The Third Leader: The fractious life

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The Independent Online

Bliss! We should be clear that we are all fallen creatures; and, of course, some would say that this trade has fallen further than most. Nevertheless, there can be few who do not enjoy a good local row, even, or particularly, when they're not involved. And when someone famous is involved, well.

We are on the Black Isle, in Avoch, whence Andrew Murray, Wallace's brilliant young ally, mounted his attack on Inverness before their great victory over the English at Stirling Bridge in 1297. They did not take many prisoners.

Enter, deliciously, Penelope Keith, forever fated, especially when the repeats are on, to be best known as Margot Leadbetter, the Circe of Suburbia, a woman whose way with the word "Jerry!", might halt even Mel Gibson in his tracks (one can certainly imagine with ease her face confronted by kilts raised to the rear).

Ms Keith has a "Highland hideaway" nearby; recently she and her husband bought a derelict site on Avoch's high street. All was well (as it is with the best rows) when they cleaned it up: but now there are plans for a café-restaurant, and all is not well, especially with the post office and store next door.

Why do we like it so much when Life imitates Art? Probably because it allows us to think that there might be a purpose and conclusion instead of the usual impenetrable murk of inconsequence. And, surely, there never was a finer conjunction of popular programming than this: I can see, at least, Hamish Macbeth, Monarch of the Glen, Heartbeat, Location, Location, Location, Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares, The Wicker Man, and, naturally, I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here. Camera! Action!