DIARY

Sir Christopher Hogg, recently installed chairman of the National Theatre, is the new chairman-designate of the international food and drinks company Allied Domecq. Which would be hunky dory were it not for the fact that Allied Domecq is chief sponsor of the National's rival, the Royal Shakespeare Company, giving it a cool pounds 3.2m.

Both theatre companies loyally say they see "no problems at all" in the fact that Sir Christopher, a former businessman of the year, will have to juggle two hats with a dexterity that would grace either's stage. Allied Domecq advises the RSC on marketing, giving its best counsel on how the company should present itself as the country's foremost theatrical company. This will in no way interfere with Sir Christopher's job as chairman of the National Theatre, where he will chair board meetings on how the National should market itself as the country's foremost theatrical company.

Neither should there be any conflict on funding. Sir Christopher, as chairman of Allied Domecq, will no doubt tell his board that there could be no arts flagship more worthy of support than the Royal Shakespeare Company. Sir Christopher, as chairman of the National Theatre board, will be telling likely business sponsors - including, presumably, Allied Domecq - that there can be no arts flagship more worthy of support than the National Theatre.

The campaign spearheaded by Lord Hanson to bring back the traditional stiff upper-covered dark blue British passport has failed to secure the support of Douglas Hurd. The name of the man who has served as both foreign and home secretary would give a huge boost to Lord Hanson's wish to replace the limp burgundy Euro passport. But Mr Hurd is remaining silent. A spokeswoman in his office said he had nothing to say about the matter and would not verify any speculation about his views. I suspect Mr Hurd is a fan of the red Euro passport. And I also suspect I know why. As the relevant cabinet minister at the time the Euro passports were introduced in 1988, Mr Hurd received the very first Euro passport, with the memorable serial number 000000001. Mrs Hurd's is 000000002. Few campaigns can be worth sacrificing the look of admiration on the passport control officer's face.

In the police force they are chuckling over a rare nugget from the Home Office minister David Maclean. According to Police Review, Mr Maclean was asked recently by an MP which forces had dispensed with underwater search and recovery units. Maclean replied, "I understand that Cheshire, North Wales, Merseyside and Greater Manchester have amalgamated their resources to form a single regional unit...."

Indeed they did: 18 years ago.

There would seem to be an element of contradiction in talking of moral conscience and an advertising department, but a sporadic fit of morality has infected the ads department at the Sunday Times. The unlikely victim is Opera North, the Leeds-based opera company.

The newspaper withdrew one of the company's adverts just before going to press, saying that the wording "was unsuitable for a family newspaper".

Opera North is still reeling from the shock. "The advert was part of a campaign to promote a season dubbed "the Most Romantic Season in Years", explains a spokeswoman. "The first one showed a couple in evening dress leaving the opera, accompanied by the caption: 'Darling, that was wonderful'."

The second - which is the one that the Sunday Times refused - shows the same couple, accompanied by the caption: "They came, did you?"

"OK - so it's a bit cheeky," admits a spokeswoman, "But it's nothing compared to Haagen-Dazs or Benetton ads. We're particularly annoyed because the Sunday Times effectively spiked our campaign at its peak timing, and we have no more money to advertise with anybody else."

Advertising staff at the Sunday Times told Opera North that they felt the "people in the photograph are standing too close". The fact that they are fully clothed cut no ice.

Bob Hope fans will be pleased to hear that the 92-year-old comedian is still proving his virility, albeit on the golf course. A colleague of Eagle Eye who has just visited the great man at his Los Angeles home found that Hope continues to play a round of golf every day, with a regular tee-off time of 4pm each afternoon at the Toluca Lake golf club. This means that he has a regular chance of joining the select band of golfers worldwide who have managed to "shoot their age". Asked what he went round in these days, Hope replied in vintage style: "80 or 90. If it gets any hotter than that, I don't play."

Mad cow disease scares would not have frightened the late Elvis Presley, one feels. An Arena programme to be aired on New Year's Day about the King's eating habits will feature an interview with his cook at Graceland. She says she served him a regular diet of cheeseburgers and fried peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. "The input's gotta be just as great as the output," was Presley's justification for his diet, an adage that will, no doubt, become the advertising slogan of some hamburger joint. He was a man of some culinary variety, though, having a penchant for fried squirrel, which must have made a wholesome break from another favourite snack, "fool's gold", French loaves split twice lengthways, each spread with a jar of peanut butter, a jar of jam and a pound of crisp-fried bacon.

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