People: Poms hanker for the bronze age

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The Independent Online
NEW light has been shed by Bruce Gyngell, the former head of TV-am, on why the Australian television soap operas Neighbours and Home and Away are popular in Britain. 'Both represent a society which existed in Britain in the Sixties, before people began arriving from the Caribbean and Africa. The Poms delve into it to get their quiet little racism fix.'

Mr Gyngell delivered this analysis to a somewhat non-plussed audience at a conference at Melbourne University at the weekend. Since TV-am lost its franchise, the man renowned for his New Age lifestyle has returned to his native Australia where he is now chairman of Channel Nine, the country's most successful commercial television network, owned by his old friend, Kerry Packer.

SOHA ARAFAT, the 29-year-old wife of the PLO chairman, has great plans for celebrating the rebirth of Palestine. 'I shall have a baby only in Jericho,' she told the Emirates daily al-Ittihad. Since Israel is scheduled to start pulling out of the West Bank town in mid-December and the Arafats are expected to arrive a month later, politics are not likely to interfere with her plan. Nor should there be any other obstacles. Soha's husband, 26 years her senior, 'still has the spirit of a young man', she reveals.

A BOOK of nude photographs of Dewi Sukarno, the 53-year-old former Indonesian first lady, has become a best-seller in Japan. It went on sale on Friday and by yesterday all 100,000 copies had been sold. Most buyers are believed to be older than 55. The pictures in Shuga ('Superior in Elegance') were shot in Paris, Tokyo, Kyoto and Indonesia.

Sukarno, Indonesia's first president, married Naoko Nemoto, a Japanese-born geisha, in 1962. At his bidding, she changed her name to Ratna Sari Dewi. After his death in 1970, Dewi, youngest of his six wives, became an international jet-setter. In 1992 she was accused of slashing the face of a fellow socialite, Victoria Osmena, at a dinner party in the ski resort of Aspen, Colorado. She ultimately accepted a plea bargain and served 34 days in a county jail.

In her adopted country, the book's reception was somewhat cooler. 'As a citizen of Indonesia, she also has the responsibility to honour and respect the dignity of the nation she belongs to,' said the Information Minister, promptly banning the oeuvre.

ANOTHER person enjoying great popularity in his native country is Saparmurat Niyazov, the President of Turkmenistan, whose portrait appears on five denominations of the new national currency, the manat. The President, officially known as the 'Chief of the Turkmen', is the focus of the most adoring personality cult to emerge from the former Soviet Union. 'It's like when Brezhnev was in power,' said one man.

(Photograph omitted)

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