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Matthew Bell: The <i>IoS</i> Diary (27/12/09)

Out with the old, in with the new

Nearly eight years since the death of actor John Thaw, his most famous character, Inspector Morse, is set to return. Not to our TV screens but to the stage, as Morse's creator Colin Dexter is, I can reveal, putting the finishing touches to a stage adaptation of one of his best-selling crime novels. His partner on the project is Ed O'Driscoll, the stage impresario behind a number of hits, adapting well-loved sitcoms such as 'Allo 'Allo, Porridge, and Dad's Army. The details are a closely guarded secret until the new year while contracts are being finalised, and there is still no word who might play the dour crossword-solving detective. Dexter, whose novels inspired 33 episodes of Inspector Morse, will turn 80 next year, but has recently published a book, Cracking Cryptic Crosswords.

Personally selected by George Bush to be his attorney general, some said Alberto Gonzalez was a bit of a yes-man during his time as the US's top lawyer. He was the one who said the US government did not believe anti-torture laws applied in overseas prisons when awkward questions arose over the CIA's interrogation techniques such as water-boarding. He eventually resigned over his role in the sacking of nine US attorneys from the Justice Department during 2006. So where is he now? Traditionally, attorney generals can look forward to a lucrative career with a top law firm on stepping down, but not so Gonzalez. Nearly three years after leaving, he has yet to land himself a post. Instead he has been appointed "the diversity recruiter" at Texas Tech University. Oh dear.

Why was David Beckham so annoyed at being snapped wearing a skullcap? The LA-based footballer recently attended the funeral of his Jewish grandfather wearing a stylish blue kippah, as captured by an agency photographer. The Jewish Chronicle used the photo on its website to accompany a report of the funeral. But within minutes editor Stephen Pollard had received an email from Beckham's solicitor demanding its removal. Beckham's people claimed it was a breach of privacy, even though the photo was simply a headshot. Why all the fuss?

Nothing beats a good sing-song at Christmas, as Anne Karpf argued in the IoS last week. So it was good to hear actor Jeremy Irons belting out the old favourites at a carol service at St Paul's Cathedral the other day. And he wasn't just singing the tunes but following the descants. Apparently this is one of his party tricks. "Oh Jeremy always does that," explains a friend from their days at public school. "He was unusual at school in going back into the choir as an alto after his voice had broken, and he still sings the parts to show he knows them." Not one to hide his light under a bushel, then.

Topshop tycoon Sir Philip Green has never been a fan of the fourth estate – it's claimed he once threatened to beat up an Evening Standard journalist with a baseball bat. So hats off to his nephew Simon Neville who, despite that, is forging ahead with a career in journalism, working as a news reporter for the Yorkshire Post. But it's only a matter of time before Neville, whose mother is Green's older sister Elizabeth, finds himself facing a conflict of interests. In February he joins the Daily Mail, which frequently covers the antics of Green and his friends Simon Cowell and Kate Moss in gruesome detail. At a recent Evening Standard party, Green berated the editor's secretary for failing to address him as Sir Philip. Let's hope he gives young Simon an easier ride.

On house arrest in his Swiss chalet while awaiting possible extradition to the US, Roman Polanski suddenly has a lot of time on his hands. So he's fighting fire with fire by launching his own legal battle, suing two French magazines for publishing photos he claims infringed his privacy. The film director is seeking £680,750 in damages in a case due on 12 January. Polanski was seized two weeks before finishing an adaptation of Robert Harris's novel The Ghost. This new project won't be as lucrative, but it'll do.