Tag Archives: 2012

➤ Big Brother mystery: whose hand is behind Lorenzo’s showstopping gold lamé outfit?

Celebrity Big Brother, Kallini Puppets, Julian Clary, ventriloquism, tuxedo, fashion

Celebrity Big Brother dummy: Julian parades “Lorenzo” in his gold lamé outfit. (Screengrab © Channel 5)

❚ FORGET THE EVICTIONS! The question every British man is asking tonight after the first public vote ousted Prince Lorenzo from the Celebrity Big Brother house is: Where can I buy one of those sensational Vegas-style gold lamé tuxedos? Oh yes. And matching must-have bow-tie. Check.

Halfway through a Big Brother task tonight we saw comedian Julian Clary operating a cheeky-chappie ventriloquist’s dummy which he had christened Lorenzo, after his princely housemate, and putting some very apposite words into his mouth: “I am a prince and I’m not gay, do you hear me?”

But as well as the viciously glossed black pedigree hair on the polyurethane “Lorenzo”, the real show-stealers were his immaculately tailored gold jacket and dazzling tie. It’s pretty obvious that Channel 5 phones must have been ringing with international jetsetters wanting to know which fashion-forward couturier could supply them with similar bespoke evening wear. Could the designer be Tom Ford, Dries Van Noten, Thom Browne, Hedi Slimane, Marc Jacobs, Raf Simons or Isaac Mizrahi? Our lips are sealed.

Kallini Puppets, ventriloquism, tuxedo, fashion

Examples from the Kallini range: each puppet comes with either ready-to-wear or a bespoke tailored outfit

The cheeky-chappie comes from an extensive range at Britain’s leading maker of traditional ventriloquist’s dummies which include Grumpy Old Man, Soldier, Scotsman, Schoolgirl, Scout as well as Marvin the Monkey, among other animals. All are hand made in the Tyne and Wear workshop of Kallini Puppets. The dummy heads are first sculpted in clay, moulded in silicone and cast in a strong but lightweight polyurethane resin. It’s no coincidence that the whole range of puppets which come in three sizes — 15-inch, 26-inch and 34-inch — are sold complete with “a costume of your choice” (except for Marvin, naturally). And an outfit bedizened to suit the personality of each dummy is a major selling point.

Could a clue to the gifted designer’s identity be found in the range of puppets themselves? Study the photographs below: one is the Kallini puppet marketed as “Traditional Style Schoolgirl Ventriloquist Dummy” (note the studiously knotted school tie). The other shows a well-known British fashion designer, whom we are unable to name. Yet the coincidence of looks and couture choices provides convincing evidence of a link between the pair.

Celebrity Big Brother, Kallini Puppets, ventriloquism, tuxedo, fashion

Dead ringers? Compare the standard 34-inch schoolgirl ventriloquist dummy at Kallini Puppets with a legendary fashion designer (right) photographed here by Sandro Martini


❏ Da-a-a-a-yyy Twenny-Tooo update: Martin Kemp is saved from eviction and becomes one of six finalists for Friday’s Celebrity Big Brother showdown

➢ Catch up on Martin Kemp’s days in danger of being evicted — at Shapersofthe80s

➢ Big Brother turns Martin Kemp’s son Roman into a shooting star


➤ When crisis looms, send for the Bard and a little touch of Harry in the night

London Olympics, security,

Rocket systems: six London sites have been strategically selected as the best spots from which to protect the Olympics

❚ TWO WEEKS BEFORE the Olympic Games begin, London’s threat level on the government’s official five-point security scale is set at the mid-point, “Substantial” – which means that a terrorist attack is a strong possibility. Hence this week’s anger with G4S, the private company tasked with providing 10,000 security personnel, for failing to fulfil its contract. With the Olympic Village in Stratford opening in east London on Monday and Heathrow Airport saying this will be its busiest day for the arrival of athletes, 3,500 troops are being drafted in – some fresh from action in Afghanistan – to plug gaps in staff ranks and meet the shortfall to protect 100 Olympics venues.

London Olympics, security,

Helicopter base: HMS Ocean negotiates the Thames Barrier en route to Greenwich

The Ministry of Defence has already mobilised the biggest peacetime security plan ever in the UK, designed to meet worst-case scenarios. The policing operation is costing up to £600m, and plans to secure venues and other Olympic sites a further £553m. The military deployment has now been raised to 17,000, the majority performing security roles on venue gates. Others have specialist roles as bomb disposal squads and special forces and manning the controversial London missile sites.

