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Feb 03, 2011


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Butler is best known for starring in the cult TV show Witchblade and appearing in action movies such as Drop Zone. She is repped by Don Buchwald & Associates/Fortitude and Framework Entertainment.

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UPDATE: The trailer isn't quite ready yet, so it and the photos have been removed.

Julianne Moore has a teary makeout scene with Amanda Seyfried in the upcoming thriller "Chloe." Seyfried, last seen on "Big Love" and kissing Megan Fox in the flop "Jennifer's Body" plays a temptress hired by Julianne Moore's character to try and seduce Moore's husband Liam Neeson, to see if he would cheat.

The French-subtitled version of the trailer has leaked online and is below, which includes Seyfried walking naked, Moore ripping open Seyfried's blouse and the aforementioned makeout scene.

"Chloe" is the movie Neeson was filming when his wife Natasha Richardson passed away last year.

Chloe Sevigny is reportedly in final negotiations to appear in Season 2 of "American Horror Story."

, Sevigny would play Shelly, a nymphomaniac who is one of Jessica Lange's character's mortal enemies.

The former "Big Love" star isn't the only new cast member headed to the FX drama. .

"It's going to be fun and I told [creator Ryan Murphy] I didn't really know what i was doing, but he didn't seem to care," Levine said in an interview with Ryan Seacrest. "So, I'm going to go and just try to be acting. I think I'm going to be playing myself, so hopefully it will be easy."

Sevigny, if she signs on, and Levine join confirmed returning cast members Jessica Lange, Sarah Paulson, Zachary Quinto, Evan Peters and Lily Rabe. But in Season 2, these "American Horror Story" vets since the sophomore season will be drastically different from its first season, including an East Coast setting in another era.

"[Season 2] has nothing to do with Season 1; there's not a mention of Season 1," . "The second season is set in a completely different time period."

Since the end of "Big Love," Sevigny has continued to appear on the small screen:

What do you think of Chloe Sevigny appearing in Season 2 of "American Horror Story"? Let us know in the comments.

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The ice-age of no dialogue between minds, hearts and spirits has begun. The only escape route leads downwards, into dreams, for some into the graveyard. -- Playwright Heiner Müller, accepting the Kleist Prize in 1990, quoted in Berlin And Its Culture: A Historical Portrait, by Ronald Taylor (Yale University Press, 1997)

Few cities have as many layers of history reflected in their streets, recreational places, monuments, plazas, shopping areas, parks, museums, and other public spaces as Berlin. Key arena for the unfolding of the Reformation, Enlightenment, Romanticism, Prussian nationalism, industrialism, Weimar modernism, Nazism, and finally the East-West split between the communist and capitalist zones that ended as recently as 1989, Berlin contains every kind of contradiction for the tourist to hit on, as much as for the historian. For every impulse, there is an antidote to be found.

What can be the role of the flâneur in a city as visibly constructed by its altering historical statuses? If history is neither denied nor repressed, can there be serendipitous discovery? Is this proposition, first of all, true? Can a city escape its past(s) to reemerge as a new entity, to conform with the demands of new eras in socioeconomic arrangements? The present world crisis was set off, arguably, by the fall of the Berlin Wall, creating a chaos that has yet to find a resting point. A city supposedly merged, to become whole again, while the globe is still reeling from the wars and genocides that have ensued in its wake, as the global balance-of-power has gone off-kilter.

Chloe Aridjis is the daughter of a famous Mexican diplomat and writer, and was born in New York but grew up in Mexico City and the Netherlands. In (Black Cat, Grove/Atlantic), she has written a deceptively simple novel, which undertakes the almost impossible task of merging the binaries to make the project of history invisible again, to remove it again to the barriers of marginality and haze (this is not necessarily the project of her protagonist Tatiana's mentor, Weiss, however, as we shall soon see).

For Aridjis, this seems to be the only way we can make historical meaning central again: by admitting its mystical, unknowable, genetic aspects, not treating it as a matter of complete(d) knowledge.

The novel's first-person narrator, Tatiana, has settled in contemporary Berlin for five years, having left behind her observant Jewish family, who keep a kosher deli in Mexico. She has mastered enough German to find a job as transcriber for the aged, eminent historian Friedrich Weiss, an expert in the various mythologies Berlin has chosen to embody over time.

Tatiana exemplifies the early twenty-first century "cool" feminist, intellectual to the core, unable and unwilling to fall for any of the traditional verities of love, family, and intimacy. Weiss may be old, but Tatiana is older than her years. Berlin for her is a place of self-chosen exile, the city where dreams have gone to become not necessarily nightmares, but wispy illusions of diligence and rectitude she must forever keep chasing.

We have here the concept of the nineteenth-century dandyish flânuer, as first conceptualized by Baudelaire--bourgeois, idle, wealthy--reversed in each of its key elements. The city seems as much in search of Tatiana--to reveal its naked orientation to multiple layers of history--as the other way around. Weiss and Tatiana's project, in one respect, is really one and the same: to pin down the history of the city before it emerges into full-blown chaos.

The most fruitful field for all of nineteenth and twentieth-century literature has been the modern city's anomalous visibilities in competition with the individual's search for wholeness (which gives rise to an intense realism of the object). Tatiana knows, with the weight of past literary endeavor, it is impossible to find the true Berlin, but try she must.

The short novel opens with one of the most disorienting scenes in recent fiction: it is 1986, and Tatiana is on a brief earlier visit to Berlin, along with her parents and siblings. On the U-Bahn, packed with anti-Wall demonstrators, she is sure she sees Hitler--dressed as a woman, ancient yet virile, with his unmistakable features. Much later, when she will relate this to Weiss, they will figure his age then to have been ninety-seven--if, in fact, she saw Hitler, on the probability of which Weiss remains mute. Tatiana tries to call her family's attention to Hitler, and the 'gray buzzards"--SS men carefully guarding the Fuhrer--but is unable to do so in the crowd; as always, the sensitive agonist is condemned to loneliness.

Many years later Tatiana is back in Berlin, yearning to be part of the culture of the city, yet too diffident and detached to fall for its seductions. The tall television tower becomes her frame of reference in terms of the spatial coordinates; she lives very near it. One day she finds a Xolo outside a café, apparently stray, and longs to own it, but by the time she makes up her mind, the dog is gone. The dog turns out to belong to Professor Weiss. Does he still publish? There are tons of journals with articles by him, but they seem to cease in the seventies. Then why does he keep dictating so many lectures and notes, why does he still keep writing?

Noting her intelligence, Weiss soon gives her greater responsibilities: he starts sending her on interviews, related to what different residents remember about their experience of Berlin at discrete points in history.

The first interview, with Jonas Krantz, a freelance meteorologist who lives in a rundown part of the city, dominated by newfangled Nazis, goes really well, and Tatiana is sent on other interviews. Once she forgets to bring Weiss's questions to an important bureaucrat. Another time she picks her own interview subject, the "Simpleton"--an innocent-looking blonde woman who perpetually stands with a smile at a certain corner on Alexanderplatz; but the Simpleton turns out to speak in a demonic gibberish, which Tatiana, however, faithfully transcribes. Weiss is disappointed; this is not the kind of remembrance he is after.

Tatiana briefly gives in to Jonas's romantic overtures, and on their first date, to a party which promises underground pleasures, occurs the second key mystical event in Tatiana's Berlin experience.

Some of the partiers at the abandoned old post office in Mitte where Tatiana and Jonas are drinking and dancing decide to pay a short visit to an underground bowling alley, used by either the Gestapo or the (East German) Stasi, where the bowling scores still remain intact in chalk. Jonas decides not to go, but Tatiana does, experiencing powerful emotions as she imagines the victors of Berlins of the past--whatever secret police it really was--reveling in the underground.

As the group starts leaving, she has the unvanquishable impulse to erase the chalk scores. While she attempts to do so, she is left behind by the group, unable to find her way back to them in the complete darkness. Within minutes she is hallucinating about gray figures arriving to put an end to her life, although it only turns out to be the group leader who has noticed her absence. (For a contrast, think of the underground scene in Fellini's Roma, where the murals painted on the walls in some ancient time involuntarily get erased, through the sheer fact of exposure to sunlight after eons of darkness.)

In this memorable scene in the middle of the book, just as in the Hitler one at the beginning, Aridjis shows how the present is an illusion that can escape in a minute, if we don't watch out.

Darkness closes in within a brief space of time, if we give in to the urge to erase, to eradicate, which follows from the urge to explore. (Is Weiss the wise one then, for removing all apparent traces of emotion from his archival research? Is dispassionate historical analysis, rigorous but well after the fact and in a sense cognizant of its ultimate impotence, the best we can hope for?)

Following this nightmarish experience, Weiss tells Tatiana, "Buildings retain their energy." Weiss wants to send her there again, perhaps to take pictures, but Tatiana says she'll never go back there, that she "will try to avoid underground spaces as much as possible."

But Weiss responds that "Spaces above harbor a similar energy. It's not just spaces below.... A building's memory resides just as much in its upper space as in its lower ones."

Tatiana tells him about inscrutable noises she hears from the apartment above hers, upon which Weiss instructs her, "You should go investigate. Go upstairs and see what you find." Weiss is always the dispassionate investigator, whereas Tatiana is haunted by anxiety about what she will find, if she looks close enough.

A point to think about here is that the first precondition of exile, internal or external, is the ability to overcome anxiety, that generalized dread so typical of the intelligent person inhabiting the modern city, by integrating its elements as the core of one's being. Weiss, in many ways, is the true exile, Tatiana only a faint approximation to his paradigmatic condition. The novel revolves around this oscillation.

It is near this time that on the train, at night, Tatiana sees an old man in a red cape, a transvestite, who she feels certain must be Weiss. So the old historian leads a scandalous double life after all? She wants badly to tap him on the shoulder to confirm her suspicion, but is unable to do so.

Is this Weiss's underground life? Can the historian (the artist or intellectual in general) lead this kind of second life, vulnerable to critique by traditional moralizers--as long as it doesn't interfere with his dispassionate researches aboveground, so to speak?

But according to Weiss's theories, the different realms are inseparable, they infect each other. Who is the real man? Where is the real city? At what disconcerting points do they meet (and clash) and can the artist be present at those illuminating moments of merger? Is the merger always a separation (like the child issuing from the womb, permanently altering the original condition, yet inescapably rooted in it)?

The final mystical moment of the book occurs at the end when Weiss and Tatiana take up Jonas on his invitation for them to visit his apartment, to let Weiss talk to him more about his memories of the Wall as he experienced it as a child.

Following the visit, Jonas offers to walk them back to the main street, but Weiss is insistent on doing without Jonas's help, since he is supposed to know Berlin's streets and alleys like the back of his hand (he hasn't been to this neighborhood, Marzahn, in many years, in reality). They quickly get lost, and two muggers assail the lost explorer-historians. Weiss is thrown to the ground and badly injured.

One of the assailants seizes "the Mexican with the warm crotch," perhaps to rape her, when a blinding fog descends, so thick that the whole city is unable to see anything, and our would-be killers and rapists are disabled. Tatiana walks back toward the city, where people are groping in blindness, to get the help of the police. Later, after visiting Weiss in the hospital, it is not clear whether the assailants had been in turn mobbed by more ferocious Nazis. Had there even been clouds in the first place, or was it Tatiana's imagination? Aridjis more or less ends on this intriguing note.

What is the nature of the deep fog that prevents true consummations--both sexual/orgiastic/fulfilling, and their opposite, murderous/rapist/erasive--from taking place in the city? Or is it that we need certain degrees of fog, overwhelming at times, simply to function in any great modern city with its various burdens of history?

The reader will answer for herself the various meanings in Book of Clouds of the aboveground/underground relations, the meaning of the clouds themselves, the nature of the intelligent soul as reflected in the Tatiana/Weiss dichotomy, but it is clear that this is only a preliminary investigation, for the twenty-first century (twenty-two years removed now from the declared "end of history") of the city as live organism, in touch with all its various pasts regardless of developers' and builders' intentions to erase whatever they find objectionable, the cracks and fissures both terrifying and tranquilizing for the artist to contemplate.

Oh, and by the way, Tatiana returns to Mexico (to a presumably duller life), having had her fill of Berlin after the mugging experience. Her "papers" may always have been in order, but papers alone don't determine how long a person chooses to make a city her own.

The fog cannot necessarily envelop individualist chaos. There is, perhaps, something more durable than the domineering modernist city, after all--though we don't yet know what it is.

This review appears in the current issue of .

has just finished a novel, Karachi Raj. His other books are (May 2012), (2012), (2011), and (2009).

While she made a name for herself as the effortlessly beautiful lead in "Gossip Girl," Blake Lively has been known to switch it up from time to time.

She played a weathered mother in a push-up bra in Ben Affleck's "The Town" and now we get to see Lively play a down-home Southern girl in "Hick."

Starring alongside Chloe Moretz, Eddie Redmayne, Juliette Lewis and Alec Baldwin, the movie is an adaptation of Andrea Portes's novel. The story follows a 13-year-old Nebraska girl who runs away to Las Vegas only to find herself in sticky, often troubling situations.

In the clip below Moretz and the actress/Chanel model whisper over a chiseled-featured boy in a cowboy hat who is, allegedly, following them.

Regardless how the film is received, I think we can agree no matter what Lively does, she always seems to look good doing it.



From superhero to pig blood prop?

According to Vulture, as is actress Haley Bennett.

Bennett and Moretz are just the latest in a series of frontrunners for the anticipated "Carrie" reboot. Stars who've been previously considered for the lead include Dakota Fanning, Lily Collins and Emily Browning.

The original "Carrie," based on the Stephen King novel, starred Sissy Spacek as the haunted high-school teen. The movie, directed by Brian De Palma, is considered a horror classic.

As Deadline.com reported in January, . The film currently has no release date.

To find out more about casting for the new "Carrie," .

[via ]

No one's gonna laugh at Chloe Moretz after this one. Deadline.com reports that which Kimberly Peirce is directing for MGM.

The new film is not considered a remake of the 1976 Brian De Palma classic, but a new adaptation of Stephen King's source thriller. The 1974 novel is about a young and tormented high schooler who uses her telekinetic powers to take revenge on the bullies at her school.

Moretz -- who co-starred in Best Picture nominee "Hugo" and has appeared most recently as a guest star on "30 Rock" -- was in competition with a . In fact, Vulture previously reported that the 24-year-old Bennett -- who will next be seen in Terrence Malick's "Lawless" -- was Moretz's top competition for the role.

While Moretz is still unsigned, the actress is already tweeting her excitement about the new job. "Never been so happy in my life!" . "Thank you Kim Peirce and thank u MGM for the chance of a lifetime i will never forget!"

Peirce is probably best know for directing "Boys Don't Cry," which earned Hilary Swank her first Oscar win. Sissy Spacek earned a Best Actress nomination for playing Carrie in De Palma's 1976 film.

[via ]

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No one is laughing at , especially her .

Speaking with E! Online at the Dannijo and Tucker Tea event in Los Angeles on Thursday night, Greer -- best known as Kitty on "Arrested Development" -- said that Moretz's portrayal of the telekinetic-powered title teen in "Carrie" is heartbreaking.

"Chloe's performance -- and this is literal -- has brought me to tears on set," . "She's made me cry because I find her performance to be incredibly moving. I'm feeling a lot of compassion for her."

Moretz was cast in Kimberly Peirce's remake of "Carrie" back in March. Before being hired, she was in competition with a .

"Never been so happy in my life!" . "Thank you Kim Peirce and thank [you] MGM for the chance of a lifetime I will never forget!"

In addition to Greer and Moretz, "Carrie" stars Julianne Moore and Portia Doubleday. The film is another adaptation of Stephen King's famed horror novel; Brian De Palma directed the first big-screen version with Sissy Spacek in the lead role.

For more about "Carrie," .

[via ]

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Chloe Angyal is a blogger and freelance writer from Sydney, Australia. A graduate of Princeton University, Chloe founded , the University's first feminist publication. Chloe's writing has been published in The Christian Science Monitor and Skirt! Magazine. She lives in New York City and blogs at alongside leading young feminist thinkers like Courtney E. Martin and Jessica Valenti.

A 9-year-old Tennessee girl heading to New York City to spend Christmas with her grandparents was left stranded in the Baltimore airport for five hours.

Chloe Boyce, of Clarksville, was , Elena Kerr, on Tuesday, to New York's LaGuardia airport with scheduled stops in Columbus and Baltimore, Nashville's WKRN reports.

She was supposed to be picked up by her aunt and cousin at the airport, but when Boyce didn't deplane when the flight arrived at LaGuardia, her frantic aunt called Kerr, asking, "Were you going to call and tell me she was going to be late?"

Kerr than describes "the worst day of her life" while she waited for an hour for Southwest to locate her daughter, Kerr told MSNBC. Southwest did not notify Kerr nor her sister that the flight had stopped in Cleveland due to weather and that Boyce was rescheduled on another flight to New York once she arrived in Baltimore.

Kerr and was rebooked. "Someone took her off the plane...probably because she's a child and she's not going to say, 'No, you can't rebook me.' She doesn't know any better," Kerr told the station.

While at the Baltimore airport, a "walked her to Hudson News to get her a drink and some snacks and the pilot bought her dinner,” Kerr told MSNBC. “But while she was there no could tell us where she was," she added.

Southwest, for their part, has of Boyce's ticket (ABC2 reports that the family has also been .). In a statement to MSNBC, the airline said, "Our unaccompanied minor policy aims to minimize these kinds of situations ... by only ticketing them on itineraries that don't require an aircraft change. In this case, the unscheduled change of planes resulted in the connection, a delay and distress for the family which we certainly regret and have apologized for in our conversation with the family of our customer.”

As for Boyce, her mother says that she won't be flying home alone post-Christmas. "I'm going to be driving the 17 hours to New York to get her," she told MSNBC.

It has come to my attention that Tess Daly is the latest celebrity to join the ridiculous milk campaign. As I waited for the red to turn green by the kerb I was brought face to face with the ad, my first thoughts were that Nuts had done a bloody good job to get ad placement on the side of the 333 bus that passes a number of public houses, betting shops and snooker clubs en route. The team over at IPC Media MUST have done their research.

But alas, as I rubbed my eyes and came to it became apparent that this was well, what I guess we could term loosely as a 'serious' ad campaign. Now you can't tell me that the guy (and I have not a doubt in my mind that it is) who created this idea did not realise the obvious connotations present. It is fairly laughable that celebrities are actually willing not only to associate themselves with the campaign but to allow a thick WHITE line of yes; yes it is obviously MILK to be placed across their top lip. Now I don't know how much Tess Daly's fees are these days for PR or appearances but I hope the price was right (I bet Forsythe LOVES this ad).

What I am failing to understand here is when drinking milk became such a cause for concern? Has there been an epidemic of small children dying suddenly of calcium deficiency that I have failed to read up on? I am fairly sure that there are more pressing issues within our society that need funding other than the drinking of milk. Never fear, I have an idea of how we can turn this around. You remember when the millennium dome was first erected? It was largely reported as an eyesore and did not quite meet the architectural magnificence we all hoped for. Blair was berated for his poor spending of the national budget (AGAIN) and after we all went to see it we to came to the realisation it was just a convex shaped museum of pointless crap. HOWEVER after someone came up with the clever idea of auctioning it as a entertainment venue and those that brought us the tagline 'We're better, connected' claimed it, things were looking up.

Though a slightly odd comparison, bear with me, I think we can turn this sticky (sorry) situation into one that could prove rather fruitful to the nation. So as it stands we have an absurd amount of collateral that includes Tess Daly and (I REALLY should have mentioned this earlier) The Wanted to work with.

Now I'm no art guru but I hear on the grapevine that the Tate Modern commissions some fairly weird pieces that fetch a fair old whack . I for one would go to see a short film that showed all the boys from The Wanted dipping their faces in a large bowl of milk to create said moustache. I mean the possibilities are endless, Tracey Emin could come and host, giving her interpretation of what milk means to the nation and perhaps give the lads a few tips on how it is best removed. We could even have a live cow being milked as to educate the little kiddly winks on the source of their much needed calcium, I've gone too far I think.

The point being that not only does this campaign raise a huge question about the celebrities fronting it but who exactly it is they think the audience are. If it is genuinely about young children drinking more milk I think Peppa Pig would have looked great with facial hair and logistically as a pig she probably has way more access to cattle than Tess and The Wanted right? Just a thought.

Follow Chloe Cardon on Twitter:

I currently work as Promotions Assistant for radio and also support production of the shows (which so far involves a lot of me waving frantically at presenters through the glass to cue them in). My passions for writing and music led me here and I will no doubt be caught talking the ear off all the presenters about the tracks on their latest playlist.

I also do freelance PR as an Account Executive on various projects which entails the creation of many a beloved press release and annoying numerous journalists. As of the New Year I will also be heading out to review gigs for a number of event organisers and will be sure to report back my humble opinion on the latest artist or group. As a blogger I enjoy musing on my general observations of life and offering up a fairly honest take on an array of topics which usually include a large element of sarcasm.eGHZmFyID44mYu00M5dZQr%2BjdVtc6mbKKwyhi9exWxVPnmmfTCGgRFKlVEsUD4JFQsfXJ2dtLuzmVP8q1zOe6cFjXCBrfIccAcD2%2BZCj1ofCLNdb4PAUq1BGtDmh45514kIuB5Ua5hfpX3jCUjpesONZAp5v%2FZYto0CpL2BNQDbLKBQntDL%2BG0SOtgBpYqpM

One of my Toronto Fashion Week highlights was the Greta Constantine show last Friday night at the Arcadian Loft. I've always loved how their jersey fabrics drape in a way that works for all body types and sizes. Clothing you can wear and still enjoy a burger... with cheese!

A promise by two employers to begin reporting diversity figures might not sound like earth-shattering news, but last week's that Goldman Sachs and MetLife will begin doing just that could have enormous implications for people of color, women and the broader corporate community.

Information is power, and transparency around diversity data is the first, most crucial step toward improving diversity. When business leaders in Chicago, for instance, decided to collect data about diversity on the city's corporate boards, they found that a year after the data was published, diversity figures began to improve. When individual companies are no longer allowed to hide behind the aggregated data of their industry and are forced to own their actual track record, it's amazing how much incentive there is to improve.

The corporate sector will also benefit. As the old adage goes, what gets measured gets managed. When diversity figures are accurately tracked and reported, the business case for diversity is further reinforced. Numerous studies have found that firms with senior management and board diversity outperform their competitors for a variety of reasons. A cited, among other reasons, that diversity of background, perspective, skills and life experiences can broaden a company's strategic plan and outlook and, in the war for talent, companies will have a leg up when they recruit the best people outside of traditional pools of leadership. The National Association for Law Placement has been publishing diversity data on the top legal employers in the country for years, and today, a firm's record on diversity is a significant factor in attorney recruiting, associate satisfaction and overall firm rankings. When more companies track and report their figures, the case will be all the more compelling.

Goldman and MetLife, two of the largest and most highly regarded figures in the business, should be congratulated for taking the lead and setting an example. In an industry in which diversity figures are available only in the aggregate, and much reported data is anecdotal, we hope that Goldman and MetLife's transparency will pave the way for other firms to follow suit, spur healthy competition for diversity, and, ultimately, increase diversity at decision-making tables.

We certainly need it. Despite years of corporate commitment to diversity and inclusion, the numbers continue to paint a dismal picture. In the Fortune 500, there are only 6 African-American CEOs, 9 Asian American, 6 Latino and 18 women. And, since 2004, executives of color and women actually lost ground in America's corporate boardrooms. According to a 2010 by the Alliance for Board Diversity, Fortune 500 company boards are currently made up of just 2.7 percent African-American males, 2.3 percent Hispanic males, 1.8 percent Asian Pacific Islander males, 1.9 percent African-American women 0.7 percent Hispanic women and 0.3 percent Asian Pacific Islander females.

Thanks to the actions of New York City Comptroller John Liu and New York City's pension funds, the catalysts behind the announcements, a clear message has been sent to employers that diversity matters to its large institutional investors, and improving diversity should be an important part of the corporate agenda.

But let's be clear: reporting on current numbers is only the first step. Once the data has been gathered, the next step is to examine the results more closely to determine what is and is not working in the areas of retention, leadership training and success planning. Reporting, as it has in other sectors such as law, will create a climate of accountability, but we also need to spur the development of more effective and targeted programs and trainings that really enable the development of a more diverse and representative workforce -- at the highest levels. Only then will we see true impact on corporate diversity.

We invite other firms in the financial sector as well as other industries to share their data so that we can create a culture of accountability and truly work together to make a difference.

At a breakout session during the Council of Urban Professional's recent Women's Leadership Forum, managing directors, law partners and senior media executives broke into small groups to ask one another for help and to offer resources -- an "ask" and an "offering."

The idea behind this session was to take networking to the next level by creating circles of openness, trust and reciprocity in which women could help each other with an important introduction, access to capital, a board seat, advice about a career transition or other business need.

One thing that happened next should not be a surprise: All the women engaged and "offered" with gusto. They exchanged contact information. They talked about their current jobs and careers. And they lent advice and help. After the session, many followed up with one another in an effort to sustain these relationships. But there was one surprise in the small group discussions: What many of them couldn't, or wouldn't, do with ease was ask for help for themselves.

Senior level professional women at the top of their careers still felt uncomfortable asking for support from peers sitting across from them offering to give whatever assistance they could.
Studies show . Setting straight the stereotype that women undermine each other's progress, a recent study by Catalyst and a second by Harvard, NYU and the University of North Caroline show that, on the contrary, and help them advance. Women are more likely to offer help when they see the need. But women don't often ask for this help.

Economist Linda Babcock and writer Sara Laschever address this very issue in the groundbreaking book, Women Don't Ask: The High Cost of Avoiding Negotiation - and Positive Strategies for Change (Bantam, 2007). Men, they say, ask for what they want twice as often as women do and initiate negotiation four times more often.

Not only are women less likely to ask in the workplace, they are also less likely to ask friends, unlike men, who will say that they prefer to do business with friends. And as the recent Women's Leadership Forum breakout session exercise showed, women are uncomfortable asking even when they have been encouraged to do so as part of a group exercise.

The cultural, economic and institutional barriers to women's advancement are well documented. And there are an abundance of women's mentoring circles and affiliation organizations dedicated to breaking down these barriers and helping women advance. But few of these structures focus on helping women overcome their discomfort in asking for what they need and their reluctance to do business, or even talk about their work, with their friends.

So how do women make this change? Babcock and Laschever offer numerous ways that individual women can work to overcome their fears and learn to ask, to negotiate and to discuss professional needs with confidence. In other words, challenge our mental assumptions about "what is appropriate or suitable behavior."

But like Carnegie Hall, the way to get there is to practice, practice, practice. So one step women can take is to create circles of reciprocity -- that help participants flex this underused transactional muscle -- whose sole purpose is to prompt and facilitate asking and offering. Circles that meet or interact regularly, to which participants invite new members to grow the circle, refresh the thinking and expand the collective resources. These groups can be casual, like a book club, or structured like a networking group, with the single most important rule being that everyone must regularly ask for something.

According to Babcock and Laschever's research and findings, women are reluctant to ask for what they want in the workplace and feel they aren't entitled to ask. A good way to help women overcome this is to help them practice asking, repeatedly. Once women get more comfortable with asking and begin to experience the enormous benefits of a powerful circle of reciprocity, they'll ask for more and do so more often.

Drew is executive director of The Council of Urban Professionals (CUP), a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization whose members are leading professionals of color and women from across the finance, law, business, real estate and media and entertainment and digital sectors. CUP’s mission is to connect, empower and mobilize the next generation of civic and business leaders. CUP recently announced the launch of the Leader Engagement and Development (LEAD) program, which provides participants with guidance and training from skilled experts, industry practitioners and leading academics in an effort to increase diversity among business leaders and executives. More information is available at .

Jessie J has raised her Voice over allegations she is a 'secret lesbian', branding the report "another boring untrue story".An explosive unauthori...

This is one of those thrillers that relies on the unreliability of cell phones for suspense. It also layers on a testy relationship between a pair of divorced cops (Worthington and the ever-present Jessica Chastain) who are forced to work together.

's Chloe Green has revealed she's banned her dad, Topshop mogul , from appearing on the show.

The 20-year-old said she was loving her time on the show - but wasn't expecting her father to join her on screen.

"I've kind of done it as my thing, so I've told him he can't be on it!" she revealed at the Captain Morgan's Spiced party in London.

Chloe, who is working on her own shoe collection, added: "He says it's been really good, he enjoys watching me on TV. It's fun for my parents. As long as I stick to working on my shoes, they'll be happy."

Despite enjoying her new-found celebrity, the heiress insisted she wouldn't be giving up her designing work.

"I've always been a worker. My dad brought my brother and I up in a working environment, and the whole TV thing is so new to me, I still have a lot of things I want to do fashion-wise and I'll always do that," she said.

"I think the more episodes are coming out, the more I'm getting recognised. It's really strange. It's kind of nice as well to meet the people who watch the show and nice to see the support that there is behind it. It's fun."

Topshop heiress Chloe Green has become embroiled in Tulisa Contostavlos' split from her N-Dubz bandmate Fazer, after The X Factor judge was allegedly ...

It's a mother's worst nightmare — Olivia Newton-John's, to be more specific.

In the new music video for her single, "," the 25-year-old daughter of the "Grease" star, Chloe Lattanzi, slithers about in deep-set makeup and proceeds to undertake a shocking string of suicidal, self-mutilating acts. She electrocutes herself while soaking in a bathtub with toaster ovens, radios and hairdryers, plays with exacto knives, shows off mangled, bruised arms and poses with a gun to head, all the while singing "Never knew love would taste like this." She cries in blood tears, then appears to snort cocaine and blow the dust straight into the camera's lens in a single poof.

For the record, we think the song is sort of catchy in a NIN, Evan Rachel Wood-during-her-Marilyn-Manson-phase way, even if we don't really believe her when she sings "Play With Me." (Or maybe we'd just rather not play with her, thank you.) But for all the typical teenage angst depicted in the film, the graphic component is aggressively morbid, and has drawn fierce criticism from her native Australia, according to .

"This simply glamorizes a range of harmful behaviors and does nothing to help empower young people to cope [with] relationship problems," President for the Australian Council for Children and the Media Elizabeth Handsley told the website.

Lattanzi has defended the video, calling it a form of "'artistic expression" in a press release and has since released a follow-up video, "," on YouTube.


CORRECTION: The above article misstated the source of Lattanzi's "artistic expression" quote. She issued the statement in a press release, not to .

Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the .

There's no denying that Chloe Moretz is growing up right before our very eyes, transforming from cute-as-a-button little girl to super-stylish teen.

The rising trendsetter has been recently. Unfortunately, this particular outfit may be one exception to her stylish chart toppers.

This Sunday Chloe attended the "Iris: A Journey Into The World Of Cinema By Cirque du Soleil" premiere at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood. She wore a leather motorcycle jacket that is totally biker-chic in the very best way possible. But we're not quite sure we're loving the yellow lace pants. Black and yellow is typically an appropriate color combo for a bumble bee, Wiz Khalifa and the Pittsburgh Steelers -- not fashionistas.

Take a look below and tell us: does this work look?

She's known for her high-fashion gigs (including and ) as well as her surprisingly mature potty mouth in movies like "Kick-Ass" and even "(500) Days of Summer."

But there's no need for Chloe Moretz to grow up too fast when it comes to style -- at 14, she can wear all the party dresses she wants!

So we were bummed to see that Moretz chose a decidedly grown-up look for last night's WIE Symposium Ladies' Night Gala Dinner held at Le Caprice in New York City.

The 14-year-old star wore a conservative white blouse tucked into a high-waisted purple and black skirt, pairing with librarian-chic ensemble with plain, black T-strap pumps.

Moretz may have been trying to dress up for the mature crowd, which included Arianna Huffington, Iman, Elettra Wiedemann, Anouck Lepere, Rachel Roy and Alina Cho. But couldn't she have chosen something a little less boring?

For some tips she could call her peers, and , who have the fashionable-but-still-teenage look down to a science.

Take a look at Chloe's outfit below and tell us what you think.

We first fell in love with Chloe Moretz in "(500) Days of Summer," where she played a cute, soccer-playing tween dishing out surprisingly tough love to her older bro, Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

But the rest of the world's fallen for Chloe as well and now she's got the magazine cover to prove it.

The 14-year-old actress , posing in all sorts of sweet, springy outfits and one pair of cool oversized shades.

She talks about acting, of course, but also sounds off on her recent rise to fashion fame. That rise, which has occurred at a lightning-fast pace in the span of a year, included ; cover shoots for and ; ; a seat in the front row, specifically for Calvin Klein's Spring 2012 show... and .

Sitting in the glamorous Calvin Klein front row, , was "superexciting." But she doesn't fancy herself a high-fashion girl -- at least not entirely. Her strategy is to "mix high fashion with high-street fashion. Like, I'll put an Alexander McQueen jacket with a nice Topshop T-shirt. That's more approachable than, 'Here comes Chloe in her runway look,'" .

Plus, she adds in the behind-the-scenes video:

"My mom doesn't really let me buy a lot of high fashion stuff, 'cause she's like, 'You get to do it in photo shoots and stuff, so you don't get to do it in real life!'"

Bummer! At least she's got plenty more high-fashion shoots in her future, we guarantee it.

Check out a few shots from the latest Teen Vogue editorial as well as Chloe chatting on video below -- and

Celebrity brand endorsements are a dime a dozen, but we can actually muster some excitement when the brand-celeb pairing makes perfect sense (see: ). That's why we're totally digging .

We'll admit, we haven't shopped at Aero (as all the cool kids called it) since our middle school days. But we love the idea of a young starlet shilling for a brand that's age-appropriate. As Women's Wear Daily reported this morning, , making 15-year-old Chloe an ideal spokewoman.

For comparison's sake, Chloe's PYT peers, Hailee Steinfeld and Elle Fanning, and , respectively. The ads were lovely, of course, but you couldn't escape the fact they were 14-year-olds posing in grown-up clothes.

Chloe could legitimately shop at Aeropostale -- and she probably does. Her mother is strict when it comes to induling in designer gear, : "My mom doesn't really let me buy a lot of high fashion stuff, 'cause she's like, 'You get to do it in photo shoots and stuff, so you don't get to do it in real life!'"

With Chloe donning $12 tank tops for , that excuse seems slightly less useful.

Check out a sneak peek pic below and to see a super adorable video of Chloe posing in leopard print skinnies, graphic tees, printed maxi skirts and other adorable school-ready pieces.


Want more? Be sure to check out HuffPost Style on , , and .

NEW YORK — At age 15, actress Chloe Grace Moretz is already an ambassador.

It's for Aeropostale, the youthful fashion brand, and it's a job that's likely to come with some clout and influence – especially with teenage shoppers.

Moretz's new gig was to be announced later Monday. She will be featured in advertisements through next spring, largely wearing clothing she's selected and styled herself. She will also curate collections in-store and online.

"I get my own section, I got to pull my own clothes. Girls can go and see what I love and what I wear in the shoots. It's a way for me to be in touch with girls," Moretz said in a recent phone interview.

Moretz starred in "Hugo" and "The Amityville Horror" and has the title role in the upcoming remake of the horror classic "Carrie."

The young actress said she sees a shift in her fan base since her Aeropostale ad campaign began appearing in magazines a few weeks ago. She noted her screen roles until now have been in films that typically attract adults. "I was in the airport a few days ago and these girls were reading their Teen Vogues, and then the girls came up to me!"

She describes her own style as fun, flirty and colorful, and she lives in skinny jeans cuffed at the ankle when she's not working. Most of her style cues come from her mother, but she greatly admires the look cultivated by Michelle Pfeiffer, her co-star in "Dark Shadows."

"She has the coolest clothes," Moretz gushed.

Moretz says she hasn't regretted one fashion choice she's made yet, whether it's for the first day of school or a celebrity-filled red carpet. "Fashion is another way to hone your artistic ability and to express your personality."

(Her favorite back-to-school outfit was in early grade school, she recalls, when she wore a blue dress covered with yellow elephants.)

Choosing Moretz for the brand was ultimately an easy decision, but not one that company officials took lightly, said Scott Birnbaum, senior vice president of Aeropostale marketing and e-commerce. The brand did its homework, seeking input from magazine editors, photographers and other industry insiders.

"When we met Chloe, it was really an instant love affair," he said. "She has such great style, she can mix it up. She wears great high-end designers and everyday stuff."

"We think she's a role model," he adds. "She's quirky and actually really funny, and those are things our brand stands for."




Click here to leave a comment.HuffPost High School welcomes a lively, thoughtful debate in the comment section. Keep in mind that the articles here are penned by young authors, so please keep criticism respectful, and help us to keep this a safe and supportive place for writers of all ages to contribute.

Harper's Bazaar likes to pay homage to major film directors, dressing up our favorite celebs and fashionistas in the latest ready-to-wear and posing as some of film's most iconic characters (see: )

This month, for , Bazaar pays tribute to the lovable and legendary Martin Scorsese, whose debuts on Thanksgiving.

Chloe Moretz, Christina Hendricks, Emily Blunt, Keanu Reeves, Emily Mortimer, Sir Ben Kingsley and more all show up as Scorsese characters, although our personal favorite is Moretz playing Jodie Foster in "Taxi Driver."

, saying:

"When we were shooting Taxi Driver, I think Marty was really uncomfortable with the fact that I was so young. The memory I have is of him and Robert De Niro trying to tell me how to unzip [De Niro’s] pants. And Marty keeps bursting out laughing. He can’t get a word out, and he tries to act serious, you know? He keeps smoothing down his face on both sides, but he just keeps laughing. And then De Niro decides he’s going to take over because he can do it."

As adept as Moretz looks playing the racy role for photographer Jason Schmidt's camera, the 14-year-old told the magazine, "I haven't seen 'Taxi Drive' yet. My mom won't let me watch it."

Check out Moretz, Hendricks, Blunt and more in the slideshow below and .

The column inches given over to discussing teen actress Chloe Moretz are devoted almost as closely to the 15-year-old's wardrobe as they are to her sc...

According to music charts across the globe, Belgian-Australian musician Wouter "Wally" De Backer, aka , can now officially be referred to as a "pop" singer. A feat not often accomplished by "independent" or "alternative" bands, Gotye's single "Somebody That I Used to Know" has already peaked at #1 in almost 20 countries. So how did he do it?

For his most recent album Making Mirrors, De Backer wrote a part for a female vocalist on a song called "Somebody That I Used to Know." But after a few choice singers passed on the opportunity and several more didn't quite fit the bill during demo sessions, De Backer hit somewhat of a wall. "There was definitely a point there where I felt like maybe I wouldn't be able to finish the song," he says. But along came 22-year-old New Zealand singer Kimbra, and thank the gods of YouTube she did.

With over 160 million views of the for "Somebody That I Used to Know" on YouTube, De Backer's star, and Kimbra's along with it, has risen to heights visible beyond Tasmanian borders. If you turn on the radio, you can even spot it in the daylight.

But a shining star can be blinding the first time you see it in the mirror. With radio listeners' ears tuned to the voice (often compared to Sting's) and next move (will the song become a "noose around his neck?" De Backer muses) of a formerly sample-heavy artist, De Backer must now realize that, like any superpower, with great success comes great responsibility, and great expectations.

The wild card success of "Somebody That I Used to Know" has brought challenges both unforeseen and even a little uncomfortable at times. Not that De Becker is complaining. It's just that it can be a bit startling when you find out while in L.A. that Danny Elfman is a fan. Or when hear your song on the radio alongside Green Day. Or when, during one of those sidewalk autograph requests that suddenly mark each day, you catch sight of your reflection in a store window and wonder if now you're just somebody that you used to know.

Gotye's performs in San Francisco tonight, Wednesday, April 18, at the Bill Graham Auditorium. SF Weekly on the show's suprising venue change, from the 500-person capacity Independent to 8,000-seater, quoting Another Planet Entertainment executive vice president Allen Scott as never having seen anything like that in San Francisco.

I caught up with De Becker to talk about the making of the now-hit single, when Kimbra came into the picture, how the sudden rise to fame has affected daily life, and what he foresees happening next.

Photo: Cybele Malinowski

There are over 160,000,000 views of the music video for "Somebody That I Used to Know" on YouTube. When you wrote that song did you know it would be such a hit?

I knew it would be single but I didn't expect that level of YouTube success.

What do you think it is about that song that resonates with so many people?

?There's obviously the universal aspect of a breakup in a relationship. I think people relate to the fact that both Kimbra and I in the song are kind of untrustworthy narrators. In a way the song, through the lyrics and chances in emotion -- from reflection through to angsty bitterness -- tries to communicate this sense of how confused one can be, about either how memory can change, how you think you felt about somebody at the time or how you're not even sure how you feel once a relationship breaks up with somebody that you've been very close with. I suppose the fact that a lot of what we say in the song brings each other's statements into question reinforces that uncertainty. I think maybe people relate to that as having an element of truth to it in terms of what you tend to experience in life, which is that things aren't very easily wrapped up in black and white. And I don't know, maybe we sing good!

How did you come to work with Kimbra?

I met her about five years ago. She was covering one of my tunes and she was doing little gigs solo on guitar, doing lots of looping of her own voice and guitar at a little club in Melbourne where I went to see her play. We met up but we didn't really stay in touch very closely over the years. She worked a long time developing new material and working on her debut record. In the last year we hooked back up at a studio we were both working at, and started to become aware of the different stuff on our new records we were working on. It was actually Francois Tetaz, [who was at the time producing both Gotye's and Kimbra's records] who suggested I contact Kimbra about the song. I was already a big fan of hers and I love her voice but I'd almost told myself I thought she wouldn't be right, but I stayed open-minded. We sent her the track, she really loved the song, and the second we'd demoed some vocals together I knew I was wrong and that she had a really fantastic interpretation. She's so versatile with how she can use her voice. She found an insight into how to give it that thing that for many months I didn't think a vocalist could do for it.

The making of this album was very different than past attempts. You made more of the music from scratch versus from sampling records. Tell me about that evolution.

The main difference is that I played more acoustic instruments and I also used my sampling experience but just applied it to things like sampling bits of my own performance on different instruments: drum kit, things I've collected, like some pianos and autoharps, weird keyboards and things in second-hand shops. I still sampled records but I guess it was just broader. I went looking a bit further like with field recordings, a weird instrument called the Winton Musical Fence in the outback of Australia. I tried to go beyond sitting in a room referencing my record collection and manipulating bits from existing recordings, more using some of those samples as platforms and then mixing them more with playing things and applying that sampling approach to acoustic instruments.

Was there something specific that brought you to the decision to change your approach?

I'm pretty restless creatively, so I never really want to repeat myself. I feel like there are parts of my new record that are somewhat of an extension or distillation of stuff I was doing on my previous album, Like Drawing Blood, so I'm definitely inspired to try to head in a very different direction on my next album. I'd say its creative restlessness and a desire to explore new things. I want to keep it interesting for myself. It depends where you decide to define certain areas in which you're going to try to explore newness or variation or what you might call originality. You can just play an acoustic guitar and through doing things like trying a new tuning system or putting it through an effect pedal, then you reinvent that instrument for yourself. There are ways to simplify and on the one hand have a very limited palette, but still find ways to play with harmony or melody or just the pure sound of it. But I guess maybe I just need to be more spoiled. I need to go looking further for weird instruments, strange places, old records, or maybe I'm just not as easily inspired when I sit down at the piano and plunk out chords.

Any sneak peek into what we can expect from your next album?

I have no idea yet. It takes me a long time to make records and I'm not very successful at trying things out while I'm on the road, especially with what's happened with the success of this track and this record over the last nine months. I've been so busy I haven't really had a chance to work on anything new. When I go into a music-making space, that for me is when I go into an introverted place and I kind of need to withdraw, maybe process a few years' worth of things like doing shows and traveling the world. On the other hand I'm not really interested for that to be an experience platform to lead into writing songs. I've already written songs that involve being disenchanted with touring and feeling the wastefulness and use of resources when you travel and fly as much as someone does as a gigging musician. I need to withdraw, read some more things, or live somewhere I haven't been before and see if some stories arrive.

What are the differences between life before and after the success of "Somebody That I Used to Know?"

Well, I get recognized on the street in places I've never been before. I've never been in D.C. before and I went for a walk and bought a coffee this morning and three people wanted photos with me. That's sometimes pleasant, sometimes a bit annoying. That's one difference. Otherwise, I'm busier than I ever have been before. I've always been a bit of a workaholic and kept myself very busy, but at the moment it's one thing after the next, trying to think six months ahead. It feels like potentially it's always somewhere between excitement and a certain level of anxiety about what it means to have such a big single and whether it will actually become a noose around my neck. Whether it'll weigh so heavily on me when I start to write new stuff that it'll actually feel like a negative, I don't know. I'm just probably sometimes slightly confused or I'm putting that out of my mind and trying to focus on the task at hand, which is playing good shows, enjoying the time traveling, and seeing new cities, especially in the United States. Maybe I'll be able to process all of it a little bit down the track.

What has been the most surprising aspect of this whole whirlwind?

Maybe sitting in a taxi in L.A. when a modern rock station is playing Linkin Park, Green Day, Foo Fighters, and then my track. It feels a little bit surreal. It feels a bit incongruous, musically. You've got this really loud, heavy, compressed rock music and then this kind of restrained, xylophone naïve melody, very soft, reflective song. Moments like that feel a bit strange, like I'm not quite sure how that's happened. There's been a bunch of weird things. Like I'll be doing promo in L.A. and drive up to a house where somebody's set up some webcam stuff and I find out it's Richard Elfman's house, a guy whose movies I used to watch when I was a teenager, who started the band Oingo Boingo with his brother Danny Elfman, who it turns out is a fan of my music. Things like that are kind of classic L.A. experiences, not things I thought would happen.

You say it feels incongruous to hear your song on the radio alongside other genres. How do you usually describe your music to people who haven't heard it?

I suppose "alternative pop" is a fairly boring generic way to say what it is. I came up with my own genre term which is "neurotic exotica." I'd like to try to come up with some others, though. Otherwise I'm like, have a listen to these songs and you'll see that describing certain genres is not really what it's about, the way I make music, really.

Given what a whirlwind it's been, what are your coping mechanisms and strategies for staying sane while on the road?

On some level you just have to shut certain things out. I haven't really been engaging with social media, like Twitter, for a while. I kind of checked out for a bit. I stopped reading press, firstly because there was just so much of it eventually and beyond a certain point, once you read, say, the 100th review -- well, I wouldn't get anywhere near that -- but once you've read 10 reviews of your record, some terrible, some great, some average, then you kind of realize it actually has no real bearing on the work you've done and it's not like you can change what you've done anyway. In the end it just reminds you that you're on your own journey and only you really know if you've worked as hard as you wanted to or done the best you can. And it's kind of interesting, I find it curious to then work out where other people think you fit, or what your work means to a certain audience or music scene.

But in the end, I don't think you need to let that affect anything about the path you're on or what inspires you. So a certain amount of checking out and trying not to think about the success or the bigness of it is probably the best coping mechanism, but just focusing on the task at head: Stay healthy, sing well, do shows that you find exciting with the guys in your band you like playing with, and enjoying the experiences with different audiences night by night, and when you do get a chance to see new cities, really appreciating that because it's a pretty amazing job in that regard.

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According to music charts across the globe, Belgian-Australian musician Wouter "Wally" De Backer, aka , can now officially be referred to as a "pop" singer. A feat not often accomplished by "independent" or "alternative" bands, Gotye's single "Somebody That I Used to Know" has already peaked at #1...

Meet , a freshman basketball player for Merrimack College in Mass. (D-II) with one hell of a crossover. Rothman embarrassed not one, but two defenders in a game recently with behind the back crossover. Both defenders fell down as she found a teammate wide open under the basket for an easy layup. The highlight would have been much greater had Rothman's teammate scored, but it's still quite entertaining. Well done, Chloe.


Let's face it. Sometimes those trips to the mall aren't all fun and games for the little ones.

They get impatient, run around the store and hide under clothes racks, but every once in a while, if you're lucky, kids learn to entertain themselves with some pretty awesome activities.

Take Chloe, for example. Decked in her plaid dress and matching black boots, Chloe makes it her mission to wave to all shoppers on the mall's escalator with an enthusiastic "Bye!" And, as her father points, almost every person waves back and smiles.

Although the video is about three years old, the footage of Chloe's random act of kindness is just now making its way around the web. Because, really, to brighten their day?


As Russell Crowe once said to a director who didn't like his behavior on set. "I don't owe you a good attitude, I owe you my best work"

As long as she goes in and does the best she can with what she has every day, then IMHO she's allowed to call it whatever she wants. It's not as if she'd be the first to voice displeasure at her job.

Robert Beltran (Chakotay, Star Trek: Voyager) complained bitterly about his character and the show pretty much for the last two years it was on.

Roy Scheider publically called Seaquest: DSV's second season Star Drek underwater after the show took a decidedly Sci-Fi bend and decended into farce doing it. He actually quit over it.

Point being, most people sometimes hate their jobs. Actors are no different.

Opposites may attract, but not this much -- right?

When 'Big Love' star Chloe Sevigny was 'Jersey Shore' star Pauly D at a Knicks game in early January, gossip alarms went off -- were the indie darling and fist-pumping self-described 'guido' actually dating?

Not exactly, but Sevigny kind of likes the sound of it, it seems.

"No, but I wish, because that would be hilarious. That would be the weirdest couple in the world. It would be like the apocalypse," she .

But why, exactly?

"I think it's because we're both kind of extreme. We represent extremes, in opposite directions," Sevigny continued. "So for us two to come together, it would be a very strange meeting of the minds or colliding of two worlds. I haven't watched that many episodes, but of the ones I have... if I were to pick one of the dudes on the show, I'd definitely pick him."

In other hypothetical relationship news, she told the magazine which women she'd want to share a husband with, like she does in 'Big Love.'

"Maybe Michelle Williams and Amy Adams. They seem to have their heads screwed on straight and seem like they would be easy to get along with. They wouldn't be too diva."

For much more, .

American actress Chloe Sevigny shouldn't expect a warm welcome if she ever returns to Manchester - she claims the city is full of "chavs".

The Brown Bunny star clearly didn't have a great time 'up north' after filming in Manchester for her new Sky drama Hit and Miss. After swerving the city's bustling nightlife in the hope of a more alternative scene she was dismayed by what she found.

She tells Psychologies magazine: "It's a small town. And I guess I'd grown up hearing so much about it, I had an idea it would be more bustling because of all the students there. Not that I would hang out with students - I'm 37 - but I expected it to have more alternative life. I thought it would be less... I'm trying to think of how to say it in a nice way. It's very mainstream. What is it they call the girls - chavs? They all go out wearing their huge fake Louboutins hoping to bag a footballer.

"There weren't any places to go where I could find kindred spirits. I'd go to pubs by myself and try to meet people, but people were very closed-off there. It was hard for me. The crew were very kind to me, but they were all working and going home to their respective loved ones. There weren't a lot of people to go out with. Going home and drinking alone is very depressing."

And when she was asked how British drinking compares to America, she added: "Oh my God - it's so intense. I had a night out in Leeds, and a night out in Blackpool and there were so many people out (drunk) on the streets. Even in London when I was hanging out in the '90s, it always felt like there was a weird confrontational spirit in the air. It felt vaguely threatening. I still feel that, especially in the North."

It's not the first time the indie actress has made disparaging comments about the home of Coronation Street - she told Interview magazine in February: "It was very hard being in Manchester. It was one of the grimmest places I'd ever been in my entire life, and I was there for so long. I hardly had any visitors. I was so alone. It rained every single day I was there."

Also on HuffPost:


The coolest person we (don't) know, Chloe Sevigny, swung by two events on Wednesday night, making one costume change but (presumably) sticking with the same pair of socks for both ensembles.

To the "Hugo Boss celebrates Hugo on Greene Street in Honor of the Young Collectors Council of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum" event, she donned a buttoned-up white shirt, matching blazer, black skirt and platform Mary Janes. And to the Co-Op Food and Drink Restaurant preview party, she wore a lacy frock, leather jacket and what looks like Keds-meet-strappy sandals.

HuffPost Style crush (a word we use sparingly) Chloe Sevigny is set to stage a runway show next month, .

The actress-turned-designer will send her Resort '11 collection for Opening Ceremony strutting, the first time the duds have ever been presented on the catwalk since she began partnering with the brand three years ago. She , "I've never done this part before and it's a little scary, to be honest. I'm still in the early stages, but I have been looking at spaces, looking at models, and selecting the music and all of that. It's pretty cool to be doing this."

Her last resort collection played with five prints -- paisley, polka dot, houndstooth, floral and leopard -- put together in five silhouettes. At the time, , "They're all prints I've worn since I've been old enough to buy my own clothes; I keep coming back to them," citing "early Benetton" as inspiration. And then, there were the shoes: chunky wooden clogs we'd never be able to walk in. Paired with socks.

. Or .

Chloe Sevigny is the subject of , and in the interview she talks about the final season of 'Big Love,' her infamous oral sex scene in 'Brown Bunny' and her frustrations dating in New York.

Playboy's press release follows; scroll down for a sexy photo and read the whole thing .

On her regrets about bad-mouthing Big Love to a reporter: "I got into a lot of trouble. It was a huge thing on the Internet. Yeah, I got a little talking-to. [laughs] I don't want to bite the hand that feeds me. I loved being on the show; I love my character and my co-stars. The whole experience has been great. I just felt it was a weaker season than others. I shouldn't have said it. I don't want to offend anybody."

On what to expect in the upcoming final season: "The writers are concentrating a lot more this year on the politics within the family. For viewers who keep asking why Bill and the family keep getting away with everything they do, this season the characters start having to face consequences. Since HBO said that viewers respond to how conservative my character is, she becomes stricter and more conservative. They're dressing me like Hillary Clinton in the 1980s."

On co-star Bill Paxton exposing himself on the show more than the women: "Bill likes to get his kit off, and he looks great. The first season, my character was aggressive in bed, but that changed by the second and third seasons, and there was no sex on season four. I don't know why, and I was confused by that. This season, aside from stuff with the teen characters, sex is still on the back burner. And although I have done nudity on the show, the other girls won't do topless. I don't want to be the show's Samantha, like on Sex and the City--the only woman who'll do nudity. So I refused to do any more and there was a lot of back-and-forth about it."

On her oral sex scene with Vincent Gallo in The Brown Bunny: "What's happened with that is all very complicated. There are a lot of emotions. I'll probably have to go to therapy at some point. But I love Vincent. The film is tragic and beautiful, and I'm proud of it and my performance. I'm sad that people think one way of the movie, but what can you do? I've done many explicit sex scenes, but I'm not that interested in doing any more. I'm more self-aware now and wouldn't be able to be as free, so why even do it?"

On interesting sexual propositions from women: "By the time of Boys Don't Cry I had already spoken in interviews about my sexual experimenting as a young person. It sure seems that I have a pretty strong lesbian fan base because when I'm out, everybody responds to those films. I get letters. Last year I got a weird note on my car: 'If you're bored, me too. Let's meet. Your new neighbor,' signed with the person's initials. It's kind of creepy. Does this person see me in my rented backyard, smoking and lonely?"

On what she looks for in a guy: "I want a guy who is masculine, good with his hands and able to build stuff and who has survival skills. Facial hair is a big turn-on. Most of the kids I hang out with in New York are hipster arty types, but I like a stronger, more physically imposing man--like a lumberjack. I'm also into a little hair pulling. I like boys to be aggressive and allow me to be a little aggressive back."

On her texting relationships: "I've been texting for a year with a couple of guys without ever going on a date with them. The other day I got a text from a boy, but it wasn't hot. I mean, if you're going to text me every day, you haven't seen me for months and you're trying to seduce me, you'd better spice up that text and make it more exciting than 'How was your day? I hope you're having a beautiful one.' Sadly, I haven't been doing a lot of kissing lately."



Chloe Sevigny can't be too happy with us. As part of , she talked about how annoying it is to have people call her stylish. Our response? Stop dressing so damn cool. Actually, no. Please don't stop.

Check out :

PLAYBOY: In a 1994 Jay McInerney New Yorker article you were crowned the "It girl" and "the coolest girl in the world." Did having style help or hurt?

SEVIGNY: I guess it helped more than anything else. I'm glad I grew up during the last vestige of cool, in the 1990s, when everything wasn't blogged and on the Interwebs, when things were more on the downlow and underground. I guess I am stylish, but I would rather have people come up and say "I really liked your performance in this or that" than "I really like the way you dress." That irks me. Anyway, the term It girl gets used too loosely.

PLAYBOY: How do you mean?

SEVIGNY: Today the term is used to describe, say, Peaches Geldof--a girl who doesn't do anything but is just sort of around. The original It girl was the 1920s movie star Clara Bow; then, in the 1960s, with Edie Sedgwick and Warhol, It girls turned into socialites, ladies of leisure--people who had "it" just for being "fabulous." But Edie was just a rich drug addict, and when I got called the It girl everyone thought I was that too. I looked like a junkie because it was the 1990s and grunge was the fashion. But I felt I was doing stuff, not just being a socialite.

(Via )

Watch out, Fred and Carrie: A new hipster is moving to town.

, former "" star Chloe Sevigny is headed to the northwest to shack up with Fred (Fred Armisen) and Carrie (Carrie Brownstein) in Season 3 of the "."

Playing the quirky duo's roomie isn't Sevigny's only upcoming role. The actress is also set to play a nymphomaniac named Shelly on ""

In other casting news...

"Go On" nabs Bob Costas. The sportscaster will guest star on Matthew Perry's sitcom as a man who presents Perry with a career-changing opportunity. []

Kevin Sussman is now a "Big Bang Theory" series regular. Known for his recurring portrayal of comic book store owner Stuart, Sussman has been upped to a series regular for the CBS comedy's comedy's upcoming season. []

Maulik Pancholy is saying goodbye to "Whitney." Lily's (Zoe Lister-Jones) ex-fiance Neal will not be returning to the NBC comedy for a second season. Luckily, Pancholy is still going strong in his role as Jack Donaghy's (Alec Baldwin) overly eager assistant on "30 Rock." []

Sprague Grayden and David Costablie land an AMC gig. Grayden and Costabile will appear on AMC's pilot "Low Winter Sun." Grayden will play Elena, a woman working to extend the family's crime network, while Costabile will portray an investigator from internal affairs. []

Related on HuffPost:


This month's issue of features fashion photographer Terry Richardson looking normal and Terry Richardson-y. Wait... that's not Terry Richardson?

Nope, the cover star of the mag this month is actually Chloe Sevigny dressed as Terry Richardson, photographed by Richardson himself. We'll give you a second to process that.

Chloe dons a beard, flannel and Terry's trademark hipster glasses to pose as "the Terryfic Chloe Sevigny." She's giving the camera two thumbs up, and we have to also give kudos to Chloe for how much she resembles the iconic photographer.

Candy, which "the first magazine ever completely dedicated to celebrating transvestism, transexuality, cross dressing and androgyny," also got a major celeb to pose in drag for their first issue: you probably remember , which was also shot by Richardson.

Aside from masquerading as Terry, Chloe's got a cool project up her sleeves: she'll as a pre-op transsexual that is also a hired assassin.

Check out the cover below.

Chloe Sevigny is known for her atypical roles and on April 18 the "Big Love" vet and Oscar nominee is coming to "" (Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET on NBC). And viewers who have come to expect those trademark twists and turns from her performances will not be disappointed.

When audiences meet Sevigny's character, Christine, she's video chatting with her husband. But things quickly sour and her husband sees Christine get attacked and kidnapped. As the detectives start their investigation, not everything is what it seems. When the detectives are on the scene for the ransom drop, it's not the kidnapper who shows up for the money, it's Christine. Sevigny's character comes into Detective Benson's crosshairs, providing Sevigny with lots of screentime with series star Mariska Hargitay.

"Ugh, she's the best," Sevigny told HuffPost TV in a phone interview in late March. "I'm so in love with her. She's so inspiring."

"" Rich Sommer, Ron Rifkin, Laura Benanti and Diane Neal also join Sevigny in the episode. Read on for more from Sevigny about "SVU," her new controversial miniseries and her love of quirky girls (or at least some of them).

Is "SVU" something you watch regularly? I'm sure you've seen it.
Well, I don't have a television, so I don't watch anything regularly.

Oh boy.
[Laughs.] But it is something you return to. There's a sense of comfort in the repetition and the familiarity of a show like that, but I don't have a TV so I don't watch it, no.

So why did you say "yes" to this role?
Every time I go to the theater, every Playbill I see, every actor has an "SVU" credit and I wanted one. So that's kind of how it happened. My friend Natasha did an episode and we were talking about it while she was there and I said, "I kind of want to do one. Why don't you say something to the producers and see if they'd be interested in having me do an episode?" So she did and I had my manager call and say, "Chloe really wants to do an episode" and they said, "We'll see what we have in the pipeline." And they came back with this, so that's how it happened.

Did you have to do any kind of special research for this?
It was kind of loosely based on this true story that happened in Florida -- so they sent me some of that, some of the press clippings about that. But no, no real research.

Your character has a lot of scenes with Detective Benson -- she gets suspicious of Christine -- so I assume you worked a lot with Mariska Hargitay. How was that?
She's been on that show for so many years and she handles herself so gracefully on it. She's just, she's cool to be around. She's funny, easy and she had good insight into some of the more difficult moments I had. I love an alpha female and she is like the ultimate.

Definitely. She's been carrying that show for 13 years now, so ...
[Laughs.] Especially now that Meloni's gone.

[Laughs.] My editor wanted me to ask you if you missed Stabler.
Aww, I know, I know. I think she's doing a good job carrying on without him.

How was working on "SVU" different than working on "Big Love"?
Well, "Big Love" was my show. [Laughs.] "Law & Order" is Mariska's show. It was very different. I go in for a week; I don't want to upset anybody; I don't want to do anything wrong. I just wanted to have a pleasant time and be easy. You're not as invested in something like that when it's not your show. You just want to go in and do the best job that you can for the people who are the regulars and for the fans, obviously. It's just different in so many ways. You're not very familiar with the character, you don't know the crew, there's not that comfort and ease like when you're on your own set. You just feed off the regular's energy, like Mariska's, which she had so much to spare. It was easy to feel comfortable there.

So your character is kidnapped while video chatting.
Yes. In lingerie.

Oh. A little more than just video chatting, perhaps?
[Laughs.] No, you know, she's talking to her husband! He's out of town. It's playful ... until the kidnapping ensues, of course.

And you're joined by a couple of other guest stars.
Ron Rifkin, Rich Sommer from "Mad Men," who I totally fanned out on and adore to no end. And Diane Neal, but I guess she's more of a regular. She was the laugh-riot of the set. I could barely contain myself.

So I was reading about your new show, "Hit and Miss," that's going to be on DirecTV.
Oh! It's not a show; it's just a miniseries.

You play a pre-op transsexual contract killer? That sounds like nothing I've ever seen on TV.
[Laughs.] I hope not! I got reamed out by The Advocate the other day for saying "tranny." I guess I a couple of times and apparently, that's a no-no in the community. I felt really bad! Nobody had ever told me. Did you know that?

I just know that now because so ...
Oh, so there's been some uproar.

Reee-donkulous. You can't say anything anymore.

Can you tell me a little bit more about "Hit and Miss"?
It's a six-part miniseries we shot in Manchester, England. I play an Irish boy/girl from a Traveler's community, which is like the Irish gypsies. It's more about her and this family that she kind of falls into, these children she kind of inherits and how she learns to cope with being in a parental role.

So it's pretty different from your "SVU" role and what people are used to seeing you in with "."
Yes, really different.

I saw you attended the premiere of HBO's "" Did you like it?
I did like it. I love girls, not the show, but the sex. [Laughs.] The age group. I mean, I did love the show, but I love watching girls relating. It was just a fresh take on everything. I think that Lena [Dunham, the creator, writer, director and star] is really such a great talent and just so funny. She deals with subjects we've never seen dealt with before on TV really. It's kind of how I felt when I was like 14 or 15 years old and found Sassy magazine. It was like wow, "Somebody is actually talking about these things." It's great. I'm a huge fan.

It's the talk of the office around here.
I'm sure it is. I also saw Whit Stillman's "Damsels In Distress" the other night and it was equally as good. It's so inspiring. Greta Gerwig's performance is just amazing. She's irresistible. I'm such a fan of these quirky girls!

So have you seen "New Girl" then?
I tried to watch that, but I have to say that I didn't go for. Jeanne Tripplehorn, who was on "Big Love" obviously, is one of my closest friends and she did an episode and said, "Oh, it's going to be on!" So I was at my mother's house -- she has a TV -- so I watched it at her house, but it wasn't the episode. She had the date wrong. I have to say, there was a lot of yelling going on. Maybe it was just the episode I saw and I have to give it another whirl, but I've only seen one episode and it didn't really catch my interest so much.

Chloe Sevigny's episode of "Law & Order: SVU" airs Wednesday, April 18 at 10 p.m. ET on NBC


stepped in where stepped out, in a way, on "" (Thu., 10:30 p.m. ET on FX). When Louis went back into the bookstore looking for Posey's character after that wild first date of theirs, he found that she was no longer working there. The new girl behind the counter is Chloe Sevigny's character.

When she heard that Louis was looking to reconnect with a woman he liked, Sevigny's character got a little bit crazy. Telling him how important it was that he find her, she wound up leaving the bookstore after her shift to try and help Louis track the woman down at her building.

When that failed, they wound up in a coffee shop. There, all the talk about destiny and never giving up on love must have finally pushed Sevigny's character to the brink, because she abruptly pleasured herself.

When she finished, she told Louis she's married and not to come back to the bookstore, wrapping up her short stint as yet another weird character on this bizarre season of "Louie."

"Louie" keeps the weird coming every Thursday at 10:30 p.m. ET on FX.

TV Replay scours the vast television landscape to find the most interesting, amusing, and, on a good day, amazing moments, and delivers them right to your browser.

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Things that get better with age: , denim, ... and celebrity ad campaigns.

, a brand she first posed for back in 1996. Now the New York City style icon is back for more, helming the brand's Fall 2012 campaign shot by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott.

It's easy to tell the two eras apart: snapped by Juergen Teller, Chloe's Nineties spots have the barefaced, brooding minimalist feel we associate with early Kate Moss, while the new ads are vibrant, sparkly and totally 2012. But remarkably, Chloe herself looks virtually the same, down to her red boyish haircut (it's almost as if the intervening years of blonde never happened).

Which explains Miu Miu's decision: with a model so nice, why not cast her twice? Plenty of other brands have felt the same way. From to , here are some models and celebs who keep on popping up again.

Want more? Be sure to check out HuffPost Style on , , and .


Bikini-clad celebs are starting to get their tan on as summer quickly approaches. The latest starlet to hit to beach? Chloe Sevigny!

The 37-year-old was spotted hanging out with friends at Miami Beach this Saturday. Sporting a tie-dye two piece, the former Big Love star had fun snapping photographs before kicking back in a lounge chai


How do you know when the New York Knicks are finally good?

Celebrities return to the sidelines.

Some famous faces like Spike Lee never left, sticking with the beleaguered basketball team through thick and thin. But, as everyone in New York City can sense, and have a chance to go all the way.

Which means the famous fans and their families are hitting the sidelines once again, showing off their courtside style against the blue and orange backdrop. On opening day, while rooting for the Empire State.

And last night, fashion darling Chloe Sevigny showed her team spirit in... leopard print. It wasn't the most baskeball-themed outfit (no mesh jerseys here), but she did look adorable in a black sweater, black tights, ankle boots and a pleated leopard-print skirt. Her latest hair style -- a orange crop with short bangs -- brightened up the stands.

It is only appropriate that the New York Knicks sidelines are filled with fashion favorites, as the court has its fair share of style as well. each fashion week and , attending fashion week, and even co-designing a line with Rachel Roy.

But when it comes to game day, it's the fans who have the most fashion cred. Check out Chloe's cute look!


Also on HuffPost:

WHO: and designer

WHAT: Chloë Sevigny was street style bait as she arrived at the earlier this week. The lived up to her reputation as a fashion daredevil in an all-pink ensemble that only the brave could pull off. We love how Ms. Sevigny on top: The pattern in her button-up was echoed in a slightly different color palette in her blazer, but really made a visual impact (how clever). The Massachusetts native opted for a pair of pink and finished her look with a chunky to offset the otherwise feminine look. We wouldn't be surprised if most of the was looking at Sevigny instead of the show.

WHERE: was seen at on October 3rd.

Click to see Chloë Sevigny's style evolution.

Getty Images

Shop a similar look below, and check out more of our picks.

Want more? Be sure to check out HuffPost Style on , , and .

Chloe Sevigny will soon make her debut as an Irish assassin who's in transition from male to female in the six-part British series "" (premieres on Wednesday, July 11 at 10 p.m. ET on DirecTV's Audience Network).

Although Sevigny is used to difficult roles -- she played a sister-wife on HBO's "" and will take on the role of a nymphomaniac in --.

"Putting [the prosthetic penis on] took two hours," she said. "I shaved myself and they had to glue it on, paint it and pull away the skin to make it seamless. It's a tedious process, and it's hard having someone so close to your private parts for an extended period of time who you're not having sex with."

Uncomfortable as it was, Sevigny said it helped her understand her character more. "Having it on and looking at yourself is oddly disturbing. I felt like a freak," she continued. "A lot of transgender people feel like this shouldn't be part of their body, and so I guess it was a good thing. I reacted the way my character would."

While stepping into the role of someone who is transgender was a huge part of her character, Sevigny stressed other elements of it as well.

"It's more about her and this family that she kind of falls into, these children she kind of inherits and how she learns to cope with being in a parental role," .

"Hit & Miss" premieres Wednesday, July 11 at 10 p.m. ET on DirecTV's Audience Network

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Today New York City's Metropolitan Museum's Costume Institute will open its new exhibit, "American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity." Gazing at the glamorous finery of eras past, as usual I found myself wishing back certain flourishes and trappings, from hand-held fans to white gloves to turbans.

The cast party might be the most interesting part of this show.

Katie Holmes is rumored to be headed back to Broadway, as she's in an upcoming production of William Mastrosimone's drama 'Extremities.' Joining her, perhaps, will be 'Big Love' star Chloe Sevigny, .

"I was reading it and I'm kind of seeing how the cast is gonna pan out," Sevigny told the site. "I know the director is great but I feel like the cast has gotta be real strong. And it's such a commitment."

Sevigny, whose run in 'Big Love' will end this season, has starred in two off-Broadway productions, including a 1998 run of 'Hazelwood Junior High.' Holmes, on the other hand, of Arthur Miller's 'All My Sons.'

Lela Rose's celeb clientele includes Eva Mendes, Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen. We caught up with the designer at Fashion Week to talk about inspiration, her first fashion memory and her dream of owning an ice cream shop.

"I was wondering when did this whole chavvy thing take over," Chloe Sevigny enquires, with eyebrows raised.

The Oscar-nominated actress is obviously still getting over her culture shock on finding herself thousands of miles away from her It-Girl, and instead dealing with life in a northern town, on location for Hit and Miss.

Chloe Sevigny is an Irish, transgender assassin in Hit and Miss

"It just seems to permeate everywhere you look... there's girls with the eyelashes, fake hair, the tans, they're so plastic, it's really insane, how they put themselves together. I was playing a transgender person, but I wore less makeup than they did... not to be judgemental about it, but it was crazy to walk around Leeds, Manchester, Blackpool."

Normally, a self-contained, PR-conscious Hollywood actor would stop at this point, but Sevigny's got plenty more to say...

"And everyone's so obsessed with accents. At work, people would talk about each other's accents at least 20 times a day, at least... Essex this person, Jordie that person, there was this whole big thing about who's authentic from some town, and it's only 45 minutes away."

So how did this New York cool cat end up sticking out like a sore thumb on the dark moors of Northern England, giving it her all in surely one of the more unusual characters to grace the small screen. It seems she got a call:

"'You're going to be transgender. Oh, and you're going to be an assassin.'

"But they told me not to judge.

"Somehow, the creators thought of me!"

She sounds surprised, of her getting such a role. "I think of myself as looking quite masculine - I don't know if it was the looks or... "

Sevigny in action

Of course, Sevigny has form with this kind of offbeat, challenging fare - Oscar-nominated for her role in Boys Don't Cry, which saw her play girlfriend to Hilary Swank's androgynous role. What's more confusing why she chose this far-from-home gig?

"Well, my agents did some investigating and Paul Abbot (exec producer) is a stamp of quality in this country.

"And what a great part it was - this incredible, insane journey that this woman goes through, how complicated it was, you feel for her but you hate her. It was really rich, the biggest role I've had in my career, a great opportunity."

Tarring everybody with the same brush comes something of a surprise from Sevigny, who has herself been a victim of stereotyping in the past.

"In the 90s, early 2000s, I was doing lots of independent films, there was an abundance then, but the market is really shrinking.

"There are these big studio movies, with two or three girls who get in every single one of them, and I've never been on that list. So I've got to take the work where I can get it, and make a living."

Surely an Oscar nomination helps?

"There's a bunch of other girls have that as well. I don't think that means anything, what means something is how much money you can make for them."

Sevigny with Hilary Swank in Boys Don't Cry

If all this makes Sevigny sound miserable, the opposite is true. She's just spunky, and very happy calling a spade a spade, is quick to mention how friendly everyone in the north was, despite the fact she felt "just misunderstood". No wonder she caught the eye of equally quirky Abbott. So what did she think of him?

Cue more revelations of the type to make a publicist blush.

"He never came to the set, but I heard he was really charming and amazing," she confides.

"I'm sure I would love him, he sounds really eccentric and I love eccentrics."

Finally, dare I ask, is she up for a second series of the show which divided critics but always kept them interested.

Small silence. "They haven't asked me yet. But sure... if it's filmed around London."

Hit and Miss is now available on DVD, Blu-ray and digitally. Chloe Sevigny below discusses the transgender issues the series raised for her...

Chloe Sevigny's chic East Village apartment at has hit the market for $1.7 million.

The actress showed off her lovely digs in a recent profile for New York Magazine, in which she hinted about possibly leaving the for a high-rise because of the home's lack of light and strict property rules.

Sevigny said, "I’m looking. Maybe I won’t find the right thing and I’ll just stay here. Or maybe I’ll fall in love and get married and move somewhere else entirely. You never know!”

The tour revealed that some of the home's who also helped outfit the Beatrice Inn, owned by Chloe's brother Paul.

Now the home is up for grabs and is being as such:

Upon entering this very special apartment through the gate, one is instantly transported to a retreat in the country...Continue through to the dining area complete with a wall of casement windows framing the view to the Old World, common garden behind and a Dutch door opening directly to this spectacularly private oasis.With regard to The Brown Rabbit, do remember that there was a New York minute a few years back when it was sort of the in thing to have real sex in a mainstream movie. Until that time, it had been exceptionally rare. (I'm talking "In the Realm of the Senses" type movies here--not the porno version of "Caligula.") It was mainly a French/Rest of World type thing and never really caught on in the US. Only two examples I can think of are "Shortbus" and the aforementioned rabbit movie. One could say that makes Sevigny's on-film actions avant garde.

Of course, it was still a lousy movie.

Our love affair with Chloe Sevigny's closet has continued as the "Big Love" actress stepped out to the show's season 5 premiere in L.A. on Wednesday night in a floral-print halter dress by Rodarte with a cutout and center slit. And even though her skirt was almost gone with the wind, we'd still borrow the frock. Call us, Clo!

She paired the number with lace-up, leopard print heels and a gold clutch. Take a look and tell us what you think.

Since Chloe Sevigny is obviously obsessed with fashion and style, I'm surprised she never took the effort to analyze her figure and determine what looks best on her. With her short neck and long, pointed chin, high necklines make her look freakish, as though her head were connected directly to her shoulders. To create the illusion of a longer neck or any neck at all, Chloe should wear moderately low but absolutely simple necklines without necklaces or any decoration to call attention to that part of her body. By all means, she needs to stay away from high necked tops, especially turtlenecks, which should be banished from her wardrobe immediately.

Chloe Sevigny isn't afraid to go bold, when it comes to speaking her mind, her on-screen roles () and especially her style (case in point: ).

So the actress was not timid about debuting a new haircut that is... well, let's just say it's unconventional. Chloe attended last night's screening of ) wearing a short red hair style to match her short red dress.

There were bangs, there was a little flip at the bottom and there was some tucked-behind-the-ears action (which, ).

Overall we're sort of baffled. The color, the length, the bangs, the odd flip... can anyone tell us what's going on here?

Whilst the focus on boobs is perhaps the only constant in TOWIE, the cast list changes more regularly than Joey Essex's catchphrase de jour (tonight, for example, it was 'salt', meaning 'attractive girl'). Gone are Mark, Kirk and Maria - and in their place a host of new faces. Meet the gang...

Chloe Smith has been appointed economic secretary to the Treasury as part of David Cameron's mini-reshuffle following the resignation of defence secretary Liam Fox.

The 29-year-old MP for Norwich North has had a meteoric rise through the ranks, having only entered Parliament in a 2009 by-election caused by the resignation of Labour MP Ian Gibson in the wake of the expenses scandal.

The post of economic secretary is the fifth most senior at the Treasury under George Osborne.

Smith will have responsibility for a wide range of issues including taxation of transport, North Sea oil, child poverty and the EU Budget.

Tipped for big things from the moment she set foot in Westminster, she was made an assistant government Whip following the general election in 2010.

Seen as a Cameron Conservative, Smith is a member of the Tory Reform Group which favours a Conservative Party that that pursues economic efficiency and social justice, equality, diversity and supports civil liberties.

The York University graduate worked as a consultant for Deloitte from 2004 until her election in 2009, when at 27 she became baby of the House.

Smith fills the post vacated by Justine Greening who has been promoted to transport secretary, following the departure of Philip Hammond to the Ministry of Defence.

It is the latest in a long line of U-turns from the government that has led to George Osborne's 2012 Budget to be known as an "omnishambles".

On Tuesday the Treasury decided to delay a planned 3p rise in fuel duty in August until January 2013.

However having given a statement to parliament it was not the Chancellor who toured the television studios to defend the move, preferring instead to throw his junior Treasury minister, 30-year-old Chloe Smith, to the wolves.

And the economic secretary to the Treasury was subject to a Paxman savaging that caused The Huffington Post to hide behind our hands to avoid the full scale of the horror.

During the day on Tuesday there had been some confusion as to what the policy actually was and when the decision to U-turn was made - and Paxman wanted to know when Smith was told herself.

"When were you told?" he asked repeatedly. Smith explained however that she was not able to give him or the viewers the "full gory details".

Having insisted several times, in a line of questioning that looked in danger of going down , Paxman sighed:

"You cant even tell me when you were told what the change of policy was. You were told some time today clearly, was it before lunch or after lunch?"

Tory .

Chief among those yesterday must have been transport secretary Justine Greening, who was defending the rise as recently as Monday. Something made all the more embarrassing given she held Smith's job before being promoted to the cabinet.

"Why didn't the transport secretary know about it yesterday?" Paxman asked.

Smith's response, an unfortunate coughing fit, did little to pry the hands from the faces of those watching and sent us diving for the safe spot behind the sofa usually reserved for England penalty shoot-outs.

"Is this some sort of joke?" Paxman continued. "Do you ever think you're incompetent?"

While Smith may have endured one of the most cringe-worthy interviews in recent times, there was a sense that Paxman felt a tad sorry for her.

Among those was Tory MP Nadine Dorries, a long time and vocal critic of George Osborne, who tweeted on Wednesday morning: "If Osborne sent Chloe on re scrapping 3p he is a coward as well as arrogant."

She added: "The sumbmarine Chancellor sacrifices another Minister whilst he slips under the surface...again."

Fittingly the term "omnishambles" originates from the political satire The Thick Of It. In one episode minister Ben Swaine is subject to a Paxman beating described as "bare-knuckle backstreet talking". We will leave it up to you decide whether Smith did better than Swaine.

The government needs to deliver on its promise to introduce a statutory register of lobbyists, to restore faith in our industry and to put to an end the drip-drip of lobbying stories that rear their head from time to time and undermine the professional, ethical and useful job that the vast majority of lobbyists are doing day in day out.

The political spectrum is the range of political attitudes of the public, going gradually from extreme to moderate to extreme: radical, liberal, moderate, conservative, and then reactionary. Every individual lies somewhere along this political spectrum, but many do not know exactly where they lie, or they label themselves as something that they may not be entirely. Some even think that they lie nowhere on the political spectrum, because they label themselves as not involved or not feeling strongly about political issues, but the fact is that they are most likely moderate, or maybe they do feel strongly about many political issues but don't really know it.

These labels of "liberal," "moderate," "conservative," "radical" or "reactionary" are often misinterpreted or misunderstood. So the first thing is to know the true definitions of these labels before you apply them to your political description. Read up on them, from both viewpoints. I was scouring Google for an unbiased definition of each political label, but it is hard to find such unbiased sites, so my best advice is to look them up for yourself from both viewpoints. It just goes to show that everyone has their opinion, and most are very passionate about the political label that they apply to themselves.

But generally speaking, "liberal" refers to someone who advocates change, new philosophies and new ideas. "Conservative" describes someone who avoids change, preferring to stick to the tried and true. But these definitions have changed over time, and modern definitions of these political labels are much more complex.

Liberals today are very much for individual rights but also lots of government intervention and control. They want everyone to be treated equally, especially concerning health care, gay marriage, illegal immigration and minimum wage. They are very supportive of the poor and lower middle-class, believing that the rich should be taxed highly to help the poor. They believe that the government should protect the people from themselves, banning gun ownership and making unionizing of workers mandatory. They are also pro-choice but believe that the death penalty should be banned. They want to decrease defense spending and scrap the Missile Defense program.

Conservatives today are for a strong military and taking the necessary actions to protect America, even if it means intervening in other countries preemptively. They are against granting amnesty to illegal aliens and want to prevent illegal immigration as much as possible by building a fence along the border with Mexico. They are against abortion and physician-assisted suicide, and they believe that there should be more faith-based government initiatives, like introducing more religion into schools. They want to cut taxes, keep government out of business and have more capitalistic and free-market policies. They want to protect gun ownership rights, and they believe that there should be maximum punishment for crimes and that people should always be held responsible for their own actions. They also value tradition very highly, like keeping marriage between a man and a woman and keeping the death penalty.

Political attitudes usually run in the family and carry down through generation after generation. Children are influenced greatly by their parents' political ideologies, so families usually have the same or at least similar political views. Children with parents who have strong or passionate views politically will most likely grow up with the same views. They may go through a rebellious stage in their teenage or young adult years but will most likely always go back to their original political upbringing as a mature adult. Of course, there are exceptions, but for the most part this holds true. Many factors other than family also influence political attitudes, like gender, religion, education level and race/ethnicity. But above all, what runs in the family remains the biggest factor in determining political ideologies other than the individual's views on certain current topics or debatable issues.

"Radical" and "reactionary" are extreme versions of "liberal" and "conservative," respectively. A radical is extremely far left, or an ultra-liberal or extremist, and a reactionary is extremely far right, or an ultra-conservative or extremist. Reactionaries are so conservative that they want to reverse political progress or change. And radicals favor drastic political, economic or social reforms and often advocate these uncompromisingly.

One of the best ways to determine your place on the political spectrum and know exactly what political label best describes you and your views is to take a quiz. There are many out there, but the most popular are the and . These are great ways to know what political ideology you most agree with because they are determine your personal views based on issues and how strongly you feel about them. There are no family influences or pressures involved, and no labels on the answers that give away beforehand whether you are choosing a liberal or conservative view; many people feel pressure or obligation to remain true to their political label, instead of expressing their true feelings on certain subjects even if they contradict their label of "liberal" or "conservative." Once an individual claims him or herself to be a conservative or a liberal, a Republican or a Democrat, they usually automatically go with their group's decisions or views rather than their own if they happen to differ.

If you find many of your views differing from your current group's views that you have affiliated yourself with, then you may be giving yourself an incorrect political label. Or you may have just misunderstood the true meaning of the political label that you gave yourself, perhaps just based on the fact that your family holds this label and encouraged or pressured you to do the same, and you took it without current education on that political ideology. To find out whether any of your views differ from your group's, take a look at this . I mentioned many of these descriptions of conservative or liberal above.

Every individual has some kind of political attitude, whether it leans toward liberal or conservative, to the extremes or somewhere in the middle. But there's no general right or wrong, because everyone has a right to their own personal political ideology; that's the beauty of choice and personal freedom. I believe that every human being is equal, but we should let all people have their freedom and ability to live the life they choose to live. Allow people to do what they want with their lives, whether it's good or bad for them. Allow competition and the opportunity to become successful and wealthier than others. If there's no challenge in life, is it even worth living?

We all lead such different lives and go down different paths in life. We come from all sorts of different backgrounds and upbringings and aspire to different journeys through life. That is what makes us diverse, interesting and colorful in many different ways. And that in turn is what shapes our country, the United States of America, and ultimately the world around us.

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Commercials are excellent means of advertising. But, they only reach audiences watching TV at that one moment that they are playing. Unless, they were good enough to go viral. If your commercial becomes viral, now you are reaching audiences across the Internet, on social sites like Facebook, YouTube, blogs, etc. So what makes a commercial good enough to be shared online and spread like wildfire? There's a few key ingredients to make a commercial viral. I have made a list of the top five factors below.

1. Humor

For a commercial to become viral, it almost always has to be funny. Humor is the number one key ingredient. But, it has to be the right kind of humor. Humor for five-year-olds is not the same as humor. You also need to think about your target audience, and who's going to be doing the social sharing of the commercial. For the most part it will be Digital Natives, aka Gen Ys, so targeting their age group and type of humor is your best game plan. Wacky humor is a great tactic, where it's original and kind of random, in such a way that it's hilarious. Take this for example; it's extremely random and kind of weird, but that's what makes it really funny. One of my favorite funny commercials is this , where a football player suffers an injury and is now convinced he is Batman.

2. Goes Over the Line

Which brings us onto the next factor, which is content that steps over the line, as slightly shocking, raunchy, politically incorrect, adult-themed, etc. Now, you don't want to go too far and offend a bunch of people, but if it's inappropriate in a hilarious way, you are on your way to viral success. People don't share commercials about $1 cheeseburgers, people share commercials that are funny, out of the ordinary, and what makes a commercial even more viral is adult humor. Take for example, which have a fantastic use of creativity, raunchiness and humor to create funny, extremely viral commercials.

3. Has a Twist

Commercials that appear to be ordinary at first but end in a hilariously unpredictable way really get people's attention. Even if it starts off weird, getting weirder at the end makes the commercial that much better. Take this for example; a random gorilla feeling the music listening to a Phil Collins song... it's definitely odd... then suddenly it starts playing the drums with extreme passion. And then the commercial ends. It's weird as heck, memorable, and it's funny. Another good example of a commercial with a twist is this , as well as the "That's Why I Chose Yale" commercial on this page of .

4. Rides on the Coattails of a Popular Trend

There's nothing more sharable than content that alludes to a popular trend or current fad that Digital Natives recognize and relate to. A commercial that incorporates something like this, such as an expression, song, word, dance, style, etc that is currently sweeping the youth, can be pure genius. When a digital native sees something that caters specifically to their generation and humor, they usually love it, share it with their friends, their friends share it with their friends, and from there it spreads like wildfire. For example, the expression "YOLO" is currently a huge fad, meaning "You only live once." Yes, it sounds stupid, but it's popular, and if a commercial were to incorporate this expression it's almost a guarantee it would become viral. Or for example, the current trend; even Rihanna is . Another idea is riding on the colossal trend of , which would get a lot of attention, especially among females, who make up the on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. Coming up with your own brilliant ideas can be hard, so riding on the coattails of existing trends and popular fads is an alternatively sure way to viral success.

5. Isn't Too Intellectual

Commercials need to be made for, let's face it, idiots. The lowest common denominator. This is what commercials need to be targeting, because that is the majority of your audience. Most highly intellectual people mute the commercials while watching TV, if they watch TV at all. And the fact remains that if a commercial has a joke that is very intellectual, it won't be understood by many of its viewers, and therefore won't be shared as much as it could've been if it was less intellectual. Highly sharable content is not content for geniuses, but for the average to low IQ. Raunchy and inappropriate or wacky and odd humor is what goes viral, for the most part. Take these , for example -- they all target an audience with lower IQs, which is key.

All of these factors are what can make a commercial go viral, shared via social media, blogs, articles, word of mouth, etc. All it takes is thinking about who your audience is, who's going to be sharing the video, where, and what will make that audience want to share the video. And these five key ingredients can help your commercial achieve viral success!

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Rewind 100 years when fur was the most desired item of clothing for the wealthy -- when basically you weren't worth anything unless you wore fur. Now fast-forward to today, where wearing fur has been protested for the past 60 years, yet, it is still a fashionable item to many, and in some ways is making a comeback. Sites selling brands like Juicy Couture and Marc Jacobs are beginning to sell fur again, in the form of $2,000 fur coats, and animal skin handbags of crocodile and python.

Skins have made a comeback as well, especially crocodile skin wallets, shoes and handbags, which have once again become a status symbol for those who can afford it. But many who can afford it instead choose to opt for a cruelty-free and animal-friendly substitute; faux fur and faux skins. Which surprisingly can be quite expensive, because they are hand cut, hand crafted and hand finished, to ensure quality workmanship so that it is unable to be distinguished from real fur. While still one-tenth of the price of real fur, with no conscience-stricken feelings of guilt when buying it.

But where do you find this quality faux fur compared to the cheap stuff you see in stores? I discovered , a company created by a woman who didn't want to support the killing of animals but loved the feel of fur, so she started a faux fur clothing line in her basement which expanded into a successful online store with hundreds of faux fur coats, vests, rugs, etc, that also donates to hundreds of non-profits and hosts fund-raising events every year. are also easy to find in most stores for very reasonable prices, but if you're looking for more realistic, expensive faux skins, shop at designer stores like and , who have lots of faux snake, lizard and croc bags and shoes for prices usually under $500.

The biggest factor in determining the popularity of wearing fur is that a lot of people don't actually know the process of which their fur coat was made, assuming that the animal only died of natural causes and was never killed just for its coat. But this is a common misconception, encouraged by big fur companies. Many fur-bearing animals are killed daily on fur farms by anal and vaginal electrocution, which ultimately fries their insides, and in the wild by drowning, beating, stomping or trapping. These ways to kill the animal are used as to do as little damage to the fur as possible. The pelts are then coated with many harsh and toxic chemicals to keep them from decomposing and losing their shine.

Fur farms are among the worst places on earth for an animal. Reading articles about these places and what happens to the animals is so horrifying and emotionally disturbing that I could no longer go on reading. To inform yourself on the truth about fur, here are a few must-read articles on , , and . More than half of the fur items sold in the United States come from China, where the fur industry is absolutely horrific, mostly due to the fact that there are no laws against animal cruelty on fur farms in China. is the world's largest, and before buying a fur item again, it is crucial you are fully aware of what goes on in these Chinese fur farms. Animals are kept in tiny wire cages their entire lives, and when their life is up and it's their turn to be made into a coat, undercover investigators from Swiss Animal Protection/EAST International found that after they are pulled from their cages and bludgeoned that many animals are still alive and struggling desperately, when workers flip them onto their backs or hang them up by their legs or tails to skin them.

You can help stop this inhumane and horrifying slaughter of animals for their furs and skins. And donating money or fund-raising are not the only ways to help put a stop to this. You, as one individual, alone refusing to buy fur your entire life, are making a huge difference, saving as many as 100 or more animals. Because not only are you not buying fur yourself, you are taking part in lowering the demand for fur. Small things like signing a petition like the on the Humane Society website can do a lot more than you think, for the more people who do small things, the bigger the difference.

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Lady Gaga is one of the biggest stars today, known perhaps more for her outrageous outfits and performances than her music. She definitely has a taste for weird, and her outfits go from weird to weirder and even shocking. I put together a list of her 15 absolute worst outfits she's ever worn, for your enjoyment. This is exactly what she's trying to achieve by sporting these bizarre costumes in public, so we're not being mean, just giving her more press! Don't feel judgmental, and feel free to post your opinion on her number 1 worst outfit below.

Lady Gaga fashion is freakish -- but fans are following suit, literally, by imitating her strange fashion sense. Gaga is known for wearing her platinum blonde hair long and straight with a large piece of it tied into a , which fans have copied everywhere, and also for re-popularizing round . Gaga also wore "anime eyes" contact lenses in her music video, which started a huge trend of wearing "circle lenses", which are actually illegal in the U.S and . Fashion brands even started getting wilder and coming out with bizarre pieces to attract Lady Gaga fans, such as and . Wild shoes, wild hair, and wild outfits is getting popular, and Lady Gaga just keeps on getting weirder.

Terrible on so many levels.

Creative Commons - Flickr - TJ Sengal

The guy on the right makes me laugh more than her costume.

Creative Commons - Flickr - TJ Sengal

Oh my...

Creative Commons - Flickr - TJ Sengal

What...is that?

Creative Commons - Flickr - VJ Alisa!

She looks like a victorian fruit rollup.

Creative Commons - Flickr - Emma's..?

I don't even know what to say.

Creative Commons - Flickr - a_choudhuri

Woah, it's called a bra.

Creative Commons - Flickr - nellyfus

No, you could not pass as a nun.

Creative Commons - Flickr - nellyfus

Somebody call PETA.

Creative Commons - Flickr - Cate.Sevilla

It's Cousin It!

Creative Commons - Flickr - John Robert Charlton

She looks like a very scary wrestler. And so does that person next to her.

Creative Commons - Flickr - Michael_Spencer

One word: hideous.

Creative Commons - Flickr - TonyFelgueiras

A Viking stripper?

Creative Commons - Flickr - aphrodite-in-nyc

That looks dangerous.

Creative Commons - Flickr - StephenCarlile

This dress wins the most disgusting outfit award for me. A dress made entirely of raw red meat. She must've smelled really bad by the end of the night.

Creative Commons - Flickr - Beth77

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Most people WANT to make a contribution to charities, but many have no idea which ones to donate to, and how much of their money actually goes through to the people in need on the other end. So, they usually end up not donating at all, except for maybe some clothes to the Goodwill every now and then.

So what should you do?

First, do research. Read up on different charities you can donate to, perhaps more local ones if you can find them. Talk to the people from the charities you research and ask them questions. Ask your friends and people you know where they donate to and how much. But if that even seems like too much for you, then just go to . I heard about Free Rice from a documentary on world hunger and poverty called One Peace At A Time (which was excellent by the way; be sure to pick it up from the library or add it to your Netflix que!). What Free Rice is is a nonprofit game. Several games to choose from to be precise. All you do is play the games and with every correct answer, you donate 10 grains of rice. You can play multiple choice games that test your vocabulary, grammar, famous paintings, chemistry symbols, geography, math and languages like Spanish and French. If you get a question wrong, no grains of rice are donated. Once you get a question correct, the 10 grains of rice are automatically and immediately donated. Your following question will be harder, and your next three consecutive correct answers will progress you to a harder level.

So where do these grains of rice go? They go to the . And you don't have to have an account to play Free Rice, you can start playing the moment the homepage loads. But you can have an account if you wish to track your totals of donated rice. And the best thing about donating to this charity is it's fun, educational, and addictive. I sat there and played Free Rice the first time I visited the site until I donated about 5,000 grains of rice. And I felt wonderful about it. There's no money lost in the process, it's just grains of rice being directly donated, and Free Rice donates 100 percent of it's earnings. The sponsors that advertise on the site are paying for the rice you donate. As quoted in the FAQ page on FreeRice.com, "FreeRice is not sitting on a pile of rice. You and other FreeRice players earn it 10 grains at a time. Here is how it works: when you play the game, sponsor banners appear on the bottom of your screen for every correct answer that you choose. The money generated by these banners is then used to buy the rice. So by playing, you generate the money that pays for the rice donated to hungry people."

Where does the rice go exactly? The grains of rice goes to hungry countries all over the globe, including Bangladesh, Cambodia, Uganda, Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar. Watch a .

So who started this wonderful way to help stop world hunger? His name is John Breen, and he launched the fabulous FreeRice.com in October of 2007. In March 2009, he donated Free Rice to the UN World Food program, and it's been accumulating billions of grains of rice since.

So what are you waiting for? Play Free Rice today, and as many days as you can, and tell all your friends about it who don't know how to contribute to charities or think it's too hard or not worth it! And if you have a blog, promote Free Rice on it by having a banner, which can be found here: . You can feed the hungry...grain by grain.

As technology advances every year, electronics have taken over today's generation. Some call our generation "The Technology Generation." Everyone has an iPhone or a blackberry or an Android, a laptop, an iPod -- an ! What's really the use of an iPad?! Electronics have become accessories instead of necessities. And now you can get hundreds of accessories for your ! Six-year-old kids are getting cell phones for their birthday and starting early on the "texting craze," downloading games and spending time indoors on their phones instead of outside playing. Human interaction has drastically changed. It's the Myspace and Facebook era, where teens and pre-teens lead a huge percent of their social lives on the internet.

But, also because of this age of technology and electronics, more kids today than ever before are becoming young entrepreneurs, programmers, online writers, website designers, etc. I started my first online company at 14 years old by creating a website on the online virtual-pet site "" and monetizing it with Google Adsense. My parents at that age were probably doing paper routes, or were in boy or girl scouts, or watching old cartoons on their tiny family televisions! Not that any of those things were bad things, at all, because along with the advancement of technology today has come the pressure to grow up faster and start acting like an adult at an early age. Young kids using cellphones and laptops, for boys, playing violent video games and watching movies about degrading women, for girls, dressing provocatively and wearing makeup. Music playing on the radio about adult topics with crude lyrics; same goes for TV shows, movies, magazines, video games, billboards -- It's inescapable!

I guess what I'm trying to get across primarily is to be aware of all these influences on your kids, little sisters or brothers, nieces or nephews. And help promote a healthy, happy and lengthy childhood for the youth of today. Kids these days don't understand how quickly that beautiful innocence and care-free life full of imagination, wonder and play goes by, because they are trying to grow up as fast as they can, heavily influenced by the media. Seven year olds don't need an iPad, and 11 year olds don't need a Facebook. Playing outside, playing games with your family, helping mom or dad bake in the kitchen -- these are the activities young kids should be enjoying more.

Notice your kid shutting you out with their earphones on the way to school, or ignoring you while texting on their phone constantly, or not coming to dinner because they are too busy on Facebook? Don't worry, tons of families all over the world, especially in the U.S, are experiencing these behaviors too. Heck, my family experienced this with me when I was younger, and are still with my younger sisters right now! It's not because you are a bad parent or guardian, it's because electronics have taken over a huge percentage of our lives. Us adults too! Stuck in our phones, eyes glued to our computer screens for hours at a time. Maybe we are perhaps not finding enough time for our kids too... And I mean real quality time, like playing a board game or going outside and playing baseball. Watching a movie together isn't quality time, you're just zoning out and intently watching a screen for two hours.

I think this is a wake up call, to everybody, that we are losing a lot of normal human interaction, and because everyone does it and we do it all the time, it becomes routine. We forget, that going to see somebody is more heartfelt than a text, or that a real game with your kid is more bonding than watching Spongebob, or that a loving kiss with your partner is more affectionate than a "poke" on Facebook. This is the Marimba ringtone on your iPhone waking you back up to reality. This is the Facebook chat message alert telling you to put down your electronic devices and start giving your loved ones more of your undivided attention. This is the SMS Tri-tone going off saying:

"You only live once, and there's no telling when your life will end.
One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it's worth watching."

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What does it mean when an item of clothing or an accessory is "earth friendly", or "eco-friendly", or "green"? You see it on labels, it makes you feel good to buy it, or maybe you don't feel anything because you don't really know what it even means. An earth friendly or green shirt gets its label depending on the renewability and source of the fibers being used, the process of how it's turned into a textile, and the material's carbon footprint, as well as the working conditions of the people producing the material. Eco-friendly, earth friendly, and green all usually mean organic, free of insecticides and pesticides, and many times the label using that term supports charities and small local businesses in third-world countries. For example, is a non-profit organization that helps orphans by taking their hand-drawn designs and putting them on t-shirts, and the orphan receives the profits from their t-shirts that are sold. Another eco-friendly clothing brand is , and you can read their information on their products and FAQ's .

You can shop consciously easily when it comes to clothes; there are many brands and sites that sell organic and earth friendly clothing with no child labor or inhumane working conditions involved. Even bigger and more mainstream brands and sites have lines of green clothing and accessories, such as on ShopBop.com, Nudie jeans, and for men at the Gap. Even Victoria's Secret PINK has come out with green organic clothes and eco-friendly beauty products. Just Google "organic clothes" or "eco-friendly clothes", try different variations of words and combinations to get different results, and check out the sites that come up. You'll quickly have a list of your favorites to shop at. And you may find that it is expensive to shop eco-friendly all the time, so if you can't always, at least try to buy labels that are made in the USA and are sweatshop free.

Awareness is growing in the fashion industry, although it is still small. That's where you come in. Every individual who chooses to buy an earth friendly product over a product with a destructive carbon footprint is making a difference. Every purchase counts, because it increases the demand and supply of green products, and decreases the demand and supply of other products. No matter how small your purchase, it counts, because it adds to all those other millions of small purchases (and big purchases!) others have made in the world. It's easy, helps the environment, others, even you, and makes you feel good. So what are you waiting for, Go Green!

There has been a lot of buzz about Ralph Lauren lately, as some may know--The Lincoln Center in New York presented , hosted by Oprah Winfrey, on October 24th just 2 weeks ago. It was a benefit for the Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Care and Prevention, and just about every celebrity was there in attendance. At the event, Michael Bloomberg, mayor of the City of New York, named October 24th the Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Care and Prevention Day. Now, some of you may not know too much about Ralph Lauren, whereas some of you may know him as only a high-end fashion designer. But there's much more to this man, and a surprising story to how he came to his fame. And there's a reason why such a huge event was hosted in his honor.

Ralph Lauren grew up in a middle-class family in the Bronx, New York; his mother took care of him and his three older brothers, while his father was a painter. He saved his allowance to buy high-quality expensive clothing since the age of 12, which ultimately lead to his job at Brooks Brothers as a salesman during his attendance in business school, which he later dropped out of to create his own company. His first company revolved around designing and selling his own ties, under the label "Polo". Lauren never went to fashion school, so he used his imagination and personal creativity to come up with tie designs, which branched into designs of all sorts of clothing, shoes and accessories. He personally designed every detail of every item himself, and the 71-year-old still does to this day. His lines include , Golf, Black Label, Purple Label, Denim & Supply, and many more, which span from aristocratic to country wear to East Coast preppy to even gym and sport wear, . His fashion line later expanded into a as well, which includes furniture, bedding, dish ware, china, even paint. He even sells his own hand-picked antiques. Ralph Lauren is now considered the world's most successful fashion empire.

The most inspiring factors of the story of Ralph Lauren was his dedication and his passion as a young man, and his proof to the nation that no matter how little money you have, as long as you have dreams with an un-dying passion, you can most certainly achieve whatever you set your mind to. Under Lauren's photo in his senior yearbook is the word "Millionaire", the caption he chose for himself to represent his future. No body back then believed he would actually become a millionaire... and today is net worth is . He's happily married to his college sweetheart with 3 children, living most of the time in their home in the country. Lauren achieved his highest goals in business, but only after his company almost going bankrupt several times in the beginning. He never gave up, and he consistently held true to his love for class and elegance. His creation of foundations and his generous donations, atop all of these aspects of the man Ralph Lauren is, is what sparked the event held at the Lincoln Center, where Lauren was interviewed on stage in front of the world. Not his success in the fashion and home decor industry alone.

Although, his success is tremendous. His clothing is seen all over the nation as well as the rest of the world, especially his signature polo shirts which house the traditional polo player logo on the left breast. His clothes have a certain air about them; true American in taste with an English touch, always classy and always of immense quality. I personally, as a youngster in my early 20's, admire the brand, especially compared to cheaply manufactured items from generic brands like Old Navy and Gap that so many people wear. What you wear reflects how much you respect yourself, and more importantly how much you respect those around you. If you show up to a classy dinner party wearing jeans and a t-shirt you will offend the hosts as well as the others there. Your attire means so much more than it has become to the younger generation today. Kids with their pants hanging off and exposing their underwear I personally think is a signal of low self-worth along with little respect to the people around them. Where just 50 years ago you had to wear certain attire at dinner, out in public, to friends' houses, etc to even be considered of any class. What you wore was a symbol of who you were. And it still is, although no longer looked upon that way by so many people today. Many young men today don't even own a suit. Funeral dress codes aren't even followed anymore with strictly black in color, conservative clothing; young adults wear inappropriate clothing, and even many adults dress in casual attire and do not wear an all black ensemble. What has happened to respect in the way we dress? Ralph Lauren follows this view of attire in its design and image--it is an extension of who you are that you portray to the world.

Ralph Lauren holds this ideal in all its clothing and home decor designs, proudly holding its title as one of the best clothing brands in existence. Whereas Ralph Lauren himself remains the inspiration behind it, showing the world not only that America takes great pride in itself and its image, and that every individual can promote that too, but that you can achieve whatever you set your heart to, as long as you have passion. And in my opinion, passion is what sets one apart, immediately, from all the rest that are in it for the money or the fame, whatever the case. If you are trying to build a company, you are already ahead of the game if you have a true passion for what you do and a strong foundation for your beliefs. Passion is what drove Ralph Lauren, and today he is one of the most inspirational designers and successful Americans alive.

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Over 50% of middle school and high school students are involved in a school sport, and it is widely looked upon as healthy, and highly encouraged. Schools pride themselves in their sports teams, most which have become no longer recreational activities but very serious pursuits. Even dangerous. Kids are often being overworked by their coaches, treated with disrespect, injured in ways which could've been prevented by the coach, and worst of all, are not even telling you about it.

I have personally experienced all of this, on my high school sports team. And this is my story.

At the end of my sophomore year, I tried out for the dance team, aka the poms team, being a dancer and gymnast for most of my life. I was accepted onto the team, much to my excitement. But that excitement didn't even last the year. I had to quit. The biggest reason being my health, and how it was carelessly and constantly jeopardized by the coach.

Now I'm talking about the dance team, but basketball, football, and baseball teams have the highest rate of injuries, and basketball, track and soccer teams have the highest rate of deaths (). Contact sports also have students pressured to take steroids, and worse. So keep in mind that even if your child is not on the dance team, it's still important to read on. And this poms team was not for sissy girls. We were worked hard, forced to run, sprint, do agonizing drills until our arms felt like they're going to fall off, can-can kick until our legs could hardly move, do 100 sit-ups in a row, and do jumps that required every ab muscle you have. We also had to wear ankle and wrist weights during practice sometimes, which make you feel like you're 300 pounds and moving underwater. But this wasn't the worst of it.

I was, and am, a thin girl, by genetics and a fast metabolism. But I was strong, healthy, and had fantastic stamina. But even these factors couldn't keep me going on this team. Our coach was a woman in her mid-20s, that had been coaching the team for the past year. She swore at us often, and said some things that alarmed me. But that was only the beginning. She got very angry at us when we didn't get the routine just right during practice, and would scream at us to do it over, and over, and over. She would yell things like "I'm going to rip you a new a**hole!", and "You all look like sh*t!". She wouldn't let us have any water until we got it right. The drinking fountain was a privilege, not available upon need. Practice was 2-3 hours after school every day, and sometimes on weekends. My thin form became bony, and I would sometimes get home from practice and throw up from being so overworked. I would get faint and dizzy during practice after doing our routine "full out" (with our best effort, as if there were judges watching) 6 times in a row without a drink of water, and would tell the coach I needed to sit down, but she wouldn't allow it. One afternoon during practice after she finally let us take a break, I had to lay flat on my back on the floor for 20 minutes just so I could stand up again, despite her snide remarks.

It got worse... For a competition routine some of us had to slide down onto the floor into splits, without using our hands, which can be done easily unless you have to do it 10 times a day. I pulled something in my leg because of this, but that was no excuse according to my coach. I had to keep doing it. It became so painful to slide into splits this way that my legs would become paralyzed in pain, and it took extreme effort to come out of the position quickly and run to my next spot. It got to the point where I was shaking trying to stand up out of the position and limping to my next spot with tears streaming down my face, and had to dance the rest of the routine including kicks, jumps, turns, etc. During one practice I was trying to come out of the splits and was locked into place by the pain, and the coach yelled at me. I told her my leg was hurt and couldn't move, and she screamed that she didn't care whether a bone was sticking out of my leg, I had to keep dancing. Exact quote.

After this, I finally confided in my mother. She took me to the doctor, and they told me that if I continued to do this to my leg that it may be damaged permanently. I was also taken to a nutritionist to help regain my weight and health. I was down to 86 pounds, and was blacking out in the mornings after not eating for 8 hours, collapsing on the kitchen floor while trying to fix myself cereal. My doctor said that if I did not quit the dance team, she would have to pull me off, for the sake of my life. Not to mention all the emotional stress I was undergoing, including anxiety and depression. I quit the team, even though it was just weeks until the State competition. My coach was angry, now that my spot had to be filled. I was shunned by the rest of the team at school, and was hated by a few in particular. But it was worth it, because I just may have saved my life.

Over half the team that year was made up of new girls, who didn't put forth a lot of effort most of the time and chose instead to put up with being constantly yelled at by the coach. So as far as I know, they didn't sustain the injuries I did. And the other girls were a tight-knit group of juniors who had been on the team since freshman year, and received special treatment from the coach. She even invited them to parties where they drank together. I thought that no one else would ever report her. But when my mother complained to the school, we were told that the coach would be let go after this year, because ours was not the first complaint made by a parent of a new girl.

Many coaches are not looking out for your kids, but pushing them to extremes, as a coach may with a professional sports team. But these are kids, not professional athletes. And being fit, like I was, doesn't protect you. Overuse injury is responsible for nearly half of all sports injuries to middle and high school students. And most of all sports injuries occur at practice (). I heard things about the other sports teams at my school too, such as the swim team being forced to come to school at 5 a.m. every day and swim for three hours before class then another three hours after class. They were also pressured to shave their heads, their legs and armpits, and most did. Are high school sports suddenly the Olympics? With immense pressure and potential permanent injuries? And how are schools really choosing their coaches? Many are college students, irresponsible, sometimes sports-maniacs or fitness-freaks, or older coaches that view their team as their life, and take it so seriously it becomes torture for the students. And in many cases, the parents are living through their child's achievements in their sports and extracurricular activities. And so even if they're told about what's going on, they disregard it. And it never gets reported, while most of the other kids feel too embarrassed to report a coach. And these coaches keep on coaching.

So this is where you come in. Look into your child's sports they're involved in. Check up on their health, on their coach, on how often they have practice. Ask them about how much fun they're having, how much they like their coach, and how they get along with the other kids on the team. They might not come right out with something, so keep trying. I know this from experience... I didn't tell my mom everything that was going on with the coach and on the team for almost a year. You have to be persistent, and somewhat of a detective! But you may just end up saving your child's ankle, leg, arm, or even his or her life.

There are up to 100 sudden deaths among athletes in middle, high school and college every year, said Dr. Marlon Rosenbaum, associate clinical professor of medicine and pediatrics at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons. Not to mention deaths from dehydration, emaciation, concussion, and heat illnesses. Many of which could've been prevented by the coach.

Pass this on to all the parents you know that have children involved in sports, and let's spread the word about the shocking truth of what may be going on behind closed doors on your child's school sports team.

This post has been updated since its previous publication.

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Chloe Spencer is a 21-year-old internet entrepreneur who started her first business at 14 years old, , a fan site on the hugely popular Nickelodeon-owned site Neopets. Some pages of her blog sport more than 5,000 comments. Chloe monetized her page 1 Google rankings and tens of thousands of daily pageviews into cold hard cash with Google AdSense at age 15, making over $1,000 passive income a month from NeopetsFanatic.com. No longer a Neopets fanatic, Chloe is now working as an individual consultant for web development, SEO and social media. She also has several new projects in progress, including a training program on how to make money online and a Facebook application she designed. Chloe is also a professional writer, and blogs for the , and . She also has a personal blog, .

Chloe has spoken at BlogHer, SMX West, Ypulse, DMA, BlogWorld & New Media Expo, SES, BlogPaws, and SMOC. She's presented live on Denver's 9News to an estimated 1.2 million viewers, and she appeared on the Bay Area's ABC7 News as part of their coverage of the BlogHer conference. Chloe also appeared in The Capital Times Newspaper, and was interviewed by Blog Talk Radio, WebProNews, ClickZ, Tech Smith, ProBlogger, ReelSEO, Blogger Stories and Business Week Magazine. In 2008 Chloe was on the list of Top 20 Young Internet Entrepreneurs Under 21.

I have a significant issue with the negative connotations associated with the Chick Lit genre and, in particular, those stemming from the media who are constantly foretelling the "death of chick lit."

From my observations as a fan of the genre who also tweets, Facebook's and blogs chick lit content, it still certainly has a strong place in the book market, and has its fans who will always be more than happy to read "chick lit".

Unsurprisingly, people automatically assume several things when they hear the term "chick lit" -- pink, girly covers, idealistic female authors, stories about women falling in love with men, 'happily ever after' endings and light, fluffy reads.

In reality, as someone who reads roughly 150 chick lit books a year, I can whole-heartedly disagree with those assumptions and I hope to dispel some inaccurate perceptions.

I think it is the term itself is part of the problem. "Chick lit" is similar-sounding to "Chick flick" -- which is indicative of a sweet, soppy and romantic film which involves two people who end up falling in love with each other.

Furthermore, the adjective "chick" indicates it is a female-dictated genre, thus completely alienating male readers from its potential fan base.

While the primary market being targeted is women, this should not mean that men need to be put off from reading a first-class literary work. From what I have read in the genre in the last few years, the books are grittier than you'd expect, the authors aren't afraid to tackle more controversial topics, they cover a range of ages from the young women we expect these books to be based around, through to more mature women, and they do not always give us the happy endings you might expect.

I've read chick lit books dealing with infidelity, assisted suicide, death, infertility, adoption, murder and domestic violence.

Why should women be embarrassed to be seen reading chick lit? Those that make judgmental remarks about people who read chick lit clearly have never read an emotional rollercoaster of a novel from the likes of Elizabeth Noble or Jojo Moyes, experienced the laughter and realistic tales of Sophie Kinsella or Milly Johnson, nor the edgy and shocking tales woven by Dorothy Koomson, or the fabulous twists and turns contained within one of Melissa Hill's novels.

Bookstores should certainly not be afraid to stock chick lit, and promote the fact as well. I was disgusted to read that a popular British bookstore is to drop the term 'Women's fiction' after two, yes two, women .

My response? Don't buy it. Just because two women decide on behalf of the entire female population that a category isn't valid, does not make it so.

I, for one, enjoy going into a bookshop and seeing the bright, fun covers of chick lit, that stand out amongst the more serious titles, and I know what I'm looking for on the shelf too. Women who love chick lit often go into a book shop to seek out the latest release from favourites such as Kinsella, Jill Mansell, Jenny Colgan and more, so why should we be denied our right to buy the books we like because it MIGHT offend someone else?

Also, why should we be afraid to call a spade a spade? Why can't we name it "women's fiction", because that is what it is -- the target market is women. I don't want to sit down after a hard day at work, and read a violent crime thriller, or the tale of someone who has been abused since they were a child.

I want to read a story that is well written, has realistic and likeable characters that I can relate to, going through things that again I relate to or know about, and I'm going to be happy reading.

I don't know of many authors who don't like their work being classified as 'chick lit', or even 'women's fiction', and those that claim this are clearly kidding themselves.

It's a genre that has proved that it has selling and staying power - many of the big publishers have subsidiaries dedicated to just women's fiction, there are countless blogs and sites out there devoted to the genre, and readers who will always pick a chick lit book over any other - and I'm proud to be one of them.

Long live Chick Lit.

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I'm Chloe, I'm 25 years old, and live in Berkshire in the UK. I also have a nearly-6 year old son who is starting to be as much of a bookworm as his mum! As well as being a book blogger, I'm a University student finishing up my degree in English Literature and Language. I've been reviewing Chick Lit for 3 years now, and really enjoy .the_north_face: tory burchã?¯ä»?ã??大人æ°?ã?ªã??ã?¡ã??ã?·ã?§ã?³ã??ã?®ã?§ã??ã??è?¥è??ã?ã??ã?§ã?ªã??å¤?ã??ã?®å¹´é½¢å±¤ã??ã??ã?®ã?¶ã??ã??ã?©å??ã?«æ?§ã??ã?¦ã??ã?¾ã??ã??ã?»ã??ã?®ã??ã?©ã?³ã??å??ã?¨ã?®é??ã??ã??ã??ã??ã??ã?¶ã?¤ã?³ã?¨ç´æ??ã??æ?¡ç?¨ã??ã?¦ã??æ·±ã??å?°è±¡ã??ä¸?ã??ã?¾ã??ã??ä»?ä¸?ç´?ã?®æ??é«?ã?®ã??ã?¡ã??ã?·ã?§ã?³ã?¢ã??ã??ä½?ã??å?ºã??ã?¦ã??ã?¾ã??ã??中ã?§ã??ã??ã?£ã?¨ã??ç?®ã??ã?ªã??ã?¢ã??ã?¯ã??ã?ªã?¼ã??ã?¼ã?? ã??ã?©ã??ã??ã?§ã??ã??表é?¢ã?¯ä¸»å¼µã??ã??ã?­ã?´ã??ä»?ã??ã?¦ã??è?ªã??ã??ã?©ã?³ã??å??ã?®å?³ã??ã??ã??æ¼?å?ºã??ã?¦ã??ã?¾ã??ã??ã??ã??ã?«ã??ã?­ã?¼ã??ã?¼ã?«ã?®ã??ã?¶ã?¤ã?³ã?§ã??ã?¤ã??ã?¼ã?«ã??å±¥ã??è?¦æ??ã?®æ?¹ã??ã?«ã??ã??ç?¥ã??ã??ã??ä¸?ã??ã?¾ã??ã??æ??å??ã?®ç?ºæ??ã?§ã??ï¼?

Today a small but highly effective provision of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) expired. The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Emergency Contingency Fund (TANF-ECF) accounted for a tiny proportion of ARRA dollars -- a mere three-fifths of one percent -- yet it created a quarter of a million jobs and kept countless families from hunger and homelessness.

The benefits of these types of programs ripple throughout the economy. Food stamps, for example, create a whopping $1.73 of activity for every dollar of state investment. The equivalent multiplier for corporate tax cuts is a measly .30.

In New York, TANF-ECF created over 4,000 jobs, mostly through a transitional jobs program that placed low income people in private companies and public agencies.

Take James Graham, a Brooklyn native. For years he participated in the City's Work Experience Program, which puts welfare recipients to work in unpaid jobs. The lack of pay and training opportunities frustrated him, so he joined Community Voices Heard, a grassroots group that organizes with low-income people for good jobs.

Last June, James' fortune seemed to turn. He secured a parks maintenance job for $9.21 an hour. The position, like all jobs created by the TANF-ECF, is temporary. In a better economy, James could use his new skills to secure permanent employment. But he is pessimistic that the sluggish job market will afford him real opportunities.

Though the US House of Representatives passed an extension of TANF-ECF twice, the Senate is unlikely to follow suit. Many states are ramping down their programs, dismantling infrastructure that took months to build.

According to the NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, New York has managed to extend its program through December with regular TANF funds. Come January, people like James will have even less of a chance of finding jobs.

This is a real shame. With 800,000 residents officially unemployed - and countless more under-employed or too discouraged to search for work -- New York is facing a jobs crisis of mammoth proportions. And we can't count on Washington to rescue us.

In light of New York's revenue shortfall, a projected $14 billion in 2011, it may seem like slashing the safety net and capping spending is our only option. That isn't so.

Last spring, the Center for Working Families issued a proposal for a temporary tax on high-end Wall Street bonuses that would generate between $4.7 and $6.9 billion without harming the finance industry -- more than enough to extend New York's TANF-ECF programs.

That's not the only option for revenue generation. We could partially roll back the rebate on the stock transfer tax which currently benefits wealthy, high volume traders, bringing in at least $3 billion.

And of course we must also save by eliminating real waste. Getting rid of state contracts with private employers who perform work that can be completed in-house at less cost is one place to start.

The fate of TANF-ECF lies with decision makers Washington DC. But New Yorkers can apply its lessons. Next year, when our elected leaders convene in Albany to make difficult spending choices, we should join James and his peers in reminding them that the way to recovery is through high quality jobs programs and supports for struggling families.

Chloe Tribich is a Senior Policy Organizer at the Center for Working Families. She was a community organizer at the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition for four years where she staffed the organization’s tenant organizing efforts. Most recently, she served as lead organizer at Housing Here and Now, where she worked on campaigns to strengthen New York State’s rent laws and hold multifamily lenders accountable for conditions in their mortgaged properties. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Gender Studies from the University of Chicago.

PARIS - The Chloe fashion house is celebrating its 60th birthday during Paris Fashion Week but its spring-summer 2013 show proved it's still as fresh as a daisy.

Designer Clare Waight Keller's collection takes its cue from founder Gaby Aghion's mantra: "I lived the life I wanted."

Chloe, founded in 1952, practically invented ready-to-wear in the first place and has always confidently led the way. That rebelliousness came out Monday in the clothes — strongly feminine and diaphanous but also structured with laser-cut edges in many large frills and ripples.

"I wanted a feminine spirit, but sharp," Waight Keller said after the show. "So we cut the ripples in the material, like a knife."

This contrasted with the collection's soft side. Transparent organza silks played on volume, giving a layered three-dimensionality to soft, oversized T-shirts and knee-length skirts. The light touches came from hibiscus flower appliques on sheer white tops, or in one instance, in green down a singular pant leg.

Features like this can look overly busy if handled poorly. But here the looks were paired with a clean-cut minimalist vest, jacket or Bermuda to tasteful effect.

Waight Keller is one of the nine designers being celebrated at an exhibit "Chloe: Attitudes," that opened Friday at Paris' Palais de Tokyo and features 70 influential Chloe pieces from 1952 until now.


Thomas Adamson can be followed at http:/ /Twitter.com/ThomasAdamsonAP

While most teens opt for a limousine, Chloe Webb and Lauren Huggett, two teens from Stroud, Gloucestershire, England, took things to the next level by .

The 16-year-old girls initially tried to book a limousine, only to find they had all been booked, . That's when Huggett's father decided to pay nearly $770 to have the girls flown to the dance.

According to This Is Gloucestershire, the girls were at the dance with their lavish entrance.

Webb told the Daily Mail.


PARIS - Wearability and light shone from Chloe's fall-winter collection Monday — unsurprising, perhaps, from the house whose founder coined the original phrase "ready-to-wear" more than 60 years ago.

A sense of spring, not fall, bloomed from the largely off-white array of diaphanous silk blouses, scattered pearls and applique lace flowers on display at a sky-lit showroom in Paris' central Tuileries garden.

Dimensional patchwork in wool that was felted gave the knitwear a playful, sporty ease, with airy lace sweaters. Even the British military parka constructions were cushioned by padding and soft-quilted silks.

One knit effect Teddy shearling in a leather V-neck captured the bohemian chic look of the Glastonbury music festival — all with a Parisian neatness and sophistication.

Clare Waight Keller, who became Chloe's new creative director in June, conceded that her move to Paris six months ago could help explain the cross-Channel contrasts in Monday's collection.

"I've just come from London where there's a different spirit," she said backstage. "I love Paris, but the Chloe girl is somewhere in between."

Ugg boots have never looked so good as on the (very high) heels of fashion month, where the celebrity contingent runs a sartorial marathon to make that famous Greek battle look like sissy stuff. If you don't believe me, I give you as exhibit A: During , the Fashion Police judge executed three high-end looks (, and ) in under five hours. As WWD , that's "the average time of a recreational female marathoner." And nearly as exhausting.

And I should know: At the close of New York Fashion Week, I headed to a cabin in the Sierras where nobody could see my freshly scrubbed face and, yes, Ugg boots -- a bad habit I indulge only in the privacy of the backwoods. But turns out, I'm not alone in this deep-seated desire to shelve my five-inch Alaïa booties and nurture my inner bum.

Take : Seeing her in front rows across New York, K. Cav was a walking billboard for celebrity as chameleonic model -- at Luca Luca, at Malandrino and at Betsey Johnson. Now back home in LA, the Hills star is looking -- with minimal makeup, leggings and tees. Even Kelly Osbourne, who clearly takes great care with her look of late, let go her bouffant in favor of and glasses (and sweatpants?) for a recent dinner at Katsuya. Maybe celebrities really are just like me.

Photos by Pacific Coast News

Well, not exactly. There's no paparazzi waiting to shoot me landing at the airport in flip flops or kicking up my Uggs by a campfire in the Sierra. Thank god. But there lies the love part of society's love-hate relationship with the paps: Without them, in the age of stylists, how would we ever identify a celebrity's authentic style? , for instance, isn't the of Marchesa froth we see on the red carpet; she's who landed at LAX after the Miu Miu show in Paris.

Photos by Getty Images, Bauer Griffin

The true identity of a celebrity is only ever debatable -- what do we really know about them anyway? Today at , we were chatting about who we believe, despite a recent sartorial , resides in the upper echelon of stars with a genuinely primo sense of fashion. On the heels of her at Miu Miu's Paris show, Rihanna hit the streets looking decidedly more down to earth in monochrome leggings and a relaxed knit sweater. It seems that here we see the real Rihanna, off stage and able to poke fun at the game: Even in pale pink fishnet, Rihanna's daytime headband evokes a certain Rosie the Riveter roll-up-your-sleeves 'tude.

Photos by Bauer Griffin, Getty Images, Pacific Coast News

Photo by Photo Agency

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We've got to hand it to : She's the only gal we know who heads out for a facial wearing a straight from Balmain's spring runway. And that's to say nothing of her and thigh-high boots to match.

But of course we'd expect nothing less from the reality maven extraordinaire; nay, the fashion press would pan her for it. Thanks to the phenomenon of reality stardom and ubiquitous paparazzi, Kim can't afford a what-is-she-wearing gaff: She must both dress for the job she wants and be always on the job.

The job, of course, is to be superhuman; to rise to a pantheon of demi-gods somewhere above this mortal coil where there's a Louboutin for every day and Hermès bags are like Lays potato chips -- . It goes without saying that demi-gods do not dress down to get a pedicure. They wear, ahem, another Balmain blazer and Chanel costume jewels. And while Kim may deign to wear post-pedi flip flops, she in her arms, their scarlet soles unscathed. (We guess the unworn Loubs didn't fit inside her Birkin.)

Kim Kardashian gets pampered in style.

It can be lonely at the top for some, but Kim has family on Mt. Olympus. and share their middle sister's taste for luxury: This week, Khloe and pal Nicole Richie hit the gym with . She carried a of the same bag out for date night with Lamar last week.

Khloe takes her Birkin from the gym to date night night; Kourtney lays low in jeans.

While Kourtney, the only mom of the bunch (Khloe is expecting), can be seen in laid-back mohair sweaters, boyfriend jeans and flats, she isn't without the Kardashian luxury bug. And when she dresses, she goes all out. While taping Kourtney and Kim Take New York, the former was also spotted post-pedi. And that is to say nothing of her .

Kourtney plays mom and takes Manhattan in leopard print, capes and fur.

The new show debuted January 23 on E! The street looks on Kim and Kourt are, appropriately, out of this world.

Kim on the set that is her life, while taping Kourtney and Kim Take New York.

Correction: Khloe Kardashian is "reportedly" expecting. No confirmation just yet.

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On May 13, 2011, Cleveland's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum raises the curtain on the much-anticipated new exhibit, "Women Who Rock," which explores more than 60 female recording artists who have changed the face of music from the 1920s through today. And guess what? The exhibit includes...

Frank Ocean is getting on my nerves. Not for the reason you're thinking. I don't care who you decide to love or sleep with. I'm frustrated because now that he has publicly clarified his sexual preference, folks are trying to predict who will be next.

Even Queen Latifah is catching flack. This past week while visiting The View, the musician, actress and spokesperson found herself dodging sexuality questions posed by Barbara Walters. In her 40's Latifah is childless and thinking of adopting which naturally means, it's time for her to address whether she is gay or straight. The awkward exchange didn't shake Latifah who declared that her private life is not open for discussion.

I'm not a celebrity but I have felt the prying eyes into my sexual origin.

I'm 31 years old, black and childless. Coming from an American-American family with strong southern roots, that means either I can't have kids or I'm a lesbian.

My mother got married at 19 and had me at 22. My grandmother got married late - 23. "And I was a grown woman," she likes to emphasize before reminding me that she also had seven kids. By their example I should have been married by now. They also don't buy into the hype that's managed to depress a lot of my girlfriends and sell thousands of magazines.

My singleness is a major issue of concern. "Chloe, I don't want you to be alone," my mother says with just enough love so I know that it's coming from a good place. I also know she fears that I'll end up being the old woman with 50 cats, eating cake frosting for dinner being featured on Hoarders: Buried Alive. Good thing I don't like cats.

Why would I subject myself to a life of solitude, unless I was a lesbian and didn't want my family to know? At a recent family gathering, I had a cousin flat out ask me "Chloe, do you like men?" Her bouncing her third child on her knee did not go unnoticed. "I've never seen you with one."

I've never been the type to bring every man I date around the family. There were no suitors calling my mom "Mom" or sitting on the couch watching the game with my dad. Throughout my entire dating life, I've only brought home two guys -- once in college and a recent ex. That leaves a gap long enough to keep my folks wondering what team I'm really playing on.

I could tell by the sound in her voice that she was hoping she would be the one to get me to crack. She would go down in our family history as being the one who "Chloe came out to."

But she was only right about one thing. She's never seen me with a guy because she lives 900 miles away. Apparently that wasn't a logical enough reason. No, I must be a lesbian.

When I told her I was indeed heterosexual, you know her response? "Well, when are you going to have kids?" While her first question had a sympathetic tone to it, this one had a heavy air of "girl, what's wrong with you?"

Just moments before she thought she was going win a . Now she's advocating for Occupy Chloe's Womb.

There was a time when my default response to that question was "I don't have kids because I'm not married." But then I made the mistake of saying that to a group of women at a BBQ, all with kids, none of them married. The conversation started with each of them talking about how happy they were to be out without their kids. Then when they noticed I was quiet on the subject, their attention turned to me. As soon as the "d" on "married" came out of my mouth I knew I had successfully offended every woman there. I was the enemy. I considered myself better than them because they took on the task of procreation without a ring. I was insulting their service to increasing the black population by any mean necessary. I was the problem with the world, me with my old fashion values.

Over the years I've found myself dropping hints letting my family know that yes, I enjoy the company of men. I have deliberately let condoms fall out of my pocketbook or popped birth control pills at the dinner table. Don't worry, I did it with class.

My bible-thumping grandmother even shows her concern on occasion. While sitting at her kitchen table, where she holds court, she once told me the story of her friend who found out her granddaughter "liked girls."

"Miss Deloris," she began, taking a sip of her homemade iced tea filled mason jar with a million ice cubes in it. "Those kids of hers got her going crazy. The youngest grand calls herself liking girls." She bit her bottom lip and looked at me with an ultraviolet ray stare.

"Someone said they saw the child walking and holding hands with a girl dressed up like a boy."

Death ray stare.

"The girl wants to move in with her girlfriend. She's only 19."

Gamma ray stare.

I knew exactly how to end this. I took out my birth control pills and popped one.

Follow Chloé Hilliard on Twitter:

As a journalist-turn-comedian, Chloé Hilliard is entertaining the masses with her wit. Over the last ten years, Chloé has been a culture/entertainment journalist, writing for The Village Voice, Essence, Vibe, King, and The Source. Most recently, Chloé was the Editorial Director of Loop21.com, which focuses on politics and culture. She is now the host of "Best Advice Ever," a YouTube web series that aims to solve everyone's problems.

When Chris Brown performed at the Grammy Awards in February, it wondering how the Recording Academy and public alike could so quickly welcome back a man who, just three years earlier, before the same event.

Now that Fortune, Brown's fifth studio album, has been released, why so many people are willing to forgive the singer for his attack on Rihanna, especially when Brown for violent incidents.

Earlier this month, of Fortune went viral, when the : "Chris Brown hits women. Enough said."

Now, music journalist Chloe Papas' scathing review of Brown's album is as the "best album review you will ever read."

Papas holds nothing back as she decimates Brown's album. "Chris Brown has released his fifth studio album — a 19-track repugnant record that we can only hope will be his last," she wrote.

Papas doesn't immediately go after Brown for his personal history, instead taking issue with his music. She called Brown's song "Till I Die" a "a catastrophic misogynistic sh-t of a song," and added that the entire album is "skitzy" with only two themes: "Unprotected sex is cool and partying is fun."

But then Papas asserts that it doesn't even matter if Brown has talent at all -- :

Regardless of whether Chris Brown has any musical talent (he doesn't) or whether this album is any good (it isn't), the man recently brutally assaulted a woman, and is still regularly invited back to award shows and worshipped by 'Breezy' fans worldwide. Which is, frankly, disgusting. And for those of you out there saying you need to separate the music and the man: screw you, don't encourage his actions. Final words: don't buy this album.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post identified the negative Chris Brown review was written by Chris Havercroft; it was actually music journalist Magazine. The post has been updated to reflect that change.

Celebrity Photos Of The Week:

Chris Brown's album Fortune has been slammed as "repugnant", "misogynist" and rated with "no stars ever" in a scathing review.

Reviewing the album for Australian magazine X-Press, Chloe Papas wrote: "Chris Brown has released his fifth studio album — a 19-track repugnant record that we can only hope will be his last."

Chloe's review

Brown's violent past has divided public opinion. While some think he should now be judged on his musical talents alone -

Music critic Papas labels one of Chris' songs "misogynist" and argues that the album has two messages: "Unprotected sex is cool and partying is fun."

She continues: “Regardless of whether Chris Brown has any musical talent (he doesn't) or whether this album is any good (it isn't), the man recently brutally assaulted a woman, and is still regularly invited back to award shows and worshipped by 'Breezy' fansworldwide. Which is, frankly, disgusting.”

“Final words: don't buy this album,” she adds.

Chloe is not the only reviewer to focus on the violent past of Chris Brown, Chad Taylor's succinct review for Cityview went viral. he wrote.

What do you think - should Chris get judged on his music alone?

Also on HuffPost:

Chloe Moretz arrived late for , and it's for the reason you'd expect from a 15-year-old red carpet darling: "I must've changed my outfit three or four times before I left".

The actress, there to support the costume designer for her latest flick, Hugo, chose an asymmetrical dress along with Jimmy Choo heels and one unexpected accessory -- a streak of pink dye in her hair. "I was at the salon earlier today and wanted to get a lavender streak in my hair. They were out of lavender, but had plenty of pink -- so I just went for it!"

Meanwhile, Kate Beckinsale -- who was honored with the Lacoste Spotlight Award -- laughed when asked if she shares clothes with her teenage daughter, Lily. "Sometimes I'll get angry when I see my very nice knits going off to seventh grade on the bus."

Plus, Ellie Kemper of The Office-fame was on hand with her Bridesmaids costume designer. When asked which cast members' style she'd like to steal, it was a no brainier: "Rose Byrne. I have a girl crush on her to begin with and she always looks good in hats."

We wonder how she feels about Kate Middleton being named "."

From Rooney Mara's plunging neckline to Moretz's snakeskin heels (they're her mom's!) check out all the fashions from last night's awards show:

Monochrome ruled the red carpet last night at the Costume Designers Guild Awards, where stars like Rooney Mara, Chloe Moretz and Kate Beckinsale came out to celebrate a year's achievement in really cool costuming.

Awards for costume design were and top winners included "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” “W.E.,” “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2,” “Glee,” “Boardwalk Empire” and “Downton Abbey." Kate Beckinsale was awarded the Lacoste Spotlight Award.

And on the red carpet, the stars kept it low-key. (So as not to compete with the award-winners?)

Rooney Mara (!) in her plum low-cut dress, and Kate Beckinsale looked elegant in a long blue gown. Several celebs -- including host Jane Lynch -- opted for solid red frocks.

But it was teenage Chloe Moretz who piqued our interest with the pink streaks in her hair and python-print shoes.


The lovely ladies that are the admonishing young women to stay away from handsome men, partied in Tribeca for the film's premiere on Monday.

The quirky movie, which focuses on and their coming of age romantic discoveries in a New England college, brought out Chloe Sevigny, Lorenzo Martone, and plenty of other pretty faces for the event. It's Stillman's first new film in twelve years.

The Observer's resident party reporter Drew Grant was at the premiere, where she spotted in a rather awkward manner. Also overheard, beautiful reminding us how they're beating us at life with book releases.

Check out photos from the premiere below:

Watch a preview of "Damsels in Distress:"

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We're used to seeing this chap suited and booted and looking sharp as he scamps about our tellies like an excitable little puppy every Saturday night.

But Dermot O'Leary's certainly going for a different look as he cracks open the dressing up box to dress up as one of our fave TOWIE stars.

The presenter certainly looks like he has The EsseX Factor as he slaps on the fake tan and sports a set of oversized teeth to transform himself into Chloe Sims.

And the homegrown Essex lad has been keeping a secret under his suits for all this time - a set of rather good pins.

It seems Dermot's not a TOWIE fan though, admitting he has no idea who Chloe Sims is:

"I have no idea who this girl is, as I don't watch TOWIE," he said. "I look like a gypsy. Do you think those are her real teeth?

"But Dee [his fiancee] specifically told me not to camp it up. Is this camp?"

Err, do you even have to ask Dermot?

The X Factor presenter dragged up for Heat magazine and .

It's all to celebrate the National Television Awards which he is hosting again later this month.

Dermot is nominated for the Most Popular Entertainment Presenter along with Keith Lemon, Michael McIntyre and the formidable Ant and Dec.

Well, at least if you don't win Derms, you'll have a successful career as a drag act.

This week's issue of Heat magazine is on sale now.

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A copy of "Rain Man" proved to be something else entirely when June donated some of Chloe's things during a spring cleaning bout on "" (Wed., 9:30 p.m. ET on ABC). Instead of the modern classic film, the DVD was a sex tape Chloe and made during St. Patrick's Day 2007.

June donated it to her pastor friend, who sold it for thousands of dollars. When James got wind of it, he watched the tape to see what might be getting out there, and was none too pleased with what he saw.

Hoping to improve his performance and get a heads up on the people threatening to release the video, he and Chloe planned to recreate the scene. But they realized they couldn't, now that they care about one another.

That was June rubbing off positive things on Chloe. The opposite rub came when Chloe convinced June to give casual sex a try. She proved rather horrible at it, but with a little help from her roommate, she at least was able to break it off with the guy she'd never intended to get involved with in the first place.

"Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23" wraps its short first season next Wednesday at 9:30 p.m. ET. It has already been renewed for Fall 2012, where it will be paired with "Happy Endings" on Tuesday nights.

TV Replay scours the vast television landscape to find the most interesting, amusing, and, on a good day, amazing moments, and delivers them right to your browser.

LOVE is known for publishing a slew boundary-pushing covers for a single issue, like . For this season's "Super Natural Issue," LOVE has assembled today's hottest stars...all under the age of seventeen.

Chloe Moretz, Nyasha Matonhodze, Elle Fanning and Hailee Steinfeld all sat for photographers Mert Alas and Marcus Piggot, striking ethereal poses with two tears streaming down each of their baby-faced cheeks.

While the tweens' shots are pure gorgeousness, they're just so sad. Cheer up, Elle -- and to boot! Give us a grin, Hailee, !

With four LOVE covers released, we're only 50 percent there: that based on Tweets from Derek Blasberg, Mariacarla Boscono, Kristen McMenamy and Lara Stone will each get a cover for the upcoming issue, as well as a mystery "Daphne" (fingers crossed for Guinness!).

Click through the covers below and let us know what you think: are LOVE's tween snaps weirdly depressing or utterly inspiring?

I suppose that's why the fashion industry is so dominated by Republicans, and why Vogue is always filled with photos from Tea Party rallies.

Sarcasm aside, I agree with you that people tend to vote for boring looks in these polls. I attribute it to most people liking "safe" looks rather than to any political affiliation. There's a reason safe looks are safe.i have enormous respect for daniel radcliffe (who reminds us that young people CAN have character) and everybody loves emma watson, but rupe was always my favorite in the hp movies....

Life is so lonely. I am a 50-year-old doctor. I’ve been living alone since my wife passed away 2 years ago. Maybe I should get going so I got a profile on …… r?chh??k??. ? om …… under “denver50”. It’s the best place to meet CEOs, pro athletes, doctors, lawyers, investors, entrepreneurs, beauty queens, fitness models, and Hollywood celebrities. Maybe you can take a try.

it doesn't hurt that he's pretty hot, too... - but he really could use some help with his hair and clothes...

Perhaps more than any other social network, Twitter is the land of influencers. You are your own channel. And media companies-- from newspapers to TV channels -- are scrambling to figure out how best to use the micro-blogging site to connect with their audiences and create new approaches to content curation (and creation).

Enter Sladden, Twitter's director of media partnerships. A veteran of , where she produced the Webby Award-winning program "," in addition to "," which was described as "perhaps the most radical attempt to merge television with the Internet," Sladden works closely with MTV, CNN, HuffPost and NYTimes.com, among others, to better integrate Twitter across media platforms.

She is one of 15 candidates for a video interview in our HuffPost Spotlight Series, presented by HP. The top five question-getters will be interviewed using your questions.

Question submissions for the Spotlight Series are now closed. Thank you for your questions and stay tuned for our interviews with the top five question-getters!

Two new images have been released from the upcoming remake of Carrie, starring Chloe Grace Moretz and Julianne Moore.

Chloe Moretz gets into character as the telepathic Carrie

One of the stills revisits an iconic scene from the 1976 Brian De Palma horror film - Moretz, as Carrie White, standing in her prom dress and covered in blood.

The other image (see below) shows Moore as Margaret White, Carrie's abusive, religious fanatic mother.

"We only have, like, four chances to get it right. Because that stuff stains your hair," Moretz told Entertainment Weekly (which first published the photos) of filming that memorable scene.

'That stuff stains your hair'

Moore told EW of her character, "This woman has clearly had a psychotic break, perhaps several. But what's sad about it for me is that she's clearly sick and here's this poor child in the thrall of this person who is seriously ill. And on top of that, they have this mother-daughter relationship. So we want to make that relationship as meaningful as possible, even though it is horrible and destructive."

Sissy Spacek played Carrie White, the shy high school student with telepathic powers, in the original Carrie, while Piper Laurie played her mother. Both received Oscar nominations for their roles in the film.

Earlier this month, that told parents to "Stop Sugarcoating" the issue of childhood obesity. The ads feature real Georgia children with copy such as: "It's hard to be a little girl when you're not," and "Fat prevention begins at home. And the buffet line." Now, one of the young actresses has been interviewed -- and she's happy she participated.

The controversial ad campaign was launched as a result of soaring childhood obesity rates in Georgia, and based on a perception that parents were ignoring them. Approximately , only behind Mississippi for the highest rates of childhood obesity in the nation. However, critics say that the "Stop Sugarcoating" campaign isn't the most effective way to address the issue, and risks stigmatizing overweight children even more than they already are.

Dr. Miriam Labbok, director for the Carolina Global Breastfeeding Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill told ABC News that the . "These children know they are fat and that they are ostracized already," she said.

Over 1,000 about the campaign on The Huffington Post. Some, like reader cbellabean, supported the ads:
I don't think this is shaming kids. It's educating others about how it feels to be fat. Fat kids already know how it feels, but parents, school boards and adults need to be educated and encouraged to change it.

Others disagreed. Emily Renee Lingenfelser wrote:
These ads seem to be trying to SHAME young children into losing weight, which I find disgusting. Spend the money that was wasted on these advertisements, that will probably do more harm than good, and get some education in schools about obesity and eating healthy. We should educate our kids, not bully them!

Chloe, however, has no regrets. "I'm very pretty and I need to start getting healthier and losing weight," said Chloe to CBS News. "I feel really good about myself. I have lots of self-confidence. [The campaign] is really supposed to help [kids] ... so they can get healthier."

Plus, she has the full support of her mother, Tiffany. "I was very proud of [Chloe] ... for having the courage to participate," she said.

WATCH: Chloe Speaks To CBS News

PHOTOS: Georgia's "Stop Sugarcoating" Ad Campaign

Another day, another shakeup at yet another fashion house.

that Hannah MacGibbon is out as creative director of French label Chloé. She will be replaced by Clare Waight Keller, creative director of Pringle of Scotland, come June 1.

Rumors of MacGibbon's departure began in March. At the time, : MacGibbon's "contract is up after this season, according to people knowledgeable about the house, who said the reaction to her show on Monday could determine whether her contract is renewed. That said, it's unusual for a designer to negotiate a new contract so close to the expiration date of his or her last one, and what's more, Chloé is said to have already interviewed other designers."

A spokesman for Chloé immediately made the media rounds, none of that was true.

Alas and alack, it was. MacGibbon will "pursue new projects," as they say, after helming the brand since 2008 and working there for 10 years total. Chloé CEO Geoffroy de La Bourdonnaye remarked in a statement, "We are grateful to Hannah for her contribution and commitment to Chloé. Her considerable talents will be missed."


Take a look at some highlights from MacGibbon's tenure at Chloé.

We now bring you your Daily Dose of Cuteness in the form of Harper Beckham -- or more specifically, Harper's cute little legs.

The cutest celeb baby (fighting words, we know -- and ) is out and about again with her stylish mummy, this time at LAX in Los Angeles.

Ever the fashion plate, Victoria loves to hold Harper sans a Baby Bjorn-esque carrier, which both saves Posh the embarrassment of wearing such an ugly nylon appendage and allows the world to see Harper's adorable outfits.

This weekend Harper was dressed in : short-sleeve print dress, tights and hair accessory (this time it was a bow). But many took note of her particularly luxe label: the ankles of her tights bear the imprint "Chloe," a.k.a. the expensive French fashion label.

Sold online, . It's not exactly couture pricing, but certainly more expensive than our mommies spent on us.

But while many will decry the absurdity of design duds for tots, we're sort of OK with it. It's Posh's choice, after all, to spend her well-earned cash on pricey toddler tights... that will probably get dirty in 0.2 seconds.

See Harper and Victoria's doubly chic look below.

Despite being 15 years old, is known for taking some risks. She famously uttered the C-word in "Kick-Ass," played a violent vampire in "Let Me In," and even went toe-to-toe with Alec Baldwin on "30 Rock." Her role in "Hick" might be the biggest risk yet -- and not just because she plays a teenage runaway. when the film debuted at last year's Toronto International Film Festival (): "'Hick' is an even worse film than 'Kick-Ass,' and a potential [Chloe] Grace-Moretz career-killer."

Well, then! With that in mind, check out the first trailer for "Hick," a red-band clip that isn't necessarily all that NSFW, but does include shots of Moretz brandishing a gun and/or flirting with a much older man (Eddie Redmayne).

Blake Lively, Juliette Lewis and Alec Baldwin co-star with Moretz, but it was Redmayne who really impressed her while filming.

"He's one of the most phenomenal actors I've ever worked with. He's gonna be the new actor to work with," . "I've never worked with a better actor than him."

Judge for yourself whether Moretz has made better movies than "Hick" when it arrives via VOD on May 8. The film hits theaters May 11, right when Moretz is busy starring in "Dark Shadows" with Johnny Depp.


Also on HuffPost:

Chloe Sevigny returns to TV in "Hit And Miss."

The "Big Love" star plays a pre-op transsexual contract killer on the new DirecTV six-part miniseries. "I play an Irish boy/girl from a Traveler's community, which is like the Irish gypsies," "It's more about her and this family that she kind of falls into, these children she kind of inherits and how she learns to cope with being in a parental role."

Take a look at the new teaser trailer below. "Hit And Miss" premieres in July.

Take a look at what to watch on TV this week.

Also on HuffPost:

The 15-year-old who's been spotted everywhere from the People's Choice Awards to Milan Fashion Week to a recent Kelly Clarkson concert is making her latest appearance , which hits newsstands April 17.

Chloe Moretz is making a serious bid for big-screen stardom with a handful of buzzworthy films in the works. She's starring alongside Johnny Depp in Tim Burton's upcoming vampire/witch/soap opera thriller Dark Shadows, playing the . She'll also be showing her dark side in an upcoming remake of the classic horror film Carrie. Chloe will be playing Carrie, the girl who turns her high school prom into a total blood bath.

But in real life -- and on her Seventeen cover -- Chloe is full of bubbly energy, stellar fashion sense, and smiles. Like her Hick co-star Blake Lively, Moretz has quickly established herself as a darling of the fashion world. Chloe told Seventeen:

"[Blake] wears the most amazing clothes every day of her life. I went into her closet one night when she was trying things on for an event, and she was getting dressed, and I was helping her choose what dress to wear. She had brought probably a hundred pairs of Louboutins, and she was like, Try these on, try those on. We basically had a little shoe party!"

But when she's not sitting front-row at fashion week and hitting the red carpet, Chloe spends much of her time playing video games.

"I just got my phone back yesterday. My mom had it for like two days. I was supposed to read a book and I really wanted play 'Call of Duty.' It’s not like I want to go read the hot story in Cosmo and get locked up! No, I get caught playing video games. I probably play video games more than any guy does!"

Fellow Justin Bieber . In his interview, the "Boyfriend" singer opened up about his relationship with girlfriend Selena Gomez.

Always the model boyfriend, Bieber said of Selena: "I’m just trying to make her happy, that’s all. I think it’s important to make all women feel like they’re princesses, because every girl is a princess. I’m serious."

Check out the slideshow below to see Justin and Chloe's Seventeen covers, as well as our picks Chloe's 10 best looks!

There's no question that Chloe of "" is, well, a bitch -- and Krysten Ritter, who plays her, is the first to admit it.

In an interview with , Ritter gleefully opened up about her character's conniving, boyfriend-stealing, psychotic ways.

"There's nobody else like her on television," Ritter said. "She's such a f----- ... I play her like she's got a screw loose. Everything's psychotically fun."

"Don't Trust The B----" centers on Ritter's Chloe, who has occupied the titular Apartment 23 for years She's managed to drive all of her roommates away except for June, played by Dreama Walker. She also happens to have a super-famous best friend: James Van Der Beek (played by James Van Der Beek), still basking in his "" glory.

Like Ritter, Van Der Beek has approached the series with the attitude that his character should push the limits.

"I told the writers: 'Don't ever be afraid of offending me. Always go for what's funniest," . "And they did. [Laughs.] We didn't find anything that offended me to the point where I said, 'We can't do that.'"

Season 2 of "Don't Trust The B---- In Apartment 23" premieres on Tues., Oct. 23 on ABC.

Related on HuffPost:

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Actress Chloe Sevigny, who recently won a Golden Globe for her role as second-of-three wives Nicki on HBO's Big Love, caused some controversy when she about the show's just-ended fourth season. Sevigny said, "It was awful this season, as far as I'm concerned. I'm not allowed to say that! It was very telenovela. I feel like it kind of got away from itself."

Once her comments began to circulate online, Sevigny quickly backtracked, that her words were taken out of context and that the journalist who asked her questions was trying to provoke her. I get that Sevigny is probably in damage-control mode, realizing that her comments might come off as more critical than helpful. After all, Katherine Heigl is still being vilified for complaining about the bad writing on Grey's Anatomy, and I'm sure Sevigny doesn't want to be tarred with the same "ungrateful" brush. Here's the thing, though: she's right. I have no idea if she's right about her words being used against her, but she is right about the most recent season of Big Love. It was a mess, and someone needs to be honest about it.

I'm a huge Big Love junkie. Before I came to TheGloss, I worked as a religion journalist, and I've read a lot of books by ex-polygamists like Elissa Wall and . I thought the first three seasons of Big Love were a great combination of interesting characters, compelling storylines, and little treats for viewers who were interested in FLDS (the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints, an offshoot of the mainstream Mormon LDS church and the practitioners of polygamy) history. There were characters who represented a variety of viewpoints about polygamy: horny teenage son Ben thought it seemed kind of cool to get to have multiple wives, first wife Barb struggled to reconcile her current polygamist lifestyle with the teachings of the mainstream LDS faith she'd been raised in, and oldest daughter Sarah found herself seeking a relationship where she and her husband where equals.

But as the show's popularity rose, so did the cast of characters on the show's canvas. Most of season three was dominated by the trial of polygamist compound Juniper Creek's prophet and leader, Roman, which mirrored the real-life trial of Colorado City leader Warren Jeffs. When Roman was murdered on the season three finale, I figured that season four would be about the repercussions of Roman's death and the new power vacuum on the compound. I was partly correct.

Season four was only nine episodes long (most HBO series get 14-16). As Sevigny said in her Onion interview, it seemed as if the show's creators had "more story than episodes." And that assessment is pretty much dead-on: within those nine episodes, there was a storyline with family patriarch Bill running for office, storylines with each of the three wives trying to figure out their own identities, compound drama with three characters in line for next Juniper Creek prophet, a weird subplot about fertility treatments and incest, a convoluted side story where Sissy Spacek played a powerful Washington lobbyist and hater of polygamy, another side drama where Bill's parents and some other folks started a bird-importing scheme in Mexico and ran afoul of a rival polygamist sect, and a whole bunch more. To be honest, I'm exhausted just writing that, so I can only imagine what it felt like to act it.

It's a shame that HBO continues to treat Big Love like its awkward middle child, giving it fewer episodes and an undesirable time slot (this year, Big Love aired during the Olympics and had its finale on Oscar night). While True Blood is definitely sexier, Big Love continues to garner critical praise, and it deserved a full season to tell its story. Sevigny noted in her Onion interview that the show would be "returning to the family" next year, and I couldn't think of a better idea. It has always been the personalities at the core of the show that made it so compelling, even as the storylines grew increasingly absurd. Having to cram too much story into too little space led to episodes that felt cluttered and disjointed. Even the show's creators, Mark V. Olsen and Will Scheffer, that they hadn't been able to resolve all the storylines they'd started. When commenting on one unresolved plot point, Olsen said, "This is one of those moments, one of those pieces that was hurt by the loss of that 10th episode, because we just couldn't carry it. So, we thought, OK, we'll pick it up next year, but we need to park this one because it will be one too many balls in the air."

When Big Love's fifth season airs, I hope it brings the show back to the things that made it so great -- real struggles, human drama, family relationships. The show's creators have a ton of material to work with, and I know they're capable of greatness. I just hope they get fourteen episodes or so worth of greatness.


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Bargain shoppers -- us included -- braved the rain in New York City on Thursday night to check out Target's GO International Designer Collective Launch. The big box store is set to re-release its more popular dresses created by the likes of Thakoon, Rodarte and Proenza Schouler come March 13 ().

On-hand to celebrate: a bow tie-clad Chloe Sevigny, Liv Tyler rocking a side-swept 'do and DJ Mia Moretti looking sassy in a number we now own.

Take a look and tell us what you think.

(All images by Getty/PatrickMcMullan.com)

Sure, we've all spent hours daydreaming about what it would be like to be part of the cast of "The Hunger Games," but have you ever wondered what the movie would have been like had your favorite famous actors played the tributes -- instead of unknowns?

Enter a hilarious three-minute MTV video featuring actors like Max Greenfield, Chris Colfer, Chloe Moretz, Amber Rose, Vinny Guadagnino, and Questlove, who are "interviewed" as "lost" members of the cast that were cut from the film. Now, the "lost tributes" break their silence on the special survival skills they would have brought into the stadium.

Chloe Moretz explains that her character's specialty is looking great. "My favorite part is in the script when she makes a break for the cornucopia, and she goes straight for the hair products. Impractical? Yeah. But just because you're fighting for your life doesn't mean you shouldn't have great hair volume."

On the other hand, Max Greenfield's character, "Chutney McDougalbart" from District 43, has a special talent for creating elaborate balloon animals that would surely have served him well in the stadium. And Questlove, of course, would have brought some awesome beats to the final battle scene between Katniss, Peeta and Kato as house DJ of the cornucopia.

Need more awesome "Hunger Games" videos to tide you over until "Catching Fire"? Check out a in the video below -- or, if mini stuffed animals aren't your thing, don't miss this surprisingly realistic Lego version of the "Hunger Games" trailer.

Who's your favorite 'lost tribute'? Which of the actors in the video above would you most want to see in "Catching Fire"? Tell us in the comments below of tweet your #LostTribute pick !

(H/T )

In the past, the films of Atom Egoyan generally have struck me as intellectual exercises that examine emotions without really pausing to feel them.

Every once in a while, however, he makes a film that does locate its heart - and also uses it. The Sweet Hereafter was one; his latest, Chloe, which opens Friday (3/26/10), is another.

Based on a script by Erin Cressida Wilson, Chloe casts Julianne Moore as Catherine Stewart, a Toronto gynecologist whose practice is thriving but whose life eludes her. Her teen-age son seems to have slipped out of her control and her husband, David (Liam Neeson), a college professor who apparently is catnip to the coeds, appears to have lost interest.

Indeed, she's convinced that he's cheating and apparently discovers proof: an email from a female student on his cell phone, accompanied by a photo - from a night where he failed to appear at his own surprise party because he supposedly missed his plane from New York.

Still, Catherine is enough of a pragmatist (and a bit of a masochist) that she wants hard proof. So she hires a callgirl named Chloe (Amanda Seyfried) and gives her the assignment of seducing her husband. Catherine is a bit of a prig, but even as she's telling Chloe not to give her the details of her encounter with David, she's coaxing them out of her and getting aroused as she listens.

She's so aroused, in fact, that, when Chloe summons her to a hotel room where Chloe and David have just had sex, she and Chloe couple up for an afternoon of their own illicit passion. Now what?

Now what, indeed. Egoyan has more on his mind than a married woman's awakening to her own Sapphic urges. Probably, he's got a little too much on his mind, including a Hitchcockian twist that takes this film into Fatal Attraction territory, where it's not all that comfortable.

I don't mean uncomfortable in the sense of making the viewer squirm. Rather, when the film takes a left turn in the final act, it moves into territory that's both too predictable and too implausible at the same time. Still, having gone there, Egoyan cranks up the suspense as best he can, creating a feeling of dread that's effective, if not quite believable.

Moore has a jittery reticence, an almost prissy quality that makes this character intriguing and believable. She's made herself into a prude, a quality that seems calculated to shield her from base urges that she would rather not deal with. Moore conveys a lot of feeling with a little, as a woman who finds herself in the deep end when she finally does give in to her suppressed appetite.

Seyfried has a kind of disembodied sultriness - she's a sex worker who doesn't get emotionally involved in her job, yet never betrays her lack of connection to the client. But she too is blocking feelings she can't control, which make her even more seductive when she gives in to them.

Neeson brings a melancholy to the role of a man who mourns the loss of intimacy with his wife and longs to have it back. That mournful quality may stem from Neeson's own life; he was making this film at the time that wife Natasha Richardson died in a ski accident.

Chloe builds to a climax you may or may not buy. But go along for the ride; it's one that's alternately hot and chilling.

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"The lead character is a transsexual contract killer!"

This sounds like a movie pitch that would automatically be snapped up and subsequently made into one of the worst films of all time. The broadcast-network TV series that would be made from the same story idea doesn't even bear contemplating: The potential for leering exploitation and cheesy melodrama is just too extreme.

The accomplishment of the interesting "Hit and Miss" (premieres Wednesday, July 11 at 10 p.m. ET on DirecTV's Audience Network) is that it deftly navigates its minefield of a premise. The lead character, Mia (Chloe Sevigny) is indeed a coldly efficient killer, and she's also transgender, but first and foremost, she's a human being with flaws, an agenda and complex emotions that creator Paul Abbott ("," "") and writer Sean Conway spend a lot of time exploring. This show isn't about the premise, it's about the difficult person at the heart of it.

There's a moment, early in the first episode, in which you see Mia's body with full-frontal clarity, but that scene is not there in order to exploit her status. It's there to state, without words, "Here's one of several things you need to know about Mia. Decide now whether you're in or you're out."

Generally speaking, the low-key "Hit and Miss" does a good job of exploring Mia as a person while acknowledging her trans status matter-of-factly. Her transition isn't who she is, it's part of who she is; the difficulty she has achieving true emotional intimacy is more of a factor in her story than the status of her body or the hormones in it. Just as Mia carefully controls the images she projects -- she wears an asexual hoodie and dark clothing for work, but flowing dresses and colorful cowboy boots the rest of the time -- "Hit and Miss" is an exercise in measured, deliberate characterization.

Mia's rough underworld boss accepts her status quite calmly: They clearly have a long history, and to him, the most important thing about their relationship is that she does her job well. They also have a friendly camaraderie -- he's one of the few people this intimacy-avoiding woman confides in -- but Mia's former and present genders are acknowledged without much fuss.

That's not to say that everyone in Mia's world accepts her; another of this spare drama's achievements is the way in which it explores others' reactions to Mia without turning them into mindless bigots and portraying her as a saint. Early in the first episode, the pre-operative Mia finds that she has family connections and responsibilities she didn't anticipate, and the kids that she finds herself coping with are as confused, rude, thoughtful and curious as real kids would be in that situation.

The children she gets to know are also reeling from a major loss, and "Hit and Miss" depicts their grief with quiet but powerful observational moments. This isn't a show with a ton of dialogue; the characters are holding back a lot of strong emotions and confused reactions much of the time. "Hit and Miss" bides its time and allows halting alliances and simmering grievances to develop in realistic ways, and the unsentimental rural and urban landscapes add to the feeling of bleak, unshowy poignance. Much of Sevigny's work consists of subtle reactions and contemplation, and the actress is more than up to the task of depicting Mia's internal turmoil and her deep need for a link to the world that doesn't involve death.

Strangely enough, given the sexiness of the contract-killer part of the premise, there's not a whole lot of bloodshed in "Hit and Miss." I somehow feel guilty for wishing there was more of that, given that "Hit and Miss" sets itself up as a character drama and not a thriller per se, but it's hard to deny that the occasional violent moments give the show some welcome jolts of tension and drama. No doubt Mia's efficiency at work is meant to provide a contrast to the messiness of her personal life, but in the first couple of episodes of the show, the two worlds feel oddly disconnected (and would Mia the killer really recoil from separating the head of a dead chicken from its body while cooking a meal?).

"Hit and Miss" also indulges in a tendency I often see in ambitious British dramas like "Luther" and "The Fades": It tends to mistake style for substance, and at times, it falls a little too in love with its moody aesthetic conceits. The lack of overt plot mechanics and the lean dialogue are a welcome change, until these things begin to make you wonder whether the creators have a lot to say about Mia's unusual attempts to balance her career and her personal responsibilities.

Still, I found the two episodes I saw refreshingly thoughtful, though the second episode has a good deal less tension than the first and it's hard not to wonder if that bodes well for the rest of the season, which totals six episodes. The first two hours of "Hit and Miss" come across as a finely observed, well-acted independent film, and I wasn't really sure whether there was a lot more story left to tell as Episode 2 came to a close, but I'm willing to let Mia prove me wrong.

"Hit and Miss" debuts alongside the final season of "," and we have interviews and features about that show . Also, my colleague Chris Harnick interviewed Sevigny recently .

"Hit and Miss" premieres at 10 p.m. ET on Wednesday, July 11 on DirecTV's Audience Network.

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Lucky magazine Beauty Director Jean Godfrey June once wrote of then Creative Director that if her outfits walked through a room without her body in them, you'd know whom they belonged to. It's true--Andrea's signature skinny jeans, rock & roll boots, abundance of delicate layered jewelry, hippie bags and self-described "hole-y cashmere sweaters" are uniquely her. So is that wavy, just-the-right shade of dark hair; the open laugh; the keen eye for style and the refreshingly democratic attitude about fashion ("We can all have style and you should have fun getting dressed," she said). All of these together make Andrea one of the most beloved and influential individuals in the industry today.

Confession: I worked at Lucky under Andrea, who co-founded the magazine, for several years. So did over half the regular contributors to . Andrea was our Pied Piper of style, setting the tone for the oft-copied look of the glossy as well as the office, where a handbag she a mentioned casually in conversation somehow ended up on the arm of the entire staff the following week. "I want to be her" was something we all thought more than once about Andrea. (It's also the name of her new , where she deconstructs the style of cool girls around town and tells you where you can guy score their stuff.)

Andrea, whose own fashion icons include Bob Dylan, Jane Birkin and "anyone who looks like they're not trying too hard--even if they're trying really really hard," recently signed on as the Creative Director of eBay Fashion. What follows is an excerpt of my interview with Andrea, which can be read in full at .

The Inside Source: I've heard stories about how you discovered actress Chloe Sevigny while at Sassy. What's that all about?

Andrea Linett: I was the stylist for the Jane Pratt Show [Sassy Editor-in-Chief Jane Pratt's talk show]. So we were shooting a commercial for the TV show and I saw Chloe at a newsstand and I said to the producers, "We have to put that girl in the commercial." And they said, "Oh no. She's weird." And I said, "No you don't get it; she's amazing." So I went up to her and I asked her and she sad, "Well, I'm actually cutting school. I live in Connecticut." So she was playing hooky. So we put her in the commercial.

I said I want to shoot you for Sassy. And so I gave her my number and her mother called me and said, "I think its great for her to model, but I think she should do something more worthwhile. So can she be your intern?" We said sure, we love her--she had already modeled for us for a while by then--and then she became our intern. She was like our mascot.


The Inside Source: Have you always wanted to work in fashion?

Andrea Linett: I either wanted to work in advertising, because my mom's always been in advertising and I grew up with it and I always found it really interesting, or fashion, because I have been obsessed, even from a very young age, with fashion magazines and catalogues and books about fashion. My first job out of school was at Sassy magazine. I was beyond thrilled to answer the phone. I was the receptionist. I could not believe I got the job. I was interviewing at fashion magazines and I think I found this one in the New York Times--"receptionist wanted"--very "Gal Friday". I was the receptionist for six months. Then I was promoted to Fashion & Beauty Assistant. We did everything there. Everything but the layouts. We did the casting, the styling. I got to do everything for our photo shoots. You would never get to do that now. So I learned a lot in a short time.

The Inside Source: Ok, so how about your personal style? How would you describe your style uniform?

Andrea Linett: I think I just like things that are classic. Most people think of classic as a white button down and a loafer. But even classic rock & roll clothes, to me, that's a classic. Even a fur vest is a classic because it's been around forever and is never going away. But I like to throw a little trend in there once in a while for fun. But I feel like, as I get older, I don't do that as much. I pair down a little more than I used to.

I'm embarrassed to admit that one of my signature pieces--that Kim France [Lucky's founding Editor-in-Chief] pointed out to me--is that my sweaters always have holes in them!

The Inside Source: So in your new role as Creative Director of eBay Fashion, what are you tasked to do at eBay?

Andrea Linett: eBay is one of the most amazing marketplaces in the world. It needs to reflect that this is the fashion destination and it doesn't at the moment. It doesn't have the right look and the right voice and it's still amazing. So imagine when it does. It's a lady who needs to be pampered. It's a beautiful woman walking around with a horrible haircut. It needs to be treated like the beautiful lady it is. It needs to be elevated. We have to make her up. There's going to be a point of view.

"I look for personality, confidence and, you know, we hang out," said at his after-party on Saturday night when asked how he chooses models for his runway show (think and ).

And when Wu says "hang out," he means fete his spring 2013 collection at a Belvedere-hosted bash at the Standard Hotel's Boom Boom Room. Aren't the crazy parties what is all about? (Oh yeah, there's clothes too.)

From at the Frick, to Rodarte's after-party at Acme, take a look at the photos below to see some of the models, celebrities and fashion stars who have already gotten their party on, including , , and more.

Want more? Be sure to check out Stylelist on , , and .

TORONTO - Two Canadian labels are heading to the Big Apple as part of a special fashion showcase for emerging talents.

Chloe comme Parris and Amanda Lew Kee will be part of the designer lineup for GenArt's Fresh Faces in Fashion during New York Fashion Week.

Marking its 14th year, the event is slated to take place on Sept. 9 at Runway at Pier 57 in Manhattan, and will feature spring 2013 collections in both men's and women's ready-to-wear.

The program has been a showcase for other up-and-coming designers who now are among the top names in the industry. Rodarte, Zac Posen, Phillip Lim and Vena Cava are among those on the roster of past participants who debuted their very first runway shows at the event.

Here are some celebs you might be able to catch sitting front row at New York Fashion Week. Story continues below.

The budding Canadian labels taking part in this year's showcase have established a presence in the homegrown design scene with their own dedicated runway presentations staged during Toronto Fashion Week.

Chloe comme Parris is helmed by sisters Chloe and Parris Gordon who founded their Toronto-based contemporary womenswear and accessories brand in 2009. Elder sister Chloe is in charge of drafting the collection and dealing with the ready-to-wear side of the label, while Parris handles the metalwork.

Chloe took costume studies at Dalhousie University in Halifax for a year, learning different tailoring techniques and sewing skills, and later switched to the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, studying there for two years before Parris attended.

In addition to her namesake line, Ryerson graduate Lew Kee has designed signature looks for HBO's vampire series "True Blood" and custom pieces for Canadian electronic producer Deadmau5 and "90210" star Shenae Grimes.

Chloé, video still from her live performance at the Centre Pompidou.

The Ingénue Interview features select artists and scene-makers from around the world, revealing their inspirations, cultural tastes, and dance party playlists. This week, French DJ, artist, and composer Chloé discusses Surrealism, the enduring "French Kiss", and her most experimental project to date.

***On October 13th at the in Lille, French DJ and producer Chloé Thévenin - or , as she's known - will reprise her sold-out, special live performance of "Chasser Croiser/The Surreal and Its Echo", an un-broadcast radio sound piece that debuted last month at Paris' Centre Pompidou. Steeped in Surrealism, the piece draws upon elements of the early 20th century avant-garde, both in its composition and content. Eclecticism, juxtaposition and an irregular strobe rhythm inform its intentionally illogical structure, while manipulations of archival voice recordings of Dadaist and Surrealist icons evoke sensations of dream, desire and revolt.

This week's performance, accompanied by Bernard Joisten's light/video installation "Rainbow", coincides with the global release of the project's second component: a book bearing the same name. Published through , Chasser Croiser/The Surreal and Its Echo attempts to illuminate Chloe's creative process through montages of personal ephemera: photographs taken during tours, notes on various projects and collaborations, and extracts from the notebooks she keeps while traveling. In addition, the book includes a CD-version of the sound piece, which is set to air November 3rd on the French radio program "Atelier de Création Radiophonique".

Chloé's style, poised between genres and aesthetics, reflects a unique eclecticism which has led her to become one of the most sought-after leaders of the contemporary electronic scene. She became one of the emblematic figures of the legendary Pulp Club in Paris through her monthly residency; she plays at all the most prestigious European clubs, including Frankfurt's Robert Johnson, Barcelona's Mondo and Paris's Rex Club; and is a regular headliner on the festival circuit. Chloé continues to produce remixes, EPs and albums, including 2010's One in Other, which was nominated for a French music award, "Les Victoires de la Musique" and was released through the label she co-founded, . She continues to expand her collaborations with other artists, choreographers, performers and filmmakers.

How did the idea for Chasser Croiser/The Surreal and Its Echo come about?This project was commissioned by the French radio show called "Atelier de Création Radiophonique" (ACR). Frank Smith and Philippe Langlois, coordinators of the program, also published books taken from some of their radio shows in partnership with the publisher Dis Voir (ZagZig). They had already published books and CDs with Laurie Anderson, Jonas Mekas, Lee Ranaldo/Sonic Youth, Ryoji Ikeda, and Dennis Cooper/Gisèle Vienne/Peter Rehberg. They asked me to be part of this series.

Were you given any parameters? How did you approach the project?
tends to ask artists from an array of disciplinary backgrounds to arrange and to compare their artistic practice to radiophonic creation. Really, radio is a laboratory of sound experimentation.

This project was one of the most inspiring I have had as I was free to choose the theme of the radio show, and for the book I was very free, too, as it is an intimate book, for which I've selected some pictures from my tours as a DJ and live gigs and some other notes.

This project took me nearly a year to work on, especially because I never thought one day I would release a book. I selected some interviews from the French National Archives, interviews from Man Ray, Duchamp, Elsa Triolet, Aragon, etc. and then I made a forty-minute radiophonic piece. I revisited the sound piece for the live performance at the Centre Pompidou. It's a mixture of interviews, surrounded sounds, and music. It was a very exciting and inspiring performance.

In addition to voice recordings of Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp, Elsa Triolet, Gertrude Stein, and others, you've incorporated poetry by Guillaume Apollinaire, Louis Aragon, Vladimir Maïakovski and Joyce Mansour. What attracted you to the audio clips and poems that you ultimately chose?
I was interested in having diverse languages, diverse vocal tones, men, women, diverse recordings, from the past, but also from today. I found Guillaume Apollinaire reading his poem "Sous le pont Mirabeau"; it is a specific recording from his time. I also found some funny interviews with Man Ray, Duchamp et al. in which they explain their own approach to Surrealism. I've found some extracts of Dadaist performances. I didn't find any Maïakovski interviews, so since he was Russian, I asked a Russian singer if she would recite a poem by Maïakovski in Russian. I asked a friend of mine to recite in many diverse ways the Joyce Mansour poem "I want to sleep with you" so that I could have more material, and mix the vocals I had recorded myself with some old recordings.

Appropriately Surrealist, your use of these audio archives manifests itself as a hybrid of art and life, in which there is no clear delineation between the two realms. Would you comment on your use and manipulation of the voices throughout the sound piece?
My idea was to have some vocals I've found with their original old recordings, but also treated with many diverse processes from today that we can find in electronic music. This work allows me to enter my music even further, going further, allowing me to challenge some technical work that I use and get some interesting results.

In terms of composition, how is this piece a departure from work you've previously produced?
I've always composed music without setting a limit of styles on myself. I'm a DJ, playing club music, but I've also composed slow songs as well, beginning with my first EP released in 2002 on the label Karat. I've released a lot of club music and remixes, but at the same time I spent four years attending some electro-acoustic classes at a conservatoire in Paris.

Was it necessary for you to break from the traditional forms of electro music in order to render this piece an evocation of Surrealism?
There are many different ways to do electronic music, each artist has his or her own approach. It is a way of being totally independent and free in the creation, and this freedom is a real boost to my work.

Surrealism is more of a lifestyle than an artistic movement; it does not set any limits. It boasts a spirit of liberation. I can have the same approach when I produce music, and especially with this project, in which I wanted to have the freedom of Surrealism.

The juxtaposition and eclecticism of both the sound piece and the book appear to reflect your itinerant lifestyle as a DJ and collaborative methods as a producer. Would you say that your lifestyle and work propel your creative impulses?
I am inspired by many different things. I get inspired by many things to create: it can be a book, a feeling, a show, a record, etc. I am very open to having new projects that can nourish my work, by collaborating with performers, dancers, cineastes.

Which artists, writers, or filmmakers (past or present) do you admire?
I recently really liked Metronomy's latest album. There's an exhibition on Munch at the moment at the Centre Pompidou that I would love to see. I have times when I like to listen only to my old vinyls at home, so it can be from classical music to rock music, and there are times I like to have silence.

What are your favorite dance tracks?
I'm still listening to some old club tracks like "French Kiss" from Lil Louis, Georges Morel's "Sex Groove", and "Blue" by Latour...

Where do you like to spend your time in Paris?
I like to be out on some terraces in Paris, wherever.

Thank you.

??Trailer from Chloé's live performance at the Centre Pompidou.

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Leave it up to the beauty teams at to remind us that is rapidly approaching, and more importantly, that we need to come up with some costume that isn't a rip off of , or . Sorry, girls! Even your outlandish outfits have become a bit boring for a night of trick-or-treating.

And while we may use all of the next four weeks to design a ghoulish, yet glamorous getup, we can certainly take a cue from a few shows when it comes to channeling our inner child and wearing Crayola-like makeup.

For 's Game of Thrones-meets-Hellraiser collection, models marched down the catwalk wearing crimson-colored lipstick and eyeshadow (which was applied in an exaggerated raccoon-eye shape). But it was the single teardrop that took this look to frightening proportions. The makeup artists backstage at stayed true to the designer's Indian roots and adorned the girls' eyes in bright layers of orange, green and purple shades, complementing their jeweled headpieces. Red-orange and fat crayon-esque strokes around the eyelids in black, blue and white ruled 's runway. Yet, the paprika smokey eye makeup at seems like a great starting point for us all when coloring our faces come All Hallows' Eve.

Click through the slideshow below to see these looks, and tell us in the comments section which show is your favorite.

See all of our fashion week coverage .

Want more? Be sure to check out HuffPost Style on , , and .

"Pat, I'm scared. I had a really bad dream. Can I sleep in here with you?"

"Oh, I'm sorry, Chloe. Of course you can," I answered. And I put my arms around her and wrapped her in a comforter and once she'd finished relating her horrible dream, she fell back to sleep.

I have many kids of every age in my life all the time. I work in a homeless shelter. The kids at work overflow into my home life. It's the saddest job benefit in the entire world's occupations. It's sad because these kids should live in a home somewhere safe and warm. And it's a job benefit because if homeless kids must exist as least I get to spend time with them.

Every week one or more of the shelter kids come to my house. We cook homemade food together, watch movies, dance, talk and laugh. Some of the homeless kids are homeless because of parents' poor choices, parents' economic situations, parents' illness, or parents' neglect and/or abuse. While it's often not the parent's fault, it's never the kids' fault.

It's hard on adults to be homeless. It frightens them, infuriates them and humiliates them. It's worse for their kids. Shelters are noisy crowded places. It's tough to sleep. Everyone in a shelter is stressed out by their homelessness. Kids in shelters have to navigate the anger and ugliness around them and then go to school and are supposed to get decent grades.

Homeless kids don't want anyone to know where they live. They don't invite friends over to visit. They don't have play dates.

It's a tough life. But it's not the worst thing some of these kids face. Some of them faced worse before they became homeless. In fact the Domestic Violence Counts National Survey identified tens of thousands of kids on a single night in 2009 who became homeless when their parent fled an abuser.

Chloe dreamed -- Chloe's not her real name by the way -- that someone was in her room screaming. Screaming and screaming and screaming, the person just wouldn't stop. Her mom used to scream. Her dad used to beat her until she screamed. Then Chloe and her mom moved a few states over and hid in a domestic violence shelter.

Chloe's mom was one of the few people who thought that the economy tanking was a good thing. She lost the job she'd had for about eight years and qualified for unemployment. She thought with the unemployment benefits to lean on that she could make a break and her cruel husband wouldn't be able to find her.

Every state handles unemployment compensation differently. And Chloe's mom got confused and misfiled a few times. And the little family falls further and further behind while Chloe's mom searches for a new job. The domestic violence shelter they went to was a help, but it was in a large inner city and Chloe's mom needed a place to live that was less scary. They came to us.

In the mean time, Chloe who had lived in an affluent community and gone to a private school left her friends hundreds of miles behind and can't tell them where she's gone. She can't even call to say "hi."

When I first met them, Chloe couldn't talk about her friends without crying. She missed them and she missed the soccer team on which she played. Some of the kids at her new school found out she was homeless and began to tease her. Her grades suffered; so she pretty much hates school now.

Every night before Chloe goes to bed she and her mom do the ABC's of gratitude. They use the letters of the alphabet to name something that they are grateful for each day. It's a trick her mom picked up at the ALANON meetings she's been attending since they left Chloe's dad.

I've known Chloe now for about six months. She smiles a lot more than she did when I first met her and seems better able to transition from affluent victim of domestic violence to a safe and sound homeless child -- at least until she falls asleep.

If the designers really want celebrities to wear their clothes, maybe they should give them to them free with the caveat that the celebrity has to donate an equal amount of money to charity.

These people get paid hundreds of thousands of dollars per movie and can easily afford a few thousand for designer clothes, yet the people who can most easily afford expensive things are often the ones who aren't asked to pay for it. The way I see it, diverting that money to charity would be a win-win-win solution.

("") takes the reins on the latest installment of "" (Thu., 10 p.m. ET on MTV). It was a return for Shepard, who used to be a co-star of the original iteration. And he proved just as fun and clever with this second appearance as well.

He put Chloe Moretz into the middle of an awkward love triangle with her limo driver. Metta World Peace, the athlete formerly known as Ron Artest, also faced Shepard head on and failed to recognize him. Shepard accosted him in a parking garage asking for an autograph and picture. But he saved the nastiest for ("").

Conrad and her friends witnessed as a woman fell into a trash dumpster and then got dumped into a trash truck. When the driver refused to believe them that there was a woman, Conrad and her friends had to hear the woman shouting that she was being crushed "like 'Star Wars.'"

The woman was rescued, and even had a big trash-covered hug for Conrad for helping "save" her life. It was certainly a lot of fun, with the pranks a little more elaborate and longer-running than much of what has been seen so far since this reboot.

"Punk'd" continues Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET on NBC.

TV Replay scours the vast television landscape to find the most interesting, amusing, and, on a good day, amazing moments, and delivers them right to your browser.

The Rev. Chloe Breyer is Executive Director of the and also serves as an associate priest at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in West Harlem. Previously, Breyer worked at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, as Chaplain to the Cathedral School and Director of the Cathedral Forums on Religion on Public Life. After 9/11, Breyer undertook an interfaith initiative to rebuild a bombed mosque in Afghanistan and has returned four times for additional faith-based aid projects, including a women’s health clinic and a co-ed school. Prior to the 2005 Millennium Summit, Breyer worked with the US Campaign for the Millennium Development Goals to raise awareness about the MDGs among American religious leaders of different faith traditions. Breyer’s publications include (Basic Books, 2000), along with chapters in (Church Publishing, 2005), and (Beacon Press, 2006). Breyer is also a contributor to and is working on her Ph.D. in Christian Ethics at Union Theological Seminary.

Age gap relationships seem to be all the rage among those celeb types at the moment, and the latest couple to join the ranks is Richard and Judy's daughter Chloe Madeley and former Hustle star Marc Warren.

Chloe, 24, was spotted smooching 45-year-old Marc as they enjoyed a date in Brighton over the weekend.

After strolling through the streets together, they went to see pal Denise Welch appearing in the touring production of Steel Magnolias and were caught kissing outside a bar after the show.

Chloe recently ended her relationship her former Dancing On Ice co-star Sam Attwater - just months after they moved in together.

She told The Mirror earlier this year she had no regrets over their on-off romance.

Marc's previously dated former glamour model Abi Titmuss between 2008 and 2009, but the couple split after it was revealed Marc had cheated on her.


Earlier on HuffPost:

If you've seen a scary movie made in the last ten years, you may have noticed a pattern in the casting. Whether it's "The Ring" or "The Grudge," it seems that whenever studios want to up the creepiness factor, they take a pale child actor, put a weird wig on her and have her lurk ominously behind the other characters.

Our friends at were lucky enough to track down Enid Krysinski (a.k.a. Chloe Moretz from "Kick-Ass"), Hollywood's official "scary girl" and ask her a few questions about her technique and career, and the resulting interview is pretty hilarious. And creepy.

That yearbook photo alone is enough to give you night terrors.

If you've kept up with the season's viral video hits, you'd recognize these from Chloe Sevigny's checklist of things to do . The brains behind it? Comedian and Groundlings alum , whose homage to one of fashion and art's simultaneously inspiring and inscrutable icons is, well, genius.

"It's fun because I really like Chloe--often because she never stops being ridiculous," Droege says during a recent visit to (we're big fans; so is ). "Like, really? Were you really reading J.D. Salinger while sipping some rare scotch and talking poetry with Da Brat?"

Chloe has been in Droege's character arsenal for years, but only recently did he connect with director for the web series, which now also includes Chloe's stab at stand-up comedy and a list of her birthday gifts (among them: a vintage half-caftan by Vivienne Westwood gold label). "It cracks me up what she wears sometimes," Droege says. "It's very early nineties. Very Sara Gilbert, very afghan on the back of the couch from Roseanne."

A native of North Carolina, Droege recently nabbed the award for Outstanding Emerging Talent at Outfest last month. As for the Chloe series, be on the lookout for a new chapter on soon. A good source tells us Chloe herself has seen Droege's work; what does she think? We're not sure, but we're trying to find out.

"I'd hope she would get it," Droege says of his tongue-in-cheek tribute. "It's not a straight up imitation. I don't even try to do her voice. It has as much to do with that whole scene as it does with her. I've seen her at parties before but have never met her. Now I think I'll have to introduce myself."

Before he left us on a recent afternoon, Droege morphed into character and gave us the download on Chloe's recent L.A. adventures. Enjoy.

Get the latest in L.A. style, fashion, shopping, culture and nightlife at

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"Harry Potter" star Rupert Grint has just signed on to the Dennis Wilson biopic "The Drummer."

According to Variety, . Joining Rupert will be Chloe Grace Moretz, who'll portray Wilson's daughter, Jennifer.

Set to begin production this June, "The Drummer" will focus on the last few years of Wilson's life (he passed away in 1983). Aaron Eckhart has already been cast as Dennis; Vera Farmiga will play Fleetwood Mac member Christine McVie, who had a relationship with Wilson before his death.

[via ]

Home secretary Theresa May, the most senior woman in government and Treasury minister Chloe Smith were among the guests at the First Women Awards on Thursday.

The awards were founded in 2005 by Real Business and the CBI and recognise "trailblazing women" from the business, entrepreneurial, engineering, science and technology, and media sectors

May, who is also minister for equalities, said: "All the winners and nominees are leading the way and I hope these awards will inspire even more women to become pioneers.

"That's good for our economy, good for our society, good for women and good for Britain.

"Women are at the heart of our economic future and making the most of their skills is essential. I want us to do everything we can to unleash women's talents and give them the support they need to reach the top."

Among the winners was Diane Johnson, the first woman to be appointed President of the Electrical Contractors’ Association - the 110 year-old trade body representing 3,000 UK electrical contracting businesses, who was honoured for her ground-breaking work in transforming the industry.

Smith, the 30-year-old economic secretary at the Treasury who has rocketed up the ministerial ranks at a young age, also spoke at the event, .

Not really.

All the drama on usually happens on screen, but even with the show on a break there is still plenty going on.

The stars of the show have been left worried about their roles on the hit series after ruthless new producers begun to wield the axe.

Among the cast up for the chop include the long-serving , who is said to be "more interested in her own shop and clothing line", according to .

Other stars facing the axe are who Heat says didn't find the last series "exciting", and Cara Kilbey who has annoyed producers with her on-set moaning.

HuffPost UK blogger and Joey Essex's best mate 's position is also said to be "shaky".

Back in July, it was reported

When we got in touch with a spokesperson for the show regarding the latest cast change rumours, they told us: "We always review the cast at the beginning of any new series so we’re unable to confirm anything at this time."

Last month saw , and with all these possible departures, we're wondering exactly who will be left when the series returns later this year.



Chloe Sims has confessed she fears for her safety since appearing in the show.

The mum-of-one's co-star Lauren Goodger recently had her brand new beauty salon torched, and last year sisters Sam and Billie Faiers were attacked by a gang of girls on a night out.

Chloe, who also has faced jibes from online bullies, told The Star: "I worry about my safety if I'm where people are drinking. They feel confident and people think they know you. It can be intimidating when there are lots of people around you wanting a picture taken.

"I do have security when I do public appearances, but only what the club provide. When first on the show, I worried about mine and (daughter) Madison's safety."

But Chloe, 30, said on the whole she's happy to be part of the ITV2 reality show.

"After my first episode there were so many people gunning for me. I cried afterwards because I thought: 'What have I done? I've got a daughter. It's her I've got to worry about.'

"But for me the positive that's come out of the show has completely outweighed any negatives."

SLIDESHOW: The original TOWIE cast

Wednesday is the new Friday, it seems. At least thinks it is.

Let's look at the . And there's .

The star partied like it was the weekend again last night and was spotted looking more than a little wobbly as she attempted to make her way home from the Aura nightclub in London's Mayfair.

Luckily for Chloe, her TOWIE co-star, was around to lend his support in the form of an arm around her waist to steady her as they walked to a waiting taxi.

But as soon as Tom let go, the poor lamb did her very best newborn bambi impression and tumbled into the cab.


Chloe - dressed in a high-waisted pink pencil skirt, black turtleneck and skyscraper heels - had earlier been at the London Film Museum for a games launch.

But instead of calling it a night, she then headed to Novikov restaurant before moving on to the club, tweeting: "Gonna pop to Aura be rude not to X'.

Bet she's regretting that decision today.


Yes, you read right. TOWIE star Chloe Sims is explaining why she wants to have bottom implants. In an exclusive interview and photoshoot with Reveal magazine, she opens up about why she is resorting to desperate measures to mend her shattered confidence and boost her love life:
On why she still isn't happy with her mirror image:
"At the moment, I don't feel attractive in the body department because I'm so skinny. I've tried to put on weight but it just goes straight to my belly. I end up looking like a gangly girl with a pot belly, big boobs and no bum."

On why she wants bottom implants:
"A big bottom will make me sexier and more confident. It's the last part of my body I want to change. Men like confident girls with a bit of meat on them."

On wearing bum implants during the day:
"I wear knickers which have foam bum implants sewn in underneath my jeans If I'm wearing leggings, I'll wear two pairs of tummy control tights underneath as they lift my bottom up and make it look firm."

On why she wants more than just subtle implants:
"I want to go much bigger than the surgeon suggested on TOWIE. I love Nicki Minaj's bum, but he hadn't heard of her, so I explained that I'm quite a dramatic person and want it to look like a perfect peach."

On the extremely tough recovery period after the surgery:
"You can't sit down for two weeks, in case the pressure moves the implants out of place. I'll be able to stand up, lie down on my side and my tummy, but I can't lie on my back. I won't be able to drive and I'm not sure how I'm going to go to the toilet. I'm presuming I'll have to squat!"

On when she is intending to get it done:
"I'm going to wait and have it done when Maddie (her seven-year-old daughter) is on holiday with her grandparents. I don't want her to know what I've had done or see me looking poorly. She is too young and impressionable."

On why she thinks the bum op will be worth it:
"Although men check out your looks first, I don't want a guy to go with me just because I look sexy. Even if I don't bag a man, at least I'll be happy knowing I finally look good."

Chloe Sims is intent on bettering herself, going under the knife once more

Check out our slideshow of those RUMOURED to have gone under the knife in search of the perfect gluteus maximus...

Read the full interview in Reveal Magazine, on sale today.

Given that has just landed a book deal (yes, really) she did have a reason to celebrate on Saturday night.

And that she did. And then some.

The star had clearly enjoyed the benefits of the free bar at The Villa nightclub in Epping as she was spotted leaving looking, errrm, a little tired and emotional.

But luckily her TOWIE co-star was on-hand to prop her up as she left in the wee hours - we're guessing she would have had a bit of trouble putting one foot in front of the other by herself.

The pair had been toasting the news that Chloe is set to follow in the footsteps of TOWIE regular and pen her life story.

The tell-all book is set to hit shelves in November, just in time for Christmas (handy).

A source told

"There will be a lot in it which people don't know and there will be some bombshells.

"She is really excited about it and is the only TOWIE star bringing out a book like this before Christmas."


Also on HuffPost:

Quick, somebody call a doctor! Chloe Sims has become the latest TOWIE star to have contracted the disease prone to many reality stars, which we have given the (very catchy) name of 'I-haven't-had-much-screen-time-recently-let's-do-something-to-get-me-a-headline-itis'.

Or as it's more commonly known, getting absolutely blotto and stumbling about in front of the paps.

Chloe put on quite the display as she hit London town with her pal Lauren Pope and cousin Frankie Essex last night.

Suppose you can always rely on a TOWIE girl to show everyone how NOT to get in a taxi, can't you?

The girls indulged in one too many sherries as they boozed it up at Aura nightclub, but luckily a scaffolding pole came in handy to steady Chloe as she headed home in the wee small hours.

The evening started out so civilised as well, as the girls previewed Chloe Green's collection at Topshop in Oxford Circus (wonder how on earth Phillip Green's daughter managed to bag herself that one, eh?) before they hit the club, meeting up with fellow cast mates Joey Essex, Diags and Tom Pearce.


Oh babes, you are a doughnut!

has been caught out for putting £60 worth of petrol in her new diesel sports car.

The star was forced to part ways with the new white Mercedes soft top after it broke down and had to be towed.

"Oh shut up!"


The big-bosomed star was en route to Sam Faiers' house to film scenes for the .

The star must have been distressed, but she still found time to put on some slap at the side of the road while her car was seen and fellow TOWIE star Lauren Pope rushed to the rescue.

Lauren Pope offered support, and some concealer

Later at a car was delivered to her co-star's home, but the full-lipped star could have to wait for five days to get her new wheels back.

That'll teach ya, love!

>IN PICS: Other celebs who've gone under the knife

Also on HuffPost:

If there is anyone we can usually rely on to stumble out of a party looking a little refreshed, it's , but for once the high-heeled shoe was on the other foot, as she was on the receiving end of someone else's boozy antics last night.

The star had to help her castmate as she staggered out of a club following yet another party to celebrate 's 22nd birthday.

, so it was only right that she repaid the favour to someone else.

The girls were joined by other members of the TOWIE cast cast including Sam and Billie Faiers, Frankie Essex and at Funky Buddha nightclub in London.

And the party went on until the wee small hours when Arg tweeted a picture of him and Sam still partying in her kitchen at 6am.

But we're guessing Popey was tucked up in bed with a bucket by her side at that point...


Topshop heiress Chloe Green has become embroiled in Tulisa Contostavlos' split from her N-Dubz bandmate Fazer, after The X Factor judge was allegedly left fuming by their blossoming friendship.

, which was reportedly ruined by a series of furious rows.

According to reports, the feisty TV star grew angry as Fazer began spending more and more time with the Made In Chelsea rich girl.

It's not the first time Chloe and Tulisa have had a run-in - the N-Dubz star snubbed Sir Philip Green's daughter at London's Whisky Mist nightclub before Christmas.

At the time, Chloe tweeted, "Tulisa needs to remember her humble beginnings... Rude to me and my friends?!! Hmmm... That’s a clever move!"

Now the fact Fazer has been spotted clubbing with her posh nemesis is making the split all the harder to deal with, according to the .

A source tells the publication, ". There were claims Tulisa was 'rude' but she genuinely didn't know who Chloe and her pals were when they were cleared from her table.


Chloe took to Twitter on Monday night to seemingly insist she and her new pal have a purely platonic relationship, writing, "I just don't get why every guy who is my friend is suddenly someone I am supposedly with. Girls can have friends that are guys! #notacrime."


That poor lamb must be going through the mill after . She's probably spent her time sitting in her PJs, eating ice cream and watching Bridget Jones... Hang on, wait a minute...

Nope, the X Factor judge has been out on the razz again, and this time she has enlisted some celebrity chums to dance the night away with.

Tulisa has been spotted on various nights out since the news of the split was revealed last week, and on Saturday night she was out on the tiles again - this time with The Saturdays' Vanessa White and Rochelle Wiseman.

The girls glammed it up for their night out, with Tulisa donning a floral LBD to show Fazer exactly what he was missing. But the orange hue she has been sporting of late is showing no signs of fading.

The trio dined at London's exclusive Nobu Berkeley restaurant before heading to Movida Nightclub for a night of fun.

But it was cut short when Tulisa spotted her nemesis, Topshop heiress Chloe Green partying with her friends at the same club.

Tulisa made a dash for it after spotting the Made In Chelsea star, leaving the club to avoid a confrontation.

Speaking to , a source close to the X Factor star said: ".

"But when she spotted some of Chloe's posse, the gang decided to move on. The last thing Tulisa needed was to waste her breath arguing. So her group swiftly legged it to nearby Jalouse."

The pair previously came to blows after the talent show judge ordered Chloe away from her VIP table at London's Whisky Mist.

, so Tulisa would have been in no rush to make small talk with the star on Saturday.

"Tulisa and Chloe are from different worlds and will never be best buddies," the source told The Mirror. But when she's had a drink, Tulisa knows what she's like. She decided not to risk 'having a word' and left before Chloe made her entrance."


PARIS — Everyone loves a high-profile rivalry, but perhaps the fashion world more than most.

This might explain why fashion writers have so eagerly pitted the two new influential faces of Paris' ready-to-wear calendar against each other.

In the Christian Dior ring, Raf Simons – the house designer appointed in April whose Friday collection wowed journalists – and in Yves Saint Laurent's, Hedi Slimane, the 44-year-old appointed in March, who himself used to work at Dior menswear.

Amid incredible pressure to deliver, Paris-born Slimane unveiled his new vision for the rival house Monday, with YSL themselves adding to the buzz through their strict guestlist and restricted invitations.

Meanwhile, the front row presence was proof enough of the brand's enduring allure: From French First Lady Valerie Trierweiler, actress Jessica Chastain and a roll call of his designing peers Vivienne Westwood, Alber Elbaz and Marc Jacobs.

So who won?


When fashion editors put down their pens halfway through a catwalk show, it's always cause for worry.

This was the case at Hedi Slimane's disappointing debut at Yves Saint Laurent – a rather confused ode to excess that used fringing, leather, lacing, tassels, feathers, sequins, skinny menswear tailoring, baggy pants, cinching cummerbunds, capes, tribal pendants and almost everything else under the sun.

Pierre Berge, Saint Laurent's former partner said: "(Slimane) knows the Saint Laurent DNA, the spirit."

There was definitely a nod to that. For example, black silk neckbows, a house signature that was used as a leitmotif. But the collection lacked the empowering sex appeal that made Saint Laurent one of the most famous names in fashion.

The bows, rather symbolically, instead of unifying the collection, fought with other busy materials for attention.

Unflattering floppy Stetson hats capped it off.

Slimane took a gamble on the no-holds-barred approach to impress, but somehow fell short of the mark in his basic silhouette.

Many individual garments – like one sumptuous look with side a spread of black feathers – were highly creative.

But here the plumes' dynamic horizontal energy was drowned out by the bow.

Slimane pulled it off well when he wasn't trying too hard: A classy skinny menswear pant looked great with a sharp shouldered tuxedo – and a spot on merging of YSL and Slimane's own personal style.

Had he kept it cleaner, Slimane might not have given the upper hand so easily to his Dior rival.


The Chloe fashion house is celebrating its 60th birthday during Paris Fashion Week but its spring-summer 2013 show proved it's still as fresh as a daisy.

Designer Clare Waight Keller's collection takes its cue from founder Gaby Aghion's mantra: "I lived the life I wanted."

Chloe, founded in 1952, practically invented ready-to-wear in the first place and has always confidently led the way. That rebelliousness came out Monday in the clothes – strongly feminine and diaphanous but also structured with laser-cut edges in many large frills and ripples.

"I wanted a feminine spirit, but sharp...like a knife," Waight Keller said after the show.

This contrasted with the collection's soft side. Transparent organza silks played on volume, giving a layered three-dimensionality to soft, oversized T-shirts and knee-length skirts. The light touches came from hibiscus flower appliques on sheer white tops, or in one instance, in green down a singular pant leg.

Features like this can look overly busy if handled poorly. But here the looks were paired with a clean-cut minimalist vest, jacket or Bermuda to tasteful effect.


"Palatable, everyday." That's how Stella McCartney, backstage, describes her fresh, optimistic and relaxed spring-summer outing.

If she hoped the collection to be everyday, the show itself – in the gilded foyer of the Paris Opera Garnier with ornate, swinging double chandeliers in gold , not to mention the famous faces like Kate Moss, Salma Hayek and McCartney's former Beatle father Paul – was not.

It's hard to be casual when you were born with one of the most famous dads on the planet – but she got full marks for trying.

Silhouettes ignored the waist, with a cool, low-slung belted vibe, and the big curves of last season were gone.

Thinking outside the box, McCartney created some fantastic elliptical curves in vibrant saffron yellow and forest green, sculpting a feminine shape like a geometric hourglass.

Black and white camouflage print looked fantastic on a silky jumpsuit, worn by sassy model of the moment Karlie Kloss.

This look wasn't exactly everyday, but it's sure going to sell.


There's going to be a one-hour hole in the normally tight Paris Fashion Week calendar, after representatives of label Hakaan said its entire collection had been lost.

Turkish designer Hakaan Yildirim was set to present his spring-summer 2013 to the media on Tuesday afternoon.

But PR company Karlaotto sent out emails Monday to all those with invitations saying the preview was canceled – after all the clothes had mysteriously disappeared. "The whole collection is lost," said Karen Nitsche of Karlaotto. "It was when they were being transported. We don't know how."

Last November, Marc Jacobs canceled a London press preview after his collection was stolen during its transfer from Paris.


Thomas Adamson can be followed at http:/ /Twitter.com/ThomasAdamsonAP

George Osborne, a politician who enjoys trying to wrong foot his opponents, stood up and unexpectedly announced during routine Parliamentary questions that he was scrapping the planned 3p rise in fuel duty due to come into effect in August.

But far from coup he was hoping for within 24 hours Mr Osborne’s surprise announcement had unravelled – undone by mismanagement, a junior minister being “Paxmaned” and the complete inability of the Treasury to provide a plausible explanation of where the money to pay for it was coming from.

Even the Sun, which had championed the fuel freeze in the first place, turned its teeth on the Government describing the u-turn as “the final unravelling of the most shambolic budget in memory”.

The whole affair was not so much an example of an “ominshambles” (although it was) – but like watching an entire episode of the political comedy The Thick of It which spawned the phrase.

The first mistake made by Mr Osborne was the surprise itself.

Either fearful that the news would leak out before he could announce it or perhaps because the decision had been rushed at the last minute the Chancellor somehow managed to ‘forget’ to tell his Cabinet colleagues what he was planning to do.

That led Justine Greening, who most people would assume as Transport Secretary, would have been in the loop on petrol prices, to give an interview to the Daily Telegraph ruling out a freeze.

Embarrassing but not disastrous.

But then someone had the bright idea of putting Chloe Smith, a junior Treasury minister, on Newsnight.

Until yesterday Ms Smith, 30, had been considered something of a rising Government star.

Despite suggestions that David Cameron only appointed because he wrongly thought she was an accountant until this week she had proved a safe pair of hands.

But on last night she was unable to convincingly answer a single question posed to her by Jeremy Paxman.

“When were you told?” he asked her seven times. She couldn’t say.

“How are you paying for this?” She didn’t have a clue.

“Do you ever think you’re incompetent?” Ouch.

One respected Westminster journalist watching tweeted: “That is one of the five worst ministerial interviews I have ever seen in 12 years.”

Her only support came from the ever off-message Tory backbencher Nadine Dorries who to use Ms Smith’s discomfort to compound her boss’s problems.

“If Osborne sent Chloe on (Newsnight) re scrapping 3p he is a coward as well as arrogant.”

By this afternoon at Prime Minister’s Questions the whole policy had unravelled. Not just in presentational terms but practically as well.

The Prime Minister’s spokesman was unable to say how the Government knew – just two months into the financial year - that there would be enough spending shortfall by departments to pay the £550 million the freeze will cost.

Aides were also unable to explain why is deficit reduction was the Government’s primary focus they were breaking their own rules by spending millions of pounds on a tax cut.

Not only that, but the £500 million only pays for the freeze until January when Mr Osborne will face the same dilemma yet over again. Over a year the total cost of the measure would cost the Treasury a further £1 billion.

Quite a lot of money when you’re in the middle of the biggest public spending squeeze for a generation.

In contrast to those real dilemmas the disaster of Chloe and the problems of the off-message Nadine will likely pale into embarrassed insignificance.

“Nadine is Nadine”, sighed the Prime Minister’s press secretary.

“What can you do?”

The Oscar nominations, unveiled today, set up a race which seems likely to be headlined by an intriguing battle between Hugo and The Artist, a pair of films which both set out (in very different ways) to pay homage to the earliest days of cinema.

Martin Scorsese’s Hugo, a hugely-ambitious, motion-capture animation which is short-listed in 11 of the 24 categories, revolves around a heart-felt tribute to the Parisian movie pioneer, George Méliès. It will contest the Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Screenplay awards, along with a slew of technical Oscars.

Its nearest rival, The Artist, is a black-and-white silent movie which explores Hollywood’s transition to “talkies.” Made on a tiny budget, it has dominated the 2012 awards season so far, and will now seek ten Academy Awards, including Best Director for its French creator Michel Hazanavicius.

Playing into the nostalgic tone of proceedings is a wider short-list dominated by some of the industry’s most enduring legends. Woody Allen will rub shoulders with Scorsese and Hazanavicius in the Best Directing category, thanks to Midnight in Paris, his first nomination in six years; Steven Spielberg, who was last in the running for an Oscar in 2007, saw his War Horse short-listed in six categories.

The favourite to win Best Actress will once again be Meryl Streep, for her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady. She is attempting to break a run of twelve straight Oscar defeats, and faces perhaps her stiffest challenge from Glenn Close, another veteran leading lady with blue-chip credentials who is nominated for her lead role in Albert Nobbs.

Leading contenders for the Best Actor crown include George Clooney, who is nominated for The Descendants, a well-made drama which picked-up five nominations and now has an outside shot at Best Picture. His best-known rival will be Brad Pitt, who is seeking a first Academy Award for the baseball film Moneyball.

Underlining his growing creative stature, Clooney is also nominated for a share of a writing award, after The Ides of March - a critically-acclaimed political thriller he co-wrote, co-produced, directed and starred in - was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay. “George is an extraordinarily complete film-maker,” his co-producer Nigel Sinclair told The Independent. “He was disciplined and personable. He showed us the first cut of the film three weeks after shooting wrapped, he came in under budget, and he made an incredible film.”

Today's short-list adds clarity to what has so far been a confusing Hollywood awards season, in which The Artist has picked-up the lion’s share of plaudits without ever gaining sufficient momentum to lend inevitability to its march towards the industry’s most prestigious event.

The film, made for just $15m, would be the first silent, black-and-white movie to win Best Picture since Wings in 1927. It also has a decent shot of landing major acting awards, with previously-unknown stars Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo short-listed for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress respectively. "I can't believe that a year ago I was learning how to tap dance and today I am nominated for an Academy Award," said Bejo today.

Hugo's dramatic emergence meanwhile came as a surprise. The children’s film, which has a star-studded cast, gained only mixed reviews when it debuted before Christmas, and has so far disappointed commercially, returning only $83 million globally, against a production budget of around $150m.

Scorsese’s backers will now hope that filmgoers take a second look at the title. Producer Graham King today described Hugo as "the movie I'm most proud of in my career,” adding: "I really have to take my hat off to Marty for not just the technical aspect but making a genre-defining film.”

Other intriguing story-lines include the two nominations gained by the summer comedy Bridesmaids – which, though hugely successful, hardly fits the earnest profile of a typical Oscar movie - and the relatively-poor showing by British films and stars.

Whereas last year’s Oscars were dominated by The King’s Speech, this year our leading hopes lie with Gary Oldman, who wins his first ever nomination as Best Actor for Tinker Tailor, Soldier , Spy, and Kenneth Branagh, short-listed for Best Supporting Actor for My Week With Marilyn.

Golden oldies: Nominated again

Martin Scorsese

The 69-year-old received his seventh 'best director' Oscar nomination yesterday for Hugo.  Scorsese was nominated five times for the best director prize (the first for Raging Bull in 1980) before finally winning for The Departed in 2007.

Meryl Streep

Up for best actress at this year's awards, the 62-year-old already has two Oscars for her roles in Kramer vs Kramer in 1979 and Sophie's Choice in 1982. She has received 17 Oscar nominations – more than any other actor.

Woody Allen

The 76-year-old yesterday picked up his seventh nomination in the director category for his 41st film Midnight in Paris. He has two Oscars, one for his screenplay of Hannah and Her Sisters in 1987 and one for directing Annie Hall in 1977.



Here is the full list of nominations for the 84th Academy Awards:

Best Picture

The Artist

The Descendants

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

The Help


Midnight in Paris


The Tree of Life

War Horse

Best actor:

Demian Bichir - A Better Life

George Clooney - The Descendants

Jean Dujardin - The Artist

Gary Oldman - Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Brad Pitt - Moneyball

Best actress:

Glenn Close - Albert Nobbs

Viola Davis - The Help

Rooney Mara - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Meryl Streep - The Iron Lady

Michelle Williams - My Week with Marilyn

Supporting actor:

Kenneth Branagh - My Week with Marilyn

Jonah Hill - Moneyball

Nick Nolte - Warrior

Christopher Plummer - Beginners

Max von Sydow - Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Supporting actress:

Berenice Bejo - The Artist

Jessica Chastain - The Help

Melissa McCarthy - Bridesmaids

Janet McTeer - Albert Nobbs

Octavia Spencer - The Help

Adapted screenplay:

The Descendants


The Ides of March


Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Original screenplay:

The Artist


Margin Call

Midnight In Paris

A Separation


The Artist - Michel Hazanavicius

The Descendants - Alexander Payne

Hugo - Martin Scorsese

Midnight in Paris - Woody Allen

The Tree of Life - Terrence Malick

Animated feature film:

A Cat in Paris

Chico & Rita

Kung Fu Panda 2

Puss in Boots


Art direction:

The Artist

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2


Midnight in Paris

War Horse


The Artist

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo


The Tree of Life

War Horse

Costume design:


The Artist


Jane Eyre


Documentary (feature):

Hell and Back Again

If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front

Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory



Documentary (short subject):

The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement

God Is the Bigger Elvis

Incident in New Baghdad

Saving Face

The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom

Film editing:

The Artist

The Descendants

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo



Foreign language film:

Bullhead (Belgium)

Footnote (Israel)

In Darkness (Poland)

Monsieur Lazhar (Canada)

A Separation (Iran)


Albert Nobbs

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

The Iron Lady

Music (original score):

The Adventures of Tintin - John Williams

The Artist - Ludovic Bource

Hugo - Howard Shore

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - Alberto Iglesias

War Horse - John Williams

Music (Original Song):

Man or Muppet (The Muppets)

Real in Rio (Rio)

Short film (animated):


The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore

La Luna

A Morning Stroll

Wild Life

Short film (live action):



The Shore

Time Freak

Tuba Atlantic

Sound editing:


The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo


Transformers: Dark of the Moon

War Horse

Sound mixing:

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo



Transformers: Dark of the Moon

War Horse

Visual effects:

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2


Real Steel

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

But the online fashion and beauty site Asos.com has performed consistently well throughout the credit crunch and continues to thrive, even in the face of the dreaded double dip.

Originally its success was attributed to having cornered the impressionable and trend-led youth market, whose cash was not yet tied up in mortgages or childcare and could be frittered away on faddy pieces at pocket-money prices.

But the launch of three new premium ranges this month – as well as the introduction of new high-end and niche labels with every season – is proof that Asos's secret lies not so much in budget fashion, but in its infinite variety and eminently reliable customer service.

"The launch of Asos 12 years ago was a game-changer for the fashion sector," says Caroline Nodder, editor of industry magazine Drapers. "Most retailers before that time didn't believe consumers would ever fully embrace the idea of buying clothes online. Recently, although growth in the UK market has plateaued, Asos has grown its business in international markets such as Australia, where it now has a £100m operation. It also continues to lead the pack with magazine-style online content, collaborations on exclusive clothing ranges, ease of purchase through mobiles, and quick delivery options."

The latest of these exclusive launches is a collaboration between Asos and the cult London boutique bStore, which features polka dot pyjama-style separates and aquamarine palm print T-shirts, shorts and sundresses.

"It was the perfect partner for us," explains bStore's womenswear designer Chloe Struyk, "as we're both young and creative in our offering. Where a lot of brand partnerships limit creativity in favour of commerce, with Asos we could push the boundaries a little, sitting alongside the brave buys they have from other brands."

It's a far cry from the site's beginnings, as purveyor of copycat celebrity items – the name stands for "As Seen on Screen". This has become a minority part of the business in recent years. Instead, Asos has focused on fashion in high and low budget incarnations but always with an eye on the more directional aspects. It has injected accessible fashion with a more discerning edge, although it also offers high-street brands, comfy casuals and workwear.

Two more collections launching this month are proof enough of that: Salon, inspired by a nostalgic, vintage look, and Africa, the USP of which is ethically sourced Kenyan materials. They nod to trends, but are more daring than the average high-street tastes.

"Salon is vintage-inspired yet still modern," explains Asos's womenswear director Caren Downie. "This season there are lots of sugary-sweet pastel shades, embellishment and floral appliqué, as seen on the catwalks. In Africa, we incorporate Kenyan fabrics and prints to highlight the fact that most of the collection is produced there by an organisation called Soko, who provide fair pay and childcare for the predominantly female team."

Price-wise, these collections nestle between the high-street ranges and designer brands such as House of Holland and Nudie Jeans. Asos has come a long way since it peddled imitation Wayfarers "as worn by Peaches Geldof".


Top Row

1 Azania Stewart 2 Julie Page 3 Jenaya Wade-Fray 4 Temi Fagbenle 5 Joel Freeland 6 Dan Clark 7 Kieron Achara 8 Pops Mensah-Bonsu 9 Jon Schofield 10 Liam Heath 11 Richard Jefferies 12 Lynn Beattie 13 Jo Morgan 14 Grace Carter 15 Janine Sandell 16 Dami Bakare 17 Dan Hunter 18 Andrew Pink 19 Jason Haldane 20 Ryan Giggs 21 Micah Richards 22 Ryan Bertrand 23 Aaron Ramsey 24 Craig Dawson 25 Danny Rose 26 Ellen White 27 Karen Bardsley 28 Eniola Aluko 29 Kim Little 30 Sophie Bradley 31 Karen Carney 32 Sophie Troiano 33 Anna Bentley 34 James Honeybone 35 Natalia Sheppard 36 Louise Bond-Williams

Second Row

1 Stef Collins 2 Rachel Vanderwal 3 Natalie Stafford 4 Dominique Allen 5 Andrew Lawrence 6 Eric Boateng 7 Nate Reinking 8 Luol Deng 9 Tim Brabants 10 Ed McKeever 11 Lucy Wicks 12 Maria Bertelli 13 Rachel Bragg 14 Lizzie Reid 15 Ciara Michel 16 Peter Bakare 17 Ben Pipes 18 Joel Miller 19 Chris Lamont 20 Tom Cleverley 21 Jack Butland 22 Scott Sinclair 23 Marvin Sordell 24 Jack Cork 25 Daniel Sturridge 26 Jill Scott 27 Anita Asante 28 Alex Scott 29 Kelly Smith 30 Casey Stoney 31 Fara Williams 32 Husayn Rosowsky 33 James Davis 34 Richard Kruse 35 Corinna Lawrence 36 Sophie Williams

Third Row

1 Rose Anderson 2 Johannah Leedham 3 Chantelle Handy 4 Kimberly Butler 5 Kyle Johnson 6 Andrew Sullivan 7 Mike Lenzly 8 Robert Archibald 9 Jess Walker 10 Angela Hannah 11 Rachel Cawthorn 12 Louisa Sawers 13 Rach Laybourne 14 Jennifer Taylor 15 Savanah Leaf 16 Mark McGivern 17 Mark Plotyczer 18 Nathan French 19 Kieran O'Malley 20 Craig Bellamy 21 James Tomkins 22 Jason Steele 23 Joe Allen 24 Neil Taylor 25 Steven Caulker 26 Stephanie Houghton 27 Rachel Williams 28 Rachel Brown 29 Claire Rafferty 30 Ifeoma Dieke 31 Rachel Yankey 32 Chris Adcock 33 Imogen Bankier 34 Susan Egelstaff 35 Rajiv Ouseph

Fourth Row

1 Katherine Grainger 2 Beth Rodford 3 Annie Vernon 4 Lindsey Maguire 5 Katie Greves 6 Stuart Bithell 7 Philip Hindes 8 Annie Last 9 Laura Trott 10 Richard Hounslow 11 David Florence 12 Abigail Edmonds 13 Tim Baillie 14 Etienne Stott 15 Lizzie Neave 16 James Ellington 17 Marilyn Okoro 18 Holly Bleasdale 19 Robbie Grabarz 20 Perri Shakes-Drayton 21 Gareth Warburton 22 Lisa Dobriskey 23 Michael Rimmer 24 Lawrence Okoye 25 Andrew Osagie 26 Laura Weightman 27 Abdul Buhari 28 Lynsey Sharp 29 Mervyn Luckwell 30 Chris Thompson 31 Shara Proctor 32 Daniel Awde 33 Scott Overall 34 Nick McCormick 35 Johanna Jackson 36 Phillips Idowu

Fifth Row

1 Greg Searle 2 Natasha Page 3 Debbie Flood 4 Melanie Wilson 5 Andrew Simpson 6 Ben Ainslie 7 Jason Kenny 8 Chris Hoy 9 Dani King 10 Victoria Pendleton 11 Mark Cavendish 12 Edward Clancy 13 Chris Froome 14 Steven Burke 15 Mara Yamauchi 16 Lee Merrien 17 Paula Radcliffe 18 Rhys Williams 19 Yamile Aldama 20 Ross Murray 21 Christine Ohuruogu 22 James Dasalou 23 Martyn Rooney 24 Danny Talbot 25 Chris Tomlinson 26 Dwain Chambers 27 Nigel Levine 28 Mark Lewis-Francis 29 Luke Lennon-Ford 30 Adam Gemili 31 Simeon Williamson 32 Eilish McColgan 33 Rob Tobin 34 Conrad Williams 35 Ashley McKenzie 36 Winston Gordon

Sixth Row

1 Constantine Louloudis 2 Tom Ransley 3 Anna Watkins (Nee Bebington) 4 Frances Houghton 5 Stevie Morrison 6 Jessica Varnish 7 Liam Killeen 8 Joanna Rowsell 9 Wendy Houvenaghel 10 Liam Phillips 11 Shanaze Reade 12 Geraint Thomas 13 Ian Stannard 14 Zoe Smith 15 Tash Perdue 16 Peter Kirkbride 17 Jack Oliver 18 Gareth Evans 19 Lawrence Clarke 20 Eilidh Child 21 Carl Myerscough 22 Katarina Johnson-Thompson 23 Stuart Stokes 24 Claire Hallissey 25 Anyika Onuora 26 Margaret Adeoye 27 Shana Cox 28 Tiffany Porter 29 Abi Oyepitan 30 Nicola Sanders 31 Greg Rutherford 32 Lee McConnell 33 Goldie Sayers 34 Euan Burton 35 Daniel Williams 36 Christopher Sherrington

Seventh Row

1 Peter Chambers 2 Rob Williams 3 Chris Bartley 4 Heather Stanning 5 Iain Percy 6 Stuart Hayes 7 Jonathan Brownlee 8 Alistair Brownlee 9 Lizzie Armitstead 10 Nicole Cooke 11 Andrew Tennant 12 Peter Kennaugh 13 Bradley Wiggins 14 David Millar 15 Samantha Murray 16 Mhairi Spence 17 Nick Woodbridge 18 Sam Weale 19 Jessica Ennis 20 Barbara Parker 21 Richard Buck 22 Dominic King 23 Brett Morse 24 Jo Pavey 25 Andrew Baddeley 26 Sophie Hitchon 27 Alex Smith 28 Louise Hazel 29 Emily Diamond 30 Andrew Pozzi 31 Dai Greene 32 Jack Green 33 Colin Oates 34 James Austin 35 Gemma Howell 36 Karina Bryant

Eighth Row

1 Zac Purchase 2 Mark Hunter 3 Richard Chambers 4 Caroline O'Connor 5 Ali Young 6 Helen Jenkins 7 Lucy Hall 8 Vicky Holland 9 Lucy Martin 10 Emma Pooley 11 Shauna Mullin 12 Zara Dampney 13 John Garcia Thompson 14 Steve Grotowski 15 Joanna Parker 16 Na Liu 17 Kelly Sibley 18 Liam Pitchford 19 Andrew Baggaley 20 Paul Drinkhall 21 Mo Farah 22 Julia Bleasdale 23 Andy Turner 24 Kate Dennison 25 Hannah England 26 Steve Lewis 27 Christian Malcolm 28 Sarah Thomas 29 Hannah Macleod 30 Helen Richardson 31 Nicola White 32 Emily Maguire 33 Alexandra Danson 34 Ashleigh Ball 35 Laura Unsworth 36 Sally Conway

Ninth Row

1 Jade Jones 2 George Nash 3 Pete Reed 4 Will Satch 5 Ben Rhodes 6 Louise Jukes 7 Sarah Hargreaves 8 Nina Heglund 9 Marie Gerbron 10 Ewa Pailies 11 Christopher Mohr 12 Steven Larsson 13 Bobby White 14 Ciaran Williams 15 Rob Parker 16 Matthew Holland 17 Jonathan Hammond 18 Elena Allen 19 Georgina Geikie 20 Rory Warlow 21 Richard Faulds 22 Richard Brickell 23 Mary King 24 Zara Phillips 25 Kristina Cook 26 Nicola Wilson 27 William Fox-Pitt 28 Charlotte Dujardin 29 Laura Bechtolsheimer 30 Ashley Jackson 31 Kate Walsh 32 Crista Cullen 33 Georgie Twigg 34 Sally Walton 35 Laura Bartlett 36 Annie Panter

10th Row

1 Sarah Stevenson 2 Andrew Triggs Hodge 3 Sam Townsend 4 Charles Cousins 5 Jess Eddie 6 Paul Goodison 7 Britt Goodwin 8 Zoe Van Der Weel 9 Kathryn Fudge 10 Sebastien Edgar 11 Christopher McDermott 12 Gawain Vincent 13 Mark Hawkins 14 Robin Garnham 15 Jack Waller 16 Alex Parsonage 17 Sean King 18 Adam Scholefield 19 James Huckle 20 Charlotte Kerwood 21 Jen McIntosh 22 Ed Ling 23 Peter Wilson 24 Ben Maher 25 Peter Charles 26 Scott Brash 27 Nick Skelton 28 Richard Davison 29 Carl Hester 30 Richard Smith 31 Iain Lewers 32 Alastair Wilson 33 Ben Hawes 34 Barry Middleton 35 Glenn Kirkham 36 Dan Fox 37 Chloe Rogers

11th Row

1 Martin Stamper 2 Stephen Rowbotham 3 Tom Solesbury 4 Bill Lucas 5 Nick Dempsey 6 Bryony Shaw 7 Jane Mayes 8 Holly Lam-Moores 9 Yvonne Leuthold 10 John Pearce 11 Sebastian Prieto 12 Martin Hare 13 Jesper Parker 14 Daniel McMillan 15 Ed Scott 16 Glen Robinson 17 Sean Ryder 18 Ciaran James 19 Chris Mears 20 Stacie Powell 21 Jack Laugher 22 Nick Robinson-Baker 23 Alicia Blagg 24 Rebecca Gallantree 25 Larry Godfrey 26 Alan Wills 27 Simon Terry 28 Andy Murray 29 Jamie Murray 30 Colin Fleming 31 Anne Keothavong 32 Rob Moore 33 James Fair 34 Matt Daly 35 James Tindall 36 Beth Storry

12th Row

1 Mohamed Sbihi 2 James Foad 3 Alex Partridge 4 Victoria Thornley 5 Hannah Mills 6 Saskia Clark 7 Kelsi Fairbrother 8 Lyn Byl 9 Lynn McCafferty 10 Angela Winstanley-Smith 11 Lisa Gibson 12 Rebecca Kershaw 13 Ciara Gibson-Byrne 14 Francesca Clayton 15 Chloe Wilcox 16 Craig Figes 17 Jake Vincent 18 Joseph O'Regan 19 Tom Daley 20 Peter Waterfield 21 Tonia Couch 22 Monique Gladding 23 Sarah Barrow 24 Hannah Starling 25 Amy Oliver 26 Naomi Folkard 27 Alison Williamson 28 Heather Watson 29 Elena Baltacha 30 Laura Robson 31 Ross Hutchins 32 Iain Mackay 33 Harry Martin 34 Jonty Clarke 35 Nick Catlin

13th Row

1 Lutalo Muhammad 2 Alan Campbell 3 Alex Gregory 4 Tom James 5 Annie Lush 6 Luke Campbell 7 Tom Stalker 8 Josh Taylor 9 Anthony Joshua 10 Rosemary Morris 11 Robyn Nicholls 12 Frances Leighton 13 Alex Rutlidge 14 Fiona McCann 15 Hazel Musgrove 16 Francesca Snell 17 Simon Burnett 18 Joe Roebuck 19 Amy Smith 20 Ross Davenport 21 Elizabeth Simmonds 22 Liam Tancock 23 Francesca Halsall 24 Ieuan Lloyd 25 Keri-Anne Payne 26 David Carry 27 Marco Loughran 28 Grant Turner 29 James Disney-May 30 Gemma Spofforth 31 Ellen Gandy 32 Dan Purvis 33 Georgina Cassar 34 Jade Faulkner 35 Rachel Smith 36 Sarah Clark 37 Kelly Edwards

14th Row

1 Matthew Langridge 2 Richard Egington 3 Matthew Wells 4 Louisa Reeve 5 Olivia Whitlam 6 Lucy Macgregor 7 Savannah Marshall 8 Nicola Adams 9 Natasha Jonas 10 Anthony Ogogo 11 Asha Randall 12 Katie Skelton 13 Jennifer Knobbs 14 Vicki Lucass 15 Caitlin McClatchey 16 Rob Bale 17 Joanne Jackson 18 Rebecca Adlington 19 Jessica Lloyd 20 Roberto Pavoni 21 Daniel Fogg 22 James Goddard 23 Adam Brown 24 Craig Gibbons 25 Andrew Willis 26 Craig Benson 27 Antony James 28 Hannah Miley 29 Kate Haywood 30 Hannah Whelan 31 Louis Smith 32 Sam Oldham 33 Kristian Thomas 34 Max Whitlock 35 Jennifer Pinches 36 Francesca Fox

Bottom Row

1 Phelan Hill 2 Sophie Hosking 3 Katherine Copeland 4 Helen Glover 5 Luke Patience 6 Kate Macgregor 7 Fred Evans 8 Andrew Selby 9 Katie Dawkins 10 Jenna Randall 11 Katie Clark 12 Olivia Federici 13 Yvette Baker 14 Chris Walker-Hebborn 15 Robbie Renwick 16 Sophie Allen 17 Michael Rock 18 Stacey Tadd 19 Michael Jamieson 20 David Davies 21 Georgia Davies 22 Aimee Willmott 23 Jemma Lowe 24 Eleanor Faulkner 25 Siobhan-Marie O'Connor 26 Stephanie Proud 27 Rebecca Turner 28 Rebecca Tunney 29 Beth Tweddle 30 Imogen Cairns 31 Kat Driscoll 32 Lynne Hutchinson 33 Francesca Jones 34 Louisa Pouli 35 Olga Butkevych 36 Sophie Cox 37 Gemma Gibbons

Yet, when Parliament returns from its summer recess, so too will the acerbic Westminster satire after a three-year hiatus.

Rebecca Front, who plays hapless MP Nicola Murray, said: "The jokes write themselves in political terms," adding: "The writers are so in tune with the vicissitudes of political life, that often politics follows storylines we have done."

The show cannot be reactive, she said, as it is filmed months in advance. "Instead it looks at the political landscape and satirises a broader picture." While much has been kept under wraps, season four will get its teeth into a coalition government.

After a season as Secretary of State for the fictional Department of Social Affairs and Citizenship, dubbed DoSAC, Murray is now in Opposition scheming, along with foul-mouthed spin doctor Malcolm Tucker, to get back into power. "I was only too delighted that the show is covering the Opposition," Front said. "This is a bonus for me; I thought we might not be in it at all."

The Thick of It has been hailed alongside Yes Minister as one of the great political TV satires produced in the UK. It has twice picked up the Bafta for best sitcom. In 2010, Front and Peter Capaldi, who plays Tucker, won Baftas for best male and female performers in a comedy.

Front said the reason it works is the "claustrophobic" nature of politics. "Westminster really is a village; it's completely up itself and self-referential. That really works in comedy terms because these people are solely obsessed by the thinking: 'How will this play and how will I look? Will the other guy look worse than me?' There's a lot of that in the next series."

Despite the venal view of politics, those working in Westminster have told Front it is actually "a fairly gentle portrayal. That's when you think: 'My God, these people are really up against it. No wonder they're behaving like idiots'."

She even admits that while the programme has made her more cynical, "I'm also more sympathetic". During Tory minister Chloe Smith's recent car crash interview with Jeremy Paxman, "I groaned all the way through, because I could imagine it being Nicola Murray. I thought: 'Oh that poor woman, this is agony.' I found it funny afterwards. She is a government minister, and should have done better."

The major reactive nod to events, Front said, is the next series' own Leveson-style inquiry. Front said she did not see as much of the inquiry into press ethics as she would have liked, but was "riveted" when not filming by some of those called to give evidence. "It's as big a draw as Wimbledon," she said, and revealed she was a fan of Robert Jay QC.

Front is a veteran of the satire circuit and had an association with Thick of It creator Armando Iannucci from her early days of radio and television comedy. They worked on Radio 4's satirical news show On The Hour in 1991, which was adapted for television as The Day Today several years later, and Knowing Me, Knowing You with Alan Partridge. The pair had been contemporaries at Oxford, although were not friends at the time.

The satire first tore on to British screens in 2005 on BBC4. Iannucci said at the time he wanted to show politics as "rough and messy, slightly improvised and realistic" and developed it in response to a series of studied political dramas.

He invited Front to join the third season in 2009 as the new minister for DoSAC. While she was "ridiculously excited" by the offer, Front said: "I'd watched the show since the beginning and there was a great sense of trepidation going into a fairly visible role in something you already love." On her first day, her husband waved her off with the encouraging words "Please don't balls this up. It's my favourite show."

Before the character even had a name, she experienced a verbal volley from Malcolm Tucker. "Armando asked us to improvise. Peter, this nice gentle man, stood up and suddenly turned into Malcolm. It was terrifying."

Yet being "Tuckered" as the cast call it, is a particular pleasure for Front. "Peter is one of the best actors I've ever worked with, he's extraordinary. There's a real pleasure in having a scene where you're being screamed at by somebody who's a fantastic actor."

Returning for the fourth season as an established character "means it's less scary going in this time round". She added: "Nicola Murray is a dream character, I would be delighted to carry on playing her until she goes into some sort of politicians' retirement home or goes mad. Or both."

She defended Iannucci, who was recently criticised by Alastair Campbell, who Tucker is believed to be based on, for accepting an OBE. "It's not like he's taking a seat in the House of Lords or been conferred with a superpower. Someone said: 'We like your work,' and he said: 'Thank you.' I don't see what all the fuss is about. Maybe because he's my mate."

Front has found regular comedy work since starting out in the industry, with one-off appearances to series including Al Murray's Time Gentlemen Please, to Nighty Night, The Catherine Tate Show and more recently Just William and Grandma's House with Simon Amstell. She has also taken on serious roles, most notably that of Chief Superintendent Jean Innocent in Lewis.

Currently, Front is shooting a new comedy, The Spa, for Sky Living written by Derren Litten, who also wrote comedy-drama series Benidorm. "It's a bit of a departure for me, it's a very much a mainstream broad comedy."

While she appears regularly on topical news shows like Have I Got News for You and Radio 4's The News Quiz, she sees herself "not as a comedian, but as an actor who does a bit of chat".

'The Thick Of It' returns to BBC2 this autumn

Evans is being given little hope of success at London 2012 after being drawn against the man many believe to be the greatest player of all time.

The world number 76 faces the great Chinese, who is tournament favourite despite being seeded second, in what is effectively a knockout contest on Monday afternoon.

The first round of the men's singles is round robin but Evans and Lin are the only players in Group P.

Dubliner Evans, 24, said: "I'll prepare like I do for any other game, making sure that I'm mentally ready, go out, enjoy myself and embrace it - even if I break my leg on court, I'll enjoy it.

"I'll change tactics because of who he is, being a left-handed player - but I'll play my own game.

"I've played Lin Dan a few times before so I know what he can do.

"When you go into the Olympics there are no easy games.

"If I want to win a medal then I'll have to beat Lin Dan whether now or in the final. It would have to happen.

"I'm tired of people being negative about it. You have to be positive."

Evans has played Lin three times previously, including at last year's World Championship at the same Wembley Arena venue, but lost on each occasion.

Ireland's women's singles entrant, world number 44 Chloe Magee, will play at least two matches in her group.

Magee, of Raphoe, County Donegal, opens against Hadia Hosny of Egypt on Sunday before playing former world number two Pi Hongyan of France next Tuesday.

Magee said: "I have to be happy with the draw, it's about the best I could have expected.

I've never beaten Pi before but I'm feeling in good shape so I've got a good chance.

"I played her once before and she beat me in three sets last year. The Egyptian is going to be a tough one but if I can remain focused it will be a good match for me."


The Oscar nominations, unveiled yesterday, set up a race headlined by an intriguing battle between Hugo and The Artist, a pair of films which both set out in very different ways to pay homage to the earliest days of cinema.

Martin Scorsese's Hugo, a hugely ambitious, motion-capture animation which is shortlisted in 11 of the 24 categories, revolves around a heartfelt tribute to the Parisian movie pioneer, George Méliès. It will contest the Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Screenplay awards, along with a slew of technical Oscars. Its nearest rival, The Artist, is a black-and-white silent film that explores Hollywood's transition to "talkies". It has dominated the 2012 awards season so far, and will now seek 10 Academy Awards, including Best Director for its French creator Michel Hazanavicius.

Playing into the nostalgic tone of proceedings is a wider shortlist dominated by some of the industry's most enduring legends. Woody Allen will rub shoulders with Scorsese and Hazanavicius in the Best Directing category, thanks to Midnight in Paris, his first nomination in six years; Steven Spielberg, who was last in the running for an Oscar in 2007, saw his War Horse shortlisted in six categories.

Favourite to win Best Actress will once again be Meryl Streep, for her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady. She is attempting to break a run of 12 straight Oscar defeats, and faces her stiffest challenge from Glenn Close, nominated for her lead role in Albert Nobbs.

Leading contenders for Best Actor crown include George Clooney, who is nominated for The Descendants, which picked up five nominations and now has an outside shot at Best Picture. His best-known rival will be Brad Pitt for the baseball film Moneyball. Underlining his growing creative stature, Clooney is also nominated for a share of a writing award, after The Ides of March – a critically acclaimed political thriller he co-wrote, co-produced, directed and starred in – was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Yesterday's shortlist adds clarity to what has so far been a confusing Hollywood awards season, in which The Artist has picked-up the lion's share of plaudits without gaining sufficient momentum for its march towards the industry's most prestigious award.

The film, made for just $15m, would be the first silent, black-and-white film to win Best Picture since Wings in 1927. It also has a chance of landing major acting awards, with unknown stars Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo shortlisted for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress respectively. "I can't believe that a year ago I was learning how to tap dance and today I am nominated for an Academy Award," said Bejo yesterday.

Hugo's dramatic emergence, meanwhile, came as a surprise. The children's film gained only mixed reviews when it debuted before Christmas, and has so far disappointed commercially, returning only $83m globally, against a production budget of around $150m. Scorsese's backers will now hope that filmgoers take a second look at the title.

The UK's leading hopes lie with Gary Oldman, who wins his first ever nomination as Best Actor for Tinker Tailor, Soldier, Spy, and Kenneth Branagh, shortlisted for Best Supporting Actor for My Week With Marilyn.

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is to take evidence from BBC chiefs over what one committee source said was a "big issue". The witnesses called will include the BBC's chief financial officer Zarin Patel and head of employment tax, David Smith.

"The BBC appears to have a multitude of different ways they ensure people pay less tax. Either they use a service company or pay them on freelance contracts or pay them through personal companies, or they pay them goodness knows how," the source said.

The Committee will not yet look at tax-avoidance schemes. "We're coming back to that in the autumn," the source said.

The PAC is chaired by Margaret Hodge and includes the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Chloe Smith, Stewart Jackson and Ian Swales.

The hearing into off-payroll public-sector pay arrangements was scheduled following the publication of a report into the practice, overseen by Danny Alexander the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, in May.

This followed the report's findings that 2,400 senior public officials earning £58,200 a year were paying the lower level of corporation tax rather than higher rate tax because they were paid as off-payroll consultants.

Mr Alexander said at the time: "It's clear that off-payroll engagement without sufficient transparency has been endemic in the public sector for too many years." It did not include the BBC or local authorities.

A Freedom of Information request to the BBC revealed that 36 employees earning more than £100,000 were paid through personal service companies, with a total of 300 employees paid in the same way.

The off-payroll format is not illegal, but the source said: "Nobody should be avoiding tax. If your income comes from taxpayers' contributions, you have a moral imperative to ensure you are paid in a way that meets tax liabilities. You should lead by example."

But a BBC spokeswoman said last night that using service companies meant staff could be "flexible" in how they worked. She added: "They are not used as a way to avoid paying National Insurance employer contributions which are paid by the service company as required.

"In its contracts the BBC also stipulates that individuals must pay the appropriate amount of tax and we provide HMRC with a detailed annual report of all payments made to such companies."

And you don't get much more box-fresh and up-to-the-minute than a monologue about a female boxing star bidding for glory in East London. But while Nicola Adams is still basking in the golden glow of her real-life happy ending, our fictional heroine's future is less assured. Hailing from the school of hard knocks, she took up boxing aged 11 when her mother walked out but when her beloved father/trainer dies suddenly, everything she has worked for is thrown into jeopardy.

Written and performed by the expressive, energetic Charlotte Josephine, Bitch Boxer is in the finest tradition of fighting dramas - a pumped-up, underdog monologue with a big heart, delivered in a hail of upper-cuts and a spray of sweat. Josephine puts in an impressively physical performance broken up with tender moments. It's more coming-of-age fable than insight into life in the ring but then, as she reminds us, "every fighter has a reason" - and in this most emotional of sports, the two are often intimately linked.

Returning servicemen, sex workers and teen obesity are among the hot potatoes tackled in the other OVNV plays. In Chapel Street, Binge Britain is put under the microscope in a simple tale of a schoolgirl and a twentysomething lad whose paths cross, fatefully, one Friday night.

Part spoken word, part play and delivered through microphones like stand-up, Luke Barnes' two-hander glitters with promise and pep. There's sharp-eyed humour to his picture of modern Britain and teenage life - all Kardashians, sequins and shots - but there are a troubling undertones, too - the angry drinker who threatens the pub landlord with his shotgun, the fact that "no-one's got a job and everyone lives with their mum" and, most crucially, the deadening lack of any ambition greater than getting blind drunk at the weekend.

Cary Crankson, charming as Joe the wastrel who gradually reveals the yawning extent of his disaffection and Ria Zmitrowicz as a Vicky Pollardesque teen motormouth put in two of the wittiest and most engaging performances I've seen this Fringe.

To 26 August (0844 545 8252)

With the full list of ministerial changes emerging yesterday, a key feature was the rapid promotion of Tory MPs elected two years ago. Among those about half are women – moving into key departments such as Education, Health and Justice. Mr Cameron, who has faced the charge that he has a "women problem", has pledged to have women in one-third of ministerial posts by 2015.

Those promoted include Liz Truss, once a member of CND, who has been put in charge of early-years education with a remit to make childcare more affordable. She has recently published research in the area and her promotion is a clear sign that the Government wants to bring forward new proposals on an issue that Mr Cameron believes will be vital at the next election.

Also promoted is Anna Soubry who becomes Under-Secretary at Health. Once a presenter on Central Television, she retrained as a barrister, was a member of David Cameron's A-list of candidates and was tipped for promotion. She is on the left of the party and is close to Ken Clarke – with the pair sharing neighbouring seats.

Former lawyer Helen Grant, the MP for Maidstone and the Weald, is the Conservatives' first black female MP. Before being promoted to Under-Secretary at the Justice Department she sat on the Justice Select Committee and criticised plans to reform legal aid.

The other noticeable feature of those 2010 MPs chosen for early promotion is their closeness to George Osborne.

Some Tory backbenchers expressed concern that Mr Cameron had prioritised promoting the new intake of Tory MPs over those elected in 2005.

They pointed out that a number of the new ministers did not have extensive managerial experience and could have benefited from longer on the backbenches before being promoted.

They pointed to the experience of Chloe Smith – elected in a by-election in 2009 – who was rapidly promoted to Economic Secretary to the Treasury in October last year only to get effectively sidelined in this reshuffle. She now takes on a less demanding role in the Cabinet Office after being blamed for a faltering performance while being questioned by Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight.

The more outspoken members of the new intake have been sidelined. Jesse Norman, who openly defied Mr Cameron on House of Lords reform but who is seen as a rising intellectual star in the Parliamentary party, looks set to remain on the backbenches.

Leading ladies promoted in the reshuffle

Anna Soubry

Under Secretary at Health

Previously not afraid to speak her mind – she once supported the legalisation of cannabis – she now has the job of selling the Government's controversial heath reforms.

Esther McVey

Under Secretary at Work and Pensions

Described as a "glamorous, sparky, fast-talking Liverpudlian television presenter", McVey once worked on GMTV with Eamonn Holmes. She now has the drier task of implementing Universal Credit.

Helen Grant

Under Secretary at Justice

The first black female Tory MP helped Oliver Letwin put together the policy review in opposition before inheriting Ann Widdecombe's seat. In 2008 Grant was quoted a saying she would "never play the race card".

Liz Truss

Education Minister

Not from a traditional Tory background, Truss was once a member of the CND and a leading Liberal Democrat at university. Recently the New Statesman dubed her Iron Lady 2.0.

The Prime Minister used a visit to a hospital in Newcastle to promise moves to tackle the "scandal" of Britain's drinking culture through a mixture of higher taxes, better education – and tougher police action.

His support for American-style "drunk tanks" – one-person cells housing people overnight – was his most controversial suggestion for getting tough on alcohol-fuelled trouble.

Paul McKeever, the chairman of the federation, which represents grassroots officers, said: "To recommend locking people up in so-called 'drunk tanks' to resolve the issue of binge drinking is dangerous. People who are very drunk can be vulnerable and often require medical attention, so locking them in a confined space is not an effective solution."

The Prime Minister has hinted at his support for imposing a minimum price of about 45p a unit on alcohol, based on a similar move planned in Scotland. The drinks industry warned him that setting a minimum price would be "probably illegal" as it could breach trade laws, a problem that was acknowledged last night by Government sources.

Two ministers – Chloe Smith, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, and Anne Milton, the Health minister – have also admitted the measure could be challenged in the courts.

Ministers are still struggling to find a formula for stopping the sale of very cheap alcohol five months after Mr Cameron first signalled his general support for the move. The Government's long-awaited alcohol strategy is now expected next month. One Whitehall source said: "There is general agreement that action needs to be taken and discussions are taking place, but no decisions have been taken."

From April it will be illegal to sell alcohol in England and Wales at below the cost of duty and value added tax – a move will affect very few current cut-price deals. However, any attempt to set a higher minimum price could run counter to European laws guaranteeing the free movement of goods.

When an attempt to introduce a minimum price was first mooted in Scotland – the scheme is currently on hold there awaiting new proposals from the SNP administration – the Law Society warned it could run into trouble in the European Court of Justice.

Last night, the Wine and Spirit Trade Association said: "Minimum unit pricing is a blunt tool which would both fail to address the problem of alcohol misuse and punish the vast majority of responsible consumers. As Government ministers acknowledge, it is also probably illegal."

Downing Street selected the Royal Victoria Infirmary for his visit as it regularly has police officers on duty to combat drink-fuelled problems.

PM's past: When booze paid the bills

Eyebrows were raised at David Cameron's attack on binge drinking among those who recalled his 2005 party leadership campaign. It emerged then that Mr Cameron was a director of the company which runs the Tiger Tiger chain, where the cocktail Pink Pussy could be bought in jugs for £7.99. Teresa Pearce MP, said his "attempt to take the moral high ground on excessive drinking looks distinctly shaky".

Now you see him, now you don't... where's Lansley?

Newcastle's Royal Victoria Infirmary, where police have to be on patrol two nights a week to help out with the drunks arriving in A&E, was just the place for David Cameron to sound off about the pitfalls of drink. Being in the Labour-voting North-east of England sent a signal that here is a Prime Minister for the whole country, not just the middle-class south.

But hang on, where is Andrew Lansley? This is a hospital. The Health Secretary should surely be at the PM's side, as he used to be in happier days.

Cameron's EU veto turns out to be no more than a UK opt-out. Just so, it turns out that Prince Andrew has not been sacked from his role as UKTI's Special Representative for Trade and Investment (as we thought had been announced last summer), but is actually carrying on business as usual with an all-expenses paid trip to Davos (jet, chalet and drinks reception), and a series of other meetings with foreign dignitaries lined up in the future.

And now it seems that the civil servant we thought had been employed to run the Student Loans Company isn't actually a civil servant paid in the conventional way, but a private contractor paid via his own company, his arrangements (which saved him some £40,000 pa) authorised by some as yet unnamed being.

Danny Alexander, who, with David Willetts, was somehow involved in the decision, was asked about this in the Commons but refused to accept any responsibility, resorting to what is now known as the "Murdoch defence" – namely that he wasn't shown and didn't see (and didn't, one might suggest, ask for) the details.

And then there's the growing list of pariahs, all of them tried in the court of public opinion. Last week it was Stephen Hester and his bonus. This week it's Fred Goodwin. Doubtless there'll be someone else next week. Emblems of a bloated, arrogant, self-satisfied City elite who are completely bewildered that anyone could ask whether their remuneration had been rather over-generous.

But the problem is not the one-offs. It's the system that sees boardroom pay soar by 49 per cent while the cleaners who have to scurry round their feet get a pay freeze on a pittance. This isn't about class warfare. It's just about a sense of common decency. Because above all in an age of austerity the sense, that there is one rule for the rich and another for the rest of us is dangerously unsettling.

I know government by hysterical outrage is rarely a success. It leaves a nasty taste in the mouth. But my fear is that ordinary working people, who are working harder and longer for salaries that are losing value, will simply look at the all these stories and think work is a mug's game.

Five portraits of political failure

Overlooking Westminster Bridge, there is a room in the Commons with oak-panelling to head height and hideous yellow walls above. It must have been a dining room, as it has a serving room adjacent to it with a large buffet. But now it is the shadow Cabinet room.

I've been intrigued for a while about the five portraits. The largest is of Sir Arthur Haselrig MP, an absurd, bold and almost certainly corrupt man who sat on the Commonwealth Council of State and who died in the Tower awaiting trial for treason on 7 January 1661. To his left is his colleague, young Sir Henry Vane MP (to distinguish from his father), one of the leading figures in the English revolution who was angrily executed in 1662. To Haselrig's right is John Hampden, the MP who fought against Charles I's un-parliamentary exaction of ship money and who died on 24 June 1643 from wounds probably received when his gun exploded in his face at the battle of Chalgrove Field.

Above one fireplace is Charles I, executed outside Banqueting House on 31 January 1649. And opposite him, the only one of the five who died quietly in his bed, William Pierrepont MP, who did everything he could to prevent the restoration of the monarchy.

I know not whose idea it was to put this five together, but maybe it just reinforces the message that every political career ends in failure. Even Pierrepont lost his seat in the 1661 election, never to return.

The tragedy of wasted talent

On Tuesday evening in the Speaker's House, the Tory MP for Wirral West, Esther McVey, held an event with the National Youth Theatre, with whom she has produced a play called If Chloe Can. We were treated to an excerpt.

Perhaps the most striking moment of the evening, though, was a fantastic poem, written and recited by another of the NYT members, about wasted talent and lack of ambition among young women. It reminded me of the most depressing moment I have yet experienced as MP for the Rhondda when I asked a 17-year-old what she hoped to do after school. "I'd like to be a lawyer, but Careers say that girls from the Rhondda don't get to be lawyers, so I'm not sure." I could have boiled with fury or cried with sadness.

The director makes beautiful music

Which reminds me, as well as a spell in the NYT in the 1970s and 80s, I played Mack the Knife in The Threepenny Opera while at Oxford. I wasn't particularly good but I was particularly fed up with our director, who had a habit of calling the wrong actors for rehearsals, so we ended up practising some scenes time and again and others rarely. Eventually, my temper broke when he came into my dressing room for the dress rehearsal and offered me some "tips" on my singing.

I let rip. "You're the worst director I've ever worked with. You know nothing about theatre, or music or singing. Leave me alone." Well, Ian Bostridge, for 'twas he, now has countless beautiful classical CDs to his name, has recently performed at the Carnegie Hall and will be appearing at the Queen Elizabeth Hall singing Bach Arias with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment on 25 April. What do I know?

From mainstream witch to indie darling – or, more precisely, from Fleur Delacour in the Harry Potter series to Chloe in In Bruges – Poésy is increasingly bestriding the Anglo-Gallic film-making divide, a duality neatly encapsulated last year when she played both the French national icon, Joan of Arc, in the Cannes-competing Jeanne Captive, and a piece of arm candy in the hip American cable show Gossip Girl.

"I feel very privileged to have been welcomed in England in that way," says Poésy, who flits between London and Paris almost as often as the Eurostar. "I always thought that there was a little door that was open for me." Her latest English project has also been her most daunting – and although the role of Queen Isabella in Shakespeare's Richard II is only a minor one, the challenge of mastering iambic pentameters for the BBC's upcoming cycles of Shakespeare plays was considerable.

"It was like learning how to speak another language," she says in accented but perfectly fluent English. "You do Shakespeare at drama school but you do it in French. It's interesting to see, when you study theatre in France, the different translations of Shakespeare – because obviously in England you just work on one material."

She was able to learn from her Bard-hardened Richard II co-stars, Rory Kinnear, Ben Whishaw and Patrick Stewart, and to reflect with amusement how she managed to get into the Conservatoire National Supérieur d'Art Dramatique (France's equivalent of Rada) by performing, in English, Juliet's balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet. "No one had any idea of whether it was any good," laughs Poésy, who took her mother's maiden name for the stage. Her father, Etienne Guichard, is a theatre director, who used to pretend to Clemence and her younger sister, Maëlle, that their TV only played videos of movies.

After a stab at couture that ended after a disastrous work-experience placement when she was expected to stitch together a wedding dress, Poésy grudgingly accepted her thespian fate.

"I was the one in the family who was saying I wanted to do something else," she says. "Mostly because I felt a bit silly saying that I wanted to be an actress before I actually was an actress – or it might have been being scared of failure." A string of French roles playing teenagers ensued, before her English-language breakthrough as Mary, Queen of Scots in Jimmy McGovern's 2004 BBC drama Gunpowder, Treason & Plot – a role that led to Harry Potter. Her mother, a schoolteacher, had already encouraged her to read JK Rowling's books, although Poésy says she only really became interested in witches – "what were considered witches in those days" – when reading up for her role as Joan of Arc.

Harry Potter led to a variety of English language parts, from the aforementioned In Bruges, with Colin Farrell ("people love that film"), and the 2007 TV mini-series War and Peace, to playing Jim Sturgess's enigmatic girlfriend in the London-set horror film Heartless and as James Franco's lover in Danny Boyle's 127 Hours. Now Poésy is involved in a somewhat more unusual romance, Mr Morgan's Last Love, an age-gap meeting of lonely hearts between a free-spirited Parisian and Michael Caine's retired and widowed American philosophy professor. It sounds like Lost in Translation.

"Yuh, it's two lonely people finding each other, except it's Paris and not Tokyo," she says. "It's not a real love story but there's a lot of love in it... It was lovely to get to know him. He's incredibly simple, and he's got a very playful approach to the whole thing still. "

Apart from being an actor, Poésy is also a musician (she plays guitar, and sang on last year's debut album by the Last Shadow Puppets' Miles Kane) and fashion icon – a face of the perfume Chloé and now the new face of Dutch urban fashion chain G-Star Raw – as well as being something of an all-round It Girl and muse for Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel – although she thinks the Lagerfeld connection is exaggerated.

"I'm not that close," she says. "It's very strange to read these things". One poster we won't be seeing however, is of a naked, or semi-naked, Poésy. After a bad experience as an 18-year-old starlet, she has a clause in all her contracts that states that any nude scenes she films can't be used in trailers or publicity stills. "People can find the scene and so whatever they want on the internet," she says defiantly, "but at least they can't use on the trailer."

'Birdsong' is out on DVD on 12 March. 'Richard II' is on BBC2 in July. 'Mr Morgan's Last Love' is released this autumn

Daniel Parr, 25, admitted he was driving his Megabus too fast on the M5 in Gloucestershire, killing 30-year-old Raymond Vaughan.

The early-morning crash just before Christmas 2010 caused a horrific pile-up involving a lorry, a coach and three cars.

Gloucester Crown Court heard that other motorists were so concerned about the fog and icy conditions on the morning of December 12that they had slowed down to 40mph.

Yet Parr, who admitted he could see just 72ft (22m) ahead of him,was driving at 62mph - the maximum speed under law for his coach.

Because of the appalling weather Parr did not see the articulatedSainsbury's delivery lorry travelling at 40mph in front of him on the northbound carriageway.

The court heard that he tried to take evasive action but clipped the rear of the truck causing it smash through the central reservation onto the southbound carriageway.

Mr Vaughan's black Ford Fiesta, which was coming the other way, then collided with the lorry and a Rover ploughed into his car.

The married father-of-two, an engineer from Birmingham, died at the scene of the crash near junction 8 of the M5, between Strensham and Tewkesbury.

Prosecutor Martin Steen told the court: "This is a tragic case in every sense of the word.

"In short Parr was driving a Megabus on the northbound carriageway in thick fog.

"He came to collide with a Sainsbury's lorry in front of him causing that lorry to smash through the central reservation and onto thesouthbound carriageway with the result that much-loved Raymond Vaughan died."

Mr Steen said that passengers on the coach felt Parr was "in a hurry" by the way he threw their luggage on the coach as they boarded and how quickly he pulled away from the pick up.

"A passenger described the conditions as cold, foggy and icy. She heard a loud crash and a continuous scraping noise," he said.

"The noise was horrendous and the windscreen shattered and fell all over her. She said afterwards the driver looked scared and shocked.

"Other witnesses on the motorway described the vehicle driving fast in the conditions given the fog."

Mr Steen said that Parr told police he could only see the length of a cricket pitch in front of him - a distance of 72ft (22m).

Parr, who was taking the coach with a co-driver from Cardiff to Leeds, told officers: "The wagon just appeared in front of me. I didn't know it was there. If there were fog lights they were very dim.

"The back of the coach must have caught the truck and after that I don't really remember anything."

The court also heard moving statements from Mr Vaughan's wife andmother describing how their lives had been devastated by his death.

Julie Vaughan, his mother, said she and her two daughters, Patricia and Chloe, were already coping with the death of their father and her husband when Mr Vaughan died.

"Chloe told me that everyone she loves dies," Mrs Vaughan said.

"Since my son's death I have not slept a full night. I cry every single day for my son. The thought of him not being around to speak to or hold him is tearing me apart.

"My last image of him was going to see him in the mortuary."

Mrs Vaughan added: "I do want to see justice but nothing will bring Raymond back and that's all I want."

Mr Vaughan's wife, Hayley, said she had been left to care for their two children, one of whom was disabled.

"Raymond was the best dad and husband you could wish for," she said.

"My children find it difficult to sleep and cry at night.

"I desperately miss my husband. He was my rock and I thought he would be with me for the rest of my life."

At an earlier hearing, Parr, of Penallt Estate, Llanelly Hill, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, admitted causing death by dangerous driving.

Robin Shellard, defending, said Parr, a coach driver for five years and of previous good character, was truly remorseful for what had happened and had written of his regret.

"The death of Mr Vaughan is something that has haunted him every day," Mr Shellard said.

"It is quite clear that he was driving too fast for the conditions."

Mr Shellard said that since the crash Parr, a father of two boys aged six and two, had changed from an outgoing person to someone who stayed at home and drank heavily.

"I hope Mr Vaughan's family accepts that whatever Mr Parr has been through in the last 18 months is of course nothing to what Mr Vaughan's family has been through," he said.

"No sentence of imprisonment can bring Mr Vaughan back.

"He just hopes Mr Vaughan's family can accept the feelings he has towards Mr Vaughan and the great regret he has."

Judge Susan Evans QC jailed Parr for two years, banned him from driving for three years and ordered that he take an extended driving test.

She said: "This case is tragic in every sense of the word.

"On December 12 2010 you were the driver of a coach on the M5 in very difficult conditions early in the morning.

"You had a responsibility to your passengers and to other road users. As you said in your interview your visibility was less than 22 metres just before the collision.

"It was apparent from your passengers that some of them were concerned at the speed of your driving in the prevailing conditions.

"You were driving at the maximum speed of 62mph and a collision with another slower vehicle was inevitable.

"Your coach collided with the rear of the lorry and began a chainof events which neither you or the lorry driver could have prevented.

"It led to the tragic death of Mr Raymond Vaughan and the loss to his family has been immense."

Judge Evans added: "I know what happened that day will have a profound effect upon you for the rest of your life and that you wish youcould turn back the clock.

"This court has to send out a message to those that drive dangerously in icy conditions and that is what you did.

"Nothing this court can do can repair the damage done to Raymond Vaughan and his family."


Photographs: Katya De Grunwald

Model: Smita at IMG

Make-up: Angela Davis-Deacon at Sue Allatt using Chanel Hydra Beauty Serum

Hair: Jan Przemyk at Naked Artists using Kiehl's

Retouching: Samuel Bland

David Beckham was at the ancient Panathenaic Stadium to help collect the flame and bring it back home.

The historic event took place in a rain-hit sundown ceremony at the stadium in Athens, venue of the first modern Olympics in 1896.

The flame has been handed over to London to host the Games for the third time since the birth of the Olympics - in 1908, 1948 and now 2012. No other city has staged the Games three times.

Despite the buzz triggered by the last-minute news that the LA Galaxy star and former England skipper was flying in specially to be part of the ancient ceremony, the more formal duties came down to the Princess Royal as leader of the British delegation to Athens.

Both she and Karolos Papoulias, the Hellenic Republic president, sat in ancient thrones that are part of the stadium during the hour-long ceremony.

The flame was handed to the Princess, who was watched closely by other members of the official delegation including London 2012 chairman Lord Coe, Olympics minister Hugh Robertson, London mayor Boris Johnson, Beckham and five British sporting teenagers.

Each member of the British VIP delegation sheltered under blue umbrellas as they walked through the centre of the stadium to their front-row seats.

Everyone from the Princess Royal to Mr Robertson were named over the loudspeakers and greeted by cheers from the crowd.

There was also a chuckle from British people in the crowd as the announcer twice insisted on introducing Beckham as Sir David Beckham.

The youngsters were picked by London 2012 for displaying Olympic values. During the ceremony they exchanged symbolic olive branches to the tune of John Lennon's Imagine.

The five, who come from different national regions, are from schools and colleges which are part of London 2012's Get Set education network and school linking programmes run by the British Council.

A smiling Sakinah Muhammad, 15, from Clapton Girls' Academy in Hackney, east London, who is one of the British youngsters, said: "When I first found out I was in shock. I did not believe what they were telling me and that I was going to be something that is such a big deal. I am so excited that I am part of it."

The other British teenagers included Scottish rugby player Dennis Coles, 17, from Doon Academy, Dalmellington, East Ayrshire; hockey player Chloe Brown, 18, from South Eastern Regional College in Bangor, Northern Ireland; and Swansea Harriers athlete and Mumbles Rangers FC player Sean White, 17, from Bishop Vaughan Catholic School in Swansea.

There was also Falmouth Ladies hockey player Georgia Higgs from Helston Community College and school sports ambassador who represents Cornwall, where the flame will touch down ahead of the 70-day torch relay to the start of the London 2012 Olympics.

The Olympic Flame has been taken on a relay around the Greek mainland and islands since it was lit by the rays of the sun in ancient Olympia last week.

It has visited Crete, Piraeus, Thessalonica, Xanthi and Larissa, among other places.

The torchbearers have been taking it from Olympia to the Panathenaic Stadium. The Olympic flame was "laid to rest" at the Acropolis overnight before being taken on the eighth and final day of its Greek relay - taking it to the Acropolis Museum, the centre of Athens, Zappeio and to the handover ceremony.

A trio of world champions brought the flame safely to the stadium. It arrived in the hands of rower Christina Giazitzidou and was carried by gymnast Vasilis Tsolakidis and rower Alexandra Tsiavou.

Chinese gymnast Li Ning, who lit the cauldron at the opening ceremony for the 2008 Beijing Games, and Greek weightlifter Pyrros Dimas were the last torchbearers in Greece.

In a new symbolic move by the Hellenic Olympic Committee, they were picked to represent a link between the last Olympics in Beijing, with Greece as the birthplace of the institution and also the next Games in London 2012.

Li Ning is the 14-time world champion who won six medals at the 1984 Olympics including three golds, while Pyrros Dimas is something of a modern-day Greek sporting hero.

He won Greece's first Olympic weightlifting gold since 1904 when he was a 20-year-old competing in the 82.5kg weight class at the Barcelona 1992 Games.

He was on his way to winning three Olympic gold medals during his career, which he ended with a bronze in front of his home crowd at the 2004 Athens Games.

The image of him symbolically leaving his shoes on the platform to a standing ovation is one of the most memorable of the Games.

The ceremony also included priestesses in a performance choreographed by Artemis Ignatiou.

Drummers and children took part in a musical number.

It was to wish good luck to the Greek team that will compete in London, complete with the slogan "Greece you can do it".

The British delegates fly back tomorrow evening, landing at RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall, where they will attend a special ceremony welcoming the flame.

A 70-day relay, involving 8,000 torchbearers covering 8,000 miles, will then take the flame to east London's Olympic Stadium and the opening of the Games on July 27.


The LA Galaxy star and former England captain, who was part of London 2012's winning bid team to stage the Games, will meet the official delegation led by British Olympic Association president and London 2012 board member the Princess Royal in Athens.

Beckham will be joined by five young people, from schools and colleges which are part of London 2012's Get Set education network, for tomorrow's handover ceremony at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens.

They have been invited by London 2012 and the British Council as a reward for their commitment to sport and for promoting the Olympic values of friendship, excellence and respect within their school or college.

A mix of some of Britain's hard-working younger generation and a touch of the Beckham stardust is the right way to shine the spotlight on the 70-day relay involving 8,000 torchbearers which will begin after the Olympic flame touches down on home soil, Lord Coe said.

"Working with one of our most inspiring sports people is also fitting for this hugely exciting time for the London 2012 Games," he said.

During the final push of the 2005 bidding campaign, the Leytonstone-born footballer said he was dreaming of the day the Olympics would be staged in his old East End "manor".

He spoke of the potential to inspire and the possible regeneration value of hosting the Games.

Lord Coe said: "We wanted to involve young people from across the UK in bringing home the Olympic Flame.

"Their stories of personal achievement and contribution to sport echo the 8,000 inspiring torchbearer stories that will be shared from this weekend and over the next 10 weeks in the build-up to the start of the Games."

The youngsters, who come from different national regions, are from schools and colleges which are part of London 2012's Get Set education network and school linking programmes run by the British Council.

They include Scottish rugby player Dennis Coles, 17, from Doon Academy, Dalmellington, East Ayrshire, hockey player Chloe Brown, 18, from South Eastern Regional College in Bangor, Northern Ireland, and Swansea Harriers athlete and Mumbles Rangers FC player Sean White, 17, from Bishop Vaughan Catholic School in Swansea.

There are also two 15-year-olds among the group.

Representing Cornwall, where the Olympic Flame arrives and starts its 70-day journey, is Falmouth Ladies hockey player Georgia Higgs from Helston Community College and School Sports Ambassador plus athlete Sakinah Muhammad from Clapton Girls' Academy in Hackney, east London.

Lord Coe, Olympics minister Hugh Robertson and London mayor Boris Johnson are also part of the official delegation to Athens.

The British delegation flies back on Friday evening, landing at RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall, where there will be a special ceremony welcoming the flame.

The relay, covering 8,000 miles, will bring the flame to east London's Olympic Stadium and the opening of the Games on July 27.


The Government's economic strategy is in tatters and our blundering part-time Chancellor seems to have no idea what to do. Indeed, there is now talk that the much-hallowed AAA credit rating is now seriously in doubt because of his incompetence.

In a research note M&G's Jim Leaviss has argued that the rating looks "increasingly vulnerable ... because of deterioration, both in economic growth and on the fiscal side". This would be a further nail in Osborne's economic coffin.

U-turn follows U-turn – pasties, charity donations, church renovations, caravans and now fuel. Sending out the junior minister Chloe Smith, who had clearly been instructed not even to admit when the volte face had been decided, to be eaten up by Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight was an act of cowardice on the part of George Osborne, who increasingly seems to be hiding from the press.

Plus Slasher still hasn't explained how this tax cut of £500m is to be funded. It makes perfect sense to me to put a half-billion-pound stimulus into the UK economy, but makes no sense in the context of Osborne's loopy deficit reduction plan.

The inference that should be drawn from the fact that the stimulus seems to be unfunded is, of course, that the Coalition's fiscal Plan A is dead and buried. Good riddance. And postponing the 3p tax rise alongside rapidly falling oil and commodity prices further improves the near-term inflation outlook.

Data releases continue to come in thick and fast confirming that the economy is going nowhere. As is clear from the above chart, consumer confidence as well as respondents' views on their financial situation are showing no sign of recovery. Another poor set of figures on government borrowing in the first two months of the fiscal year showed they were 15 per cent higher than a year ago, reflecting both high spending growth (central government current spending rose by 7.9 per cent year on year) and weak tax receipts growth of 1.6 per cent.

The latest revisions to GDP out last week indicated that the 08-09 recession was not as deep as had initially been believed, which is what the Monetary Policy Committee had been saying, so power to them for that. This is illustrated in the other chart above. But recovery since then has been slower and more prolonged. The ONS confirmed that output in the first quarter fell by 0.3 per cent, but the extent of the decline in the final quarter of 2011 was revised down from -0.3 per cent to -0.4 per cent, confirming we are in an even deeper double-dip recession than was previously thought. The recession deniers have gone quiet again.

Not even half of the output lost since the last recession has been restored under the Coalition's disastrous and reckless economic policies. I fully expect output in the second quarter to also be negative.

The big question, as panic has gripped both Downing Street and Threadneedle Street, is: what now? Mervyn King last week made clear that the economic situation had worsened sharply over the last six weeks. The Coalition bet the 2015 election on their economic policy working; it was the centrepiece of their agreement. All else was in second place. It was entirely predictable that the economic strategy would end in tears. Once that happened the illusion of competence would inevitably crumble, as it has. Very quickly Osborne has turned from being economic guru to goat.

The problem is that it is likely too late for them to do anything to rescue the economy in time for the 2015 election, and the Liberal Democrats are already toast. It will take two years at least for any growth strategy to have any effect. Firms are still not getting enough credit and attempts to clamp down on the banks after the Barclays Libor debacle will only restrict lending further. Calls by David Laws and others for even deeper spending cuts are ridiculous.

Last week the Nobel laureate Paul Krugman and Lord Richard Layard launched a Manifesto for Economic Sense*. This sets out realistic and sensible alternatives to Osborne-style austerity. Within two days over 4,000 people, mainly economists, had signed up, including a number of distinguished names such as the Nobel laureate Chris Pissarides, John Van Reenen and Lord Skidelsky.

The argument is that Osborne, along with other European leaders, are relying on the same ideas that governed policy in the 1930s. These ideas, the manifesto argues, are "long since disproved, involve profound errors both about the causes of the crisis, its nature, and the appropriate response". Amen to that. The usual response from right-wing academics and business folk to such calls in the past has not appeared. I wonder why not? It's time to get the economy moving again. And for that to happen, Osborne must go.


The comedian is working on a pilot of the show - called I Love My Country - in which he will team up with Frank Skinner and Greg Davies.

It is based on a show which has already proved to be a hit in the Netherlands, created by TV gameshow guru John De Mol.

Britain's Got Talent judge Walliams has previously hosted Sky 1's panel show Wall Of Fame.

The pilot programme is not due for broadcast but the series is being considered for BBC1.

The BBC's executive editor for entertainment commissioning, Alan Tyler, said: "David, Frank and Greg are three of the UK's biggest comedy talents. Bringing them together on one show is a really exciting prospect."

The reality is completely different. Instead of weighty proclamations, there are sardonic one-liners. In place of furrowed brows, frequent laughter and a fine line in self-mockery. It's as though you turned up to meet Dawson Leery and found his best friend PaceyWitter there instead.

"I think there was a time during and post-Dawson's Creek when I took myself too seriously and felt I had something to lose," Van Der Beek says with a slightly incredulous laugh. "Plus, there's the whole thing about doing a teen show and having young fans and they're supposed to see you in a certain way..."

Such is the curse of teen drama. Van Der Beek, now 35, played Dawson Leery, melodramatic deliverer of angst-ridden dialogues, would-be Spielberg, uncertain seducer of Joey Potter and possessor of television's most over-the-top crying face, for six years from 1998 until 2003. And, just as to many thirtysomethings Claire Danes will always be Angela Chase, no matter how many terrorists she tracks down on Homeland, so too is Van Der Beek forever Dawson.

Luckily it's not an association he minds, these days at least. "In retrospect I look back and I'm grateful," he says. "But it was an exhausting six-year marathon. I was shooting movies or doing photo shoots when the show was on hiatus. I felt burnt out when it ended. I needed time to duck away and disappear, figure things out and grow up a bit. When I was 24 the character I played on TV was a teenager losing his virginity..."

It helps that Van Der Beek is that unusual thing, a former teen idol whose looks have improved with age. Where Dawson was all wrinkled forehead and bad hair, Van Der Beek wears the passing of time well, a fact he attributes in part to being more at ease. "When Dawson's ended I just reacted to having been on this highly successful teen show for the last six years. I get very bored doing the same thing so, for example, I did Rules of Attraction [an adaptation of a Bret Easton Ellis novel, filmed just before Dawson's final season] because I felt finally I had a chance to try something like that."

Yet while Van Der Beek received good reviews the big movie roles never quite materialised. While fellow cast members Michelle Williams, Katie Holmes and Joshua Jackson went on to carve out careers on film and television with varying degrees of success, it seemed as though the series' official romantic lead would be an also-ran.

"I look at some of my decisions in that time and I think 'why did I do that?'" admits Van Der Beek. "I turned down auditions for things I probably shouldn't have like the role that went to Bradley Cooper in Wedding Crashers because I was worried about being seen in a certain way." A pause before the sardonic aside: "In retrospect that was something of an unnecessary worry..."

Such fears are in the past. In recent years, Van Der Beek has reinvented himself as something of a go-to-guy for smart cameos – he's been described as a straight Neil Patrick Harris, a comparison he describes as "a huge compliment" – turning up in everything from sitcom How I Met Your Mother to police procedural Criminal Minds. Now a clever turn as a more self-absorbed version of himself in the acerbic and very funny sitcom Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23,which starts on E4 tomorrow, should thrust him back into television's spotlight. Like Matt Le Blanc in Episodes, Apartment 23 uses Van Der Beek's history as a teen idol as a starting point, painting a picture of a self-obsessed former star, happy to use the remnants of his fame to talk fans into bed.

"It's been a lot of fun not only to send up my own history but also because it's evolved into more of a parody of actors in general," says Van Der Beek. "I see fake James Van Der Beek as the sort of guy who is quite talented but in this very savantish way. He can be sweet, he's a good friend to Chloe [the show's (anti) heroine and the B of the title] but he's also completely self-absorbed."

Most entertainingly as the series progresses so the careers of the two Van Der Beeks diverge. Thus, fake Van Der Beek has starred in a Guy Ritchie film, is considering doing Dancing with the Stars and has his own jeans line that he markets with the brilliantly cringeworthy slogan: "Put your cheeks in a Beek."

He is also single, unlike his real-life counterpart who is married with two children. "It's not so much that my family life was off-limits as that it's much funnier if he's single," says Van Der Beek. "When I started working on the show I said: 'Don't be afraid of offending me, I'll tell you if something goes too far.' Nothing has."

That's largely because Van Der Beek's sense of humour is surprisingly caustic. "Yeah, I've always had a dark sense of humour," he admits. "When I was filming Dawson's I felt awkward about letting that be seen. There was always a sense that you were representing the show and you had to take the material seriously and show a level of respect. One of the funniest things about doing this show and the videos I've done recently was my mother said to me: 'It's so nice to be able to see you showing your sense of humour.' So she was obviously worried..."

Ah, the videos. Shot for comedy website Funny or Die the videos changed Van Der Beek's career trajectory, ensuring that instead of ending up a "whatever happened to?" punchline in a trivia quiz he reinvented himself for the internet generation. "Basically, I ended up working on the videos because of the crying Dawson meme," he says.

The crying Dawson meme, a GIF (video grab) of Van Der Beek's hilariously over-the-top crying face, is used to mock people all over the internet. Van Der Beek met the writers of Funny or Die. "They said very tentatively 'so you know there's this GIF...' and I said 'I know, I love it' so we decided that we could provide people with all kinds of Dawson needs."

Those needs can be seen on the Van Der Meme website, which features the actor doing everything from sarcastically clapping to disco dancing, all with an admirably straight face. "I'd always had that sort of sense of humour but only my friends had really seen that," he says. "Suddenly I had the chance to show people I know how to laugh at myself and my image."

His recent marriage (he married second wife, Kimberly, in 2010) and the arrival of his two children, the youngest of whom is just two months old, played a big part in his transformation. "That just showed me what was important," he says. "It gave me a foundation so I realised that everything else didn'tmatter. I could get back to being who I really was."

And what of that much fantasised-about Dawson's Creek reunion, which pops up as internet gossip every six months or so? Van Der Beek laughs. "You know what I love most about that?" he says. "That Michelle [Williams] is always so up for it when they ask." He pauses again, adding with deadpan timing. "Well, of course she is, her character died."


'Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23' begins tomorrow at 9.30pm on E4

Mr Desmond made the surprise announcement when the Irish newspaper, which he part owns, became the second publication to run the images, after the French magazine Closer.

"I am very angry at the decision to publish the photographs and am taking immediate steps to close the joint venture," Mr Desmond said. "The decision to publish these pictures has no justification whatever and Northern & Shell condemns it in the strongest possible terms."

This sudden move was believed to be an attempt to protect himself and his British newspapers from any commercial damage.

Mr Desmond's partners in the paper, the Irish newspaper group Independent News and Media (INM), said the decision to republish the pictures was "regrettable and in poor taste". A spokesman for INM "had no prior knowledge of the decision to publish".

On Friday, a spokesman for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge said the couple are to sue the French celebrity magazine for a "grotesque and totally unjustifiable breach of privacy".

The decision by the Irish paper to risk legal action came as Chi, an Italian magazine owned, like Closer, by Silvio Berlusconi, announced its intention to run 26 pages of pictures tomorrow. The willingness of publications to risk breaking editorial codes of conduct, and even the law, exposes the calculated commercial decision being taken in newsrooms: that revenues generated by printing the pictures will outweigh the cost of any legal reparations.

A royal spokesman condemned the Irish Daily Star's decision, saying: "There can be no motivation for this action other than greed." However, she declined to say whether the royal couple will take further legal action against any other publication that runs the images. "We will not be commenting on potential legal action ... save to say that all proportionate responses will be kept under review. Any such publication would serve no purpose other than to cause further, entirely unjustifiable upset to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge."

Gareth Morgan, the editor of Mr Desmond's UK Daily Star Sunday, moved quickly to quash fears his paper might also publish the images. "This decision has no merit morally," he said. "We have no involvement. They've made a frankly horrible decision."

But Mike O'Kane, the editor of the Irish Daily Star, said he was "taken aback" by the reaction. "The duchess would be no different to any other celeb pics we would get in, for example Rihanna or Lady Gaga," he said. "She's not the future queen of Ireland so really the only place this is causing fury seems to be in the UK."

The decision strikes at the heart of the dilemma that Lord Leveson currently faces: the difference between the public interest and what is of interest to the public. On Friday there had been 2 million Google searches for Kate Middleton in the US alone, underlining the enormous public interest in the images.

"Of course people are going to be interested in this," said Mr O'Kane. "She's married into the Royal Family, she's one of the most photographed people in the world, and she decides to partially disrobe on a balcony where it can be seen from a public road and she's stunned now, or the palace are annoyed, that people are interested in this."

Séamus Dooley, the Irish Secretary of the National Union of Journalists, expressed concern for the employees of the Irish Daily Star. He said the Desmond announcement had stunned Irish staff and readers. "The Irish Daily Star has always been marketed as an Irish title free of UK interference in editorial matters. The editor took a controversial decision on this issue just as he and his predecessors have done in the past, without reference to the owners. I do not understand why this particular decision is being treated any differently.

Ingrid Seward, the editor-in-chief of Majesty magazine, also appeared to blame the duchess for bringing the scandal upon herself by posing topless within zoom-lens range of a public road. "Quite simply, this ghastly situation should never have happened," she wrote. "And only two people could have stopped it. The Duke and Duchess themselves."

Some questioned whether royal protection officers were to blame, asking how a paparazzo could have got so close to the future king and queen. Ken Wharfe, a former bodyguard of Diana, Princess of Wales, said: "If a photographer can poke a lens through some greenery and take these type of pictures then a gunman with a high-powered weapon and telescopic sight could have done far worse." The vantage point on the public road from which the images are thought to have been taken is at least 1,000 yards from the villa's swimming pool terrace.

The publication of the images has dredged up memories of the duke's mother, who was hounded by photographers. The 2008 inquiry into her death in a car crash in Paris found she had been unlawfully killed due to the behaviour of paparazzi. After her death in 1997, British newspapers agreed to respect the privacy of the young princes. However, some editors now argue that the growth of the internet means it's unrealistic for them not to publish what their readers can look up with seconds. The Royal Family rarely takes legal action over libel or press intrusion, and the announcement they are to on this occasion shows the extent of the young couple's fury and upset. Sir Christopher Meyer, a former chairman of the Press Complaints Commission, said they had no choice but to sue so as to deter others.

Additional reporting by Sam Creighton and Chloe Hamilton

Royals and the lens

Jonathan Brown

The publication of topless photographs of the Duchess of Cambridge in France is the latest in a depressingly long history of similar stories.

 Twenty years ago, Sarah Ferguson was pictured lying topless on a sun-lounger in France having her toes sucked by her Texan financial adviser, John Bryan.

The images ended up in Paris Match, and the duchess sued, winning an £84,000 payout. In 1994, Prince Charles suffered a similar ignominy, when he was pictured naked at the window of a room in a friend's chateau near Avignon after a swim, a towelling robe thrown over his shoulder.

Then there were the pictures of Princess Diana kissing Dodi Fayed during a holiday in France in 1997. Princess Margaret memorably took a dim view of royals who were caught in embarrassing positions by paparazzi, saying: "We've got plenty of houses. If you don't want to be seen and photographed, you don't have to be."

But the Hansard Society has done what it calls an Audit of Political Engagement, published today, which shows that tabloid readers are wise to what they read.

