'Pooh' purists kick up a stink at Disney's modern rewrite

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The Independent Online

It's the Battle of Pooh Corner. Seven years after Disney acquired the rights to Winnie the Pooh from AA Milne's former club, The Garrick, it stands accused of betraying his literary legacy.

Next year, Disney will release a new series called My Friends Tigger and Pooh, from which Christopher Robin, far right - who was named after Milne's own son - has been erased.

Instead, in a bid to appeal to a more modern audience, Disney has decided to replace the character of Robin with a six-year-old girl. She is supposed to share various "character traits" with Pooh and Tigger.

Purists are unhappy at the innovation. They say Milne, above, would be "turning in his grave", and blame the Garrick's decision to surrender artistic control when they sold the rights to Disney for £60m.

"It was short-sighted then, and it is now," reckons one Garrick stalwart. "This is a betrayal of Milne's stories, because he wrote them specifically for Christopher Robin."

Disney intends to tough it out. "These timeless characters really needed a breath of fresh air that only the introduction of someone new could provide," they say. "We hope people will fall for this new tomboyish girl."

* Many an unlikely candidate has considered standing as Mayor of London, but it's surely come to something when Neil Fox throws his hat into the ring.

Following in the footsteps of everyone from Lord Archer to Ivan Massow, Fox, left, tells me he's planning a Dick Whittington-style bid for the job.

"I'd never thought about it until a friend of mine in the City ran a focus group of pundits to see who they thought would make a good mayor, " he says.

"I came third. They want someone who's well known, compassionate and has principles. I'm the man."

If nothing else, Fox - who was speaking at a fundraiser for Macmillan Cancer - does claim to have an astute political brain.

"People think of me as a DJ and Pop Idol judge. But I live in this country and have views on politics too," he adds.

"I think Blair likes Cameron. He's young, he's clever, and underneath it all I reckon he'd like him to beat Brown."

* Sir Elton John's marriage later this month raises an important matter of protocol: how should we address his future spouse, David Furnish?

As commentators in The Spectator and elsewhere have noted, a knight of the realm's other half is usually given the title "Lady." This, they say, means Furnish, right with Sir Elton, could become "David, Lady John," or "Lady David John."

Meanwhile, Debrett's, an authority on such matters, has suggested that "Laddy" might make for a suitable modern alternative.

Mr Furnish may or may not be happy to plump for one of these options, but we are at present unable to find out.

The couple's spokesman describes their future official titles as "a private matter" and, when pressed, says enquiries of this nature are "incredibly homophobic".

* There is excitement at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors - stay with me here! - concerning one of its biggest cheeses, Jeremy Leaf.

Mr Leaf, the institution's housing spokesman, owns one of London's finest estate agents. But he's been out of circulation in recent weeks, and friends report few signs of life at his office or his North London home.

This has the rumour mill going a treat, since it turns out Leaf's brother, Ian, was the fraudster jailed for 12 years last week for conning the taxman out of a record £55m.

Fortunately, following a call from Pandora, Rics has now managed to locate its man. "I was indeed away, but I'm back now," he reports.

There was nothing sinister behind Leaf's disappearance. Unlike his brother, the institute's man is pure as the driven snow.

* Jeremy Paxman's "tough guy" image took a hammering yesterday, when it emerged that he'd been reduced to tears during a BBC show about his ancestry.

The Newsnight hardman started blubbing on Who Do You Think You Are? After discovering that his great-great-great-grandmother was a charlady from Glasgow who'd died of TB in her thirties.

It's a laudable display of sensitivity. But how genuine were the tears that Paxo shed into the cuffs of his well-tailored suit?

"Jeremy wasn't very upset when I bumped into him on Monday night at a Christmas party organised by his agents, Capel & Land," says a chum.

"In fact, he slapped one fellow guest on the back and joked that all he'd learnt from the show was that he comes from a long line of scroungers."

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