Matthew Bell: The IoS Diary (21/11/10)

Top of the guest list

Related Topics

Of all the so-called royal experts who scrambled to cash in last week, perhaps the most bogus was Tina Brown. The former Vanity Fair editor, who hasn't lived in England for over 25 years, should have learnt her lesson from her 2007 book The Diana Chronicles, which was widely panned as a recycled cuts job. She concluded her piece in Thursday's Times by describing William's choice of Diana's ring as "a thrilling gesture of confident daring". Apparently this was "the most personal way he knew how that he was determined to bring his mother back". Actually, it was nothing of the sort. Diana left William the ring in her will for the express purpose that he use it for his engagement. He was just doing as his mum had asked.

As a historian, Andrew Roberts has enjoyed critical success and a glittering social life. But, according to a friend, he secretly hankers to be a writer of period dramas, like Julian Fellowes. "Andrew sees the success Julian has enjoyed and wishes he had gone down that road," I'm told. "Of course he likes writing serious books, but Julian's life must be such fun!" Roberts denies the suggestion, when I call. "No, I've never thought it, let alone said it. I haven't got the necessary powers of imagination to write fiction or screenplays, like Julian does so well." Roberts is too modest: we're sure his own Downton Abbey would be a hit. It would certainly be historically accurate and, just think, could lead to a peerage!

The BBC's tribute to The Goodies last weekend, which celebrated 40 years since the surrealist sketch show first aired, was long overdue, say fans. They have been campaigning for the show to be put on video or DVD for years, but have always met with resistance. Now, Bill Oddie, who created the show with Graeme Garden and Tim Brooke-Taylor, says the BBC has held a grudge against them because they took the show to ITV. Recently the BBC issued a statement saying there were no plans to mark the anniversary, saying, "Our policy is to do contemporary comedy, not nostalgia. And we should point out that the last year The Goodies was for ITV, not the BBC." Responding to this snub, Oddie says: "You do think, 'Have the BBC been holding a grudge for 40 years? The whole process of re-releasing or repeating The Goodies has had a pretty rough deal down the years The BBC have never, never, repeated The Goodies properly. We have no idea why."

Just how did the Middletons make their money? As Andrew Gilligan points out, it's hard to see how Kate Middleton's parents could have made enough money selling party streamers to put three children through public school; find £780,000 in cash to buy Kate a flat in Chelsea; and take £20,000 holidays in Mustique. Kate's biographer, Claudia Joseph, says the money comes from her paternal grandfather, who inherited a quarter of £19,560 in 1951, the equivalent, she says of £1.3m. In fact, that amount is the equivalent of a mere £445,500. The Middletons suffered embarrassment when Carole's brother, Gary Goldsmith, was stung by a tabloid, selling cocaine. No doubt the royal family will have made sure there aren't any other skeletons lurking.

Robert Harris branded V S Naipaul's new book as toxic and racist; now it looks as if it could also be his last. The Nobel prize-winning author of A House for Mr Biswas tells me he has only one book left in him, and he is not even sure he will write it. "I would write one more book and then stop. That's enough," he told me at a party last week. "But I'm very old." It all depends on his agent: last year he dumped Gillon Aitken, his agent of 30 years, in favour of the more ruthless Andrew "the Jackal" Wylie. But the publication of The Masque of Africa this year met with disapproval for its portrayal of black people. Wylie is now pushing for Naipaul to write another, but, at 78, he needs some persuasion. "He certainly wants me to do another," says Sir Vidia. "I would write it if Andrew did it well."

Tom Hodgkinson, editor of The Idler, has had his knuckles rapped for asking friends to invest in the Idler Academy, a new educational institute he is opening in February. After sending a round-robin email encouraging donations, he has been told off by an accountant for blundering into dangerous territory. "He told me sternly that it may have breached rules on money-raising laid down by the Financial Services Authority," says Hodgkinson. "Ooops. Clearly we are ingénues in the world of high finance. We therefore withdraw the offer to invest and would ask you to ignore it." Let's hope the police look kindly upon him. After all, this is the man who founded National Unawareness Day.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer - Mid / Senior

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing digital agenc...

Recruitment Genius: E-commerce Partnerships Manager

£50000 - £100000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a newly-created partne...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Co-Ordinator - FF&E

£35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior FF&E Project Co-ordinator is re...

Recruitment Genius: Part Time Carer / Support Worker plus Bank Support

£10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A delightful, 11 year old boy who lives in t...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron and Ed Miliband officially launched their election campaigns yesterday after Parliament was dissolved  

All-or-nothing simplicities are going to blight this election

John Rentoul

If I Were Prime Minister: Every civil servant would be held accountable by their own civilian 'buddy'

Julia Hobsbawm
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor