The Hamiltons put on a show for cheap TV

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The disgraced former Conservative MP Neil Hamilton and his wife, Christine, have landed themselves a free stay in a five-star hotel opposite the London Ritz as part of their increasingly self-parodying efforts to become media stars.

Trading on their notoriety the two have written a review of a night they spent in the Athenaeum Hotel in London, paid for by the Times newspaper. One of the gifts the former minister Mr Hamilton received from Mohamed Al Fayed, owner of Harrods, was a stay in the Paris Ritz.

Mrs Hamilton admitted that they were cashing in on the cash for questions scandal. "We are not unaware of why the Times asked us to do it," she said yesterday. Mr and Mrs Hamilton were appearing at the Edinburgh Television Festival where they were stars of a workshop on making cheap television programmes.

One programme-maker horrified the audience by suggesting that Mrs Hamilton could host a programme where she interviews car-crash victims at their hospital bed sides. But Mrs Hamilton was disappointed that no firm offers of work had come from their appearance. "We are game to try anything," she said. Mr and Mrs Hamilton had signed up with an agent to get them media work.

Mrs Hamilton, who during the election earned a reputation as the stronger half of the partnership, is at present writing Christine Hamilton's Bumper Book of British Battleaxes in time for the Christmas market.

The Hamiltons join a long line of former Conservative MPs, including, Michael Portillo, who are trying to build a career in the media.

However their performance at Edinburgh, which was filled with jokes about Mr Fayed, revealed them as an increasingly un-funny novelty act with little understanding of their own unpopularity.

The Hamiltons' desperation for work was underlined by their willingness to appear at a television festival being sponsored by the Guardian newspaper, the agent of their downfall.

A festival spokeswoman emphasised that the Hamiltons had not been paid for their appearance but had merely received accommodation and travelling expenses.