Matthew Bell: The IoS diary


He is on an £18m contract to work exclusively for the BBC, but even Jonathan Ross can't resist the odd freebie. Ross and his 14-year-old son have been treated to an exclusive free preview of a computer game at his London home, and are to be given a copy before its general release. Ross's son described the game, Spore, as "bloody amazing" on a computing blog, and posted photos on the internet of him with his father endorsing the game.

"People from EA came round to our house today and showed me and my family the current beta of Spore," writes Harvey Ross, "We didn't actually get an early copy but we've played and we are getting an early version of the creature creator early." Spore, which is expected to be as big a craze as SimCity, will not be available to the public until September. A BBC spokeswoman denies any wrongdoing, but BBC editorial guidelines state: "Staff should not take advantage of their position in dealing with suppliers to obtain personal discounts for themselves, or their families."

Jonathan Ross was unavailable for comment, but a spokeswoman insists: "Appearing on a games website in no way contravenes Jonathan's contract with the BBC or compromises the very tight editorial guidelines governing all BBC shows."

Andy Burnham's remarks about the relationship between David Davis and Shami Chakrabarti drew pantomime boos from a host of women MPs, not least Diane Abbott. "I am extremely disappointed in Andy Burnham," she harrumphed. "I thought the Labour Party had left these sort of politics behind." But wait. Wasn't it only 10 days ago that Abbott, on 'This Week' on the day of Davis's resignation, gave a light-hearted "hmm, yes" when Andrew Neil mentioned – entirely innocently and seriously – that Chakrabarti-Davis were very close? "Diane took it in a nudge, nudge sort of way," confirms my source in the studio. Viewers will recall that Neil promptly steered the discussion back to safer grounds after Abbott's interjection, saying "No, I don't mean it in that way." Abbott accuses me of a smear when I get in touch. "Why are you trying to build an edifice of meaning on the syllables 'hmmm'?" she asks. Hmmm indeed.

Poor old Nigel Kennedy. Not as famous as he used to be, the elfin violinist did his best to hold his own among the veritable Madame Tussauds of A-list celebrities who turned out for a night of karaoke at Ronnie Scott's jazz club on Thursday. After Gwyneth Paltrow had sung 'Killing Me Softly', and Bryan Ferry did a duo with Lily Cole, Kennedy gamely volunteered to accompany author Will Self, who got up to sing 'Hey Joe'. As he began to play, Self naughtily adapted his lyrics, and sang "Oh Nigel Kennedy,/ why don't you just fuck off, back to Poland, just fuck off..." etc/" I regret to report the laughter was hearty, but our Nige bravely played on.

What is it about Kay Burley that she can't help getting slapped? The 'Sky News' presenter's scrap with a photographer outside Uxbridge Court on Friday, which left her with a purple cheekbone, is only the latest episode in a lifetime of Punch and Judy knockabouts. In 2001 she was slapped by co-newsreader and one-time love interest Frank Partridge, and in 1994 the 'Mirror' reported she had suffered a broken nose after a row with her then husband Steve Kuttner.

The 'Sun' journalist Alex West was suspended after he was caught attempting to buy cocaine, but is now safely back on the staff. And it seems such trials and retribution are part of a family tradition. His father, Lord West of Spithead, piped up during a debate on Asbos to reminisce of his own misdeeds: "I remember getting the tawse, as it was called in Scotland – the belt or the cane – and I would occasionally boast to chaps, 'Gosh, I've just had the cane'. It did not mean that I tried to get caned again, although I might have been occasionally." Lord Peston, whose son Robert is a BBC journalist, was also a bad boy, it seems: "When I was young, this behaviour was called 'hooliganism' – I speak as a hooligan – but we all grew out of it," he said, "We became very senior people in our society."

As a leading rock chick, Peaches Geldof should be used to loud music. But even she was unable to subject her ears to a 30-minute amplified soundwall during a gig by My Bloody Valentine on Friday. Although standing towards the back, Peaches had to cover her ears when the band played 'You Made Me Realise', a song which goes into a half-hour meltdown, described by one fan as akin to the sound of a jet engine. But at least she stayed the course – many had to leave the room.

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