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Britain

January 21, 2005

People with Andrew Pierce
Smooth as Silk in the media stakes

NOW that the smarmy Robert Kilroy-Silk has obligingly quit the United Kingdom Independence Party its candidates, who are doomed to lose their deposits at the next election, have had to turn elsewhere for advice on being telegenic.

So it is interesting to read the confidential memo sent to the UKIP’s finest, a copy of which was passed to me, on how to handle the media.

The document tells candidates how to dress (no small task, given the shocking wardrobes of many of the dandruffy old men who comprise the UKIP hierachy) and even how to sit in a chair when being interviewed on television.

“Avoid reds,” it says (meaning red colours, not communists), “tight stripes or checks — the strobe, and dark and white, which throw the colour balance.”

On the knotty issue of how to sit in a chair, it advises: “Get you back off the back of the chair and sit UPRIGHT, maybe slightly forward . . . Try to pretend you are in your favourite pub and have just got chatting with a stranger.”

A party with more than its fair share of swivel-eyed fanatics is told: “Look the interviewer in the eye. This is very important as wandering eyes look shifty.”

Journalists are like nettles, says the memo. “If you get one lot under control, another will spring up.” It also compares the media to a “protection racket”. “Go along with them, give them what they want.”

There is the all-important tip on how to cope with hacks on the doorstep in moments of scandal. “You cannot afford to slam the door or run away. They will capture this on film and show it as evidence of your guilt.” They are learning.

Ballet’s pony trap

IN Frederick Ashton’s La Fille Mal Gardée, which the Royal Ballet now subtitles The Wayward Daughter, the principals travel in pony and trap. On Wednesday night the pony stopped the show when it refused to go on, as the orchestra played on regardless. After answering the call of nature, the pony eventually came on. Backstage there were frantic scenes with mops and buckets to ensure the dancers did not tread in anything.

United in protest

FIRST the Christians, now the Jews: Jerry Springer can’t please anyone. After the protests by Christian groups over the BBC’s airing of the spoof on the outrageous US talk show, the real Jerry Springer is to be guest speaker at the United Jewish Israel Appeal annual charity dinner next week. According to the Jewish Chronicle, some prominent rabbis are likening the appearance to no better than a lap-dancing event.

Catherine Zeta-Jones will star as Catherine the Great in a film about the 18th-century Russian Empress. Leonardo DiCaprio is rumoured to be co-starring in the film, to be shot in Russia this year. It's to be hoped that the Welsh actresses's performance will be an improvement on the last time she played the role in a 1995 American TV movie, which critics retitled Catherine the Distinctly Mediocre.

PS

  • The supermodel Erin O’Connor is clearly under no illusions about her home town of Walsall. When her TV-presenter boyfriend Jamie Theakston wanted to drive to her family’s home, she was having none of it. “If you leave your car outside my house,” she said, “it will get nicked.”

  • Stephen Fry will be the voice of The Guide in the film adaptation of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, joining Alan Rickman, Bill Nighy and John Malkovich. Fry said: “Being asked to do the voice of The Guide is like having your birthday on Christmas Day, discovering a winning lottery ticket in your stocking and having chocolate poured all over you.”

    Email: people@thetimes.co.uk

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