The Feral Beast: Aled Jones is walking off the air

Playful, but with sharp claws

Matthew Bell
Sunday 03 February 2013 01:00

Sad news for fans of Aled Jones, the baby-faced chorister turned housewives' favourite. His glittering media career is losing some its lustre, for he has lost not one but three BBC jobs in quick succession. In October, he was toppled from Songs of Praise, and replaced with Breakfast presenter Bill Turnbull. Then, just before Christmas, Radio 2 announced they were replacing him on Good Morning Sunday after six years with Clare Balding, now officially the nation's favourite personality. Now, Radio 3 has also ditched Aled as presenter of The Choir, the Sunday night show he launched in 2007. Intriguingly, the show will continue, but no replacement host has been announced. Today's edition has a guest presenter, Suzy Digby. It would be tempting to suppose Jones is being punished for signing up with rivals ITV: last summer, he became the new face of troubled breakfast show Daybreak. But the BBC insists it is keen to work with him again. Aled's people decline to comment.

Chopin list...

You have to marvel at Alan Rusbridger for learning to play the Chopin Ballade while editing a national newspaper. But in the recent deluge of interviews to promote his new book, Play It Again, did the Guardian editor occasionally strike a bum note? In the third of five half-hour Radio 3 interviews with Sarah Walker, on Wednesday, in the third of five half-hour interviews, he said "If anyone out there would like to give me £100,000 to conduct the Verdi Requiem at the Royal Albert Hall, they know where to find me." But even he must know Britain could be entering a triple-dip recession. After all, he did volunteer to cut his salary from £438,900 to £395,010.

Cool winnings

Much excitement in the world of jazz ahead of last week's inaugural Jazz FM Awards. Some might wonder if what the world needs is yet another red carpet bean-feast. Still, for up-and-coming musicians, a prize can make all the difference. So, which rising stars got the gongs? Er, Ronnie Scott's, the Soho jazz club that's been around since 1959, won Best UK Jazz Venue. As it happens, Ronnie Scott's managing director Simon Cooke was one of the judges. Next up? Best Jazz Media went to the magazine Jazzwise, even though the mag's editor and publisher Jon Newey was also, um, on the judging panel. And what about the coveted Album of the Year award? That went to John Surman, and no doubt was richly deserved. But what to make of the fact it was released by the Serious record label, whose director is one John Cumming. Yup, he was a judge too. Well, the whole point of jazz is there aren't any rules. Just as long as everyone was having a good time!

Railroad blues

Miranda Seymour's 2007 memoir about her eccentric father and his beloved country house was a success d'estime here and in the US. Now, the future of Thrumpton Hall has been blighted by the arrival of HS2. The proposed line for the second phase of the high-speed railway, revealed on Monday, will pass just 150 yards from the writer's Nottinghamshire home. "It's incredibly sad," she tells me from the Grade I-listed house, where she lives with her mother. "We're all devastated, as we've worked so hard to keep the house going. I haven't dared tell my mother, as it would finish her off." Simon Jenkins listed Thrumpton in his book of England's Thousand Best Houses, naming its giant Jacobean staircase as the best in Britain. "Norman Foster's line will pass yards away from the staircase on the west side, where the window has all its original glass. I'm very disconcerted to think what will happen to the building's stability." In My Father's House revealed how George Fitzroy Seymour was obsessed with Thrumpton until, late in life, he discovered a passion for motorbikes and young men. Seymour is just finishing a new book, Stories from England and Germany, out in September. Previous subjects for books include Ottoline Morrell, Henry James, and Helle Nice, who raced Bugattis.

Party antics

David Yelland once admitted to keeping a bottle of vodka in his drawer when editor of The Sun. Those days are long behind him, so it was mineral water only for him on Thursday at a party to celebrate 25 years of PR firm Brunswick, where he now works. But it was champagne a gogo for everyone else at the lavish bash held at London's Century Club, where a whole floor had been booked. The talk of the night was the forthcoming wedding of senior partner Nick Claydon, 45, who is engaged to ex-model Charlotte Wheeler, 27. The lofty daughter of spread-betting tycoon Stuart Wheeler used to work at Brunswick, but left last year to join Lynton Crosby's lobbying firm, CTF Partners. Wheeler pere famously donated £5m to the Tories' election campaign in 2001, but has dramatically abandoned them in favour of Ukip. Crosby's firm has been hired to help the Tories win the next election. Christmas chez Wheelers must have been fun!

Vieux savant

Will the next champion of Mastermind be a Frenchman? The possibility arises after Didier Bruyere made it through to the semi-finals in the latest series. There has never been a foreign winner of the BBC 2 show, since it started in 1972, but there's nothing to stop it happening. Bruyere's specialist subject in last week's show was Marie Curie, winning him a respectable onze points. But he really cleaned up in the general knowledge round, scoring 16. Perhaps it's not surprising Bruyere did so well: he is a professional quizzer, and frequently represents France. And his GK questions last week were hardly difficile: they included, what cocktail is made of vodka and tomato juice, and which flower inspired Wordsworth's poem "I wandered lonely as a cloud"? And we so wanted to see his shrug.

Tate Maze

Tate Britain will reopen fully with much fanfare in May, after a £45m refurb. But one change they are keeping quiet about is the scrapping of room numbers. According to my source, Tate grandees consider numbers in galleries "unfriendly". Director Penelope Curtis has been gushing about the excitement of re-hanging the pictures in chronological order, and "making the building easier to navigate". So from May, if you ask to see, say, The Lady of Shallot, you'll be sent to the 1880s room. That's all very well, but some say that scrapping numbers could make life more difficult in an emergency. Bizarrely, I'm told Tate staff will still have their own "secret" numbers for the galleries, but they won't be marked in the actual rooms or in the plans. Isn't that a bit unfriendly? Or is Tate hoping to attract wealthy donors, to whom it can dedicate rooms?

Less than perfick manners

For some, David Jason will forever be remembered as the saucepot wheeler-dealer in The Darling Buds of May. Jason played philandering Pa Larkin in the ITV adaptation of H E Bates's novels. But the actor, who turned 73 yesterday, briefly slipped back into character last week, as he stepped into a lift inside the Gherkin in London. Four young women took the same lift, leaving Searcy's restaurant on the top floor, after lunch. Turning to the party, he said with a twinkle: "I hope we get stuck in this together!" Never mind that his wife, Gill Hinchcliffe, was standing behind. Mmm....

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