Payback: Charles freezes out 'those bloody people'

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The Independent Online

Say what you like about Prince Charles, he's nothing if not willing to learn from previous mistakes.

After the debacle of 2005, when a stray microphone broadcast his stern views on the Royal press corps - "those bloody people!" - our future king has decided to cancel his annual media call in Klosters.

Clarence House yesterday confirmed that the Prince, left, had called off a press conference traditionally held during the April ski trip.

Contrary to previous reports, neither Prince William nor Prince Harry - who were said to have invited girlfriends on the holiday - will attend, either. Both are instead required to fulfil day-to-day duties in the army.

"The Prince is indeed going to Klosters, but neither William nor Harry will be," said a spokesman. "There won't be a press facility this year. There isn't necessarily one every year."

News of the move will be greeted with dismay, as it puts the kibosh on a rematch between Charles and the BBC's reporter, Nicholas Witchell, right. Last year, Charles said of the likeable Witchell: "I mean, he's so awful, he really is."

It will also make BBC and ITV think twice about sending crews to the Austrian resort, as they will garner only limited footage.

Newspaper hacks see the move as "payback" for the Prince's recent legal troubles. However, a Palace source insists otherwise: "It was canned because, without Harry and Wills going, we've no need to bribe the media to behave."

* Colin Firth isn't exactly biting off his arm for a part in the film version of Piers Morgan's memoirs.

Last week, Morgan announced that, Firth, right, would be his favoured choice for lead role in the flick.

It looks like he'll be lucky, though. At the weekend Pandora asked Firth what he thought of such an advance.

"I am astonished," came his reply. "I'd certainly need to prepare for that part. Actually I'd need rather a lot of time to think about it.

"One thing I can certainly say to you now, though, is that it'd have to be a very good script."

As to what he really thinks of the former Mirror editor, Firth - speaking at the opening of The Exonerated, at Riverside Studios - offered a polite: "No comment."

* Ken Livingstone wouldn't be Ken Livingstone if he decided to simply button-up and take his punishment like a man.

With this in mind, the Mayor of London will tonight engage in serious tub-thumping, at the Hackney Empire.

Despite his recent suspension from office - he likened a Jewish journalist to a Nazi war criminal - a scheduled public Q&A session there will go ahead as planned.

"Ken will be taking questions from the floor," said a spokesman. "The media are welcome, so long as they bring press ID with them."

Let's hope no one (in the words of Standard hack Oliver Finegold) asks Livingstone: "How did tonight go?" Might lead to fireworks.

* The Brits took a bashing at the Baftas, and don't exactly look likely to do much better at the Oscars, either.

Thankfully, though, we're still flavour of the month in one corner of Hollywood. For Neve Campbell is enjoying her current stint on the London stage so much that she's emigrating here from her native US.

The screen siren, left, reckons that the "scene" in our capital city, where she's starring in Resurrection Blues at the Old Vic, puts Los Angeles to shame.

"I've moved to London, and I've never been more happy," Campbell tells me.

"LA is a cultural desert. There's so much talk about art and so little of it. It's a difficult place to be inspired.

"I would find it really hard to ever move back there. In London, you can go to the theatre, the movies, great restaurants, every night of the week."

Campbell, who was speaking at Sunday's Laurence Olivier awards, has one other pressing reason to stay in Blighty. Her fiancé, the actor John Light, hails from deepest Birmingham.

* As a proud and streetwise Liverpudlian, you'd expect Paul O'Grady to provide a tough target for any petty criminal.

The cross-dressing comedian was, nonetheless, taken to the cleaners by hi-tech fraudsters during a recent holiday in Brazil.

O'Grady's credit card was "skimmed" by local gangsters, who used it to buy £21,000 of computer equipment.

"I went to Rio which was really nice but quite dangerous," he tells me. "When I got home, I'd had £21,000 taken.

"Someone had copied my card after I'd bought something, and used it in a computer shop. I'd never buy anything in a computer shop, so the card firm knew it wasn't me."

The incident puts O'Grady in good company. This month, internet crooks pinched £280,000 from fellow comic Harry Hill's bank account.

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