On Friday the Royal Navy’s largest aircraft carrier HMS Ocean passed through the Thames barrier to anchor at Greenwich and provide a base for helicopter operations and Royal Marine snipers (while also being open for public visits). Typhoon fast jets will also be on alert at RAF Northolt, ready to use “lethal force” at short notice if the Olympics are threatened. Airspace restrictions around London and south-east England came into effect yesterday.

London Olympics, security,

No, no, no: Residents protest against government plans to station missiles on the roof of the Fred Wigg Tower in Leytonstone. (Photograph by Andrew Cowie)

Last week the Army began installing surface-to-air missiles on the roof of a 17-storey tower block in east London. It is one of six sites around the capital from which Rapier and other high-velocity systems can be launched. Residents of Fred Wigg Tower in Leytonstone had taken legal action to stop the security measure, saying it would make them a terrorism target. However on Tuesday the High Court ruled in favour of the Ministry of Defence, agreeing that a tower block was a suitable site for the missiles.

Londoners have lived with continual acts of terrorism since the first explosions set by the Irish Republican Army on March 8, 1973. Nevertheless, our capital remains possibly the world’s most vibrant city and probably the world’s most open city. With more than 300 languages spoken by its 7.8m population – the French community alone makes us France’s fifth city by population! – London presents a snapshot of Britain’s rich cultural masala. This place can certainly claim to be, in the words of our former mayor Ken Livingstone, “the world in one city”.

Nobody in their right mind grows blasé to the terrorist threat, but life goes on, and today, Radio 4’s topical drama strand, From Fact to Fiction, responded nimbly to the comedic and tragedic potential of the fortified tower-block. With 38 of literature’s greatest plays to plunder, you can’t go wrong with a Shakespeare pastiche in times of national drama. Two poets, W N Herbert and Clare Pollard, have written a piece of cod Bard titled Surface To Air. It imagines the residents of a fictional tower block with a missile on the roof, while a soldier sent to man the weapon considers his role defending all the Olympics stand for.

Laurence Olivier,HenryV

Olivier rallies the troops in his 1944 film of Henry V: today Radio 4 conjures up a pastiche drama inspired by the spirit of Shakespeare

➢ Surface to Air – the 15-minute drama is available for catch-up on BBC iPlayer for one week

❏ Sam Troughton plays the soldier, “the universal Atkins”, posted to Gaunt Tower in east London, his posting in Helmand fresh in the memory. His words and his name of Harry all derive from familiar Shakespearean lines pregnant with history. As he encounters a variegated cast of your actual East Enders, he rues this “nest of ingrates” while wrestling with his conscience:

Shall England be one stream of petty tears
As though its coastline were its cradle,
And all the world its old rejected toys,
And it a royal baby beating with its tiny fists
Against the frame of heaven?

He is a Bardish marriage of Ariel with Chorus, Henry of Agincourt with Old Gaunt, sent forth to deliver that little touch of magic:

I think I am a prophet new inspired
So will I pluck this spectre from the sky,
Dash it against the soil of jubilee,
Defend these others, Eden, hemi demi-paradise:
That park designed for sports perfections
Against defection and the hand of war.
That happy team of mates, that little state,
That precious stadium set in Stratford’s ring
Which serves it in the office of a wall,
Or as a moat defensive to a house
Against the envy of less happy lands,
That blessèd plot, that earth, that realm, IS England.


2012 ➤ This happy breed of Brits: keeping kings and queens in line and knowing how to throw a party

Morecambe, the Lancashire seaside resort: By the Eric Morecambe statue, rain doesn’t stop people celebrating the Diamond Jubilee. (Photo: Rachel Adams)

➢ A stoical nation parties to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee
in the rain, says Daily Telegraph

Yesterday, more than 10,000 street parties were held across the UK. Special credit must go to the two villages that celebrated the Jubilee together, thus creating the country’s longest street party, stretching from Goring in Oxfordshire across the bridge to Streatley in Berkshire. Yes, the weather turned rotten, but there’s nothing we British like better than an opportunity to display our “mustn’t grumble” hardiness. As John Bishop, the comedian, put it on Twitter: Anyone can enjoy a carnival in the sun. Only the British can enjoy a carnival in the rain … / Continued online

On the Thames: the Spirit of Chartwell as royal barge for a day (Photo: Getty)

❏ The major event celebrating Queen Elizabeth II’s 60 years on the throne was the seven-mile long flotilla of boats making up the Thames River Pageant through London, where 1.2 million people had gathered to watch. Apart from the heavens opening late in the day to drown a distinguished chorus of floating opera singers, the big wince of the day came early in the BBC’s dumbed-down coverage, when a commentator called the Queen “Her Royal Highness” — a crime for which her predecessor Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth I would have dispatched him to the Tower with the command “Off with his head.”

