Matthew Bell: The IoS Diary (18/09/11)

The darling of the party faithful

Share

Former Gardeners' Question Time host Stefan Buczacki has launched a marvellous broadside on the programme, calling it a "pathetic shadow of its former self".

He says the Radio 4 show has lost its magic by stretching to 45 minutes, and that there are too many panellists with no chemistry between them. There's a tinge of sour grapes to his salvo, as he was dropped when an independent production company took over in 1994. So in the interests of balance, I ring up a few panellists, hoping for a defence of the show. Oddly, none of them is willing to give an opinion, and they refer me to a BBC spokesman, who primly announces they have no comment to make. Why has no one got a good word to say about it?





Julian Fellowes has learnt how to handle the media since being propelled to stardom by his creation Downton Abbey. Last year, he lashed out at a "permanent negative slant in the press", and complained of endless "nit-picking" from the left. But when novelist and social commentator AN Wilson launched a sustained attack against Fellowes last week, calling him Britain's biggest snob in a newspaper, then following up with more invective on the radio, Fellowes just shrugged it off. "I have never met A N Wilson," he tells me from Los Angeles, where he is attending the Emmys. "I gather he attacks me for all the qualities invented for me by the Daily Mail. Rather feebly, I haven't read it. Life is tough enough."





Kelvin MacKenzie, ex-editor of The Sun, has wasted no time in distancing himself from the paper after taking his column to the Daily Mail. In his first outing at his new home, he takes a pop at Rebekah Brooks, The Sun's disgraced chief executive. He tells the story of how she was unamused by his voicemail message, which said: "I'm sorry that I am not here but do leave a message and Rebekah will get back to you." But I gather he's actually sparing her blushes by not revealing the real reason why he left. I'm told it came about because of a column in which MacKenzie savaged Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson. Clarkson is also a Sun columnist, but more importantly he's a friend of Brooks from the Chipping Norton set. MacKenzie, not used to being muzzled, said to hell with it and went elsewhere.



On the subject of Brooks, I hear Tatler is preparing a major profile of Fleet Street's most Marmite of editors. Although they refuse to discuss it when I call, I'm told Sun columnist Jane Moore has landed the assignment, with full access to Rebekah. When Rebekah married Charlie Brooks in 2009, Tatler brought us fascinating details of their new life together: we learnt they liked to breakfast in Oxfordshire, lunch at Harry's Bar in Venice, before flying back to London for supper in Wilton's. To followers of Rebekah, no detail is ever too banal. Let's hope Moore isn't infected by the spirit of her PR husband Gary Farrow's profession, and serves up plenty of sauce.





Allison Pearson has poured scorn on critics who say her book I Don't Know How She Does It is "anti-women". In case you've missed the wall-to-wall coverage, it's been made into a film, starring Sarah Jessica Parker. The book is about how mothers such as Pearson, juggle the demands of high-octane careers with a busy home life. But it's not just the critics who are sniping: a busy mother and acquaintance of La Pearson rings to tell me she does know how she does it. "Allison has only got two children. She is also blessed with a husband who works from home [Anthony Lane, film critic for the New Yorker]. Frankly, he knows how to operate the dishwasher better than she does."





Intriguing to note the National Trust is sponsoring tonight's party at the Lib Dem conference. This comes only days after the NT waged war with the coalition over their plans to relax planning laws, which they say will, er, pave the way for what's left of the countryside to be concreted over. Let's hope the NT threatens to turn off the champagne.





Art critic Waldemar Januszczak has written an open letter to Prince William, asking him to promote the forgotten court painter William Dobson. He reasons that, as a fellow art historian who once wrote an essay on the portrayal of Charles I by Van Dyck, the Prince would take an interest in this 17th-century portraitist. But he needn't have made such a song and dance about it. A palace insider says: "The Prince would never respond to an open letter. But if the critic wants to send him a private letter, of course he would answer."





m.bell@independent.co.uk

React Now

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

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Taking on Ukip requires a delicate balancing act for both main parties

Andrew Grice
Today is a bigger Shabbes than usual in the Jewish world because it has been chosen to launch the Shabbos Project  

Shabbes exerts a pull on all Jews, and today is bigger than ever

Howard Jacobson
Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker