The celebrities with designs on being the new landlord class

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The Independent Online

Desperate to burnish their A-list credentials, what is the modern star of popular culture to do? Well, buy a pub, of course.

Andrea Catherwood is the latest celebrity to get her hands on the latest must-have accessory. The presenter of ITV1's The Sunday Edition decided, along with her husband, to buy The Carpenters Arms, her local pub in Chiswick, west London.

"We enjoyed going there so much we decided to buy it", says Catherwood, 39. "We even had our son Finn christened there. We loved the location and the relaxed local feel. When it got taken over we thought, in an idle sort of way: 'Oh no, if only we'd known it was up for sale.' Then when it came back on the market, we gave it serious thought".

The pub, in Black Lion Lane, is only a few minutes' walk from the six-bedroom house where Belfast-born Catherwood lives with her husband, the hedge fund lawyer Gray Smith, and their three children. It had previously been a French restaurant the couple visited regularly. It will continue to serve food, and customers could even be served by the presenter herself. "I haven't pulled the pints yet as nobody has let me, but hopefully they will," she said.

Catherwood is one of many famous names who have bought pubs or gastro-eateries in recent years. The promise of hefty profits may be a motivation, but some in the publican trade believe celebrities are buying pubs because they think they are prized status symbols.

According to Ruth Mottram, co-owner of The Hawley Arms, a bohemian hangout of celebrities including Amy Winehouse and Kate Moss in Camden, north London, many stars do not realise what they're in for.

"Owning a pub is actually incredibly hard work. It's an entire lifestyle," she said. "Lots of celebrities want somewhere where they can be alone, and buying their own place could make that happen." Gastronomic giants such as Gordon Ramsay and Jean-Christophe Novelli already own pubs – and in Ramsay's case, there are many more to come.

But entertainers, models and designers, are all getting in on the act. Ant and Dec, the hosts of Saturday Night Takeaway, are co-owners of The Lodge, in the centre of Newcastle, a magnet for the city's wealthy young professionals. Kate Moss and Sadie Frost, her Primrose Hill set friend, have been rumoured to be considering snapping up The Swan at Southrop, a few miles from Moss's Cotswolds home.

Outside London, many celebrity-owned pubs have ties to the music industry. Chris Evans, the Radio 2 DJ , bought the Mulberry Tree in Chiddingfold, south Surrey, for £1.5m in 2005. And Nick Banks, drummer in Jarvis Cocker's band Pulp, splashed his cash by buying The Washington, a Sheffield city centre pub with a music heritage.

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