The Deputy Posterior: Prezza gets a 'bum double'

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The Independent Online

* In three weeks, ITV1 will screen Confessions of a Diary Secretary, a satire of John Prescott's affair with Tracey Temple.

John Henshaw, who portrays the portly Deputy PM, was happy to bare all for sex scenes, but his bottom failed a screen test. The director employed a "bum double".

"The problem wasn't the size," says 15-stone Henshaw, who plays Temple. "It was my scar: I was in a motorway accident nearly 20 years ago and ended up with crash barrier embedded in my butt.

"It was felt the large scar would be a distraction with all the jigging about."

The owner of the illustrious, gyrating, stand-in buttocks is not credited in the drama. So it seems only fair that we recognise his seminal role here.

Pandora tracked him to an agency that supplies extras happy to bare body parts.

"I am the bottom double," confirms Michael Knott, stage name "Knotty", a veteran of The Bill, Little Britain and filmsChildren of Men, Mrs Brown and Thunderpants.

The former "Tango Man" explains: "There's a sex scene between John and Tracey in his office. She's on the desk. I had to drop my trousers and do the deed. While I'm going at it, she's writing in the diary. It took two hours.

"I had a sock over my willy and a flesh-coloured jockstrap which was taped on."

Knotty adds: "I wasn't embarrassed, I did the naked streak waving an England flag in the Jewish film Sixty Six, about the World Cup."

Cameo bum appearances in Hollywood beckon.

He doesn't think much of Prezza. "I'm very Conservative. Bring back Maggie."

* Throughout his career, Hugh Grant has shown a preference for appearing in girl-friendly "rom-coms". He detests similarly soppy music, however.

At the premiere of his new film Music and Lyrics, Pandora asked Grant, who arrived with his dainty girlfriend Jemima Khan in tow, to name his favourite love songs.

"Oh my God... How could you ask me that?" gagged Grant, casting around for a sick bucket. "You should ask Richard Curtis, he could name you 20. Drew Barrymore [Grant's co-star] probably has loads. Sorry, I'm crap when it comes to romantic music."

The archives of Radio 4's Desert Island Discs confirm this. During his 1995 appearance on the show, Grant selected Wham!'s 80s pop clanger Wake Me Up Before You Go Go and Viva El Fulham, by the football club's losing 1975 FA Cup final team.

Back on the red carpet, Grant also announced he has quit acting. Again.

* Monday was a weird day for the musician Mika, currently atop the singles chart. He was at the heart of a rude exchange between Queen guitarist Brian May and rock critic Alexis Petridis. The journalist panned Mika's album; May urged the "wanker" Petridis to quit.

Judging by his beaming grin on Monday night, Mika enjoyed the altercation. Playing a T-Mobile Street Gig in a big top tent in posh Mayfair, the eccentric delighted a crowd of clowns, cowgirls, monkeys, drag queens and someone dressed as a fly. But the concert was nearly scuppered by noise inspectors hours before.

"We were trying to sound-check," Mika said, "and lots of local people complained to the council, who came to shut us down."

Westminster Council confirms a rash of complaints at 3pm. Its "noise team" made Mika drop to 70 decibels. Naughty!

* Diane Abbott, the MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, has improbably sparked a race row.

On BBC1's politics show This Week, Abbott made an off-the-cuff remark that some local authorities, "in Bolton or wherever, will dump all their Asians on one estate". Bolton's Labour MPs have gone off on one: Abbott's colleague David Crausby MP is demanding she apologise for her "nonsense" claim.

Sixty seconds after I email Abbott, a 140-word reply drops in my inbox.

"My remarks have been taken out of context," she writes. "There are a number of reasons why people find themselves in segregated communities. She lists many, one of which is "patterns of racially discriminatory housing allocation by local authorities".

No mention of Bolton.

* Roll up, roll up! For upstanding members of the Parliamentary Labour Party in need of décor for the downstairs lavatory, this afternoon marks your final chance to have a photo taken with Anthony Blair, PM.

Fiona Gordon, chief purveyor of official Mister Tony merchandise (you may remember Blair speech DVDs at Christmas time), has written to Labour MPs urging them to be in the Commons at 1pm for their commemorative snap. Peculiar timing, since the PM will have just endured a spicy joust with Dave Cameron at Prime Minister's Questions.

"I look forward to seeing you in the queue tomorrow," writes Ms Gordon. No pushing!

I call her to say that I have read her email, and wonder if Pandora could have a pic taken with Tony? "You've seen my emails? What!" she says (contagious institutional paranoia).

The line crackled, and went dead.