Walsh sacks writer over Keating interview

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The Independent Online

If you thought Louis Walsh would have the self-control to keep his temper tantrums within the pressure-cooker of the X-Factor studio, think again.

The Irish pop svengali is involved in a humdinger of a dispute with Press Gazette, after it published a colourful interview with the singer Ronan Keating.

In that article, Keating took an almighty pop at Walsh, his former manager. "I have no respect for him because he has no respect for me," he said. "He tried to absolutely ruin my career because he was jealous."

So far, so bitchy. But Walsh doesn't take an insult on the chin: instead, he's responded by withdrawing from a publishing deal with Rob McGibbon, the journalist who conducted the interview.

McGibbon, who ghosted the autobiography of one of Walsh's other acts, Westlife, had been hired to write the programme for their forthcoming UK tour. But on Thursday, the day before he was due to begin work on the project, Walsh's office phoned to say that his services were no longer required.

McGibbon reckons this is poor form. "Louis is a big silly baby who can dish out the stick but can't take it," he says. "It's ironic, since his TV career is built on slagging other people off, but there you go."

Meanwhile, a spokesman for Westlife said: "It's a bit of a delicate situation. We use a number of journalists for projects like tour programmes, and unfortunately things haven't worked out with Rob."

* Watch out, Bruce Forsyth: having earned his crust as an author, actor and screenwriter, Julian Fellowes is rebranding himself as a quiz-show host.

The BBC has now hired Fellowes - who won an Oscar for his screenplay for Gosford Park - to write and present a new prime-time game-show.

He's currently ensconced in his Dorset country house, working on a format. The show will be based on the current vogue - as inspired by Lynne Truss - for correct punctuation.

"The programme is going to be called something like 'Never Mind the Full-Stops'," said Fellowes at an author party thrown by Orion books.

"I've never done a game-show before, so I thought, why not? My career operates on the principle of I'll try anything once. It will be about the English language and usage."

Sadly, I gather that his wife Emma hasn't been invited to take part. The statuesque former lady-in-waiting to Princess Michael of Kent would make a lovely game-show hostess.

* Jamie Oliver spent last year jazzing up grotty school dinners. Now he's going to revamp another British institution: the dinner party.

The energetic chef has founded a new firm, Fifteen to You, with a view to bussing his crack team of chefs out to private houses.

Apparently, it's part of a cunning plan to prevent his restaurant from being hit by the difficulties affecting the high street.

"Basically, people don't necessarily want to go to restaurants any more, because of the congestion charge and parking and things like that," I'm told. "So Jamie's idea is to make the restaurant come to you."

The chefs in question will come from Oliver's commendable training scheme for disadvantaged youngsters.

Posher clients might be nervous about inviting some (former) scallywags into their homes, but a spokesman assures me there is no need to hide the family silver.

"They are all reformed characters," I'm told.

* Ding dong! Time for another round of fisticuffs between two of London's noisiest political icons: Peter Tatchell and Ken Livingstone.

The Mayor of London upset his former chum last year when he invited the "homophobic" Muslim cleric, Yusuf al-Qaradawi to town.

Now his office have thrown petrol onto flames by banning Tatchell from contributing to their annual Equalities Report.

The Outrage! founder had been commissioned to write an article recalling the first ever Gay Pride march in 1972.

"The publisher, Hugh Hill, asked if I'd do it," says Tatchell. "Then, a few days later, he rang to say the Mayor's office had vetoed my piece.

"It's yet another example of petty sectarianism, I'm afraid."

* True to form, Michael Martin has found a new way to drive fellow MPs up the wall.

The Speaker of the House, a professional Scotsman, has taken to practising the bagpipes in his Commons office. Colleagues aren't exactly chuffed, since the sound is said to bear comparison to that of a pussycat being strangled. There's even talk of disgruntled Tory MPs lodging a formal complaint about noise pollution.

Meanwhile, one of their number, Derek Conway, whose office is directly beneath Gorbals Mick's, is planning a musical retaliation.

"I'm going to hit back by playing the Northumberland pipes," he says. "They're a quarter of the size of bagpipes and make a nicer sound. I won't kick up too much fuss, though. It's Martin's place; I'm only a tenant."

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