffers were boosted by an estimated £12m. As the tinderbox that is the Middle East ignites once again, expect our heroic peace envoy to host a number of high-profile chin wags with President Obama in 2009. Downtime will be spent at Sir John Gielgud's old country stack in Buckinghamshire, for which, as I revealed in June, he and Cherie forked out a whopping £5.75m.
Bright young things
She usurped the model de nos jours, Agyness Deyn, as the "face" of Burberry in 2008 and is dating Ronnie Wood's youngest son, called Ty. Can we expect wedding bells? As I revealed last February, Huntington-Whiteley, 21, left her modelling job in New York to move back to London to be nearer her cheeky-faced beau.
The star of the US series Gossip Girl, Crawford could be heading for these shores in the coming months. As I reported, the 23-year-old Anglophile has been hawking around for a suitable part in the West End. An avid golfer, he enjoys nothing more "swinging the sticks" on the country's most coveted fairways.
Molly Miller Mundy
A statuesque beauty who last year struck up an intriguing friendship with Sir Mick Jagger. In July, I revealed Miller Mundy, 23, who works in Nicky Haslam's interior design shop in Chelsea, had been helping Rubber Lips upload Elvis songs on to his iPod. Her father's reaction? "I'm thrilled it's not Paul McCartney." Small mercies!
Guy Ritchie wasn't the only one whose career was boosted by RocknRolla: it was also a shot in the arm for Kebbell, 26. Next, he appears in Stephen Frears' Cheri, in which he tells me he gets to massage Michelle Pfeiffer and punch Keira Knightley's boyfriend, Rupert Friend. What more could a boy ask for?
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