According to the survey, 70 per cent or more think that tabloids "look for any excuse to tarnish the name of politicians", "focus on negative stories about politics and politicians" and "are more interested in getting a good story than telling the truth". People who do not read tabloids are less uncomplimentary about the quality of political journalism than those who do. Broadsheet newspapers do better on these findings, and television news better still.

The problem, according to the report, is not that people uncritically soak up what they read in the tabloids but that the general negativity leaves them with no sense than it is possible to get involved and make a difference.

Or as the society's director of research, Dr Ruth Fox, puts it: "These findings suggest that the media – particularly the tabloids – do not greatly benefit our democracy from the perspective of nourishing political engagement."

A Tory with a BBC in his bonnet

One source of news that is widely trusted is the BBC. For that very reason, the corporation infuriates certain political types who think that it is emitting the wrong values.

Speaking in the Commons this week, the MP Daniel Kawczynski frankly admitted to being the sort of Tory who reveres almost every established British institution except the BBC.

Indeed, so great is his reverence for monarchy that he advocated that Libya, post-Gaddafi, should send for the heir to the deposed King Idris to be its constitutional monarch.

But he told MPs: "I don't know what it is about (the BBC) that gets my blood pressure rising and gets me so upset and irritated."

He then went on to suggest that he knows what he does not like about the BBC – that it is funded by the TV licence instead of operating in a competitive market, that it did not treat the Queen's Jubilee with sufficient seriousness, that it employs Jeremy Paxman, who humiliated the junior Treasury minister, Chloe Smith, and that its interviewers are respectful to experts, such as people who write, but disrespectful to politicians.

His solution is to scrap the licence fee and flog the BBC to some multinational corporation.

Lords reform delay good for one Dad

When the Government caved in on Tuesday and abandoned the timetable for Lords reform, there was a wave of relief in the household of John Denham, Ed Miliband's parliamentary aide.

Scenting a Government defeat in the offing, the Labour whips were not allowing anyone to be out of London for the crucial vote, which coincided with the day Nottingham University was holding its graduation ceremony for students such as Edward Denham, who has just completed a music course.

Cancelling the vote freed up Dad to rush to Nottingham to see his son ascend the stage in gown and mortar board to receive his degree.

A high-risk way to watch the Games

With the Olympics drawing so close, those who have accommodation to rent and no takers are naturally starting to fret. Hence an email inviting the Diary to publicise "a very special and historic castle available in Dorset, with the benefit of a London Bridge Apartment which can be included in the package (and the possibility to helicopter transfer between the two!)"

This is Pennsylvania Castle, once owned by a lawyer named Stephen Curtis, who got into some very deep water when working for Russian oligarchs.

"If you find me dead, it won't be an accident," he reputedly said, and one day his helicopter crashed on the way to Pennsylvania Castle, and he was killed. So my advice to punters is beware that helicopter link: it is jinxed.

At last, a day off and a lie in after all those 6.30am starts. No shooting all day, so I wake up at 10am in the Olympic village. Me, Alan [Wills] and Simon [Terry] go around Hyde Park. We are dressed in civvies so nobody knows we are athletes. The sun is out and you can feel everyone is anticipating it. We people-watch a bit and have a really relaxing day. When we get back to Stratford, I nearly don't get out because I somehow managed to lose my 12-month athlete's Oyster card. I just flash accreditation and say "You have to let me out" and they wave me through. We have a chilled-out rest in the athletes' village. On my first night there, last week, I had a Big Mac meal, but now I'm eating a lot of chicken. We brought a projector screen with us, so we have our own cinema, watching The Green Lantern and The Dictator, which was quite good fun.


Get up at about 7am and head down to Lord's. We practise until 12, stopping for lunch, then another session until 3pm. The village is getting busier now but we don't mix much with the other athletes. Everyone keeps to themselves in the Team GB House. I've got a travel keyboard and my friend Alan has a little ukulele which he likes to play, so we have a little jam session. We're not any good, but it takes our mind off competing.


Get up and pack up – we won't be back in the village until we've finished competing now. We travel to Lord's and our staff take all our bags to the hotel nearby. After practice, we settle in and unpack. I watch Ice Age 3 on television. I like my films – it's nice to be able to switch the brain off. If I start thinking about competing too much, I play a game or put a film on. I really want the competition to start now.


Getting into a routine now. Up at 6.30am and in bed by ?10.30pm. It's a case of getting the body and the mind relaxed and ready. I play a game on my iPad called Water Crocodile. My daughters (Shelbie, 15, and Chloe, 13) stuck it on there and I'm hooked on it now. I speak to my fianceé, Becks (Rebecca Hocking) every night on the phone or on Skype, and we catch up on what we've been doing. We're trying to do our house up at the minute, so tonight we talk about light fittings. It's nice to get a bit of normal life.


Training as normal all day. We're just trying to keep the same routine. In the evening I watch Weird Science, a good old Eighties film. It's about two young lads who create a woman. Start looking online at armchairs to do up our new place and send Becks some pictures of wingback armchairs. It all starts tomorrow but I'm trying not to think about it.


I wake up nervous at the hotel, not knowing what to expect and wanting to shoot well. The first end [round] I shoot is below my average and I think "Oh dear". It's a 54 and it makes me think, "Oh no, what is today going to bring". Then I relax into it and get some fantastic scores. After the first end, I am in about 33rd position, but afterwards I end up shooting a personal best. I'm pleased with the result because I came here to shoot a personal best. I'm a tiny bit surprised that a 680 has got me fourth, but then it's the Olympics. It's a big deal and you look at the Koreans and they smashed it. I'm so glad it's started now and it's nice it went well.


I wake up earlier than usual because we're the first match on. Everything went OK: the shooting was good but the scores just weren't there. The Ukrainian team [which eliminated Team GB from the group competition] were just absolutely fantastic. This afternoon we trained for the individual archery event.

Larry Godfrey was talking to Emily Dugan

On the eve of the embattled legislation's final hurdle in Parliament, scores of GPs, consultants and other NHS doctors have signed a letter to The Independent on Sunday condemning the Bill as an "embarrassment to democracy" and pledging to stand as candidates against MPs who backed it.

Nick Clegg and other senior Lib Dems will be specifically targeted on polling day in 2015, as well as those in marginal seats, for betraying the wishes of activists at last week's spring conference who called for a last-minute rethink of the reforms.

But the doctors' coalition will also target vulnerable Tories in marginal seats who voted for the Bill. The Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, who is blamed inside the Government for overseeing the reforms which have been heavily amended, is almost certain to face an electoral battle.

Yet it is the Lib Dems, who the latest poll for the IoS shows are on just 10 per cent, who face an existential threat if dozens of doctors fight in many of their 57 seats. One of the Deputy Prime Minister's Sheffield Hallam constituents, Jenny Bywaters, a retired consultant in public health, put her name forward yesterday as a possible candidate, describing the Bill as an "affront to democracy".

The 240 signatures – including 30 professors – underline the depth of anger felt by NHS frontline staff at the legislation which they claim "fundamentally undermines the founding principles" of the health service.

Dr Clive Peedell, a cancer specialist and co-chair of the NHS Consultants' Association, organised the letter and said he was overwhelmed by how many names had come forward since starting to collect signatures on Thursday evening.

Dr Peedell said they hoped to field "as many candidates as possible" at the next election, while other supporters will help with fundraising and organising the campaign. His original plan was to get 50 names but the overwhelming response suggests they could field more than that.

Pointing out that none of the major professional associations and healthcare organisations has supported the reforms, the letter says: "It is our view that coalition MPs and peers have placed the political survival of the coalition government above professional opinion, patient safety and the will of the citizens of this country.

"We are shocked by the failure of the democratic process and the facilitating role played by the Liberal Democrats in the passage of this Bill. We have therefore decided to form a coalition of healthcare professionals to take on coalition MPs at the next general election, on the non-party, independent ticket of defending the NHS."

Mr Clegg and his MPs already face anger from voters over broken promises on tuition fees and doubts over whether they have lived up to pledges to impose fairness in the tax system by targeting the richest. But the Deputy Prime Minister is now being blamed for failing to limit the wide-ranging reforms in Mr Lansley's Bill.

The doctors' letter comes as Mr Clegg and his cabinet lieutenant, Danny Alexander, enter the final stages of negotiations tomorrow with David Cameron and George Osborne over the Budget on Wednesday. The Lib Dems are fighting to impose their stamp on the measures that will restore fairness to the tax system.

Tomorrow in the House of Lords, the former SDP leader Lord Owen, now a crossbencher, will lead an amendment calling for the Bill's final stage, the third reading, to be delayed until the Government publishes the risk register – an assessment by civil servants of the consequences of introducing the legislation. Labour peers will back Lord Owen's amendment, but it is expected it will not gain enough support to block the Government forcing through the final stages of the Bill, and the legislation is expected to be granted Royal Assent on Tuesday.

Dr Peedell said: "Despite all the promises, the Liberal Democrats have failed to make a bad Bill a better Bill. Despite over 1,000 amendments, all the key policy and legal mechanisms remain in place to turn the NHS into a competitive external market, which will see increasing privatisation of provision and commissioning of care.

"This fundamentally undermines the founding principles of the NHS and will undermine professionalism and the doctor-patient relationship. We think this is scandal that is much worse than the MPs' expenses scandal because the dismantling of such a crucial and important institution will cost lives and damage the social fabric of this country."

Richard Taylor, the retired consultant who was elected as an independent MP for Wyre Forest in 2001 in protest at the downgrading of his local hospital, said he was advising the doctors. "I had no more thought of becoming an MP when I retired than I had of going to the moon, and I'm sure these doctors were the same," he said. "The doctors selected as candidates need to be popular in their own areas and they have to portray what they stand for as a vital national issue. They will need an unpopular sitting MP or one who has voted the wrong way, so they must choose their targets wisely."

Coalition MPs in the line of fire: How small majorities, national prominence and polling results have conspired to produce an early list of likely targets

Lib Dems:

Nick Clegg Lib Dem, Sheffield Hallam. 2010 majority 15,284 (29.9%)

The Liberal Democrat leader headed off a stiff challenge at the last election, but remains the top target of any "decapitation" strategy.

Simon Hughes Lib Dem, Bermondsey and Old Southwark. Majority 8,530 (19.1%)

The Lib Dem Deputy Leader has grumbled about the health Bill, but his seat is on the vulnerable list.

Lynne Featherstone Lib Dem, Hornsey and Wood Green. Majority 6,875 (12.5%)

The Home Office minister has faced down local pressure for her to oppose the Bill, insisting "there is a clear consensus that the NHS needs to change".

Jo Swinson Lib Dem, Dunbartonshire East. Majority 2,184 (4.6%)

Position as Clegg's parliamentary aide makes her a prime target; the prospect of a battle against the resurgent SNP makes Swinson even more vulnerable.

John Leech Lib Dem, Manchester Withington. Majority 1,894 (4.2%)

Has made it clear that he is not entirely happy with the Bill, but his status as a crucial Lib Dem toehold in a big city puts him in the cross-hairs.

Sarah Teather Lib Dem, Brent Central. Majority 1,345 (3%)

Declaration that "I'm afraid the Bill needs to go through" will not stabilise the education minister's wafer-thin majority.


Jacob Rees-Mogg Con, Somerset North East. Majority 4,914 (9.6%)

A Eurosceptic, invariably described as an old-style Tory toff, a campaign against Rees-Mogg would be a strike against traditionalist Conservativism.

Chloe Smith Conservative, Norwich North. Majority 3,901 (9.2%)

Unseating the Economic Secretary to the Treasury would be a dramatic coup.

Louise Mensch Con, Corby. Majority 1,895 (3.5%)

Has not risen beyond the Culture Select Committee, but as an A-list candidate, successful author and vocal new MP, she would be a valuable scalp.

Anna Soubry Con, Broxtowe. Majority 389 (0.7%)

A prime target almost exclusively due to her tiny majority, but told constituents "people opposed to the Bill have somewhat taken advantage of people's genuine concerns and heartfelt support for the NHS".

What next for the Deputy PM? An exit route via Brussels for Nick Clegg?

If the prospect of his party becoming obliterated by a wave of angry doctors in May 2015 gets too much for Nick Clegg, he can always jump on Eurostar and head to Brussels.

Senior diplomats have begun informally circulating names for candidates for the UK's EU commissioner, a post which becomes vacant in 2014 – months before the election.

Mr Clegg, who is a former MEP and was chef de cabinet to Leon Brittan when he was Trade Commissioner in the 1990s, is being talked about as a potential candidate. Diplomatic sources believe it is a "priority" that Britain secures one of the economic portfolios – preferably the internal market commissioner post, which would defend the City from further incursions from the EU.

Baroness Ashton, the EU's representative for foreign affairs, is unlikely to seek another term. The preference for an economic role in 2014 is a recognition that Gordon Brown's enthusiasm for the UK getting the foreign affairs job was a mistake.

But a Lib Dem spokesman said: "Nick Clegg will be Deputy Prime Minister until 2015 and will lead the Liberal Democrats into the next election."

Jane Merrick

He is taking the title role in Mr Stink, adapted from the hit children's novel by comic David Walliams, which is being brought to life for BBC1.

Bonneville, known to viewers for his role as the Earl of Grantham, will swap his country pile for a garden shed in the family comedy which begins filming next month.

Walliams will also make an appearance playing the Prime Minister after notably playing a fawning aide to the PM in his hit comedy Little Britain.

In the story, lonely 12-year-old Chloe befriends local tramp Mr Stink and invites him to hide out at the end of her family's garden.

The book by Walliams, who has worked with Men Behaving Badly writer Simon Nye to adapt the tale, has sold more than a quarter of a million copies.

Bonneville, 48 said: "I'm delighted to be adding my own whiff to the odour that emanates from David Walliams, and his very funny, touching and thought-provoking story."

Walliams, whose production company is working on the hour-long drama, said: "I am thrilled that Hugh is playing Mr Stink. He is one of the most popular and talented actors around, and is the perfect person to bring out the character's humour and sadness."

Also in the cast is comic actor Harish Patel, whose past appearances include Run Fat Boy Run and Coronation Street, playing Chloe's pal Raj, the newsagent.

Executive producer Mark Freeland, the BBC's head of in-house comedy, said: "I fell in love with David's book when I read it to my kids. I fell in love with David 15 years ago."

The show is expected to be screened around Christmas.

Mr Stink was Walliams's second children's book and was shortlisted for a Blue Peter award for the best book of the past decade, but lost out to Diary Of A Wimpy Kid.


In it, Agassi describes the miserable years he spent as a teenager at Nick Bollettieri's tennis camp in Florida – the man who has coached stars from Jim Courier to Monica Seles, including the new Brit wondergirl Heather Watson, who crashed out of the tournament on Friday. Agassi recalled the time he shouted at Nick: "Do you have any idea what it's like to be here … 3,000 miles from home, living in this prison, waking up at 6.30, having 30 minutes to eat that shitty breakfast … going to that lousy school for four hours … only having 30 minutes to eat more crap before going on the tennis court day after day … This place is hell and I want to burn it down!" He was 14 at the time. Nick B was in the BBC commentary box, heard our conversation and came on air, claiming that Andre and he are the best of pals these days. He told me he loves an opinionated woman and did I fancy a week's free coaching at his ranch? I might ask Heather if the food has improved first.

Male pride

Paxo wasn't the only alpha male sinking his teeth into the hapless Chloe Smith, top, the government minister charged with the unenviable task of selling another George Osborne U-turn (he scrapped the planned 3p rise on fuel duty) as a new policy. Her interview with Krishnan Guru-Murthy on Channel 4 News was excruciating, featuring the same piffle about "one-off factors" and "evolving figures". As a television professional, I rate Chloe's performance as piss-poor. She lacks any authority, veering from patronising boffin to nodding puppet repeating the same mantra 20 different ways. Has Chloe been promoted above her capabilities? That is not the issue. This sorry episode proves that politics remains a boys' club. Cameron and Osborne cooked up this latest bit of "policy" without discussing it in Cabinet, and decided to trot out a docile female to sell it to the media.

The PM claims his government is female-friendly, but our cowardly Chancellor used a 30-year-old woman (elected to Parliament in 2009) to sell the indefensible while he, the architect of this piece of economic conjuring, lurked out of sight.

To be taken seriously in politics, women still have to emulate Maggie Thatcher – behaving like men, immaculately groomed in a suit. Louise Mensch even has the power handbag. Chloe Smith might have the statement necklace and the tailored jacket, but sadly not the imperious manner necessary to silence the likes of Paxo. One critic called her "clueless" – she is not stupid, but lacks the ability to spout bollocks convincingly, essential for a front-line politician these days.

Mr Osborne must have a cynical view of the public. The UK has a huge financial deficit. To reduce it, we've been told to accept massive cuts to pensions and put up with reductions in public services. Faced with a massive slump in popularity, Osborne decides that some government departments have "underspent" and he finds around £550m – to fund cheaper petrol, and placate us. The Chancellor's problem? His fragile ego has to be protected – he must be seen as a macho man, master of his brief, ready to make tough decisions. That is why he sacrificed a young woman's career. Ugly behaviour.

Silver tops

Last week I judged the Theo Fennell awards, given to Royal College of Art graduates in silversmithing and jewellery. Their work, on show in the main building on Kensington Gore, ranges from the wearable to the sculptural, thought-provoking and intensely personal. My favourite: the fake money created by Dutch designer Laurie Schram, who has cleverly doctored coins and created a unique coinage, merging the Queen and George Washington. The British Museum has already bought her silver-plated dollar bill. Afterwards, I realised that every one of the 25 graduates in the department was female – unlike politics, jewellery is a profession where women excel.

Sound of silence

The Olympic organisers, like the National Trust, want to attract a wider audience. They have announced that music will be played at venues and that musicians from the Chemical Brothers to Dizzee Rascal have been asked to compose music to vibe up the more esoteric sports, such as Greco-Roman wrestling and handball. Locog claims that generally the music will be played before, after and in the breaks of events, but why turn a celebration of sporting excellence into a rock concert? Last week I was filming at a stadium near the Olympic site, where hundreds of teenagers were playing football and hockey, without music to spur them on. I love a bit of silence in a big stadium before an event, a chance to listen to the buzz of excitement and the sense of expectation. Does everything in modern life need a soundtrack?

'Appy in Soho

Ann Widdecombe has been dismissive about the National Trust's latest attempt to entice younger members – not a guidebook, but a free phone app. Widdie claims it will never work – I disagree. Downloaded on to a mobile phone, the app enables you to wander through Soho using GPS technology, listening to entertaining stories about the area's colourful past from the Second World War to the present day. Today, Soho is in danger of eradicating the quirky shops and drinking holes that made it such a fabulous place as chain stores and coffee stores invade this precious village, but it is still packed with Georgian gems and a rich mix of buildings. Barry Cryer introduces the aural tour and I've made a small contribution.

My relationship with Soho spans 50 years – at 14, I belonged to clubs such as the Marquee, the Scene and the Flamingo and, as a journalist in my twenties, graduated to lunchtimes in the French pub and finally lost afternoons in the Colony Club up the road, where Francis Bacon told me he used Pond's face cream and dyed his hair with black boot polish. There was late-night boozing in Gerry's Club (nicknamed Loser's Lounge) with Jeffrey Bernard and, more recently, riotous nights in the Groucho club – I sold them my snooker table. Damien Hirst told me the other day that he thought I'd had a naughty moment with a famous actor on the baize. Sadly, that's an urban myth.

Lucy St George, founder of home accessories retailer RockettSt George comments: “At Rocket St George, we’ve embraced this trend with somefabulous faux-stuffed parrots, flamingos and cockatoos that conjure up imagesof tropical environments and bring a welcome boost of colour to the home. Meanwhile,Laura Oakes’ multi-coloured cushions use all the colours of paradise with hotpinks, greens and reds; and our Chloe Croft flamingo and flower cushionscertainly make things feel quite tropical.”

Embracing bold prints, bright colours and a relaxed, subtlyglamourous vibe reminiscent of 70s Palm Springs styling, the tropical lookoffers an unusual way to inject some colour, opulence and a little humour intoyour home whether it’s through Graham & Green’s magnificent pineapple lamp base,mydeco’s tropical bed throws and cushions, or a faux-parrot perched on yourfireplace (“sure to make you smile,” says St George).

For those keen to embrace the trend more comprehensively,Dan Hopwood from the British Institute of Interior Design (BIID) suggests using“emerald and green jazzed up with lime and a splash of terracotta” in kitchensor conservatories. Other colours being picked up by interiors designers includeindigo blue, flamingo pink, mango, coral, sunny yellows and Pantone’s colour ofspring/summer 2012, tangerine orange. “The tropical look is all about goingbold with colour and print,” says Nina Maklin, a Scandinavian interior designerbased in London, who advises using colour “in bold blocks rather than in tinydetails to make that instant statement” and embracing the daring  clashes found in tropical sunsets.

For statement walls, Hopwood suggests using a wallpaper suchas Cole & Son’s ‘Palm Jungle.’ Failing that Julien Macdonald’s has recentlycollaborated with wallpaper retailer Graham & Brown to produce a runway-inspiredrange of exotic florals, bold cat prints and butterflies in a riot of colours.Meanwhile, the Content by Conran Tamar sofa (pictured), upholstered inSanderson’s lush rainforest fabric, is about as ‘jungle’ as it gets, short ofintroducing live monkeys as part of your home decor.

If that sounds like too much, fret not. The tropical trendis not all about wild colours and statement walls and can be embraced as partof a relaxed Colonial villa vibe with crisp white fabrics, subdued palm printsand natural materials introduced through hardwood floors, rattan furniture,bamboo blinds or plantation shutters. A more tasteful, low-key version of thetropical look, this style is typified in the projects of interior designerIndia Hicks, whose island life in the Bahamas inspires much of her work.

Whether you’re escaping the rain or embracing the sun, goingfor bold bird of paradise colours or understated colonial chic, the tropicallook offers a highly adaptable way to update your interior. The only thingmissing? Make that a piña colada - andan umbrella cocktail stick, obviously.

Emily Jenkinson is interiors writer for the , an online shopping experience where you can search hundreds of homefurnishings and accessories all in one place.

Ministers are poised for a major cabinet shake-up which will be the first opportunity the PM has had to undertake a full reshuffle since the coalition was formed in May 2010.

But the shake-up is also expected to extend across junior government posts and will be an opportunity for Mr Cameron to win over MPs on the right of his party who have felt overlooked for promotion. The timing is planned to coincide with an EU summit at which European leaders will thrash out a new treaty that could form the focus of a fresh revolt in the Commons.

Last October, Mr Cameron suffered a revolt by 81 of his MPs over calls for a referendum on Britain's membership of the EU. Many of those MPs were angry at the mini-reshuffle earlier that month, which included the controversial promotion of Chloe Smith, 29, who had entered Parliament in 2009, as Economic Secretary to the Treasury.

Tory backbenchers returning to Westminster this week remain jubilant at the Prime Minister's veto at last month's EU summit, but are holding out the prospect of defying the whip again in the Commons in March.

As the issue of Europe returns to test coalition harmony, Nick Clegg will host a summit of European Liberal Democrat leaders and European Commissioners in London tomorrow to discuss the new EU treaty.

1. Leather jacket, Daniel Silver for Acne, £1,200, Acne

2. DL & Co 'Cassis' rare botanic candle, £55, Browns

3. Bespoke stand, from £80, Yunus & Eliza; Alexander Wang dalmation print bag, £270, Browns; Illesteva sunglasses, £180, Browns

4. Frog Prince decoration, £2.50, National Gallery shop

5. Christian Lacroix 'Sleeping Beauty', £10.39, Waterstones

6. Chloe leather wallet, £310, Net-a-Porter

7. Miu Miu glitter boots, £555, Net-a-Porter

8. Collar, Michele Corty for American Retro, £250 for 4, American Retro

9. Weston scarf, £160, Net-a-Porter

10. 'Guy Bourdin' book, £7.95, Phaidon

11. Polaroid camera, £85, Gift-Library

12. Pommery Pop mini champagne, £15, John Lewis

13. Christopher Kane top, £1,160, The Corner

14. Lips pins, £146 each, Sonia Rykiel

15. 'A Very She & Him Christmas', £7.99, Amazon

16. Esquivel 'Saddle' leather shoes, £535, Browns

17. 'It's Hot' cup and saucer, £39, This is a Limited Edition

18. iPad covers, Louise Gray for the V&A, £95, V&A shop

Click the links below to view the gift guides

Examination of the red North Face sports holdall also showed traces of the DNA of another person in the zip toggle and the padlock, the inquest into the computer specialist’s death was told. Detective Chief Inspector Jackie Sebire, who led the murder inquiry said “They were two minor components of another contributor's DNA. My thought or my opinion since I went into the scene is that a third party had been involved in the death or by putting the body in the bag.”

A graphic impression showed the way 34 year old Mr Williams was found inside the bag - in a foetal position lying on his back,  naked, with his knees raised and arms folded across his chest.  The key to the padlock was under his right buttock, making in “incredibly difficult” for him to have reached it in an attempt, somehow, to escape.  In any event, said DCI Sebire, “there were no signs that he was trying to get out, no damage to his fingernails or hands, no tear in the lining inside the bag. He was very muscular, he trained regularly. I would at least expect some tearing to the netting. He was very calm, his face was very calm.”

An examination of the holdall in court showed that it would have been seemingly impossible for Mr Williams to have locked himself into the bag and then moved it into a bathtub where it was found, the coroner, Dr Fiona Wilcox, pointed out. Yet, apart from the speck of DNA on the bag, detectives had been perplexed by any sign of the presence of a ‘third party’ anywhere else in the MI6 officer’s home in Pimlico, south west London.

The police had found no evidence that attempts had been made to wipe out incriminating evidence. "There was no sign of the place being cleaned so there were no signs of bleach to destroy it” said DCI Sabire. "There was no evidence the bag itself had been cleaned or washed down or the lock or handles had been cleaned to remove traces of DNA evidence."

What the police did find in the flat was £20,000 worth of designer clothes for women all "immaculate" and "in pristine condition" and many in tissue paper; make-up items including nail varnish and eye shadow that were "all new" and apparently unused; wigs wrapped in net packaging, which "appear to be unused", including one Mr Williams had bought on his recent trip to the US and 26 pairs of boot and shoes most bearing designer labels such as Christian Louboutin, Stella McCartney, Christian Dior and Chloe, some which appear to have been worn.

The video footage, taken on the evening of 23rd August 2010, when Mr Williams’ body was discovered, revealed no sign of a break-in at his home, with  cash left in a cupboard and a mobile phone on the living room table. The place was in a pristime condition apart from the bedroom where a blue toweling dressing gown, which had shown traces of Mr Williams’ semen, the inquest was told, and a duvet cover had been flung on the floor. The wardrobe door was open and a white shirt, still in its laundry wrapping.

Giving evidence later, Sian Jones, who described herself as a “close friend” of Mr Williams, denied that he was a transvestite. “ We talked about all kinds of things, personal matters. I feel he would have been able to confide in me, I wouldn’t have been judgmental” she said.

The inquest continues

He also lost his own label, only days before shows for both were staged. Everyone from Karl Lagerfeld to Natalie Portman (among the faces of Dior) was quick to condemn the designer, who, in September, was found guilty on both charges. Those who witnessed the extraordinary workings of his mind couldn't help but mourn his departure from a position that he lit up with his wild imaginings.

2. Art attack

The gap between high and low culture continued to narrow as Yves Saint Laurent's Stefano Pilati dressed the cast of Harold Pinter's Betrayal for Ian Rickson's production at London's Comedy Theatre in June. Kristin Scott Thomas, Douglas Henshall and Ben Miles all wore his designs. In November, Louis Vuitton unveiled a trunk created in collaboration with Grayson Perry, with his bear Alan Measles – or at least a stunt double – in pride of place. LV is the title sponsor of Perry's ongoing British Museum show.

3. Harsh words

In March Hermès CEO Patrick Thomas accused LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy) president Bernard Arnault of "rape", when it was revealed that the latter had acquired a 20 per cent stake of his label. In an uncharacteristically exasperated moment in the history of a venerable status name, Thomas said: "If you want to seduce a beautiful woman, you don't start by raping her from behind." That same month, Christophe Lemaire took over from Jean-Paul Gaultier as creative director of Hermès womenswear and showed his first collection there.

4. Happy birthday

On 8 April, Vivienne Westwood turned 70. Gucci celebrated its 90th birthday with the opening of a Gucci museum in its hometown of Florence in September. The Marc by Marc Jacobs collection was born a decade ago this year as was designer Peter Jensen's eponymous label – a book was published to commemorate the event in the autumn, and last month Jensen staged a retrospective fashion show at the Victoria & Albert Museum. Dazed & Confused is now 20, meanwhile. Another book (Making It Up As We Go Along, published by Rizzoli) and an exhibition of pioneering photographic work (at Somerset House, central London) marked this anniversary.

5. There went the brides

While Alexander McQueen's Sarah Burton denied claims that she would be dressing Catherine Middleton for her marriage to Prince William, on 27 April she was spotted entering the Gore Hotel in Kensington where the Middletons spent the night before the wedding and the truth was out. The gown was received as a thing of great and suitably modest beauty the world over. No one could ever accuse Kim Kardashian of modesty. Kardashian commissioned no less than three wedding dresses for her marriage to Kris Humphreys on 20 August, all by Vera Wang. Wang has since designed affordable copies for lesser mortals and due to go on sale in February, some time after Ms Kardashian filed for divorce, then, which is romantic. Her marriage lasted just 72 days. Another Kate – Ms Moss – got married too, to long-time partner, Jamie Hince, on 2 July and wearing an ivory bias-cut slip made for her by John Galliano.

6. The rumour mill

Even before Galliano had officially parted company with Dior, the rumour mill began turning regarding his successor. Until recently, Marc Jacobs, creative director of Louis Vuitton, was considered to be frontrunner, but it is now believed that Raf Simons is the main contender. Givenchy's Riccardo Tisci, Alexander McQueen's Sarah Burton and Balenciaga's Nicolas Ghesquière have also been cited as in the frame. While LVMH continues its search, Galliano's long-time first assistant designer, Bill Gaytten has taken over his signature line and is also caretaker at Dior.

7. Ruby slippers

On 8 April, it emerged that shoemaker to the stars, Christian Louboutin, was suing Yves Saint Laurent for using a red sole to match the upper of a new-season suede pump. Louboutin trademarked his signature sole in 2008 and asked YSL to withdraw the offending item. "M Louboutin is the first designer to develop the idea of having red soles on women's shoes," his lawsuit stated. Attorneys acting on behalf of Yves Saint Laurent responded: "Red outsoles are a commonly used ornamental design feature in footwear, dating as far back as the red shoes worn by King Louis XIV in the 1600s and the ruby red shoes that carried Dorothy home in The Wizard of Oz." On 10 August, at the preliminary hearing in New York, Judge Victor Marrero took such flamboyancy one step further, denying the injunction and comparing the case to a hypothetical one in which Picasso sued Monet for using the colour blue. Louboutin's lawyers have said that they will keep fighting.

8. Going Gaga

Lady Gaga took to the Paris catwalk for her friend and collaborator Nicola Formichetti's debut show for Thierry Mugler on 3 March and the media went into overdrive. It's been a busy year for Formichetti elsewhere too. Since Jil Sander's departure from Uniqlo (her final collection is in store now), he has been appointed fashion director of the Japanese high-street giant's Innovation Project while Naoki Takisawa, formerly of Issey Miyake, is its new design director. Formichetti also curated a series of T-shirts for Uniqlo – designed by Gaga again, Alber Elbaz, Karl Lagerfeld and more – to raise money for those affected by the earthquake in Japan.

9. High fliers

On 17 June, Prada floated on the Hong Kong stock exchange. Any interest was generated not least because it demanded full disclosure from the business, which hitherto had the luxury of keeping any figures to itself. And so it emerged that Miuccia Prada and her husband and Prada Group CEO Patrizio Bertelli earned €10m and €9.7m the previous year respectively, making them among the most highly paid figures in fashion.

10. Alexander the great

Savage Beauty – an Alexander McQueen retrospective – opened at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York on 4 May and broke all attendance levels. The show was extended for a week in August to accommodate as many visitors as possible. McQueen's contemporary, Hussein Chalayan, was also honoured with an exhibition, this time at Paris's Les Arts Decoratifs – Mode et Textile that opened at the beginning of July.

11. Back to school

In September, the £200m Central Saint Martins redevelopment opened its doors at Granary Square, King's Cross. For the first time in the college's history, students from the fine art, graphics, fashion, drama and performance departments gathered under one enormous roof – there's a massive 10 acres of floor space. The most famous fashion college in the world now has a working environment to match.

12. Cool Britannia

Tom Ford now thinks London Fashion Week is high-profile enough to be home to his twice-yearly women's ready-to-wear show – he unveiled his summer collection in the British fashion capital in September. If ever there was a year when this all-too-often beleaguered event exceeded all expectations then 2011 was surely it. Unprecedented attendance levels, not to mention talent that, like Meadham Kirchhoff's, more than lives up to the hype that surrounds it notwithstanding , Italy's Camera Nazionale della Moda has fixed its autumn 2012 collection dates in direct conflict with those of the British collections. The Huffington Post described this turn of events as "The Battle of the Catwalks" as, despite increased pressure from all sides, Milan's designer superpowers have refused so far to budge.

13. Viva Versace

There's nothing like a well-judged collaboration and 2011 has seen its fair share. Top of the list must be Versace for H&M, a baroque extravaganza that went on sale on 18 November – La Versace went so far as to make a personal appearance at the chain's Regent Street store. The collection sold out in a matter of days and was so successful there's more to come next year. Christopher Kane's line for J Brand, which launched in November, was an equally impressive coup, featuring candy coloured denim with fashionably frayed edges, courtesy of British fashion's designer du jour. Also of note this year has been Opening Ceremony's link-ups with MM6, Rodarte, Chloe Sevigny, Pendleton and more, and M.A.C's with Cindy Sherman, Gareth Pugh and Miss Piggy. Soon to come is the make-up brand's Daphne Guinness collection. Ms Guinness also launched a fragrance – named Daphne – with Comme des Garçons in September.

14. Bear necessities

Whoever said the fashion industry has no heart? In November, some of this world's main protagonists gave Pudsey Bear a makeover. Erdem, Louis Vuitton, Topshop, Giles Deacon, Pringle, Mulberry and Liberty were just some of the names who took part and bears were auctioned online to raise money for Children in Need. Vuitton's Pudsey (designed by Kim Jones, named Louis Vuitton's menswear director in March) went for a massive £35,600, putting any competition, however well-intentioned, into the shade.

15. Great British brand

Never a brand to miss a trick as far as digital innovation is concerned, at London Fashion Week in September Burberry gave the world its first ever "tweetwalk" – every exit appeared on Twitter moments before it made it on to the catwalk proper. Also of note, several key looks in the collection went on sale online immediately after they were shown – normally even the most fashion obsessed consumer would have to wait a good six months to buy them. More generally, and despite global recession, this much-loved British label continued to post figures that are surely the envy of its esteemed competitors the world over.

Fashion Awards

The 2011 British Fashion Awards took place on 28 November at the Savoy Hotel. And the winners were...

Designer of the Year: Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen

Isabella Blow Award for Fashion Creator: Sam Gainsbury

New Establishment Award: Christopher Kane

Red Carpet Award: Stella McCartney

Designer Brand: Victoria Beckham

Menswear Designer: Kim Jones

Accessory Designer: Charlotte Olympia

Outstanding Achievement Award: Paul Smith

Model of the Year: Stella Tennant

British Style Award (voted for by the British public): Alexa Chung

The contribution to fashion of stylist and editor-in-chief of LOVE magazine, Katie Grand, was acknowledged when, on 27 October, she received the Wall Street Journal Fashion Innovator Award. Grand was in elevated company. Ai Weiwei (art), Bjarke Ingels (architecture), Steve Ells (food), Elon Musk (technology), Joris Laarman (design) and The Giving Pledge (philanthropy) were among those also awarded gongs by the paper.

The Way We Wore

Looks we loved...

Block colour (best at Jil Sander). Neon (Miu Miu and Christopher Kane). Pleats (that Whistles skirt). Androgyny (everywhere from Stella McCartney to Chanel and all over the high street too). Fetish (leather leggings and Louis Vuitton latex and handcuffs). Theyskens Theory (what's not to want?). Baseball jackets (Isabel Marant's spawned a million imitations). Polka dots (so Rive Gauche). Duffel coats (think Paddington Bear). Flats (finally running is fashionable). Glitter shoes (Dorothy lives and breathes). Knee boots (in leather, rubber, wedge, spike or flat-heeled). Practical bags (from the Céline cabas to the Cambridge Company's satchels).

And weren't so sure about...

Victoriana (a nice idea but so last century). Gap flares (we tried – and failed). Fruit prints (Prada's bananas were a timely ruse but grapefruits took things a step too far). Designer star prints (over before they had even started so easy were they for the high street to emulate). Navajo (the meaningless appropriation of faraway styles is less than desirable).

Launches to remember...

Prada costume jewellery (so true to the first lady of fashion's personal style). Make-up ranges from Tom Ford and Dolce & Gabbana (what could be more glamorous?). No. 19 Poudre (a lovely new interpretation) of the original scent. Chanel Peridot (the green/gold nail colour of the year). Jonathan Saunders menswear (chic but not cheap). Current Elliott menswear (now boys can wear the most beautifully worn denim too). Eres London (the finest swimwear in the world now has its own London home).

And forget...

Lanvin childrenswear (although we hate to say it, cuteness can go too far). Lip transfers (the last word in over-embellishment). Fe jeans (sitting on silicone implants seemed like a good idea at the time but then it didn't).

And so farewell...

Elizabeth Taylor, Loulou de la Falaise, François Lesage and Evelyn Lauder.

Wendy Evans and her partner, Kate Riseborough, both 36, said that they would prefer to marry rather than have a civil partnership, as is currently allowed under English law. "We just want the same rights as everyone else and part of that is the right to a conventional wedding," said Ms Evans.

Duncan Shrewsbury, 26, and his partner, Maciek Krezolek, 30, from Birmingham, were at the show to look for something "out of the ordinary". "We want our civil partnership ceremony to be some time in 2014 and if there is the option of a wedding at a later date it would be a good excuse for another party," said Mr Shrewsbury.

For many, the specialised nature of the show comes as a relief. Natasha Huxtable and her partner, Chloe Napier-Jones, who are due to enter into a civil partnership next September, were browsing for rings. The atmosphere at the wedding show was more relaxed, they said, because "questions do not need to be asked". "This show is much better for us. Because everyone knows you're a couple it's not awkward and there is no bias," said Ms Napier-Jones. "At other wedding shows people get taken aback because most assume that one of us is a bridesmaid and the other is the bride."

Gino Meriano, who founded the show, said: "In the gay community we just want to have all the options opened up to us. There are also people who believe it's all or nothing and if we can't have gay weddings they don't want anything at all. Basically, we want to have our cake and eat it." He added: "Part of my job is to promote gay rights but more recently in the gay community it has been a case of fighting for the straight community in the battle to allow them civil partnership rights."

The show sheds light on the businesses that are springing up to cater for same-sex unions, from gay ceremony ring specialists to the wedding venue Over the Rainbow, a Georgian mansion in Pembrokeshire.

Angharad Griffin of The Griffin and the Faerie women's wedding tailors in Cardiff, said there was a gap in the market with same-sex ceremonies for women: "Not every girl wants to wear a wedding dress and neither do they want to wear a man's suit. My outfits are tailored for each individual couple because everyone is different."

The Government is currently consulting on proposals for civil marriages for same-sex couples in England and Wales, with legislation promised before the next general election in 2015. Independent Voices is campaigning for equal civil marriage and religious institutions to be free to marry gay couples. A petition has been launched at Independentvoices.com.

"We have been running the show for nine years and we have seen a change in attitudes, but there is still a long way to go," added Mr Meriano.

"In previous years when we had the show in Cardiff City Hall, we could not display any banners outside the building for fear of a negative reaction and putting people off turning up."

Last year, 6,795 civil partnerships were formed between gay couples in the UK, which indicates a rise of 6 per cent on the figure from 2010, according to official figures. The total number of couples who have entered into civil partnerships since the bill was passed in 2005 is currently 106,834.

There have been warnings of revolt within the Conservative Party if David Cameron pushes forward with legalising gay marriage. Consultation on a Marriage Bill is expected to go ahead by April and the proposed legislation would only apply to England and Wales as the Scottish Parliament pushes ahead with its own White Paper.

The next Gay Wedding Show is slated for the same time next year at Jolyon's Hotel in Cardiff, by which time the landscape of equal rights for gay couples in England and Wales could look very different.

Altar egos: planning the big day

"We're being judged either way and don't want to push against tradition too much"

Ruth Mark and her partner, Emma Parton, are due to have a civil partnership ceremony on 15 February 2012 and agreed that matrimony would not make a great deal of difference to them. "We are being judged either way and we do not want to push against tradition too much," said Ms Mark. However, they could not agree on the issue of whether they would want a wedding in a church.

"We want a 2014 ceremony but a later wedding is an excuse for another party"

Duncan Shrewsbury, 26, and his partner, Maciek Krezolek, 30, from Birmingham came to look for something "out of the ordinary". "We want our civil partnership ceremony to be some time in 2014 and if there is the option of a wedding at a later date it would be a good excuse for another party," Mr Shrewsbury said.

"We're looking forward to being civil partners"

John Jones and Kris Bell from Newbridge, South Wales, said they wanted purple kilts for their ceremony in May 2014. "We are looking forward to being civil partners and we've decided to have the ceremony right here at the Pack House Club."

Christine Sharp, 46, was detained following the discovery of a body at her home in New Addington, near Croydon, south London, yesterday.

Her partner Stuart Hazell, 37, was arrested last night on suspicion of murder.

Ms Sharp's next-door neighbour Paul Meehan, 39, was later taken into custody on suspicion of assisting an offender.

In the wake of Mr Hazell's arrest, Scotland Yard today announced that a 46-year-old woman and 39-year-old man had also been arrested yesterday.

Sources later identified the two further suspects as Ms Sharp and Mr Meehan.

The 12-year-old girl was reported missing last Friday.

A team of forensic officers discovered the body during a fourth search of Tia's grandmother's home, prompting some to ask questions about Scotland Yard's handling of the case.

Police reportedly removed the body, which is yet to be identified, from the terraced house late last night after Mr Hazell was taken into custody.

A post-mortem examination is expected to take place in the coming days.

Police have not revealed where the body was discovered, but officers were seen taking a ladder into the property yesterday afternoon, sparking rumours that it may have been in the loft.

A dark holdall was later seen being removed from the house.

Mr Hazell was arrested in a public place - believed to be a park - in the south London borough of Merton at about 8.25pm last night.

It is understood he was identified by schoolgirl Chloe Bird, 11, shortly after he bought alcohol in an off-licence.

Her stepfather Nick Keeley, 40, said she came back home and told him that she had spotted Mr Hazell.

He said he was not then aware he was wanted by officers but when his step-daughter directed him to news reports he rang the police.

"The police were here within five minutes," he told Sky News.

"I hadn't even finished telling them where he was, and they were here.

"There were like five cars within five minutes and then the whole area was swarmed with police."

There was a significant police presence today at the house where the body was found.

Flowers, teddy bears and candles remained near the house after neighbours and friends left tributes to Tia last night.

One message read: "Rest in peace Tia. Justice will be served."

Another read: "Tia Sharp, beautiful angel, taken too soon, our thoughts are with all of you."

Neighbours continued paying their respects this morning, with one woman breaking down in tears after leaving flowers.

Nicky Taylor, 46, and Shara Kinsley, 40, lit two candles for Tia.

Ms Taylor said: "She's only a child, it's so sad."

A poem was left with a photo of Tia which described her as "heaven's little angel".


Yet, when Parliament returns from its summer recess, so too will the acerbic Westminster satire after a three-year hiatus.

Rebecca Front, who plays hapless MP Nicola Murray, said: "The jokes write themselves in political terms," adding: "The writers are so in tune with the vicissitudes of political life, that often politics follows storylines we have done."

The show cannot be reactive, she said, as it is filmed months in advance. "Instead it looks at the political landscape and satirises a broader picture." While much has been kept under wraps, season four will get its teeth into a coalition government.

After a season as Secretary of State for the fictional Department of Social Affairs and Citizenship, dubbed DoSAC, Murray is now in Opposition scheming, along with foul-mouthed spin doctor Malcolm Tucker, to get back into power. "I was only too delighted that the show is covering the Opposition," Front said. "This is a bonus for me; I thought we might not be in it at all."

The Thick of It has been hailed alongside Yes Minister as one of the great political TV satires produced in the UK. It has twice picked up the Bafta for best sitcom. In 2010, Front and Peter Capaldi, who plays Tucker, won Baftas for best male and female performers in a comedy.

Front said the reason it works is the "claustrophobic" nature of politics. "Westminster really is a village; it's completely up itself and self-referential. That really works in comedy terms because these people are solely obsessed by the thinking: 'How will this play and how will I look? Will the other guy look worse than me?' There's a lot of that in the next series."

Despite the venal view of politics, those working in Westminster have told Front it is actually "a fairly gentle portrayal. That's when you think: 'My God, these people are really up against it. No wonder they're behaving like idiots'."

She even admits that while the programme has made her more cynical, "I'm also more sympathetic". During Tory minister Chloe Smith's recent car crash interview with Jeremy Paxman, "I groaned all the way through, because I could imagine it being Nicola Murray. I thought: 'Oh that poor woman, this is agony.' I found it funny afterwards. She is a government minister, and should have done better."

The major reactive nod to events, Front said, is the next series' own Leveson-style inquiry. Front said she did not see as much of the inquiry into press ethics as she would have liked, but was "riveted" when not filming by some of those called to give evidence. "It's as big a draw as Wimbledon," she said, and revealed she was a fan of Robert Jay QC.

Front is a veteran of the satire circuit and had an association with the Thick of It creator Armando Iannucci from her early days of radio and television comedy. They worked on Radio 4's satirical news show On The Hour in 1991, which was adapted for television as The Day Today several years later, and Knowing Me, Knowing You with Alan Partridge. The pair had been contemporaries at Oxford, although were not friends at the time.

The satire first tore on to British screens in 2005 on BBC4. Iannucci said at the time he wanted to show politics as "rough and messy, slightly improvised and realistic" and developed it in response to a series of studied political dramas.

He invited Front to join the third season in 2009 as the new minister for DoSAC. While she was "ridiculously excited" by the offer, Front said: "I'd watched the show since the beginning and there was a great sense of trepidation going into a fairly visible role in something you already love." On her first day, her husband waved her off with the encouraging words "Please don't balls this up. It's my favourite show."

Before the character even had a name, she experienced a verbal volley from Malcolm Tucker. "Armando asked us to improvise. Peter, this nice gentle man, stood up and suddenly turned into Malcolm. It was terrifying."

Yet being "Tuckered" as the cast call it, is a particular pleasure for Front. "Peter is one of the best actors I've ever worked with, he's extraordinary. There's a real pleasure in having a scene where you're being screamed at by somebody who's a fantastic actor."

Returning for the fourth season as an established character "means it's less scary going in this time round". She added: "Nicola Murray is a dream character, I would be delighted to carry on playing her until she goes into some sort of politicians' retirement home or goes mad. Or both."

She defended Iannucci, who was recently criticised by Alastair Campbell, who Tucker is believed to be based on, for accepting an OBE. "It's not like he's taking a seat in the House of Lords or been conferred with a superpower. Someone said: 'We like your work,' and he said: 'Thank you.' I don't see what all the fuss is about. Maybe because he's my mate."

Front has found regular comedy work since starting out in the industry, with one-off appearances to series including Al Murray's Time Gentlemen Please, to Nighty Night, The Catherine Tate Show and more recently Just William and Grandma's House with Simon Amstell. She has also taken on serious roles, most notably that of Chief Superintendent Jean Innocent in Lewis.

Currently, Front is shooting a new comedy, The Spa, for Sky Living written by Derren Litten, who also wrote comedy-drama series Benidorm. "It's a bit of a departure for me, it's very much a mainstream broad comedy."

While she appears regularly on topical news shows such as Have I Got News for You and Radio 4's The News Quiz, she sees herself "not as a comedian, but as an actor who does a bit of chat".

Her brainchild is the world's leading commercial art library. It gives its clients online access to images of over 300,000 artworks (and 750,000 historical photographs) held by the world's top galleries and museums in 8,000 locations. It has the most comprehensive system of cross-referencing imaginable. If you want 50 different images of The Last Supper, the library will track them down in seconds. If you want all three versions of Gérôme's Pygmalion and Galatea, they'll find them. If you want the complete works of Velazquez or Van Dyck, they're the guys to call. Their elaborate indexing system records the artist, title, gallery and date of each picture, but also its theme, genre and significant details – type of clothing, breed of dog, genus of plant, date-specific historic events, usefulness as period 'reference'. They license the rights to reproduce images for commercial use by publishers, greeting-card manufacturers, and movie studios in search of the right sword-and-buckler outfit in Pirates of the Caribbean. Check out the 'permissions' line on the back of any Christmas card with a Nativity scene, and you'll find the Bridgeman Art Library's name. Look at the illustrations in any biography of an artist in the past 30 years and the library's name will appear 19 times out of 20.

This spring, Viscountess Bridgeman celebrates 40 years of constant travel and the patient accumulation of the reproduction rights to the world's art. Though her empire is global, her headquarters are modest. The Library occupies a space just off Westbourne Grove, west London. In a sunlit atelier of Vermeer-like tranquility, a score of young art graduates, mostly women, sit at computer screens, fielding requests for pictures from around the world, asking a Dresden gallery if they mind having their Cranach nude featured on the cover of a retro-punk CD, telling a private caller that no, sadly they haven't any paintings of "a typical Roman Christmas".

Overseeing their endeavours, Harriet Bridgeman resembles not so much a tough, monopolistic entrepreneur than an indulgent mother pigeon. Clad in voluminous lilac skirts, she glides about the office, joshing, encouraging, bigging up, calming down. She shows you the ceiling-to-floor cabinets that used to house thousands of transparencies, before the whole operation went online. She introduces you to a chap adjusting the colour tones on Gérard's Daphnis and Chloe. In her tiny office, the wall-mounted artefacts include a pair of Peter Blake's Union Jack underpants (framed). Later, over lunch, she turns out to be an excellent gossip as she evokes her past, recalls which pillars of the community turned out to be "pouncers" and explains, in her cut-glass voice, how she's had "the perfect working life".

Born Harriet Turton in 1942 in Durham, she was one of four daughters educated at home. "The governess followed a home-teaching syllabus," she said, "which meant that, every month, we were sent a marvellous folder of colour reproductions with a lovely silk tassel that held everything together. It caught my imagination. It was a good way to learn." Her mother, Mary, "was very intellectual, always reading us poetry and taking us to exhibitions. I grew up with art as part of the background." Her father, Ralph, was a politician who once stood as an independent candidate against Willie Whitelaw. The Turtons were well-connected with the Anglo-Irish Protestant Ascendancy, and Harriet's childhood was filled with big houses. "I had a cousin with a romantic house in Cork called Ballynatray. He was wildly eccentric. He had a pack of hounds, and it was said that one of them had eaten a baby lying in a pram. But that was just a rumour."

She studied English and History of Art at Trinity College, Dublin and on graduation, walked into a job at The Lady, "this rather sober women's magazine that Rachel Johnson has made more interesting. It was awfully middle-class and down-market, with pictures of the bluebells in Hyde Park. I was the youngest staffer by 30 years, so I was given all the beauty samples. I remember being asked to cover 'Teasy Weasy' Raymond's wedding in Soho Square."

Just one year later, she was in more exalted company. "Somebody introduced me to Sir John Rothenstein, just retired from being Director of the Tate. He'd been asked by the British Printing Corporation to produce a new weekly art magazine called The Masters, based on an Italian journal called I Maestri del Colore. He said, 'Would you like to have lunch at the Athenaeum?'. I thought he meant the gentlemen's club, but it was the Athenaeum Hotel on Park Lane, a rather seedy place where Swedish air hostesses went."

Good heavens, I said. You don't mean he tried to... "No, no," she said, with an as-if crease of the brow, "we sat in a banquette for hours and to my amazement he asked me to be executive editor." She found herself in at the deep end. "Sir John knew a lot of interesting people – Miró, Chagall, Picasso. He had the right contacts. Some big names wrote for us. For the first issue, Herbert Read wrote on Vermeer; Roland Penrose on Miró." It must help the confidence of a 23-year-old ingenue to have the titans of the art world on her Rolodex. "It was really hard work but I was fascinated by what I was doing."

When The Masters folded, she was given three months to think up a new magazine. She decided on Discovering Antiques ("It was the time of Arthur Negus and Going for a Song on television") and, with typical efficiency, ran it from home. "I'd just got married [to Robin Bridgeman, the third Viscount of the family; they have three sons] and moved into a large house in Chelsea. The publishers hadn't much space so they said, 'Why don't you work from your house and we'll send you money to pay the staff?'." Over the next six years, she edited the antiques magazine while bringing up the babies. With two women, Helena Hayward and Erica O'Donnell, who ran an art course at the V&A, she started to publish books, and formed her own production company.

"The editorial staff were on the top floor, and 16 picture researchers on the bottom. Because it was a weekly magazine, it required a lot of illustrations. We soon realised it was very difficult to get any." Lady Bridgeman gave an unladylike snort of disapproval at how badly organised museums were at supplying images of their paintings. "The National Gallery and the Tate had skeleton picture libraries. We could send a photographer but only after the museum closed, we had to pay attendance fees, and they didn't keep transparencies afterwards. So the same pictures were being photographed several times, and museums weren't taking advantage of the only means by which they could generate income." She encountered some bizarre attitudes. "I met academics who were such purists they thought it undesirable to reproduce paintings in colour. Because one mightn't be able to reproduce the colour 100 per cent true to the original, they'd only allow black-and-whites. It didn't really make much sense."

And so the Bridgeman Art Library was born in 1972. No more would commercial image-buyers have to track down paintings at galleries and museums, visiting them one by one, camera in hand. The Bridgeman could offer a one-stop destination, offering excellent large transparencies of key paintings.

She travelled across England, visiting obscure museums, signing up their collections. How did they respond? "Some said to me, 'It's a win-win situation' because they didn't have to put any money upfront – all they had to do was bank a cheque every quarter. We promised to give them 50 per cent of every fee we received, whether it was for education or publishing or advertising." On her royal progress, she was startled by the lack of local knowledge, "the amazement of getting off a train somewhere like Preston, asking where the local art gallery was, and finding that nobody knew. It was a revelation of how uninterested we are in the treasures we have." She signed them up anyway, in Bristol, Exeter, Wolverhampton, Accrington... Her trip paid off. When the Royal Academy in 1998 exhibited Art Treasures of England: the Regional Collections, Harriet's library represented 98 per cent of them. It was, she said, "a moment of triumph".

Her library rolled across Europe, visiting galleries, acquiring collections, and discovering what had become of arts and books during the war. "One of the most tragic stories I heard was about a castle near Prague that housed an extraordinary collection of books dating back to the Dukes of Habsburg. The Nazis invaded the library, pitchforked the books out into carts and took them away to burn, all these wonderful, irreplaceable manuscripts. The librarian was so heartbroken, he flung himself out the upper window and committed suicide. The barbarity of it sticks in my memory."

She gradually wore down the defences of Mark Getty, owner of Giraudon, the 125-year-old archive of French art ("they've photographed the Louvre and all the provincial galleries") and persuaded him to sell it to her. She opened offices in France, Germany – and America, where her only rival is Art Resource, run since 1968 by Theodore Feder, and able to boast 450,000 fine art images from around the world. "But we represent four times as many of the American museums as they do," said Harriet. "We've done incredibly well."

So well indeed that she has found herself invited across the pond to have her brains picked by the Yanks. "I was asked to go and talk at a museum in Kansas. I felt like that painting – And When Did You Last See Your Father? – as I sat facing 16 people at an enormous table, telling them what we were doing in England and how new technology was coming to our aid. It felt amazing that I should be talking to a superpower, way ahead of us, about such things. But they've been very slow in coming to the table."

