I can hardly believe it's been nearly a year since eight million people tuned in each night to catch a glimpse of my "love-in" with Princess Diana's favourite butler, Paul Burrell. The man who claimed he was a gourmet chef but didn't know what a mangetout was. The man who told the nation that the Queen keeps a stack of blotting paper in each room for footmen to mop up corgie wee. The man who spent 10 years of his life with a silver pooper scooper.
But I digress. Each year I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here! manages to put together an utterly bizarre group of people, from pop losers, to toffs, ageing actors to retired footballers and even a loudmouthed ageing journalist such as me. The ritual is always the same. We all say, "Who exactly are these people?" Then we sneer, "Just a bunch of losers." Five days in and you're glued to the box night after night, waiting to see Daniella Westbrook cry, Natalie Appleton talk to trees, Paul Burrell dye his shirt pink. It's totally addictive, and personally I think that the casting is superb. Four weeks to go and the speculation has already kicked off.Heat magazine has got the ball rolling with its tips for the tropics, which include perma-tanned David Dickinson, actor George Hamilton, former drug addict and Rough Guide television presenter Magenta Devine, and Blur guitarist Alex James, now a happily married dad, living the rural life.
It's important to understand how the show's producers come up with their casting: they need people who aren't going to get on - hence me and Burrell (actually, me and anyone). They need someone who'll get their kit off a lot (so there'll be a glamour model) and they need someone you absolutely would never have expected to do anything like this in a million years - hence John Lydon. Alex James is a friend - I attended his wedding and danced round the maypole with Keith Allen and Dan Macmillan. I think Alex is probably too nice, and too practical for the show's producers. David Dickinson is sufficiently repulsive, but George Hamilton is far more famous and has a better fake tan. I can't see the immaculate Mr Hamilton coping with the dirt, the drop toilet, and washing up in the stream, all of which should make for good viewing. But the rumour that Carol Thatcher is a hot favourite is inspired casting.
Anyone who could put up with a mum like Maggie, a horribly spoilt twin brother like Mark and a dad like Denis has my vote as Queen of the Jungle. Carol is unbelievably nice and normal - I've never met anyone who has a bad word to say about her. She's funny, self-deprecating, a coper. A woman who undoubtedly had a weird childhood, ignored by a mum who doted on Mark and who treated her own daughter as shabbily as she treated women in general.
A couple of other people would make great jungle fodder: unemployed MP Oona King - let's face it, campaigning against George Galloway probably equips you for anything - and would-be telly star, former Tory minister Michael Portillo. I amglued every Thursday to his late-night political show, This Week. I loved it when he took over from a single mum and did a stint in a supermarket in a life swap series. I'd love to see him wrestle with a camel, or take part in a spot of underwater harpooning.
What about Vanessa Redgrave? She's clearly not a culture snob as she's starring in the wonderful new series of Sky's Nip/Tuck, playing Joely Richardson's mum. (Yes, I know she really is JR's mum.) But Carol Thatcher? Stroke of genius. Will Mum be watching?
Bin the gardener, bring on the Brothers Grimm
I'm a huge fan of the London Film Festival, but will someone please tell the organisers how to run it? At the opening gala last week, the audience were kept waiting in their seats for an hour and a quarter while a series of worthies made waffling speeches thanking everyone from location catering to the local dry cleaners. Sadly, after all that, the choice of The Constant Gardener to open proceedings was a bit of a disappointment. John le Carré's thoughtful thriller about corrupt drug companies testing unproven new drugs on poor people has been emasculated by the director Fernando Meirelles (City of God), whose restless editing and corny images of kids presents a somewhat patronising view of Africa. Danny Huston is hopelessly miscast as a British diplomat and Bill Nighy just gives us his usual turn as a total shit. Rachel Weisz is superb as the morally driven political activist, but the whole film sags the minute Ralph Fiennes has to play a man happily in love her. Ralph is utterly useless at joy - but the moment he faces tragedy and loss towards the end of a long two hours his performance really takes off and glows. The Brazilian director sees London as series of obvious clichés, a gentleman's club in Pall Mall and an opulent flat in Canary Wharf. Our man gets on the Eurostar at Waterloo and gets off in Berlin. Sorry, but there are far better films in the festival than this. I can't wait to see the latest offering from Terry Gilliam, The Brothers Grimm. Even a flawed work from this genius promises to be chock-full of ideas.
He's right! Things that we all love to loathe. Volume One
I've just been sent a wonderful book entitled 'Is It Just Me or Is Everything Shit?' by Steve Lowe and Alan McArthur, a thoroughly inspired rant about popular culture, with all those things we love to loathe listed in alphabetical order. Media studies, penis enlargement emails, Tracey Emin, David Bowie's teeth, the thoughts of Bono - 'I represent a lot of people [in Africa] who have no voice at all'- the 'Daily Mail'. I'm just amazed that such a comprehensive list could be squashed into 276 pages. Roll on Volume Two.
She's right! London is starting to get right up my nose
Gwyneth Paltrow hasthe same complaint as Zadie Smith, who told an American journalist how vulgar and horrible Londoners were. Now Gwynnie's told US 'Marie Claire' that London is 'filthy'. Does she have a point? There is litter galore, streams of urine in every alley and unsightly hoardings and traffic cones on every street. Is Ken Livingstone blind and so busy arguing about statues of Nelson Mandela and going to the London Film Festival that he can't see the sheer squalor of my favourite city?
She's wrong! Who are you trying to kid, Ruth Kelly?
Ruth Kelly's ruling that only one school in the country can carry on selecting its new pupils by interview is distinctly suspect. The London Oratory (Catholic, like Kelly) in Hammersmith was challenged by my former primary school, most of whose pupils come from local council estates, claiming that the Oratory's techniques were discriminating in favour of the articulate middle class. Tony and Cherie Blair sent their three eldest children to the Oratory, even though they live in Westminster. It helps to have friends in high places.Reuse content