Much is made of how well the British mount large-scale ceremonials, which always rest heavily on our love of dressing up. This tradition starts and ends with the monarch and centuries of practice, which means that in the modern era the relevance of a monarchy is always subject to review. At such times the nation turns to our oldest daily paper, The Times (est’d 1785) and of all the national newspapers this morning The Thunderer rose best to the occasion. Dedicating a whole page to its editorial, the paper invoked Shakespeare’s “this scepter’d isle” speech to offer an appreciation of our 1,200-year history during which rebel barons forced King John to grant us basic liberties through Magna Carta in the year 1215. Sadly, since the paper began charging for online access, most Brits will not have read this stirring and unsentimental analysis. Here’s an extract…

➢ A Happy Breed: After 60 years on the throne the Queen is more than ever an embodiment of our pride — The Times, June 4, 2012

© The Times, June 4, 2012 — click to read more

➢ In addition to Shakespeare’s Cleopatra, The Guardian invokes Conrad’s Heart of Darkness to note how contemporary London offends as well as dazzles and so can the monarchy:

Elizabeth II owes her unarguably special hold on British life not simply to heredity but also to the fact that she, like the little ships, is a living connection to modern Britain’s founding wartime myth. That connection cannot endure indefinitely. The past may be another country. But so is the future.

And then there is London and its river. What message do they send today, especially to the rest of Britain? Much was made, in the build-up and the coverage, to the sense of continuity which Sunday’s pageant was intended to evoke. It was the biggest flotilla since the time of Charles II. But the complacent continuity of unified Britishness is more myth than fact. A monarch in a barge like a burnished throne, sailing down London’s river from Chelsea, home of oligarchs and plutocrats, to the City, home of the unpunished financial sector for whose misdeeds the rest of us are paying, cannot be a value-free act. Contemporary London offends as well as dazzles. So can the monarchy.

London is a pragmatic city in a nation short of certainties. The Thames tells many stories, not always glorious ones. And this also, says the narrator of Heart of Darkness from aboard a Thames yawl, has been one of the dark places of the earth. It’s a pity about the rain, because the event — and the Queen — deserved better. It was a colourful occasion on a grey day. It was full of spirit. But whether the nation which it affected to embody actually exists is another matter ” … / Full text online

In the Thames flotilla: A Shetland yoal manned by Kingston Grammar School veterans upstages a boat full of Brunels (Photo: Anthony Devlin)

➢ The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Thames Pageant fired the public imagination in remarkable fashion, said The Daily Telegraph and cited Pepys’s diary:

The Thames Pageant, the centrepiece of the Diamond Jubilee festivities, was the most spectacular such event since the Aqua Triumphalis, the arrival along the Thames in 1662 of Charles II’s bride, Catherine of Braganza, accompanied by a flotilla of 10,000 vessels. Samuel Pepys wrote in his diary about “the most magnificent triumph that ever floated on the Thames, considering the innumerable boates and vessells dress’d and adorn’d with all imaginable pomp”, with “musiq and peals of ordnance from both ye vessels and the shore”.

The pageant was an imaginative masterstroke. It celebrated our maritime past on our most famous waterway, what the historian David Starkey has called the “liquid history” that runs through our national story. But it embraced much, much more. For this was also about the warp and weft of life as it is lived in this country by ordinary people. It was about the clubs, the societies, the associations, the guilds who cherish these wonderful vessels and keep them afloat – and yesterday had the chance to show them off. And didn’t they look magnificent? It is this spirit, writ large, that is such an important part of what we are. At our best we pull together to get things done.