She herself shows few signs of slowing down. In 2006, a year after being voted International Business Woman of the Year, she set up the Artists' Collecting Society to streamline the collection of royalties on Artists' Resale Rights – so that, every time an artist's work is re-sold on the commercial art market, the artist gets a percentage of the sale price. Unsurprisingly, many big-name artists clamoured to be represented – especially after Lucian Freud received £22,000 in extra royalties over six months.

Everyone, you see – all the galleries, all the museums, all the artists – wants to be in Harriet's gang. Everyone wants to have this shrewd, persuasive, rather raffish British aristocrat on their side, handling the copyright to their artworks, cutting deals with the image-making world, insisting on fairness for all, bringing the finest of fine arts to the biggest possible audience. Just as she once had beautiful images delivered every month to her door – as if by magic, bound with a silk tassel like a gift from the gods.

And the time when, for a few godforsaken months after a particularly ferocious storm bent our aerial, we were forced to watch the local news from Hull rather than from Leeds. That taught me a lot, not only about the bathetic tragedy of the human condition but also about Hull's premiere aquarium, The Deep. It's actually the Humber's only surviving tourist attraction, seeing as the rest of them have already fallen (or jumped) off the cliffs and into the sea.

It's precisely this seam of mediocrity that Steve Coogan has mined for his latest Alan Partridge venture. And before anyone accuses me of being all metropolitan and sneery, let me also point out that it has been at the heart(ridge) of Partridge since day one. He's a depressing and slightly tawdry character built from the pomposity of the distinctly average, for a knowing middle-class fanbase that revels in poking fun at such things. There's even a Guardian joke thrown in to highlight his provincial bigotry, so we know it's OK to laugh.

Welcome to the Places of My Life is a charming info-mercial for the his native Norfolk – "the plump peninsula, the Wales of the East" – co-produced with the Norwich Chamber of Commerce. It's a "Partridge pilgrimage, or a Partrimage, a pilgrimartridge", and it makes for a rich feast of snide laughs and superb characterisation crafted from the crass crumbs of some of bad telly's most pompous banquets. Apparently, Hitler had intended to use Norwich City Hall as his base, had the invasion gone as planned.

"The more I learn about Hitler," Partridge intones meaningfully, "the more I dislike him." I was reminded of that old adage about Les Dawson – that to play the piano that badly on purpose, you actually have to be rather good at it. By that token, Steve Coogan is a consummate pianist, not to mention writer and producer, given the brilliant slip-ups that his protagonist hands us with every cyclist he abuses, every rolled "r" and micro-expression, every accidental overdose of prescription drugs.

We might not be grateful for the existence of David Starkey very often, but the mock-canticle theme tune (sung, we can infer from its nasal tones, by Alan himself), the disembodied shouts from Norwich councillors past as they debate the issue of city centre parking after 7pm, the earnest walk-throughs and quasi-intellectual register have all the hallmarks of that historian's grandiloquent one-man shows. (You can expect your local pub to resound with cries of "brouhaha!" every time the saloon doors twitch from now on).

The strengths – that is to say, the inherent crapness – of this genre give our old friend a new dimension. As Alan interviews a local hydrotherapist, the grunts of him trying not to drown are brilliantly audible throughout her pieces to camera. When it pans back, he is floating competently in the shallows, his reactions re-recorded post-production to save not only his face, but his elaborate pompadour too.

Some of the best bits of Welcome to the Places of My Life are when we get a sense of the cameras rolling for about four seconds longer than they should have done, just like in Knowing Me, Knowing You, Partridge's first TV outing, but also to what Coogan himself is mocking – the overblown ceremony and rubbish incompetence of low-budget telly.

And it's the deliberate roughness that really sticks in the mind. Because in this age of high gloss and HBO, there's a real danger that some of our worst regional programming could well die a death.

No doubt, that's what we think we want. But then where would we be? Poking fun at glossy vacuous crap that even the producers know is rubbish isn't half as satisfying as laughing at something someone you probably don't like thinks is a masterful piece of broadcasting. And that is the point of Alan Partridge. Aha!

Harriet's marmalade dropper

The exchange between MP Chloe Smith and Paxo. "Do you think you're incompetent?" he asked. Was he attacking her because she was a woman in a pink suit? No, it was because she was an idiot.

She was moved from the Treasury to the Cabinet Office in the recent reshuffle, and yesterday it was announced that she will be taking responsibility for overseeing the Government's preparation of a statutory lobbying register.

But one of the main groups representing Britain's lobbyists got off to an uneasy start with the new minister yesterday after it included unflattering remarks about her in a press release responding to her appointment.

The PRCA, the professional body that represents UK PR consultancies, sent a statement to journalists calling on Chloe Smith to "listen and engage" with the industry over Government plans for a statutory register of lobbyists.

But in a sentence unlikely to be included in any "good PR" manual, it added: "Smith has joined the Cabinet Office from the Treasury, where she was best known for her poor performance when interviewed by Newsnight's Jeremy Paxman".

While undeniably true, the indelicate statement raised eyebrows. It was later withdrawn but not before it was picked up and publicised by the Guido Fawkes political gossip website.

Ms Smith was considered something of a rising government star until being savaged by Jeremy Paxman for her inability to expain the Chancellor's sudden decision to drop the planned 3p rise in May – at the height of the "omnishambles" fall-out from the Budget.

Under the Government's present plans only external consultants – not in-house lobbyists – would have to sign up to the register. Bodies such as the PRCA want all lobbyists included.

But a decade after an opulent toga party in Cyprus it appears that the retail tycoon is finally slowing down.

The owner of the Arcadia group, which includes Topshop and Bhs, celebrates his birthday on 15 March, and his wife, Tina, is organising a multimillion-pound party to mark the event with the singer Adele rumoured to be appearing. He will share the celebrations with his daughter, Chloe, whose 21st birthday is two weeks earlier.

As in the past, Lady Green has fiercely guarded the details of the party, with guests given the location of the airport and told to pack "warm weather" clothing. They will then be flown to the mystery resort by private jet.

The retail tycoon has had some of pop music's most recognisable names perform at his parties in the past, and according to reports, Lady Green has approached Adele to appear.

For his 50th birthday, Sir Philip spent an estimated £5m on flying 219 friends to Cyprus, for a four-day bash that culminated in a toga party on the final evening. The entertainment included Tom Jones as well as Rod Stewart, who was reportedly paid £750,000.

Five years later, he marked his birthday with a lavish, five-day celebration at the Maldives resort of Soneva Fushi, where singers George Michael and Jennifer Lopez performed.

Last year's event was held at the exclusive Belgravia dining club Mosimann's. Kate Moss, the supermodel who calls the retailer "Uncle Phil" and has designed a fashion collection for Topshop, was among the guests as was Simon Cowell. The entertainment was provided by the classical singer Katherine Jenkins.

Sir Philip has also spent big on his children's parties. His son Brandon's bar mitzvah in the south of France is believed to have cost £4m. He flew 300 guests to the Grand-Hotel du Cap Ferrat in France, with performances by Beyoncé and Andrea Bocelli.

Professor MacCulloch, presenter of BBC series A History of Christianity, said that breaking up the Mendham Collection, which has been held in Canterbury Cathedral since 1984, would undermine academic research. The Law Society of England and Wales, which was bequeathed the collection by Sophia Mendham in 1869, decided to sell 300 books from the 5,000-strong collection despite an agreement allowing the cathedral and university to keep the books until December 2013.

MacCulloch, Professor of the History of the Church in the University of Oxford, is among hundreds of scholars who have signed an online petition against the decision. He told The Independent: "These libraries and manuscripts are the heritage of everyone, not just of the organisations who currently own them. Collections lose their value when they are dispersed, especially when as in the case of the Mendham collection they have annotations from the person who built them up."

Canterbury Cathedral and the University of Kent were told in April that items from the collection were going to be put up for auction. Historians from the cathedral and the university claim they were given only 72 hours to put in a bid.

A Law Society spokesperson said the auction will not take place until November, allowing further time for offers to be made.

The hosts struggled without the services of captain and most experienced player Kate Walsh, who watched the match from her hospital bed as she recovers from having a plate inserted in a broken jaw.

Aside from leaking goals from a leading position the sight of striker Alex Danson being carried off on a stretcher with an ankle injury was the last thing GB wanted having seen Walsh receive a stick inthe face on the very same corner of turf on Sunday.

Nic White and Crista Cullen had given the hosts a 2-0 lead and although they were initially pegged back Danson restored the two-goal cushion.

However, Korea stunned the Riverbank Arena with two quick goals but GB bounced back with Georgie Twigg and Chloe Rogers scoring the goals which took them top of Pool A after two matches.

The game could not have begun better with a brilliant run from White out on the right bringing the first goal in the sixth minute.

Her dipping shot, having cut into the circle, should have been dealt with by Jang Soo-ji but she allowed it to sneak under her foot.

But midway through the half Korea levelled when a defensive mix-up between Rogers and goalkeeper Beth Storry enabled Kim Darae to poke home from close range.

But 10 minutes before half-time GB restored their lead when Cullen produced a low penalty corner flick.

It was to prove the end for Jang, patently at fault for the firstgoal, who was immediately replaced by Moon Young-hui and returned to the bench to receive a torrent of harsh words from the coaching staff.

Within three minutes of the second half starting GB had extended their lead.

A driving run from Helen Richardson won a penalty corner and whenCullen flicked low Danson dived across her marker and slid her stick into the path of the ball to divert it past Moon.

From that point it began to unravel somewhat as Han Hye-lyoung fired a penalty corner move through Storry's legs and then a long pass from the inside-left picked out the unmarked Park Mi-hyun to deflect in at the far post.

But after hours and hours with the psychologist this team is madeof sterner stuff and they bounced back with two goals in quick succession.

With Cullen off the pitch the regular corner routine broke down but when Richardson returned the ball back into the circle Twigg was on hand to reverse-sweep home from close range.

And when Wales international Sarah Thomas cut in from the left her pass across goal was tapped in by Rogers.

Danson's departure on a stretcher late on was a concern having already lost Walsh, who has not ruled out making a comeback at these Games yet, but it may be the spirit within the camp will see them through such adversities.


Aides to the Deputy Prime Minister have been only too keen to leak embarrassing details of life as the Government’s junior partners, the writers of the Bafta-winning series have revealed.

The fourth series of Armando Iannucci’s acclaimed comedy, which spawned Westminster’s post-Budget buzz-phrase “Omnishambles”, will air on BBC2 next month.

Real life is reflected with the Opposition now in government but forced to share office-space with their ambitious junior coalition partners, known as “The Inbetweeners”.

Malcolm Tucker, the fearsome former No 10 enforcer, is at bay. In a shock turn of events, Nicola Murray, the previous “Dosac” department minister, has become Leader of the Opposition after accidentally winning an election through a block vote mechanism no-one can quite understand. Murray, although no less inept, is now Tucker’s boss.

There are big changes in Whitehall, where Peter Mannion, the world-weary opposition MP with more than a touch of Kenneth Clarke, finally takes over the Social Affairs department. But he has to live with a “Lib Dem” junior minister, keen to make his mark, who publicly contradicts any policies Mannion dares to put forward.

Did the producers have a high-grade Coalition source? Sean Gray, series writer, said: “Armando got an email after a political awards. The person said ‘I’m working in Nick Clegg’s office until June. I’ll let you know what happened after that.’”

Gray did not disclose if the offer was followed-up. His co-writer Roger Drew added that a female member of David Cameron’s press office also approached the writers at a Westminster screening of Veep, the HBO political satire that the pair penned with Iannucci.

Adam Tandy, producer, said: “We don’t think anyone had a meeting but we keep our ear to the ground. We don’t have any deep sources - apart from Nick Clegg.” The writers employ a political adviser based at the BBC’s Millbank studios who helps them gauge the mood of the Coalition.

Nicola Murray’s elevation was sealed after Ed Miliband won Labour’s leadership election. She was initially going to be deputy leader. Gray said: “Nicola has somehow gone from being inept to becoming leader through strange mathematics. Ed winning made it feasible that Nicola could be leader.”

In a political world where Boris Johnson gets stuck on a zip-wire, Treasury Minister Chloe Smith is mauled on Newsnight and U-turns are forced over a pasty tax, the writers’ biggest problem is staying ahead of events.

Tandy said: “There are things we say we couldn’t put in the script because no-one would believe it. Then Jeremy Hunt did his bell-ringing (where the bell flew off). And he’s still got a job. We get very lucky sometimes.”

At one point the writers feared that a script leak had been turned into Whitehall policy. The opening episode finds Mannion announcing the “silicon playground” – school children design apps for free, with the profits offset against future university tuition fees.

“Next day Michael Gove announced exactly the same policy,” complained Gray. The Education Secretary backed a cheap computer circuit board, the Raspberry Pi, which he wants children to use in schools to develop their programming skills. Drew said: “We thought ‘the fucker’s nicked our material’. There’s been a leak and they’ve decided to use material from our show.”

A judicial inquiry, sucking in ministers and advisers, provides the backdrop for the new series, although the subject is not phone-hacking. The promise of a 5-year Coalition allowed the team to “reboot” the series. Tandy said: “We’ve embraced wholeheartedly the fact that no-one won the election. Peter Mannion has to share his office with an upstart schoolboy.”

Roger Allam, who plays Mannion, said: “The Coalition means there’s even more conflict and less possibility of anyone being happy. No-one’s in real power.”

Will Smith, a series writer who plays Mannion’s adviser Phil Smith, said: “The Lib Dems are keen to show they can work harder and can be as tough as the larger party. We were hearing that the Coalition parties were getting on with each other and the tensions were actually within each party. Luckily for us by the time we filmed the series it was starting to come apart a bit more.”

Smith admits: “When Francis Maude told people to fill up the jerry cans in their garage, that was rather like a scene we would have done. It was so ludicrous that this could actually happen.”

Who’s who?

Fergus Williams (Junior Minister, DOSAC, Coalition) , played by Geoffrey Streatfeild

Upwardly-mobile “Lib Dem” arriviste complains when his “network nation” policy is mangled by “Tory” boss Mannion. Ministerial inspiration could include Steve Webb and Jeremy Browne.

Helen Hatley (Special adviser to Leader of the Opposition), played by Rebecca Gethings

Controlling influence over Nicola Murray, thwarting Malcolm Tucker. “More of a carer than an adviser”. Ed Miliband’s private office has included Polly Billington, Lucy Powell and Ayesha Hazarika. (nb- past tense, they have now quit)

Stewart Pearson (Director of Communications, Government), played by Vincent Franklin

Blue-sky thinker whose “touchy-feely” policies are sidelined in Downing Street as Coalition faces daily crises. Bears close comparison to Steve Hilton, David Cameron’s departed policy guru.

Malcolm Tucker (Media advisor, Opposition), played by Peter Capaldi

Muted in opposition, berates Murray for not being hungry enough for power. “You’ve got be a Hutu, hacking your way through the fucking opposition.” Former Times political journalist Tom Baldwin is Ed Miliband’s strategy chief.

Peter Mannion MP (Minister of DOSAC, Coalition government), played by Roger Allam

Old-school, lazy Tory, behind the curve on technology who confuses “silicon playground” policy with “Fibre-optic Fagins”. Allam calls him “a Ken Clarke who has never held the big offices of State”.

Glenn Cullen (Fourth sector guru, Government), played by James Smith & Olly Reeder (Special advisor to leader of the Opposition), played by Chris Addison

The former Dosac advisers split up with Cullen “crossing the floor” to work with the Coalition while Reeder spars with Tucker in the Opposition leader’s office.

This is the demographic courted by politicians as Britain's loyal army of "hard-working families". Yet while much of their attention on yesterday's Budget was focused, naturally, on the future of child benefit, for the mothers and fathers juggling jobs and childcare, the issues stretched far beyond, into the travails of the wider economy.

Student nurse Nicola Palmer, 21, was collecting her daughter Chloe, two. She said she and her partner would benefit from the increased lower tax threshold but the few hundred pounds extra this would glean would be swallowed up by their outgoings.

Between them, they currently get by on £10,000 a year; £6,500 from her nurse's bursary and the balance made up by her partner, who despite graduating last summer in finance and investment management is barely turning a profit working for himself.

She agreed that the very well off had often worked hard to achieve high salaries, although not all of them – and that they didn't merit a tax break when so many others were struggling. "Sometimes people at the top end do a lot less than I do for not even a quarter of their salary," she said. "I still graft hard but as a nurse I will never earn anything like that amount of money, ever."

In the car park, Michael Johnson, 42, who has two children including a seven-month-old, said the region's economic woes were brought home last month when he lost his job in sales and marketing.

Since then he has yet to get an interview and, with his wife on maternity leave, the young family are struggling to make ends meet. He is considering retraining as a teacher.

"I had a relatively good job with good pay but what we get in benefits does not cover anything. The mortgage is double what we receive and there is no help with childcare. You just don't realise how little you get when you are made redundant," he said.

The sense of middle-class anxiety was evident among all parents. "I work within the NHS but I don't know if there is any such thing as a secure job any more," said Carol Ellen Starkie, 38, a doctor and mother of two whose husband is self-employed.

Each works four days a week so that they can be there for their children. "The people that are earning more should pay more yes, but the Government should look at families as a whole. My husband and I work as a team. You can have one person earning a huge amount but changes should be based on joint earnings," she said.

Nursery principal Liz Cook said many parents have been working longer hours and were finding new ways to cope since the recession.

"Over the last couple of years our overall numbers have been consistent. The number of different children attending has increased because parents are reducing days and using family for childcare instead," she said.

Consumer Prices Index (CPI) inflation dropped to 2.4 per cent last month, its lowest level since December 2009, according to figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The fall was driven by lower clothing and footwear prices, which declined by 4.2 per cent over the month.

The ONS ascribed this to retailers starting their summer sales earlier than last year.

Transport prices also fell 0.5 per cent, due to lower petrol prices which were down 3 per cent in June.

The consensus of City analysts was that CPI inflation would remain at the 2.8 per cent level recorded in May. Instead, it fell for the third straight month, prompting some economists to argue that inflation will now retreat to the Bank of England's official two per cent target before the end of 2012.

"Inflation is finally within sight of the target and we expect it to be well below the target by the end of the year," said Vicky Redwood, of Capital Economics.

"Evidence is building that the weak activity and large amounts of spare capacity in the economy are bearing down on underlying price pressures".

The Bank of England will certainly be relieved by the figures, after its Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) voted this month to increase its £325bn quantitative easing programme by £50bn to support the economy.

Some MPC members had expressed concerns that monetary stimulus was feeding through into higher inflation.

However, price rises are still outstripping pay growth, with total income growing by around 1.4 per cent, according to the ONS's most recent figures.

"The chances of a sharp upturn in domestic consumer spending driving an upturn in recovery prospects look low," said Victoria Clarke of Investec.

Chloe Smith, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, said: "Inflation has more than halved since September, meaning a little less pressure on family budgets."

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) rate of inflation fell to 3% in April, compared with 3.5% in March, its lowest level since February 2010, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

In further evidence that the weak economic climate is forcing retailers to cut prices to draw in customers, clothing and footwear prices rose by just 0.2% in the period compared with 1.4% last year.

And softer excise duty rises on alcohol and tobacco, as well as lower air fares due to the timing of Easter, also helped keep a lid on the rising cost of living.

Bank of England Governor Sir Mervyn King narrowly avoided sending his 10th “Dear Chancellor” letter to explain why inflation is higher than the Government's 2% target, as at 3% it is now within one percentage point of that goal.

Inflation has fallen from 5.6% last September due to the waning impact of the VAT hike at the start of 2011, falling energy, food and commodity prices and a number of bill cuts from utility providers.

However, it has not dropped as quickly as the Bank of England expected after fears over increasing tensions between the West and Iran pushed oil prices higher in March.

The sharp decrease in inflation in April is likely to bolster the case for the Bank to pump more emergency cash into the economy through its quantitative easing programme.

The economy entered a technical recession in the first quarter of the year as gross domestic product declined 0.2%, following a 0.3% drop in the final quarter of 2011.

Chloe Smith, the economic secretary to the Treasury, said: "Inflation is down and back within the target range for the first time since 2010, which is good news and will provide some welcome relief for family budgets."

The most significant downward pressure on prices in April came from the transport sector, which saw prices rise 1.2% compared with a 2.8% rise the previous year.

The largest downward effect came from air transport where the timing of Easter meant fares rose 7.4% compared with a huge 29% surge last year.

A smaller downward impact came from second-hand cars, the ONS said, where prices rose by less than a year ago.

Alcohol and tobacco prices rose 2.9%, compared with a record 5.3% rise last year, as excise duty rises in the March Budget had a smaller impact on overall prices.

The softer rise in clothing prices was driven by cheaper womenswear, the ONS said.

Retailers have kept prices low and sacrificed profit margins in a bid to draw in cash-strapped consumers, whose confidence has been knocked by the weak economic climate.

The most significant upward contribution came from restaurant and hotel prices, which rose 1% compared with a 0.6% increase a year ago.

Housing and household services also had an upward effect as lower utility bills were overshadowed by higher rents.

Alternative measures of inflation also fell, as the Retail Price Index fell to 3.5% from 3.6% in the period.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer welcomed today's drop in inflation.

Speaking at a press conference in the Treasury, George Osborne said: "It means that for the first time since I became Chancellor, I have not this morning received a letter from the Governor of the Bank of England explaining why inflation is off-target. Indeed, it is the first time since 2009 this has happened.

"This brings welcome relief to families on tight budgets and the Bank of England expects inflation to continue to fall further over the next year or so.

"Unemployment has also fallen this month, but it remains too high and we need to do even more to help."

Labour Treasury spokeswoman Catherine McKinnell said: "The fall in the rate of inflationis welcome as last year's VAT rise continues to drop out of the figures. But families and pensioners are facing a harsh squeeze on theirincomes from the Government's policies.

"The independent Institute for Fiscal Studies says a family with children will lose an average of £511 from changes coming into force this year. And while millions are paying more, the Government is giving a£3 billion tax cut to millionaires.

"With the economy pushed into recession by this Government's economic mistakes, those on low and middle incomes are paying a heavy price from this out-of-touch Government's unfair choices."


Beckham's Bodywear range was launched at H&M last Thursday, while vest sales have risen over the past year for the Jockey underwear brand; and it is predicted that sales of the notoriously difficult-to-pull-off-with-style (think Rab C Nesbitt) garment will rise even further.

H&M's Chloe Bowers said: "The vest has become cool, with old-fashioned granddad styles worn under clothes, and as a top itself. Women have also been buying them for themselves; it appeals to both teenagers and 40-year-olds."

Ruth Stevens, marketing manager for Jockey Europe, said: "We are seeing a massive fashion following, with magazine photo-shoots concentrating on vests. Vogue recently did a shoot with women wearing Jockey vests."

Last year, Jockey sales rose by 5 per cent. "It's for fashion, not just keeping warm," Ms Stevens said. "Traditional-style underwear is gaining in popularity, with a resurgence in popularity for Y-fronts in 2010, and a 15 per cent rise in long-john sales this year." Jockey introduced coloured vests last year, though white tank vests remain the classic.

Across the UK, the men's vest market has grown from £49m in 2005 to £54m in 2010, according to Mintel. Sales of women's vests are rising too, with lingerie – excluding bras, pants and hosiery – increasing from £325m in 2005 to £368m in 2010.

Marshal Cohen, of the NPD market research firm, said: "Sales growth is now in undershirts. Men have recognised they can't do shabby chic and look like they just rolled out of bed."

Rana Reeves, of the John Doe consultancy, said: "There used to be two sets of men wearing vests as fashion: gay men showing off their bodies in clubs, and Afro-Caribbean guys. Fashion is obsessed with both, and their styles have been appropriated as they offer a form of masculinity the fashion world likes to emulate."

Claims that sex-grooming rings have operated with impunity in several British cities, the low numbers listed in the sex crime prosecution statistics, and cases such as that of the so-called black cab rapist – John Worboys, the London cabby believed to be Britain's most prolific sex attacker, jailed in 2009 – have fuelled fears that advances made since the Thames Valley scandal are being lost.

As many as 400,000 women are sexually assaulted and 80,000 women raped each year, according to the authoritative British Crime Survey, yet only 11 per cent of victims report crimes to the police. While numbers of rapes recorded by police rose by 3, 261 (26 per cent) in the past three years, police insist the increase is not because of a rise in offences, but rather that victims have more confidence that police and prosecutors will deal with cases sensitively and professionally, as well as there being better links between police and outside agencies to which rape victims turn. The Home Office acknowledges the rise is a "real cause for concern", but insists that improvements are being made.

The issue comes under a harsh spotlight on Friday, when Ryan Coleman-Farrow, 30, a former officer in the Metropolitan Police's Sapphire Unit, which investigates rape and other serious sexual assault – lauded as the "gold-standard" of sex crime investigation – will be sentenced at London's Southwark Crown Court after admitting to failing to investigate rape cases properly and falsifying records. Eleven suspected sex attackers are said to have escaped justice because Coleman-Farrow, described in court as a "rogue officer", ignored allegations and then covered up his inaction. One woman involved in a case dealt with by the disgraced officer later committed suicide.

The Crown Prosecution Service is examining similar charges against a second officer from Sapphire Unit, and the Independent Police Complaints Commission has launched an inquiry into its operation.

Vera Baird, QC, a former solicitor general, said yesterday: "Savile, Rochdale, and, in a secondary way, the Assange/Galloway devaluing of rape all make clear that there are counter winds blowing all the time on these issues. Now that nobody is driving it forward, the whole sex crime agenda in government is going backwards at a rapid rate."

Dr Jane Monckton-Smith, a criminologist at Gloucestershire University, said: "I absolutely do despair that the police haven't learnt more lessons. The biggest reason is our incredible reluctance to believe women who come forward. It's all down to culpability. The more culpable the women is perceived to be, the less she is believed."

Dr Monckton-Smith, a former police officer, added: "We've got the wrong picture of what a rapist looks like in our collective imagination. We think they're monsters, but they're not. They're ordinary people. We haven't got rid of the idea that most people are suspicious of a woman making a claim of rape if she doesn't present as extremely traumatised. If she's not screaming and crying, it makes her less believable. We look for a stereotypical jump-out-of-the-bushes rapist to substantiate a story. If it's just some guy in a suit, then people can't see it as a straightforward case.

"The Worboys case shows that some things haven't changed. There is still that macho canteen culture, which affects policewomen as well. It runs through society in general."

The criminologist and film-maker Roger Graef, who made the 1982 Thames Valley Police documentary, said the major problem is that rape and other sex crimes "do not fit" the stereotype of what the police deem a real crime. "There's a suspicion built into the investigation of sex crimes that women ask for it. Juries also feel that," he said. The Worboys case was "just bad policing", he said. "There's no excuse. It is indicative of the default sexism that is built into the ordinary policing culture."

Dr Kate Cook, a senior law lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University, said the Savile allegations would "upset a lot of abused young women". "It's incredibly hard to know that this man may have been protected until he died. How many men in the public eye are doing the same?" According to Dr Cook, one in four girls is hurt by a man before the age of 16.

"Police are continually revealed as just not taking this seriously enough," she said. "We need specialist officers who are allowed to stay in that position for a long period of time and develop skills and expertise. They often get moved on, so no one really develops the kind of skills that you need to deal with victims of abuse."

Advances in investigating sex crimes and the treatment of victims since the mid-1980s amounted to a "beginning", but were still "not enough", she added.

"There are still a lot of improvements to come. Repeat rapists have not been adequately investigated. Police officers have to learn to listen in a different way," she said.

The reality of this is illustrated disturbingly in a case investigated by The Independent on Sunday. A high-flying female banker who reported being drugged and sexually assaulted by a colleague in a London wine bar later discovered widespread failures in the initial police investigation. The failures included many highlighted in the IPCC investigation into the Worboys case, which the Metropolitan Police said they had rectified only months earlier.

Vera Baird described the case as "horrifying". "This case is shocking because the Met have been so recently criticised over Worboys, who used the same rape drug and yet still they didn't respond well. It is amazing that even when the police had a highly articulate woman fully prepared to stand the strain of being a witness, they treated her in this dismissive way. I worry about how more vulnerable women are treated."

Expert view

By Dr Nicole Westmarland, senior lecturer in criminology at Durham University and former chair of Rape Crisis

Anyone thinking that the Jimmy Savile case is a one-off product of another era should think again. Look at the recent cases in Rochdale and you see that abuse is still swept under the carpet. People don't want to see the possibility of abuse happening on their doorstep by their friends, their family and colleagues.

We are still failing victims of rape and we need to make it easier for people to come forward. When the Savile story broke, the first questions asked on radio phone-ins were "are the women lying?" and "why didn't they come forward before?" We're not starting from a position of believing victims.

If you report a rape today to the police you will get a better response than before, but it still needs to improve. There's this "real rape" stereotype, where not just members of the jury but victims, too, feel as if certain acts are rape and others are just "something else". Things like getting drunk and not knowing what happened, being pressured into having sex when they didn't want it, or being taken advantage of. There has to be more effort put into targeting men who are continually preying on young girls and women who aren't able to consent. I think that if a famous person today in a powerful position was having sex with 14- or 15-year-olds and openly targeting them, they probably would be reported. But if those girls were 16 and 17 and drunk or taking drugs, it would still happen and get swept under the carpet. And the victims would blame themselves.

We know that about nine out of 10 victims who ring Rape Crisis never report to the police. I've just finished a study on why victims don't come forward, and many said it was a lack of trust in the police.

A recent report by the Independent Police Complaints Commission showed many cases where police officers used their position to make vulnerable women have sex with them. Society is just catching up to the idea that that is called rape.

There needs to be more awareness about what rape is. If someone doesn't want to have sex they shouldn't have to, regardless of how much alcohol they've had, how much power someone has over them – or if their abuser is famous.

The reality is completely different. Instead of weighty proclamations, there are sardonic one-liners. In place of furrowed brows, frequent laughter and a fine line in self-mockery. It's as though you turned up to meet Dawson Leery and found his best friend Pacey Witter there instead.

"I think there was a time during and post-Dawson's Creek when I took myself too seriously and felt I had something to lose," Van Der Beek says with a slightly incredulous laugh. "Plus, there's the whole thing about doing a teen show and having young fans and they're supposed to see you in a certain way..." Arguably some of them still do. When I mention to friends that I'm interviewing Van Der Beek, five out of them gasp: "Oh my God, Dawson." The sixth sniffs: "I always preferred Pacey."

Such is the curse of teen drama. Van Der Beek, now 35, played Dawson Leery, melodramatic deliverer of angst-ridden dialogues, would-be Spielberg, uncertain seducer of Joey Potter and possessor of television's most over-the-top crying face, for six years from 1998 until 2003. And, just as to many thirtysomethings Claire Danes will always be Angela Chase, no matter how many terrorists she obsessively tracks down on Homeland, so too is Van Der Beek forever Dawson.

Luckily it's not an association he minds, these days at least. "In retrospect I look back and I'm grateful," he says. "But it was an exhausting six-year marathon. I was shooting movies or doing photo shoots when the show was on hiatus. It was just a really long haul and I felt burnt out when it ended. I needed time to duck away and disappear, figure things out and grow up a bit. When I was 24 the character I played on TV was a teenager losing his virginity..."

It helps that Van Der Beek is that unusual thing, a former teen idol whose looks have improved with age. Where Dawson was all wrinkled forehead and bad hair, Van Der Beek wears the passing of time well, a fact he attributes in part to being more at ease. "When Dawson's ended I just reacted to having been on this highly successful teen show for the last six years. I get very bored doing the same thing so, for example, I did Rules of Attraction [an adaptation of a Bret Easton Ellis novel, filmed just before Dawson's final season] because I felt finally I had a chance to try something like that."

Yet while Van Der Beek received good reviews the big movie roles never quite materialised. While fellow cast members Michelle Williams, Katie Holmes and Joshua Jackson went on to carve out careers on film and television with varying degrees of success, it seemed as though the series' official romantic lead would be an also-ran.

"I look at some of my decisions in that time and I think 'why did I do that?'" admits Van Der Beek. "I turned down auditions for things I probably shouldn't have like the role that went to Bradley Cooper in Wedding Crashers because I was worried about being seen in a certain way." A pause before the sardonic aside: "In retrospect that was something of an unnecessary worry..."

Such fears are in the past. In recent years, Van Der Beek has reinvented himself as something of a go-to-guy for smart cameos – he's been described as a straight Neil Patrick Harris, a comparison he describes as "a huge compliment" – turning up in everything from sitcom How I Met Your Mother to police procedural Criminal Minds.

Now a clever turn as a more self-absorbed version of himself in the acerbic and very funny sitcom Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23, which starts on E4 tomorrow, should thrust him back into television's spotlight. Like Matt Le Blanc in Episodes, Apartment 23 uses Van Der Beek's history as a teen idol as a starting point, painting a picture of a self-obsessed former star, happy to use the remnants of his fame to talk fans into bed.

"It's been a lot of fun not only to send up my own history but also because it's evolved into more of a parody of actors in general," says Van Der Beek. "I see fake James Van Der Beek as the sort of guy who is quite talented but in this very savantish way. He can be sweet, he's a good friend to Chloe [the show's (anti) heroine and the B of the title] but he's also completely self-absorbed."

Most entertainingly as the series progresses so the careers of the two Van Der Beeks diverge. Thus, fake Van Der Beek has starred in a Guy Ritchie film – "we really did that just so we could shoot scenes from a fake Guy Ritchie movie" – is considering reality show Dancing with the Stars and has his own jeans line that he markets with the brilliantly cringeworthy slogan: "Put your cheeks in a Beek."


He is also single unlike his real-life counterpart who is married with two children. "It's not so much that my family life was off-limits as that it's much funnier if he's single," says Van Der Beek. "One of the great things about working with Nahnatchka Khan [the show's creator] is that I can completely trust her. When I started working on the show I said: 'Don't be afraid of offending me, I'll tell you if something goes too far.' Nothing has."

That's largely because Van Der Beek's sense of humour is surprisingly caustic. "Yeah, I've always had a dark sense of humour," he admits. "When I was filming Dawson's I felt awkward about letting that be seen. There was always a sense that you were representing the show and you had to take the material seriously and show a level of respect."

His voice brightens. "But you know one of the funniest things about doing this show and the videos I've done recently was my mother said to me: 'It's so nice to be able to see you showing your sense of humour.' So she was obviously worried..."

Ah, the videos. Shot for comedy website Funny or Die the videos essentially changed Van Der Beek's career trajectory, ensuring that instead of ending up a "whatever happened to?" punchline in a trivia quiz he reinvented himself for the internet generation. "Basically, I ended up working on the videos because of the crying Dawson meme," he says.

In the unlikely event that you've missed it, the crying Dawson meme, a GIF (video grab) of Van Der Beek's hilariously over-the-top crying face, is used to mock people all over the internet. "I first found about it when I joined Twitter," says Van Der Beek. "Someone tweeted me a link and before I clicked on it I thought it was going to be some I don't know cool classic shot from the series and instead there was this picture of me crying... it was hilarious. Then I discovered there were whole forums where people would post that picture as a way of mocking the sadness of other people and I just thought 'wow this really is pretty funny'."

Soon after Van Der Beek met with the writers of Funny or Die. "They said very tentatively 'so you know there's this GIF...' and I said 'I know, I love it' so we decided that we could provide people with all kinds of Dawson needs."

Those needs can be seen on the Van Der Meme website, which features the actor doing everything from sarcastically clapping to disco dancing, all with an admirably straight face. "I'd always had that sort of sense of humour but only my friends had really seen that," he says. "Suddenly I had the chance to show people I know how to laugh at myself and my image."

He admits too that his recent marriage (he married second wife, Kimberly, in 2010) and the arrival of his two children, the youngest of whom is just two months old, played a big part in his transformation. "That just showed me what was important," he says. "It gave me a foundation so I realised that everything else didn't matter. I could get back to being who I really was."

And what of that much fantasised about Dawson's Creek reunion, which pops up as internet gossip every six months or so? Van Der Beek laughs. "You know what I love most about that?" he says. "That Michelle [Williams] is always so up for it when they ask." He pauses again, adding with deadpan timing. "Well, of course she is, her character died."

'Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23' begins tomorrow at 9.30pm on E4

According to a new, unauthorised biography, Who's Laughing Now? The Story of Jessie J, not only is The Voice star allegedly a lesbian, she's also had the thumbscrews put on her by her record company, Universal, who apparently forced her to hide her Sapphic ways in favour of a bisexual image or risk her contract.

Judging by what the book's author, Chloe Govan, has written, Jessie had made no secret of her sexuality since realising she was gay in her teens, and was incensed by the demand, which was framed as a way of protecting her interests from "rampant" homophobia: "She was advised not to come out, though. Certain people thought being bi was trendy, exotic and a fashion statement. It would increase her allure."

There's so much wrong with this, it's hard to know where to start with the ideological sledgehammer. But let's kick off with the evidently vexing notion of bisexual and lesbian sexual identities. That "certain people" view a bi identity as less commercially suicidal than a lesbian one is predicated on a belief that anything outside of heterosexuality is aberrant, and therefore a threat to patriarchal social organisation.

That may sound old school but then so are "certain people's" views on the matter, it seems. Why are there fewer out A-list lesbian celebrities than there are out gay celebs? Take a wild guess? Could it be something to do with sexism and the fact that young women are still required to look pretty, and to present as if they are available to men?

The truth is that despite the recent move towards greater tolerance of lesbians, bisexuality is as misunderstood and misrepresented as ever. In one camp we have the folk who think bisexuals are fickle floosies, and in the other there are those who see bisexuality as a bridge to "normal" living because there's a 50/50 chance, theoretically, that the (usually conventionally attractive and young) woman in question may end up being schtupped by a chap.

Of course neither sexuality is better or worse than the other – both exist outside of "the norm", but in recent years, ever since, say, Katy Perry kissed a girl and liked it (and went on to become a global phenomenon as a result) this sexual identity has been hijacked by some, to the detriment of many bisexuals whose sexuality is not taken seriously.

But the allegations about Jessie's sexuality are not news to us at Diva. We've been aware of rumours that she's gay for some time now, just as we are about others. It's certainly not uncommon for us to receive emails from music PRs that read "thanks, but Xxxxx has no press time at present" from the closeted lesbian popstrels' minders we approach (and there are many). Indeed, save for Gossip's wonderful Beth Ditto (on our cover next month) it's nigh on impossible to get A-list lesbian pop stars to agree to grace our cover. It's strange to think that so little has changed since the days of someone like Rock Hudson who had to lead (almost) the same kind of double life over 50 years ago.

When we do strike gold and convince PRs to let us feature their closeted stars, often it's on the condition that we're not to touch on the thorny issue of sexuality, so a question about what it's like to be gay in the heterocentric music biz, or a mention of a same-sex partner or a love song written for a woman is out of bounds.

It's not as though we want to harp on about our cover stars' sex lives anyway – we just want to live in a world where it's not considered "bad for business" to be openly gay.

Jane Czyzselska is the editor of 'Diva'

No, I haven't taken leave of my senses. I'm just sick of interviews conducted in a style more appropriate to the Colosseum than a civilised country. On Newsnight and Radio 4's Today programme, presenters swagger into interviews like lions about to devour cowering Christians. Paxman is the retiarius of interrogators, casting a net over his victims and giving them repeated jabs with his trident while they're tangled up in words.

I think Smith did rather well to keep her temper in the face of a performance – I use the word deliberately – whose chief purpose seemed to be her humiliation. Paxman began with a question she was clearly not able to answer and kept repeating it, with all the incredulity of a prosecution lawyer confronting a wife-beater. It would have been mildly interesting to know when the Government made its decision to postpone an increase in fuel duty, but Smith's reluctance to reveal confidential conversations wasn't nearly as incriminating as Paxman made out.

Confrontation has become the dominant style of current-affairs programmes. I know and like John Humphrys but it's impossible to listen to him, Paxman or Jonathan Dimbleby interrupting yet another politician without wishing they'd shut up. Often the interviewee is on the verge of saying something interesting when the interrogator decides it isn't the answer he wants, and we get another fusillade of interruptions. It doesn't make for a stimulating or informed debate.

But then I don't think that's the purpose. Gladiatorial contests are about one person coming out on top, and the interviewer has all the advantages. He doesn't have to worry about breaking confidences or letting down colleagues, while appalling rudeness is excused as fearless pursuit of the truth. "That's absolute tripe!" Paxman told the Italian journalist Annalisa Piras on Monday, dismissing her views on the Eurozone as though he were a Nobel-winning economist.

If Smith is smarting from her experience, she might want to consider this. When presenters harrumph and cut someone off mid-sentence, they think they're showing intellectual rigour. But it's really a boorish form of populism, which is just what the Colosseum audience loves.

An absentee Perry was honoured in five categories, including favourite female artist, tour headliner, song of the year for ET with Kanye West, music video for LastFriday Night and TV guest star for How I Met Your Mother.

Despite originally being touted by the show's organisers as amongthe nominees expected to attend, the singer-actress told fans on Twitter earlier this week that she would not make it to the show, but she added: "I want to thank u all for voting for me, fingers crossed!"

It would have marked Perry's first public appearance since British actor-comedian Russell Brand filed for divorce last month after 14 months of marriage.

Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2, the final instalment of the magical film series starring Daniel Radcliffe, followed Perry with four wins for favourite movie, action movie, book adaptation and ensemble movie cast, but the film's stars also were not at the ceremony, leaving more screen time on the CBS broadcast for other winners in the show's 43 categories honouring TV, film and music.

Ellen DeGeneres, Nina Dobrev, Chloe Grace Moretz, Adam Levine, Lea Michele and Demi Lovato, who performed Give Your Heart a Break, wereamong the winners on hand to accept their awards selected by internet votes.

"For all the Rachel Berrys out there, this one's for you guys," said Michele, who won as favourite comedy TV actress for her role in Glee.

Emma Stone and Johnny Depp - another no-show - each won two trophies at the ceremony, which was hosted by The Big Bang Theory star Kaley Cuoco. Depp and Stone won the favourite movie actor and actress awards, while Depp was also honoured as favourite animated movie voice for Rango, and Stone was selected as favourite comedic movie actress.

"I moved to LA eight years ago this week with my mum, who's rightthere," Stone said while accepting her pair of crystal trophies. "It isso insane to be standing up here right now. It is hard to describe to you."

Among the TV winners were How I Met Your Mother for TV comedy, Two Broke Girls for new TV comedy, Hot In Cleveland for cable TV comedy,Neil Patrick Harris for TV comedy actor, Supernatural for TV drama and sci-fi/fantasy show, Person Of Interest for new TV drama, Pretty Little Liars for cable TV drama and Nathan Fillion for TV drama actor.

Winners in the movie categories included Hugh Jackman for action star, Bridesmaids for comedy movie, Water For Elephants for drama movie,Adam Sandler for comedic movie actor and Ryan Reynolds as Green Lanternfor favourite superhero. Morgan Freeman was bestowed with the first movie icon award.

The sequel to the incredibly successful Kick-Ass picks up the story of teenager Dave Lizewski and his continuing attempts to be a crime-fighting superhero called Kick-Ass. However, this time around things get nasty with the return of his old foe and self-proclaimed super villain Red Mist. Under the new moniker of ‘The Mother Fucker’, Red Mist takes revenge on Kick-Ass and New York, leaving mayhem in his wake.

Kick-Ass creator Mark Millar says: ‘Book two is as dark as a superhero movie can get, I wanted to show what would really happen if you tried to be a superhero in the real world. In the first one it was as simple as you could get, ending up in hospital for three months. In this one I really wanted to explore the ramifications [of what happens] if a bad guy didn’t like you and knew your secret identity. What they would do to your friends and family? I really wanted to explore all of that in depth and have a superhero’s life torn apart.’

Millar says he has always envisaged Kick-Ass as a trilogy that takes his characters on a journey, so fans can expect a third book. "I think the closest comparison I can get is with the Star Wars trilogy and I’m not even a major Star Wars fan. The structure is so beautiful, it’s the most brilliant structure I’ve seen in a trilogy and I just find myself naturally copying it and that hero’s journey is just timeless. The idea of the guy who starts out rubbish, who gets better, who saves the day at the end."

Inspiration for the character of Kick-Ass came from Millar’s teenage years. "When I should have been doing maths and physics I was thinking about being a superhero. It was kind of a plan I had - even though I lived in Glasgow, not New York."

This didn't hold his imagination back, however. "Maybe you don’t need to come from Krypton or get bitten by a radioactive spider. You can maybe just do some press-ups."

Compared to other superheroes, Kick-Ass is far from archetypal, he is just an ordinary teenager without any special superpowers or a Batmobile, simply longing to help others.

As well as being a well-loved comic book, Kick-Ass was adapted into hugely popular film in 2010 that garnered mainstream appeal. So why has Kick-Ass been so successful? "‘For me, it’s popular because it’s real. It’s from the heart," he says.

"I think the enthusiasm that a writer can have is infectious. Somebody else pointed out to me that he’s the recession superhero. He doesn’t have a Batcave or a billion dollar fortune. He’s just got two sticks and good intentions. He’s as poor a superhero as you can possibly get so he just seems bang on for right now that’s why it caught fire so quickly the way it did."

The other notable character in Kick-Ass is Hit-Girl, also known as Mindy McCready, a real crime-fighting superhero who was played by Chloe Moretz in the film adaption of the first book. Laced with sardonic wit and a foul-mouth, she was trained in combat from an early age by her father. Unlike Kick-Ass she can quickly dispatch an army of gangsters twice the size of her.

Her father was killed in the first book and she has been adopted. In Kick-Ass 2 she has promised her adoptive father that she will leave her superhero days behind and live life like any other 12-year-old girl. She is the most compelling character in Kick-Ass and now has her own comic entitled Hit-Girl which came out last week.

"What’s interesting is that it’s not somebody in a thong and it’s not like a swimsuit model, a 25-year-old or something. [Hit Girl is] a female character who is as de-sexualised as you can possibly get. I think it’s really odd that’s actually sold because I know that Marvel and DC try to make these characters as sexy and as racy-looking as possible and it doesn’t work. It’s weird that the one that has actually broken out is the character who’s completely covered up."

He explains that the inspiration for the character of Hit-Girl stemmed from playing with his daughter in the park where he would time her doing chin-ups and other challenges. He originally wanted to write something child-friendly that his daughter could watch because she was too young to see the adaptation of his comic Wanted.

He says: "I’ll do a thing about a dad and a daughter and it will be really cute, a superhero dad and daughter and within 24 hours it became the most violent superhero story ever."

With the release of at least one superhero film every couple of months, this genre has clearly caught the public’s imagination. This year alone has seen the release of The Amazing Spider-Man, The Avengers and Wrath of the Titans, with The Dark Knight Rises to follow shortly. Why now?

"There is no question that after September 11 these movies started to do really well. In the 1980s and 1990s superhero movies were more misses than hits. You almost always lost money and there was just a very, very rare exception," he says.

"It’s quite interesting that superheroes were created in the depression whenever people needed something to distract them from bad times. […] And then the global economic collapse back in 2008 which seemed to worsen every day. When times are tough people often want to see superheroes, they don’t really want to see real-life drama. They want to see something so fantastical."

Millar is busy with a whole raft of other projects, including a spy project with fellow Kick-Ass producer Matthew Vaughn. Wanted 2 is in the works as is his project Superior which is about a boy with multiple sclerosis who wishes to become a superhero. There are also plans for Supercrooks which Millar describes as a heist movie with super heroes. Meanwhile filming on the sequel to 2010’s Kick-Ass movie will be starting in August and it should be out at the end of next summer.

"My plan over the next 10 years? I want to do what Stan Lee did in the 1960s and bring a whole wave of these characters that can go on and have a life in different media. I love doing this, I love doing comics."

‘Kick-Ass 2’, Mark Millar and John Romita Jnr, Titan Books, £18.99 is out now

The BBFC's guidelines are based on a public consultation conducted every four years, the last of which was in 2009. Language tends to be the least controversial issue for audiences, but the most controversial for film-makers. Loach has wrestled with the delicate sensibilities of the censor before. In 2002, his Palme D'Or-nominated Sweet Sixteen was awarded an 18 certificate for its 20 C-words and 313 F-words, meaning the teenagers portrayed in the film would be unable to see it.

His predicament recalls the row over the certification of Made in Dagenham in 2010. Producer Stephen Woolley was outraged when his film, which told the story of the 1968 women's strike for equal pay at Ford, was given a 15 certificate for its 17 uses of the F-word. He believed younger audiences would benefit from its message of equality and empowerment. "The BBFC surmises that the F-word will deprave or corrupt 13-year-olds," he wrote. "Who are these delicate flowers who have never been in a playground... or heard a rap record?"

In the same year, much to Woolley's chagrin, The King's Speech was awarded a 12A, despite repeated use of the F-word. The BBFC allowed it because it appeared "in a speech-therapy context" in the film. This led to accusations of classism by the censor, which appeared to deem posh "fucks" acceptable, but not working class ones.

Extreme violence, meanwhile, finds its way into 12 certificate films with increasing regularity. This year, the makers of The Hunger Games made cuts to earn a 12A rating, yet the film still features children being brutally killed by other children. The most controversial C-word of recent years was uttered by 11-year-old Chloe Moretz, in the 15-rated Kick Ass (2010); four letters subjected to far more censure than her character's multiple violent murders.

Perhaps it was to avoid such disapproval that 12A blockbuster Avengers Assemble (2012) looked to the past for its single instance of swearing, with a word so long out of service in spoken English that it's actually more shocking to hear: the evil Norse god Loki insults female super-agent Black Widow, calling her a "mewling quim".

In fact, you're unlikely to get a punchline at all unless one of the characters tells a knowingly corny joke, and in that case the whole point is that it isn't funny. It's a distinctively modern mode this, pioneered by programmes such as The Royle Family and Craig Cash's Early Doors, and, far from shying away from banality and tedium – as most other kinds of comedy do – it embraces it affectionately, as the common grain of daily life. From the opening lines of last night's episode – an inconsequential, lopsided conversation about a binman falling over (and then getting up again unharmed) – we knew where we were and, more importantly, what was expected of us. Not hilarity or the guffaw, but fond recognition and a wry smile. By the end of the episode, we knew a bit more: that almost every encounter would begin with "Arroight?" and end with "Laters"; that there would be an undertow of melancholy and disappointment beneath the surface placidity; that the dialogue would be stitched together from clichés, not because the writers can't think of anything better, but because that's mostly how people talk.

The setting is a struggling promenade café in Weston-super-Mare, run (and almost exclusively occupied) by Carol and her daughter, Sarah. Carol's mother has a permanent spot by the door, where she contentedly destroys her knitting. Various regulars drift in and out: Chloe, a cheerfully vacuous hairdresser, Richard, a nurse in an old people's home, who once went out with Sarah and wants to do so again, and Stan, a local florist who has a bit of a thing for Carol but is currently communicating his feelings only in the language of flowers. And, to ruffle this tranquil little tide pool, there's also John, a Porsche-driving London returnee who talks about the town as "the arse end of nowhere" and stirs up the discontents of its inhabitants. Sarah dreams of making it as a writer of children's stories, Richard dreams about getting a car and Kieran, the local living statue, dreams of getting a boyfriend, but for the moment all those hopes look like forlorn ones. And I defy you to get through a conversation about it without someone using the word "warm" or "gentle".

There is a danger here, though not a huge one. The difference between a wittily observed cliché and a flatly repeated one is hazardously small, as is the distinction between calculated eventlessness and the dull kind. Sentiment can easily turn cloying too, as it did in the final minutes here. "Were you happy?" Sarah asks her nan about her long marriage. "God, no... he was a cantankerous old bugger." "Do you miss him?"she continues. "Every day, love, every day." Too neat and too sweet, I think. On the other hand, it's far better to stumble into over-kindness than into cruelty, and the second episode suggests that the slow build of affection doesn't level off. It might take a while, but these characters could become as lovable to us as they already clearly are to their creators.

In Your Money and How They Spend It, Nick Robinson offered an instructive beginner's guide to the budget deficit. It was essentially a study in political dishonesty and the wilful blindness of voters, with short-term decisions taken to win elections generating the kind of liabilities that lose them. It also included one great historical footnote, with Alistair Darling revealing that he'd gone to a crisis meeting of Treasury officials in 2008 straight from a Leonard Cohen concert, and so had been pre-tuned for the mood of millenial gloom that prevailed. "Dance me through the panic till I'm safely gathered in", sang Leonard mournfully, over trading screens flickering red. Best match between music and material this month... and quite possibly this year too.

The truth of Big Fat Gypsy Weddings – as the advertising campaign that promised that this series would be "Bigger. Fatter. Gypsier" – is that it knowingly toys with feeding a social prejudice while taking care to keep its toes just this side of the line. Logically and legally, you can argue, "Gypsier" is no more racist than "more French" or "Dutcher" would be. But all the same Channel 4's marketing department knows perfectly well that the series' main audience will get the message. More to gawp at, more to tut at, more to consolidate that pleasing sense that you are on the right side of respectability and you're free to look down. And if you still maintain that everyone watching is tuning in for a sympathetic explanation of a life lived at an angle to convention, then I'd suggest that you follow a Twitter feed or comment board when the programme is on. One warning, though – it isn't pretty.

It's true that you'd have to watch with a lot of prejudice never to feel sympathy at all. When Chloe went straight from her Holy Communion to visit her father in jail and was turned away from the visitors' centre because they'd been delayed in traffic, you didn't see a Traveller child. You just saw a little girl weeping because her big day had crumbled. And following the scramble of eviction from one site and the race to beat the authorities to the next one, you got a sense of how harried life can be. Even then, though, for every stereotype Big Fat Gypsy Weddings disturbs, it reinforces another two. They're very clever about not crossing that line. There's not a frame that couldn't be defended as just a transcription of the facts. But you can't help wondering if the nuanced truth of Traveller life lies anywhere near the line at all. Or if nearly as many people would watch if they weren't teetering so close to falling.

Watching Prisoners' Wives, I couldn't help wondering what would have happened if Chloe had made it in time to see her dad. Searching her would have been a nightmare, given that she had enough room under her skirt for a collapsible ladder and a getaway car. The proxy humiliations of incarceration are one of the consistent themes in this series, which continues to impress. It does raise one question, though. We're invited to sympathise with all the men in prison but permitted to loathe the criminals outside it, including a memorably nasty drug dealer. If he goes inside, do we have to care about him too?

Richard MacAndrew

Steeple Aston, Oxfordshire

I have just listened to a mealy-mouthed representative of the Financial Services Authority refer to the latest banking scam (fiddling the Libor rate) as "misconduct", and learnt that Bob Diamond is declining his multimillion-pound bonus.

If my staff had fiddled figures that resulted in me or my company making yet more buckets of money at others' expense, I suspect I would be suffering more serious consequences than that. In the circumstances I'd be only too pleased to decline my annual bonus – if I had one.

If no one is above the law, there seem to be those who come as close as to make little difference.

Colin Bland


Once again we see bankers causing damage to our economy, both on a national scale and also to every customer, yet little seems to happen to them. Our society seems to be almost reaching the point that the French were at prior to the Revolution, where the aristocracy were immune to taxation and almost immune to the law.  

How long before the members of Britain's "hard-working" middle and lower classes reach the same conclusion as the French did 200 years ago?

John Broughton

Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire

The Prime Minister is concerned about possible damage to the City of London from a eurozone "banking union". Given recent events, he should realise that the greatest threat to the City is the rampant greed and incompetence of its leading financial institutions.

Meredydd Morris

Bodorgan, Ynys Môn

A life on benefits should not be an option

The letters you have published (27 June) on the Prime Minister's efforts to return this country to something approaching financial health are snide and negative. The writers seem to have wilfully misunderstood what is being attempted – that people who are capable of working and supporting themselves and their families should be required to do so.

I agree wholeheartedly that a civilised society should provide decent healthcare, education and other public services to its citizens, and that there should also be a financial safety net for those in genuine need. What is not acceptable is that a life on benefits should be on offer as a lifestyle choice.

