Royle Family's Liz is the latest star to fall out with Polanski

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The Independent Online

Smith, far right, appears to have fallen out in spectacular fashion with the Oscar-winning film director, right, after landing a cameo in his latest film, Oliver Twist. She now reckons he's "unusual" and "difficult to work with".

The cause of their falling-out is unclear, but details are expected to feature heavily in the 83-year-old Smith's autobiography, Our Betty, which is published early next year.

Friction between the two recently became so great that Smith - star of The Royle Family - refused to attend the cast screening of Oliver Twist in order to avoid sharing a room with Polanski.

"I've the greatest admiration and respect for him, but I did find him very difficult to work with," Smith said at Thursday's Time Out Eating and Drinking Awards.

"He's an unusual director. That's all I'll say. I didn't attend the cast showing of the film in the end. You can read about it in my book."

Polanski's producer Timothy Burrill says: "We're very sorry Liz feels this way. She was perhaps asked to do more than she was able to."

* Mystery surrounds recent reports that Sharon Osbourne has been signed up to present next month's BBC Children in Need programme.

The supposed appointment - carried in several newspapers last week - came as news to both Terry Wogan and Gaby Roslin, who (as tradition dictates) have already been asked to front the show.

In fact, Osbourne, left, has been offered nothing more than a short walk-on part in the charity programme.

"We suspect Osbourne's publicity machine has been putting it about that she's headlining as she's got a book to promote," I'm told.

"In fact, nothing could be further from the case. We've had vague discussions with her agent about some sort of minor role, but nothing more."

The BBC has now put out an urgent "clarification" on the matter: "Sharon Osbourne is not co-presenting Children in Need with Terry Wogan this year," it reads.

"We are talking to her about doing something, but we are currently talking to many stars."

* The actor Neil Morrissey has a colourful extra-curricular CV, having been the subject of more "kiss and tell" stories than your average Premiership footballer.

Splendid, then, to hear that the Men Behaving Badly star has agreed to appear in a new programme called Stripped in which frisky celebrities are stuck in front of an audience and quizzed, Monica Lewinsky-style.

"People like me, who've been splashed over the tabloids, just don't care anymore," Morrissey, right, tells me. "There's no question I won't answer, and you can guess what people are going to ask about. My view is, let's get out there and tell the truth."

The show will be broadcast on the Biography Channel, and may make uncomfortable viewing for (among others) Amanda Holden, with whom Morrissey had an extra-marital fling a few years back.

* The surreal row over the EU flag outside the European Parliament in Westminster is still simmering away nicely.

As I revealed last week, the UK Independence Party has discovered that the EP does not have planning permission for the blue and gold standard to flutter from its swanky headquarters.

Under UK law, all flags - except national ones - are treated as advertising material. With this in mind, UKIP made a formal complaint to Westminster Council, which has confirmed the flag is there illegally.

Planning inspectors will visit shortly, and are likely to demand that the EP applies for retrospective consent. UKIP say they will object. "This is a historic conservation area linked to the British government. As such, this flag sends out an inappropriate message to the public," runs their (somewhat bizarre) argument.

* Tony and Cherie Blair never made convincing cricket fans - why should they, after a decade's allegiance to football? - but the England team's knowledge of politics is just as shaky.

In their forthcoming book Ashes Victory, an official account of the Summer, the players recall visiting No 10.

"Kevin Pietersen found the experience somewhat confusing," it reads. "He chatted away with Cherie Blair in his usual upfront fashion, as if he'd known her all his life. But when she moved on, he turned to Ashley Giles and said: 'Who was she?'"

Apropos of the team's heroic post-victory "bender", the book adds: "The PM said we deserved a day or two on the sauce, and if he says its OK, then its OK."

TB endorses binge drinking? Naughty!

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