Yesterday also showed how we like a party. For there was nothing po-faced about this marvellous spectacle: it was a truly joyous occasion. If anything, the gloomy weather seems to have made people even more determined to go out and enjoy the show … / Continued online

Deepest Somerset: Jubilee party goers get into full swing (Photo: Guy Harrop)


Slave to the Rhythm: Grace Jones at the Diamond Jubilee Concert. (Photo: Ian West)

➢ Update: Monday night’s Diamond Jubilee Concert with Buckingham Palace as the backdrop featured schmaltzy music from all six decades of the Queen’s reign and much limp humour which backfired on almost every comedian linking the acts except Peter Kay whose fooling proved him to be the compleat court jester. Musical standouts included opener Robbie Williams, JLS, Sir Tom Jones, Kylie, Madness performing Our House from the palace roof and Sir Paul McCartney’s closing set. Wackiest performance was Grace Jones, glazed from top to toe as if ready for basting and singing Slave to Rhythm while hula hooping. Priceless. She’s 64, you know. The most lavish son et lumière firework display for years capped the lot.

➢ Tuesday update: two-minute timelapse video — Guardian photographer David Levene captures the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Procession on the final day of celebration

➢ Wednesday update: Daily Telegraph poll on BBC coverage of the Jubilee — Did you agree that it was “lamentable” and “mind-numbingly tedious”?

❏ Former BBC Radio 4 controller Mark Damazer told Radio 4’s Today programme: “All that went wrong was the very conscious attempt to make the whole event informal and to use the modern idiom.”

❏ Gillian Reynolds, the Daily Telegraph’s radio critic, responded by saying viewers would have preferred more informative commentary rather than “fun” coverage: “I could not reconcile the marvellous framing of the shots — beautiful photographs — with the words that were coming out. Nobody explained what Dunkirk was. I know what Dunkirk was — I remember it — but nobody explained it. Nobody explained what the Little Boats did was perfectly extraordinary. I felt a bit let down.”


2012 ➤ Central Saint Martins fashionistas graduate with street vibes, fantasy and outlandish colours

Central Saint Martins, fashion,BA,fashion, catwalk

First BA fashion show at CSM’s new King’s Cross campus, 2012: Designs by Natalija Mencek, Ruoxin Jin and Erin Hawkes who won the L’Oréal Professionnel Award award

➢ Central Saint Martins fashion design graduates presented an optimistic and upbeat offering at their swish new headquarters last night — Daily Telegraph report:

136 design students are graduating from the BA course this year, and the ultra modern postindustrial building they moved to last September has undoubtedly had an influence. The work was brighter, more optimistic and upbeat than it has been for years. Models actually smiled! Prof Jane Rapley, OBE, retired after 25 years at St Martin’s, six as Head of College … / Continued at Telegraph online

All 41 graduate collections for 2012
on the catwalk

➢ Will the magical blasts from the past follow
St Martin’s out of Soho?


2012 ➤ “Very doubtful” — Tony Hadley on the future of Spandau

ITV, Loose Women, Spandau Ballet,Ruth Langsford, Tony Hadley, Janet Street-Porter,

Tony Hadley today: flanked by two of ITV’s Loose Women, Ruth Langsford and Janet Street-Porter who shot the first TV doc about Spandau Ballet in 1980

❚ MORE COLD WATER HAS BEEN POURED on any future reunion for Spandau Ballet. The leaders of the 80s New Romantics movement haven’t worked together since their Reformation reunion tour ended in 2010. Today on ITV’s Loose Women chat show, Janet Street-Porter asked 51-year-old singer Tony Hadley whether he would ever tour again with Spandau. He replied straight away: “Very doubtful.” His life is busy and full of hoovering these days, he says. Big Tone is now the father of five children — baby Genevieve Elizabeth was born in February.

➢ VIEW Tony Hadley’s eight-minute interview on the ITV Player for the next seven days, in Part 4 of Loose Women

➢ Hadley’s own plans include Rewind The 80s Festival returning for a fifth successive year Aug 18–19 at Henley-on-Thames with Kool & The Gang, OMD, Grandmaster Flash, Rick Astley, Soul II Soul, Five Star, Starship, Jimmy Somerville, Sinitta, Marc Almond, Midge Ure, Adam Ant and more, plus festival fun


➢ The Hadley bombshell no Spandau Ballet fan will welcome
— Dec 2011

➢ Bombshell for Spandau Ballet fans as Hadley unwinds after
US solo tour — Aug 2011

➢ As Big Tone Hadley goes West he tosses out a few interview squibs
— Aug 2011

➢ Spandau Ballet turn east for their final furlong
— Tour’s end, June 2010