David Cameron's personal financial circumstances are irrelevant to this debate. Something has to be done to reverse the fortunes of this country, or we will end up like the eurozone countries who thought that there would always be someone else to pay the bills. It's time for a reality check.

Katherine Scholfield

Roborough, Devon

You present as a huge injustice the Conservative idea that the taxpayer stop paying huge sums to let unruly youth escape the tyranny of being civilised in their parents' homes. For many of us it was that "tyranny", or reluctance to be civilised, which made us get a job as soon as possible after leaving school.

Your two under-25s illustrating the cruelty of the idea (25 June) are hardly deserving of sympathy. If they are typical, they illustrate better the perils of teenage pregnancy, as both are single mothers under the age of 20. Despite sex education in schools, neither apparently had the sense to insist on a condom for protection against pregnancy and disease from men unreliable enough to have disappeared since. They are estranged from their parents for reasons not revealed.

Of the two, Claudette Shay, has at least found a job. The whole experience may have made her a responsible member of the community. Stacey Prigmore lives entirely on benefits and believes that the withdrawal of housing benefit would make it impossible for her to be "independent". How is it independent to have her rent and other benefits paid by every taxpayer in the United Kingdom? She is dependent on every one of us.

She whinges that living on benefits is tough. She should know that it is pretty tough having to pay them.

Tim Major

Ansty, West Sussex

The idea of disallowing the under 25s housing benefit is not only immoral but self-defeating. All it will cause is a sharp rise in homelessness. This idea that they should stay with their parents until they can afford to buy their own homes is utter tosh.

What about people who have no family, what about those who cannot stay with family for abuse reasons? Are these people to be just put on the street?

First, it was the disabled who the government decided were the cause of the monetary problems, and now it's the under 25s who get the blame for a shambolic government. Who's next, the children, for being born into a country that won't, can't, doesn't want to support them?

Matthew Laughton


Does David Cameron know what he is talking about, apart from "going back to basics"; does he have any evidence or is he just spinning to appease those Tory MPs who want to replace him?

The multi-millionaires in the Cabinet obviously do not know what it is like to be out of work. It is a desperate struggle to make ends meet from week to week. Most people who are without work are not there through choice, but because of poor decisions made by the government and their funders, the bankers.

Duncan Anderson

Immingham, Lincolnshire

I was delighted when I heard the Prime Minister calling for the ending of Britain's "something-for-nothing culture". Because this obviously means a harsh government crackdown on all large-scale financial parasites: the idle rich, tax-evaders, the aristocracy and the Royal Family, corporations in receipt of subsidies and tax-breaks, bankers ....

(I hope I got the right end of the stick? This is who the Prime Minster is gunning for, isn't it?)

Dr Rupert Read


Older generation had it tough too

What is it that people have against my generation? John Kampfner was joining the chorus in his article "Greece may be the epicentre …" (18 June) when he said that "the post-war, baby-boom older generation" have "a sense of entitlement".

Our generation started in a world of extensive rationing of basic food such as milk, bread and potatoes. When the word "austerity" is used today, please look at the picture of the late 1940s and 1950s; there really is no comparison.

We experienced high unemployment in the late 1970s and up to the mid-1980s, together with rampant inflation of more than 20 per cent during that time. Those of us who did gain a mortgage had initially to save for a significant deposit and had interest rates usually well above 10 per cent. We did not see our home as some alternative form of credit card facility.

As we experience retirement now, we face some of the poorest pension arrangements of similar economies in the EU. Those of us who tried to save for our old age now have meagre interest rates, usually below the inflation level.

Peter Thompson

Tarleton, West Lancashire

Aren't older people usually richer than younger? I was poor when I was young. At nearly 70 I am poor no longer. But that's a more or less normal progression, isn't it? We leave home with nothing, work for fifty years and, if we're able and sensible, save or invest anything we can spare after living costs.

I don't think I have "stolen" anything from younger generations, any more than my elders stole from me.

Sara Neill

Tunbridge Wells, Kent

Rescuing girls from gangs

The new parliamentary inquiry into the sexual exploitation of children has shone a light on the dangers of internet grooming and social media, as well as a worrying trend of vulnerable young girls being exploited within Britain's gang culture.

Sexual violence against young girls in gangs is a hidden issue and at Westminster Council we are in the process of recruiting a new officer to identify who has been affected and provide them with support in conjunction with our wider gangs strategy, launched last year.

The Government's announcement earlier this year of £1.2m investment to help girls affected by gangs was good news, but it's a drop in the ocean in terms of tackling the true extent of sexual abuse in gangs – particularly since it costs about £4,000 to intensively treat each young victim of severe sexual abuse.

We also need to recognise that the influence of social networking and the way women are portrayed in the wider media are key factors in young girls becoming vulnerable to exploitation at the hands of gangs.

There is no quick fix to this issue, but we need the Government to commit to longer-term funding so local authorities can provide young victims with the complex support network they require – whether that be housing, counselling, therapy or other services. If we leave this problem unresolved, the generational impact will be felt for years to come.

Cllr Nickie Aiken

Cabinet member for children, young people and community protection, Westminster City Council

Paxman and the minister

Joan Smith misses the point of Jeremy Paxman's haranguing of Chloe Smith on Newsnight ("Give the viewers a break, Paxo", 28 June). If senior ministers (in this case Osborne and Alexander) don't have the balls to front up their own mismanagement, why should Paxman go lightly on the sacrificial lamb?

Robert Stewart

Wilmslow, Cheshire

Joan Smith is right to criticise the boorish interviewing style of certain TV and radio presenters. But I'm astonished she didn't mention a relevant fact: all the presenters she identifies as behaving badly thus are male.

It is indefensible that male presenters still dominate current affairs. We need equal representation – if only to find out whether women can behave just as badly.

Dr Alex May


Price of glory

Terence Blacker (26 June) is right: how absurd to hope to put serious prices on landscapes, Even on buildings. Back in the late Sixties, the Department of Housing and Local Government wanted St Pancras Station and Hotel not listed – it made Sir John Summerson (then the guru of architectural taste) feel sick every time he passed it. Wayland Kennet (junior minister in the Lords) insisted on them being listed Grade 1. Value then to the officials? Nil. Value now? One of London's glories.

Elizabeth Young

London W2

Choosing to die

No one wants someone else to feed them or to wipe their backside ("Dementia? I'd rather kill myself", says Simpson, 27 June). My parents died this year. Both had dementia. Neither would have wanted to be in that condition. Does John Simpson really think that there came a day when one of my parents might have said "Oops, I'm not quite as sharp as I was yesterday. Better take those tablets"?

Carolyn Broadhurst


Early flight

You report about Aborigine paintings 28,000 years old in Australia (26 June). The report reveals that not only were those ancient people fine artists, but also aeronautical engineers: "The team has found evidence that the site – accessible only by helicopter – was occupied 45,000 years ago." By now, presumably, those clever Aborigines have also invented spaceships and moved to another planet.

Jon Summers

Petton, Devon

I have two sons and a daughter who are all sports-mad and love tennis, I have three cousins who have won multiple Wimbledon doubles titles and I live just around the corner from a tennis club with well-maintained, floodlit all-weather courts.

The attitude, genetics and facilities are all in place, so one would think that we are well-placed to produce a candidate for the future top 100. Sadly, it's not going to happen because a family membership at the tennis club costs more than £360 a year, and although I earn a good salary, the cost of bringing up three children in the South-east of England means we just can't afford it.

We do play at the free municipal courts in the town but they are five miles away, there are only two courts and they are very poorly maintained and, of course, without floodlights.

Surely some of the vast amount of money generated by the LTA could be channelled into subsidising children's membership of tennis clubs. If there is any left over after that they could spend it on tennis infrastructure in schools and on free public courts.

In the UK, we have to deal with poor weather, short winter days and time-poor parents, Surely the LTA can use its funds to alleviate the one negative it can control, the very high cost of access to tennis courts.

Craig Black

Maresfield, East Sussex

When did the craze for instant interviewing after a sporting event begin?

Following the Derby, we get a morning-suited broadcaster holding his hat as he rushes up to the successful jockey still astride his horse. No football game is complete without a string of sweaty players, articulate or otherwise, being questioned about the match. And now, with television the all-important god of the event, the Wimbledon finalist, whether winner or loser, no matter the emotion evolving, is subject to inquisition.

Why not celebritise all areas of human activity? At the next Coronation, perhaps Clare Balding will be on hand as the new monarch leaves the Abbey, ready with the inevitable, "How did the anointing go, Your Majesty?" Or we could have a surgeon in mask and gown emerging from the theatre to deal with, "Just take us through the difficulties of removing Tracy's spleen".

Edward Thomas


In sport, women now compete in disciplines previously reserved for men: they box, weightlift, run marathons and compete in many endurance events.

The presumption is that they have stamina equal to their male counterparts. Why then, in tennis, are they still restricted to three-set matches when the men must labour through five?

Peter Glover

Rayleigh, Essex

I'm assuming those criticising Andy Murray's lack of ability and big-match mentality are the second- or third-best in the world in their own professions?

Mark Piggott

London N19

Does anyone else feel that Roger Federer, if he just put a bit of effort into it, could be quite good?

John Wheaver

Wellingborough, Northampshire

All religions are obsessed with sexual behaviour

John Sweeney (article, 9 July) claims ex-Scientologists report that the cult's leader, David Miscavige, is "obsessed with sex and especially other people's sex lives".

Surely this is a common feature among religions and their leaders? Has John Sweeney not noticed how the Catholic and Anglican churches and their respective leaderships have been, throughout history, and remain to this day, utterly obsessed with what consenting adults might be getting up to behind the bedroom curtains?

Given both these churches have been mired in scandals concerning the rape of children by their clergy, many would suggest their concerns should be more inwardly focused. Motes and beams, and all that. Scientology has many unique faults, but an obsessive and destructive voyeurism is by no means unique. It is unfair to single out it or its leader in this regard.

Alistair McBay

National Secular Society, London WC1

In your article on Scientology (9 July), you quote me as describing John Sweeney's report of my comments in Parliament as being "selective".

Mr Sweeney quotes me as saying of Scientology that, "It is not a cult". The actual words I used in Parliament were that Scientology has been able to broadcast on television by "satisfying the Independent Television Commission that it is not a cult".

To say he was quoting selectively was an understatement.

Charles Hendry MP

House of Commons

Osborne should remember Keynes

The latest quantitative easing démarche indicates how desperate the government is to pump demand into the economy, and of course it may possibly work, to some degree. But why on earth can George Osborne not bring himself to take the direct route from A to B, namely either spend the money directly or cut taxes? (I cannot take credit for this suggestion, as J M Keynes got there first.) This is a clear case of pure right-wing dogma getting in the way of the national welfare.

Jim Bowman

South Harrow, Middlesex

I hope that the parliamentary inquiry into the unpleasant activities of the banking community will also be allowed time to take apart the appalling misuse of the English language by the likes of Mr Diamond. He has talked constantly about his obscenely high level of pay as being "compensation".

"For what?" we may ask.

Steve Clarke

Portree, Isle of Skye

For the good name of Barclays to be restored, I would propose a radical solution: go back to the future. Fire the entire board and key senior managers and replace them with Quakers to revive the original Quaker owners' precepts of honesty, integrity and plain dealing, from the top down.

Elizabeth Marshall


Adrian Hamilton (6 July) plays down the difference between a parliamentary and a judicial inquiry. The main difference is that if you lie to the first you get away with it but if you lie to the second you are in contempt of court.

Professor Raymond Levy

King's College, London

In the unlikely event that I get into legal trouble, can I be investigated by a Commons select committee please?

Bob Morgan

Thatcham, West Berkshire

Undemocratic Lords reform

What right has the Coalition to lecture anyone, least of all Syria, over what it means to be a democracy when they are bartering our constitution away as if it consisted of goodies in an egg-and-spoon race?

The "reforms" put forward by Nick Clegg for the House of Lords are illiberal. Why are the elections in the House of Lords concerned by a system which ensures proportional representation of (and therefore dominance by) the political parties?

But, should any Tory MP wish to understand fully the ramifications of the reforms by not rushing them through this parliament, then the Lib Dems will take their ball back by blocking plans to redraw parliamentary boundaries and slash MPs from 650 to 600.

When did we come to this? If these so called reforms have proved anything then it is that Rowan Williams was right to question what democracy means in the context of the remarkable speed the Coalition is committing us to radical, long-term policies for which no one voted.

To alter our constitution without reference to the electorate is scandalous and should be resisted by anyone who truly values our democracy.

Julie Partridge

London SE15

Data loss can wreck your books

Although the loss of all the back issues of 3:AM (report, 7 July) may be unfortunate, it's not the first time business has been wrecked through electronic data loss. Causes run from not paying fees on time to the servers being shut down after being found to be hosting some one else's illegal content.

There is a growing, if deeply boring, literature on the goverance on data retention. I know, I've written a draft European standard on the subject, but the starting point for this is the Trustworthy Repositories Audit and Checklist, which gives the criteria for trusting your data to the ether. Read the licence on your Kindle, and ask what happens to your books if Amazon goes out of business.

Sean Barker


God particle? Just ask Tony

Another prime example of profligacy: it has reportedly cost $9bn to discover the God Particle. Surely to God, at a fraction of the cost the answer could have been found with a quick tweet or text to the Office of Tony Blair and its Supreme Being ?

Martin Wallis

Shipdham, Norfolk

Foreign language opens doors

This is precisely why it is important to learn other languages (letters, passim). Just from a simple train warning sign we can see that there are significant cultural differences between peoples, and if we speak only English we understand only ourselves. Voltaire said that for each language we learn we are a new person. It is also true that only by learning other peoples' languages can we begin to understand other people. Try reading and watching the news in German and French as I do. Makes the BBC look another world.

Martin Stokes

Ashtead, Surrey

The freaks of fashion

Ah, what fun at the Spring 2013 men's fashion collections and a big thank you to Adam Welch (9 July) for bringing these to our attention. The accompanying photos of male models contrived, in their misery, to appear variously as demented psychopaths or charity-shop refugees, conveying the message that however ridiculous anyone might feel about their dubious wardrobe there is always someone who will think it's great.

Peter Coghlan

Broadstone, Dorset

Classy clanger

All this talk about national ranking that Mr Gove is keen to introduce for maths made me remember the time I brought my end-of-term report home. I must have been nine or 10 years old, and while handing it to my mother I proudly exlaimed, "Look: 27/28; I only got one wrong". My mother looked at me with great affection and said, "No darling, that is where you are in the class."

Chloe Pearse


Query for Noah

I know how to start rain: I just clean my car. But how can I make the rain stop?

Tony Wood

Farnborough, Hampshire

Breasts continue to be debated, frequently in an unhelpful way, most often by people who don’t have them; photographs of women on holiday are making great sport for headlines about shifting weight for the New Year; and – although it’s funny – the viral video doing the rounds for a fake beauty ad for an improving product called “Fotoshop, by Adobé” has a shifty undertone about a lady’s supposed obsession with looking perfect.

So, not a great week to be a woman. And now we get the shortlist for the Orange Rising Star award at the forthcoming Baftas. All five on the list are male.

I don’t often get all hurrumph-ish about such matters and the idea of quotas makes me feel distinctly uneasy, but 2011 wasn’t exactly a year without stellar film performances by women. Let’s look back...

Since Bafta doesn’t limit its award to those born in the UK, there’s no reason to exclude the dazzling Emma Stone, Noomi Rapace, Jennifer Lawrence, Rooney Mara, Chloe Moretz, Hailee Steinfeld or Jessica Chastain.

From arthouse fare like The Tree of Life and True Grit to multiplex pleasers like Hugo and Sherlock Holmes, they have delighted us.

Let’s suppose we had to choose from home talent. What about Felicity Jones or Saoirse Ronan? This year’s most versatile actress on the up escalator is Olivia Colman, wry and warm in Rev, quaking and damaged in Tyrannosaur.

Unlike many awards at this time of year (whose main criteria for winning is sentiment and past glories), these women are bursting with potential – I can’t wait to see what all of the above do next, from kids’-movie-for-adults The Hunger Games (Lawrence) to the heartbreaking Like Crazy (Jones).

Apart from their towering talent, one thing I’ve noticed about all of these women is that not one of them looks in the least “surgically enhanced”. They are all exquisite, of course, but not necessarily in the way that conforms to the tired old “blonde, pneumatic”. Wouldn’t it be marvellous if these women, hugely admired by cinema-goers, if not the Bafta judges, finally turned attention away from cookie-cutter beauty and towards celebrating what comes naturally? And if, as a byproduct, breast enhancement returned to a service for medical reasons, due to lack of interest.

Meanwhile, it’s worth noting that yesterday lunchtime I went to buy my 13-year-old daughter a bra – not as an affectation. She needs one.

The bras in the range for youngsters were almost all quite substantially padded. Still, after years of complaints from parents. Ugh.

So, not a great week to be a woman. And now we get the shortlist for the Orange Rising Star award at the forthcoming Baftas. All five on the list are male.

I don't often get all hurrumph-ish about such matters and the idea of quotas makes me feel distinctly uneasy, but 2011 wasn't exactly a year without stellar film performances by women. Let's look back... Since Bafta doesn't limit its award to those born in the UK, there's no reason to exclude the dazzling Emma Stone, Noomi Rapace, Jennifer Lawrence, Rooney Mara, Chloe Moretz, Hailee Steinfeld or Jessica Chastain.

From arthouse fare like The Tree of Life and True Grit to multiplex pleasers like Hugo and Sherlock Holmes, they have delighted us.

Let's suppose we had to choose from home talent. What about Felicity Jones or Saoirse Ronan? This year's most versatile actress on the up escalator is Olivia Colman, wry and warm in Rev, quaking and damaged in Tyrannosaur.

Unlike many awards at this time of year (whose main criteria for winning is sentiment and past glories), these women are bursting with potential – I can't wait to see what all of the above do next, from kids'-movie-for-adults The Hunger Games (Lawrence) to the heartbreaking Like Crazy (Jones).

Apart from their towering talent, one thing I've noticed about all of these women is that not one of them looks in the least "surgically enhanced". They are all exquisite, of course, but not necessarily in the way that conforms to the tired old "blonde, pneumatic". Wouldn't it be marvellous if these women, hugely admired by cinema-goers, if not the Bafta judges, finally turned attention away from cookie-cutter beauty and towards celebrating what comes naturally? And if, as a by-product, breast enhancement returned to a service for medical reasons, due to lack of interest.

Meanwhile, it's worth noting that yesterday lunchtime I went to buy my 13-year-old daughter a bra – not as an affectation. She needs one.

The bras in the range for youngsters were almost all quite substantially padded. Still, after years of complaints from parents. Ugh.

The rhetorical question with Mr T is the one asked in the Supergran theme song: is there nothing that he cannae do? But what on earth will he do? Lesser men would regard his vindication over Mr Assad, for whom we learn he wished to fix an honorary knighthood, as a cue to bank a matchless reputation for geopolitical nous, bow out of public affairs, and devote himself to pleasure. Yet this is too colossal a figure to rest on his altruistic laurels, and it is agonising to watch him beg for seemly work in interviews like Saturday's cri de coeur with the Financial Times.

From Lionel Barber's wry references to Mr T's eagerness to pose for the camera, and from his own perplexed tone at being overlooked for important posts, you suspect his fictional role model is an even earlier paradigm of broken dreams than Yosser. Mr Tony, ever ready for his close up, is the Norma Desmond of disregarded global statesmen. He is still big. It's the world that got small.

Not everyone agrees that Chloe's Newsnight appearance was a fiasco. The Guardian's Michael White thought she did fine, ending his thoughts with a cheering "Well done, Smithy!" Tremendous stuff. In Britain, Michael is almost a lone practitioner of that style of punditry which automatically takes the contra-intuitive line in the quest to appear above the fray and fearsomely individualistic. It's a more popular journalistic form in the US, where various geniuses have explained why the survival of the Affordable Care Act is a catastrophe for Obama, but we don't get enough of it here. Well done, Whitey!

It's hard to disagree with that. It would be no surprise now to find the former PM whispering, "I could do that" in Graeme Souness's shell-like in a Sky Sports studio.

The rhetorical question with Mr T is the one asked in the Supergran theme song: is there nothing that he cannae do? But what on earth will he do? Lesser men would regard his vindication over Mr Assad, for whom we learn he wished to fix an honorary knighthood, as a cue to bank a matchless reputation for geopolitical nous, bow out of public affairs, and devote himself to pleasure. Yet this is too colossal a figure to rest on his altruistic laurels, and it is agonising to watch him beg for seemly work in interviews like Saturday's cri de coeur with the Financial Times.

From his perplexed tone at being overlooked for important posts, you suspect his fictional role model is an even earlier paradigm of broken dreams than Yosser. Mr Tony, ever ready for his close up, is the Norma Desmond of disregarded global statesmen. He is still big. It's the world that got small.

Take some advice on legal affairs, Ed

If that erstwhile barrister wants to make himself useful, Mr Tony might advise Ed Miliband on legal affairs. On the weekend, seeking a clever contrast with bankers who go unpunished after costing us untold billions, Ed mentioned that people who shoplift goods worth £50 "go straight to prison". No they do not. It may be an engaging fantasy with Anthony Worrall-Thompson in mind, but they seldom go as far as court. If they do, a small fine, or community service for repeat offenders, is as draconian as it gets. Ire towards the bankers hardly needs inflaming with babyish drivel, and Little Ed is directed to Christopher Hitchens's fabled rebuke to his friend Martin Amis. Don't. Be. Silly.

Marcos makes his mark

Sporting Villain of the Week is Marcos Baghdatis, who effectively gifted Andy Murray the last two games on Saturday night to ensure their match finished just minutes after that gloriously daffy 11pm curfew. The Cypriot robbed a viewing public of the worst mob violence in Centre Court history. Had the match been postponed, crowd mentality psychologists would have regarded a slow handclap as inevitable, while three deranged spinsters in Come On Tim! T-shirts would have had a crack at ironic hissing.

Do us a favour, Nadine

So far as our most beloved Nadine Dorries, we here at SOD (Save Our Dorries) HQ begin to feel like Jehovah in the joke about the synagogue-goer who week after week begs Him to win the lottery. After the fourth prayer, the clouds part and a basso profundo voice thunders, "Hymie, for heaven's sake, meet me halfway. Buy a f****** ticket".

Nadine's Mid-Beds seat will vanish at the next election, but she does nothing to help us find her a replacement by lacerating George Osborne for his cowardice in throwing Chloe Smith to the Paxonian wolves in the Mail on Sunday. It's a fair point, but it isn't doing SOD any favours. Nadine, for heaven's sake, meet us halfway. Buy a f****** gag. That or cross the floor, and join George Galloway on the Respect bench opposite.

Bless you, Michael

Not everyone agrees that Chloe's Newsnight appearance was a fiasco. The Guardian's Michael White thought she did fine, ending his thoughts with a cheering "Well done Smithy!" In Britain, Michael is almost a lone practitioner of that style of punditry which takes the contra-intuitive line in the quest to appear above the fray and fearsomely individualistic. It's a more popular journalistic form in the US, where various geniuses have explained why the survival of the Affordable Care Act is a catastrophe for Obama, but we don't get enough of it here. Well done, Whitey!

Dawn Makin, 35, pleaded guilty at Preston Crown Court to the manslaughter of Chloe Burke on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

The body of the youngster was found with stab wounds at the family home in Lea Mount Drive, Bury, Greater Manchester, on February 17last year.

Makin, who worked as a nurse, was at the scene when police arrived and was taken to hospital, where she has remained since.

It is understood she had attempted to take her own life.

She was later charged with her daughter's murder.

Her plea to manslaughter was accepted by the Crown Prosecution Service today.

Appearing in court in a wheelchair, she was bailed to appear again at Preston Crown Court for sentencing on August 30.


"I was desperate and literally had no money," she recalls. When Maria appeared in court she thought she was going to jail. It was her second offence. She had already been convicted for benefit fraud. Struggling to make ends meet, Maria had taken an extra job working night shifts without declaring it. She had done it for a year, over-claiming £40 a week.

But Maria, who is 49, was one of the lucky ones. Some 10,181 women were put behind bars in 2011 and the population of Britain's women's prisons has more than doubled over the past 15 years. Maria, however, was sentenced to attend something called the Inspire project, a ground-breaking initiative run by a women's centre near her home in Brighton.

Similar projects are being pioneered in Bradford, Glasgow, Calderdale, Worcester and London to find more effective ways of stopping women from offending than the traditional prison system affords. At the centres, women undergo a detailed individual assessment and then are given help with a range of problems including drug and alcohol misuse, parenting and budgeting skills, debt, housing and employment problems, anger management, and mental and physical health problems.

The aim is to address the root causes of crime more effectively – and more cost-effectively – than prison. The approach works. The average court-directed order at the Together Women Project in Bradford costs between £750 and £1,000 per woman per year – compared with the £56,415 a year it costs to keep a woman in jail. It has a compliance rate of 80 per cent. And it has reduced reoffending to less than 10 per cent compared to a national average of 62 per cent.

Funding for these centres grew out of the recommendations of a major report commissioned by the then Labour Government from Baroness Jean Corston in 2007 into how to improve the way the criminal justice system deals with women offenders. "The vast majority of women offenders are not dangerous," it said. Only those comparatively few women who are a danger to others need be locked up.

There was cross-party approval when it recommended fundamental reform which included developing a network of centres to support and supervise more and better punishments in the community. It also recommended improved sentencing and reconfiguring the prison system to close big women's prisons and replace them with smaller units better able to address the re-offending problem. They would also house mothers nearer to home so their children could visit more.

But although the Government accepted 40 of Corston's 43 recommendations it has stalled on implementing its biggest reforms. In the five years since the report "little progress has yet been made," says the umbrella group of 21 campaign groups in the Corston Independent Funders' Coalition.

"Everyone agrees we need fewer women in prison but nothing happens," says Juliet Lyon of the Prison Reform Trust. So how has this impasse come about?

Short sentences do not work

Why are more women in jail? Most of the rise comes from a significant increase in the severity of sentences. Just 10 per cent of women convicted of an indictable offence were sent to prison in 1996. A decade later the figure had risen to 15 per cent. "Not since the mid-19th century has our prison system held as many women as it does today," says the Chief Inspector of Prisons, Nick Hardwick.

"We've seen an incredible ratcheting up of sentencing in Britain in the last 20 years," says the barrister and equality campaigner Helena Kennedy QC. "It began with Michael Howard [under the Conservatives] but then Labour joined in with a Dutch auction of who could be toughest. It has created a sense among magistrates and judges of what's expected of them as the press constantly berate judges for soft sentences. Despite the drawing up of sentencing guidelines there's been a tabloidisation of the whole sentencing process."

Some types of crime – particularly centred on drugs – have increased but, in the main, women are being jailed more often for comparatively minor offences like shoplifting and benefit fraud. They are what Corston called "low level 'nuisance' offending" often driven by the woman's need to provide for her family or to fund an addiction. A quarter of those jailed had no previous convictions.

Yet two thirds of the 10,181 women sentenced to prison in 2011 served sentences of six months or significantly less. In 2008, the most recent year for which full statistics are available, 3,338 women were sent to prison for three months or less. Another 986 women went inside for less than four weeks. And 139 got less than 10 days in jail, sometimes for offences like not paying their council tax.

Such short sentences are extraordinarily ineffective. They appease those sections of public opinion which demand retributive punishment. But they allow no time for serious work on reform and rehabilitation strategies. "A six-week sentence may involve two weeks detox, two weeks to stabilise medication and two weeks to prepare for release," admits civil servant Debra Baldwin. "So there is no time for prison to do much more."

And such short sentences are not subject to any form of statutory supervision on release. "Most women offenders leave prison still encumbered by the debt, mental health, or substance abuse problems with which they entered," says Nick Hardwick. "It is no surprise that the majority go on to re-offend."

Indeed the problem is getting worse. Reconviction rates have risen for women. Short sentences have the worst rate of recidivism; almost two-thirds of those who have served sentences of less than 12 months, are re-convicted within a year of release.

"If women are in for selling drugs or sex, many go back to it straight away when they get out," says Juliet Lyon of the Prison Reform Trust. "In the 1990s the reoffending rate was 40 per cent; now it's over 50 per cent. They get more dependent on the institution and less capable of coping outside." The idea that you have to be tougher on repeat offenders doesn't work with drugs, adds Helena Kennedy.

Intensive interventions make a demonstrable difference. In the Mother and Baby Units inside prisons, which can house a total of just 80 mothers at one time, the intensive skills tuition reduces reoffending. At Styal prison in Cheshire, KarenMoorcroft, project manager of the mother and baby unit run by Action forChildren, says: "The rate of those who return to prison is around 52 per cent in the general prison population but just 15 per cent in the unit." The reoffending rate for women on sentences shorter than 12 months rises to 62 per cent.

The same is true with punishment in the community. In South Ayrshire, 37 per cent of women offenders breached their community service orders until the children's charity Barnardo's introduced parenting, truancy and debt counselling, along with housing and employment support. Breaches then dropped by almost two-thirds.

Many of the women in our prisons are, in Nick Hardwick's words, "repeat petty offenders, trapped in a cycle of deprivation, disadvantage, drug abuse and crime that the prison system is conspicuously failing to break". Very short prison sentences served little purpose except to further disrupt sometimes already chaotic lives. "Prisons – particularly as they are currently run," he says, "are simply the wrong place for so many of the distressed, damaged or disturbed women they hold."

How to cut the cost of prison

The Inspire project in Brighton works because it understands that. "We are working with people who have been though a lot of trauma in their own lives and quite often the women are very vulnerable," says Sara Hughes, an Inspire case worker.

"Obviously they have been convicted of a crime but often they are victims of crime themselves." Many also live in poor circumstances. "The project is really about helping people break out of that cycle of crime, substance misuse, domestic violence and homelessness. Sending them to prison would only compound their problems," she adds.

This is not special pleading. National statistics offer shocking confirmation. More than half of women in UK prisons have suffered domestic violence. One in three has experienced sexual abuse. One in four has been in care. Their levels of education are very low: 74 per cent left school at 16 or before. They have less than half the academic qualifications of the general population. Almost half have not worked in the past five years.

To all of that must be added extremely high levels of drug use: almost 60 per cent have used drugs daily in the six months before prison. Their physical and psychological health is poor. Almost half the incidents of self-harm in prison are by women, even though they constitute around five per cent of the total prison population. Evidence suggests that community sentences are far better than prison at enabling women to tackle the triggers of their criminal behaviour – such as substance abuse and mental health issues – while reducing the level of disruption caused to their families. Such problems, said Baroness Corston, "are all far more likely to be resolved through casework, support and treatment than by being incarcerated in prison."

The Brighton Women's Centre project is run by five charities which work closely with the probation service. The probation officers suggest to local magistrates and judges which women might benefit from Inspire as an alternative to prison.

To be considered the women must be classed as a low risk to the public.

And yet Inspire is not a soft option. "We have had people who have done prison a number of times and been unfazed by it," says Helen Race, a project case worker. "But when they have had to stop and reflect on their actions they have found this very challenging. Unlike prison it requires women to address the causes of their crime, the consequences of their actions, their role within the community and that it could change.

Mother-of-three Sue Martin, 41, was referred to Brighton women's centre after being convicted of benefit fraud. Sue, a nursery worker, had worked extra hours over the summer holidays without declaring the income. She was prosecuted two years ago for benefit fraud after receiving "a couple of hundred" extra pounds in family tax credits. She was terrified she would be separated by prison from her children, now aged 17, 15 and nine. Instead she was sentenced to pay back the money and attend sessions at Inspire.

"The project helped me resolve a lot of my problems. My whole personal life was pretty grim at the time. My partner was very abusive and I wanted to leave him," he says. She had taken the extra work to build a fund to run away. "Although the conviction was just awful it is still the best thing that has happened in the long term. A domestic violence case worker here helped me resolve a lot of things. We also worked on my parenting. My daughter was then 13 but because of the situation with my then-partner she had lost all respect for me and was getting into all sorts of risky behaviours. I think that if I'd been jailed my daughter would have ended up following suit. But this project gave me the tools to change my life."

After the Corston report, similar projects were funded by the Ministry of Justice across the country. But there are not enough of them, nor are they evenly spread geographically. Funding has been cut and the centres stagger from one year to the next financially. Next year funding of such centres will pass from central to local government, says Rachel Halford of the charity Women in Prison, and there is no guarantee that the cash will continue.

"Women offenders are generally a high priority with ministers," says Debra Baldwin, the senior civil servant responsible for women's prisons in the Ministry of Justice. "It is a priority to reduce reoffending among women."

One big problem, she says, "is that the money for these various services and initiatives come from different pots". The prison system, probation service, Department of Health and local authority social services departments are all involved. "So a cost in one is not offset by a commensurate saving in the same budget, but in a different budget entirely. That is one of the real challenges on where do you break the cycle of intergenerational crime."

What that means is that "civil servants are back in their comfort silos", says Baroness Corston, who tried to build links between different Government departments to prevent such budget myopia.

Such thinking is short-sighted, according to the New Economics Foundation which conducted a study of women and the criminal justice system. It concluded that imprisoning mothers for non-violent offences carries a massive cost to the state in extra benefits and unpaid taxes from the diminished life chances inflicted upon the children of prisoners. "It is difficult to understand what value is being delivered for the billions of pounds being spent in the criminal justice system," the report said.

By contrast there are huge benefits from investing in alternatives to prison. "Even small reductions in re-offending translate into significant savings," it said. Every pound invested in alternatives to prison generates £14 of additional benefits to society within 10 years through reduced unemployment, ill health and family breakdown. "If alternatives to prison were to achieve an additional reduction of just six per cent in reoffending, the state would recoup the investment required to achieve this in just one year."

Clearly the Government is alive to the question of cost-effectiveness. Earlier this year ministers published a consultation document which revealed that ministers want to introduce a "payment by results" system for running community sentences and want it to be working by 2015.

Prison reformers have mixed views on the idea. While welcoming the increased commitment to punishment in the community they have reservations about payment by results.

"You only get paid if people on your courses don't re-offend at all," says Roma Hooper of the campaign group Make Justice Work which gave evidence to the Commons Select Committee Inquiry on Women Offenders this month. "But that's not the only measure of success. Some offenders will stop, but others will do a much lower level type of crime, say shoplifting after conspiracy to supply drugs. That would be accounted as failure, though it would be an incremental success."

She adds: "It can take more than one go to stop people offending. If you don't recognise that you might be setting up the new system to fail. That could discredit the entire strategy of finding alternatives to prison in the community. The two years they have allowed for pilot schemes is not enough." The jury will be out on payment by results for some time yet.

The names of some of the offenders and their children have been changed

Tomorrow: Part 6 - What needs to be done

"They were in a pretty poor state," says Nikki Bradley, who runs the Family Interventions service at Tower Hamlets, east London. "They only had one pair of trainers between them so they used to take turns to wear them, going to college in them on alternate days."

When a woman is sent to prison it is not just she who is punished. The children of prisoners – who have done no wrong, whatever crime their mother may have committed – are punished too. But little account is generally taken of their needs.

According to the most recent figures around 200,000 children each year suffer from the loss of a parent in prison – far more than are separated through divorce. When mothers are jailed only nine per cent have fathers who step forward to take care of them. That means that 17,000 children a year are left effectively parentless. They are the hidden victims of a system in which the number of women jailed has doubled in the last 15 years.

"Prison is needlessly cruel in the harm it does to children," says Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust. The problems begin almost from birth. In the first six to nine months of life a mother and baby bond in a process which psychologists call attachment. "If the quality of that relationship is impaired it can damage the way a child develops, emotionally and socially, and impair its ability to form normal relationships throughout its life," says Tessa Baradon, head of the Parent Infant Project at the Anna Freud psychotherapeutic centre who devised the parenting course currently used in a number of women's prisons.

The extent of the disruption is significant. For eight out of ten children when their mother goes to prison it is the first time they have been separated from her for more than a day or so. Half of the babies who are taken into care when their mothers go to prison are moved from one carer to another, two, three or even four times.

Babieswho suffer poor attachment with their mothers are more likely to be involved incrime as adolescents, according to a report by the Children's Commissioner forEngland. There is also an increased likelihood of the child having learning difficulties or developing personality problems or other psychiatric disorders.

The Prison Service attempts to address this through the mother and baby units it runs in eight of its 13 women's prisons. "We support the mothers in developing their confidence as mothers and their attachment with their babies and older children," says Karen Moorcroft of the charity Action for Children which runs the units inside Styal prison in Cheshire and New Hall in West Yorkshire.

Several prisons have run a New Beginnings programme devised by Ms Baradon , though funding for the work was axed by the Ministry of Justice last year. "If you work with the baby in parallel with the mother," she explains, "you can actually influence the baby's development directly in such a way that it helps the mother. "

The aim is to make the mothers more aware of the needs of the baby as separate from their own. It promotes what the psychotherapist calls, "a shift towards understanding the baby as a person with a separate, and therefore different, mind". Yet such units only allow children to be cared for by imprisoned mothers until the child is around 18 months old.

Child development experts suggest that children can become institutionalised if they remain much longer. Ms Moorcroft says: "We had one child who whenever she saw a door out on a visit she wouldn't push it but would stop and wait for someone to produce a key as though she thought all doors were locked. The prison environment had begun to affect her."

It is important to recognise that there is rarely a perfect solution, says a Prison Service policy document which concludes: "It is commonly a matter of finding the least bad option." Alison Phillips of the charity Babies in Prison – which funded the sensory playroom in Holloway prison, provides equipment and day trips to the units and spreads good ideas and practice – agrees. "Mother and baby units," she says, "are in our view the least worst option." And there are places for just 80 mothers in total.

Around 6,000 of the children affected by the imprisonment of their mother are under five-years-old, according to figures from the Howard League for Penal reform. (There are no official statistics). Around another 7,000 are between the ages of five and ten. Some have to deal with the trauma of seeing their mother arrested. All have to cope with being deprived of their mother's day-to-day love. They almost always have to leave their home and often their school. Many are separated from their brothers and sisters.

A study by Dr Joseph Murray of Cambridge University's Psychiatry Department found that they are three times more likely to exhibit antisocial behaviour, ranging from persistent lying and deceit to criminal behaviour. Individuals were affected right through to 48 years old. Nearly two thirds of boys who have a parent in prison will go on to commit some kind of crime themselves.

It begins with mood changes, hyperactivity, and what Deirdre King, author of Parents, Children and Prison: Effects of parental imprisonment on children, calls "acting up" with their carers in their parents' absence. Others, she says, become "very clingy". The children worry about their imprisoned parent. "Do you get beat up?" one boy asked his mother on a visit. They worry about the visits, which are usually not child-friendly, and where they can often be shy or awkward with their own mother.

"They are often ashamed," says Sarah Salmon of the charity Action for Prisoners' Families. "They won't tell their school or friends where their mum is. That enforced silence about their situation deprives them of support which might otherwise be forthcoming from school or the local council.

Their confusion can be exacerbated by the lies their mothers tell them. "Some mothers don't tell their children they are in jail," she adds. "

Later years throw up new problems. "My daughter Gwyneth started her periods last week," says Susan, who is halfway through a two-year sentence for arson in Eastwood Park prison, Gloucestershire.

"I had a talk with her about it before I came in. But it's hard for her not having her mum around at that time. She's 12 and just starting comprehensive."

Her son Bryn is nine. "He's been teased at school with the other kids asking him: 'What do you have for breakfast? Porridge like your mother.' Though a couple have said: 'Your mam's a gangster, that's so cool'. He's had huge hair loss because of stress and he's not gaining weight. The school have had to give him a counsellor." Teenagers, who might be supposed to be more self-sufficient, are thought by many charities to be particular vulnerable to separation from a parent due to imprisonment.

Many children become withdrawn. Some suffer depression. Children who have a parent in prison are three times as likely to suffer from mental health problems as other kids.

So many are deeply affected by their mother's imprisonment during these formative periods of their life that Baroness Jean Corston, who wrote a key report into vulnerable women in the criminal justice system five years ago, has described the impact of mothers' imprisonment on their children as, "often nothing short of catastrophic".

Not all of the problems in these children's lives can be put down to their mother's imprisonment. They were often already suffering considerable disadvantage because of their mother's behaviour before she went to jail. "Sixty per cent of women in custody have children under 18," says Debra Baldwin, the Ministry of Justice senior civil servant in charge of policy on women's prisons. "But two-thirds of them didn't have their kids living with them when they went into prison.

"These women have very damaging and chaotic lifestyles in terms of drink and alcohol use. They can be very damaged and also very damaging. So it's a real mixed picture."

Even so prison appears to be a decisive adverse factor. Dr Murray says: "The evidence does seem to point to the fact that kids whose parents go to prison do worse than those who have committed a crime, gone to court and got a non-custodial sentence."

For some children, of course, prison can be a good thing. "For some families the mother going into prison is a relief because she has been causing merry hell," says Sarah Salmon of Action for Prisoners' Families. "

Prison can have beneficial effects for mothers too. "For some women prison can be a safe haven," says Tessa Baradon. "The very aspects of the regime of the prison which brings huge resistance from prisoners – the rules, the regularity of food being provided, no drugs, no domestic violence etc – can have hugely positive results in the attachment between mothers and babies."

But however bad a mother has been," she adds, "it is rare that a child will feel more relief than loss when their mother goes to prison."

A number of changes could be made to reduce the stress on children. A more systematic programme of support could be put in place for the children of prisoners. At present unless a child is already known to school or social services as "at risk" no mechanism exists for informing those authorities that a parent is in prison.

Courts could shower greater awareness of the needs of children when passing sentence on mothers. The charity Partners of Prisoners and Families Support Group wants the introduction of a formal procedure to require courts to establish the existence and whereabouts of offenders' children before sentencing. The campaigning barrister Helena Kennedy QC wants to go further and impose a duty on a judge or magistrate to order a pre-sentencing report on the impact custody would have on the children of the family. "Good probation officers already include that but it should be a statutory requirement," she says.

Above all there is a need to ask why Britain is now sending so many more women to prison – and whether there are not punishments in the community which would be more effective and fairer to these children who get a bad deal from our criminal justice system – and through no fault of their own.

"Whenever mother is taken away from her child we punish the child as well as the mother," says Sheila Kitzinger, the childbirth activist who two decades ago campaigned successfully to have handcuffs removed from women prisoners as they gave birth in NHS hospitals. "That is particularly true of babies who are the most vulnerable members of society. To penalise them for a crime the mother has committed is an abuse of adult power.

"The mothers of small children should not be in jail at all, except in the most extreme circumstances."

Tomorrow, Part 5: Is there any another way?

"It was a terrible, terrible thing for the girls," says their grandmother, Margaret Jones, who, at the age of 59, should be making indulgent grandparental visits but now, instead, cares for them full-time. "When they were only eight they lost their mother, their friends, their school, their home all in one go. I think they found it not too bad to start with – it was a bit like a holiday – but later when they realised she wasn't coming back for such a long time they found it very difficult.

"The twins have gone through some very emotional times – and they still are. Emotionally I think they are still doing quite badly. Even now they need hugs all the time."

More than 4,000 children every year in England and Wales move in with their grandmothers because their mother has been sent to jail. Another 5,000 are taken in by other family members or friends. Some 2,000 others are adopted or fostered because their mother is behind bars. Those who volunteer – often at dramatically short notice – are faced with substantial responsibility, stress and expense as a result.

It often begins with a sudden call from the local police station or social worker. "Relatives get a call out of the blue to be told: 'Can you come and pick this child up from us, otherwise they will go into care'," says Sarah Salmon, deputy director of Action for Prisoners' Families.

"In some cases it is not until the woman gets from the court to the prison that she announces: 'I've left my baby with a neighbour who's expecting me back' and the authorities have to go round."

Children often seem an after-thought in the British criminal justice system, says another charity. Grandparents Plus is campaigning for changes to the system in order to put the interests of children first. Its policy and research manager Sarah Wellard says: "One of the appalling things is that a child can go off to school without any idea that their mother is going to be jailed and that nobody is going to be there to pick them up. There is no duty to inform social services when a mother is given a jail sentence. It can leave children in a very vulnerable situation."

It is revealing that a charity acting for grandparents is taking a lead here. Only a few children are cared for by their fathers when their mother goes to jail. That has far-reaching consequences. When a father is jailed, it is likely that his children will remain in their own home with their mother. But only 9 per cent of children whose mothers are jailed are cared for by their fathers.

That is, in part, a reflection of the widespread dereliction of duty among many fathers. But it is also because some of the men are also in prison; a survey of the women at HMP Styal showed that as many as a third had partners in prison. But it also reflects the fac t that twice as many women prisoners were single parents before they were jailed, compared to the general population. The impact of this is significant. It means that a mere five per cent of youngsters stay in their own homes once their mother has been imprisoned. A study by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation found that the impact of imprisonment and separation disrupted every aspect of the lives of the family left behind.

Imprisonment has profound impacts on psychological health of both the children and their new carers. Margaret Jones is visibly upset as she recounts her family's experience. "Rachel will end up in tears at bedtime even now, three years on. Sometimes she wakes up and has had a dream about mummy being hurt. They worry that their mother isn't coming back," she says. "Chloe has had a lot of problems – sadness, anger, you name it we've had it. Her behaviour and attitude has been very bad". Chloe is now under the care of the Child Mental Health Service.

All this is despite the fact that the twins – unlike many prisoners' children – have been able to visit their mother regularly. "We have been lucky that she has been placed in two prisons that are reasonably close to where we live," grandma Margaret says. "But it has just been luck – there isn't anything in the system that thinks about the practicalities of how children can visit their mother."

Having a mother in prison can also quickly stretch family finances to breaking point. Not only does the family lose the prisoner's former income, but extended family members are often forced to quit work to care for their children.

That happened to Sue Smith, a business consultant who was forced to reduce dramatically the time she could spend on work to enable her to care for her grandson. She spoke as she sat in a budget hotel in Wakefield not far from New Hall prison from which her daughter was due to be released next morning. With her was her 3 year old grandson. Sue had brought him to see his mother as she walked through the 20 foot high metal-mesh fence that separates inmates in the closed women’s prison from the outside world.

Her daughter’s offences were related to such a history of drug abuse that social workers had made it clear that the child would be taken into care as soon as he was born. Sue and her husband took out a Special Guardianship Order then and began to pick up the pieces of her daughter’s life. “He calls me Nan,” Sue says, “He is four next month and is a very happy, confident well-adjusted little lad. He treats my other daughters as his big sisters. To all intents and purposes me and my husband are his Mum and Dad.”

But she has seen her income fall by three quarters since she began caring for him. “When you are a grandparent or kinship carer you always have financial problems. I’m self-employed and I had to downsize my workload to cope – not just with the child but because there are the battles with the prison over all sorts of things which are very time-consuming and emotionally exhausting.”

The majority of grandmother carers find it impossible to get back into work during or after the childcare. According to Grandparents Plus, 47 per cent of carers who were previously working gave up their job when the child moved in. And 41 per cent are now dependent on welfare benefits. Yet unlike new parents or adoptive parents, family carers are not entitled to paid leave from work to meet the children's needs. Unlike foster parents they receive no allowances or payments from the state Many are tipped into poverty as a result – leading to deprivation and hardship for the children in their care.

Margaret and her husband have found it difficult to afford the new uniforms as the twins start secondary school. "Financially it has been very difficult," she says. "We get no allowance; all we get is child benefit and tax credits. Having the twins also put us in debt as it took so long to get child benefit and until we got that, we could not get any other benefits. If we were foster carers we would get paid."

In addition to normal childcare costs the families of prisoners have additional expenses. Women prisoners wear their own clothes, not prison uniforms, so their families have to find the money to buy clothes. Many try too to send in cash for the prisoner to buy phonecards to ring their children. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation estimates that the average additional cost to relatives of a prisoner is £175 per month. Most prison charities think the figure is higher.

Some local authorities do give kinship carers an allowance of around £200 a month, according to Sarah Salmon of the charity Action for Prisoners' Families.

"But someone in a neighbouring authority will get nothing," she says. "It's a postcode lottery."

Nor is such assistance matched to the needs of the children. "You can have a child with serious emotional problems whose carers get nothing in terms of support," she says.

Sarah Wellard of Grandparents Plus says: "In some areas social workers will work tirelessly to get people support while in others they do not see the need for it."

The strain of caring also throws up personal problems for the grandmothers. "It affects your social life," says Sue Robson, who is 52. "At my age none of my friends or peers have got children any more, so it's difficult to get babysitters. It also sets up tensions in the family, because my other daughters, who ought to be able to rely on me to give them some help as a grandmother, have to help me instead."

Margaret Jones has similar problems. "I have lost touch with all my friends. We used to go out most weeks. All our friends have families who have grown up. They go off for the weekend all the time but we cannot do any of it. We need to be here 24 hours a day, seven days a week for the girls. We also can't afford to go out. I do feel very isolated sometimes."

Depression among grandmother carers is unusually high. So are stress-related illnesses as a result of the extra care burden combined with declining physical health. And family relationships are destabilised and fragmented as a result of the pressures of what can be a very isolating experience.

A number of charities are campaigning for more state support for the emotional, financial and practical needs of the carers – and their children. The charity Kinship Carers wants a national allowance. "It should be straightforward, transparent to all carers and irrespective of the child's legal status," a spokesman said. At present financial support is often refused if the child has not previously been in care. Grandparents Plus also wants kinship carers to be entitled to unpaid parental leave.

For some prisoner's families the sentence is open-ended. Within one week of beingreleased from New Hall prison, Sue Smith’s daughter was admitted to a MentalHealth unit. Sue will continue to look after her grandchild indefinitely now.

The names of the prisoners and their children have been changed

Two of News Corp's non-executive directors – Sir Rod Eddington, the company's senior independent director, and Andrew Knight, a former chairman of News International – held discussions in London last month with representatives of the powerful Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF), which has backed a resolution calling for Mr Murdoch to stand down from his position as chairman and chief executive of News Corp.

The resolution, which will be discussed at News Corp's annual shareholder meeting in Los Angeles in October, is supported by several mainstream British investors including Aviva and Legal & General.

A consortium of 18 heavyweight investors are calling for Mr Murdoch to stand down as chairman in the interests of good corporate governance and be replaced by an independent figure who is seen to be acting in the best interests of shareholders.

LAPFF, a coalition of pension funds with total assets of £115bn, said the meeting on "governance issues" had been "very positive" and that it had been encouraged by the willingness of the News Corp non-executives to engage in discussion on governance reform. It is thought that the News Corp non-executive directors have met other investors with similar concerns.

The resolution is the latest in a series of attempts by some independent investors in News Corp to wrest power from the Murdoch family. But following the turbulent recent history of the company, in which its share price has been damaged by the phone-hacking scandal and it has failed in an attempt to take full control of BSky B, the new resolution is thought to have a stronger chance of success than previous actions.

"If it gets anywhere near 50 per cent [support] of independent share- holders then I think the company has a problem if it doesn't decide to act," said Ian Greenwood, the LAPFF chairman.

He said the concerns were related to reputational damage to the company arising from "concentration of power" and its effect on share price, rather than any criticism of Mr Murdoch's actions.

Mr Murdoch has recently shown an inclination to lessen his grip on the company by splitting News Corp into two and giving up his chief executive's role at the smaller publishing division of the business. But dissenting investors feel he must also reduce his position at the head of the more important entertainments division.

Living with Wendi is like being in war zone, claims nanny

A "disgruntled" former nanny who looked after the children of Rupert Murdoch and Wendi Deng is ruining any celebration the family might have prepared to mark the end of the Leveson Inquiry next week.

Mr and Mrs Murdoch have had to turn to their PRs to sort out allegations levelled by Ying-Shu Hsu, who tutored and looked after their daughters, Chloe and Grace.

Five years after an accident in the Murdoch's Beverly Hills kitchen, when the nanny alleges she fell over one of the children's tricycles and fractured her knee, sparking a lengthy legal battle which she eventually lost, Ms Hsu told the US website Gawker that living with Mrs Murdoch – who famously rushed to her husband's aid when he was attacked by a pie-wielding protester at a parliamentary hearing – was like being "in a war zone".

The account, which suggests dysfunctional parenting, class-driven meanness and Hollywood excess, was dismissed by a family spokesman as "unfounded and untrue".

James Cusick

Then a fellow nightclub waitress, Buckman is now Schwimmer's wife, and a photographer with whom Mahfouz is collaborating on a series of installations that they hope to exhibit together one day.

"We decide on one of my poems to present and then Zoe interprets it through photography. Sometimes the poem will be etched onto the image; sometimes the poem just accompanies it." Several of the poems they've worked on are from Dry Ice, which is written in a performance-poetry style. It has also inspired a short film that Mahfouz is developing for Film 4, and, following performances at the Edinburgh Festival, she has a forthcoming run at the Bush theatre in London.

The storyline pivots around a stripper called Nina. At one point, she goes to a dinner party with P, her half art-dealer, half drug-dealer, boyfriend where she tells attention-grabbing stories about the world of stripping.

"You see the stereotypical stripper profile on the television which says, 'this is what it's like to be a stripper'. There are elements of that: you see what the customers are like and the things they might say, but the play tries to go a bit deeper and show how Nina's life continues outside the strip club. It asks how much these worlds collide and where the crossover starts and ends,' she reflects. Many of the characters Mahfouz acts out started life as notes she took while waitressing. "I wanted to go into politics but I liked writing on the side so I spent a lot of time in the background observing. Once I got into theatre I remembered my notes. I'd written poems about that world already so it seemed a natural place to start a play." In fact, Mahfouz, who studied classics and English literature at the University of London before doing an MA in international politics and diplomacy, only thought of writing professionally when she was asked to give up her Egyptian passport (her father is half Egyptian and lives there) in order to progress in her Government policy-adviser job.

She left and, after a stint in journalism, moved into poetry and then the theatre. She did the Royal Court's Young Writers "Unheard Voices" for British Muslims programme, producing End of the Line, a showcase of short plays with other writers from the group. Since then she has written everything from a mini-opera for the Royal Opera House, to Sirens, a work-in-progress adaptation of three ancient Greek texts.

Her second solo show, Zainab Chloe Katya, about "underground clean criminals who do things that don't directly hurt people but are still naughty", will have its first outing at this year's Latitude festival, where she's headlining the poetry arena on the Sunday.

"It's like a computer game in the form of a long poem," she explains. There's also a novel and several short stories in the pipeline, plus One Hour Only, set in an upmarket brothel, and which will be part of the Old Vic New Voices inaugural season of work at this year's Edinburgh Festival.

'Dry Ice', Bush Theatre, London W12 (020 8743 5050) 8 to 12 May

Then a fellow nightclub waitress, Buckman is now Schwimmer's wife, and a photographer with whom Mahfouz is collaborating on a series of installations that they hope to exhibit together one day.

"We decide on one of my poems to present and then Zoe interprets it through photography. Sometimes the poem will be etched on to the image; sometimes the poem just accompanies it." Several of the poems they've worked on are from Dry Ice, which is written in a performance-poetry style. It has also inspired a short film that Mahfouz is developing for Film 4, and, following performances at the Edinburgh Festival, she has a forthcoming run at the Bush theatre in London.

The storyline pivots around a stripper called Nina. At one point, she goes to a dinner party with P, her half art-dealer, half drug-dealer, boyfriend where she tells attention-grabbing stories about the world of stripping. "You see the stereotypical profile on the television which says, 'this is what it's like to be a stripper'. There are elements of that: you see what the customers are like and the things they might say, but the play tries to go a bit deeper and show how Nina's life continues outside the strip club. It asks how much these worlds collide and where the crossover starts and ends,' she reflects.

Many of the characters Mahfouz acts out started life in notes she took while waitressing. "I wanted to go into politics but I liked writing on the side so I spent a lot of time in the background observing. Once I got into theatre I remembered my notes. I'd written poems about that world already so it seemed a natural place to start a play."

Mahfouz, who studied classics and English literature at the University of London before doing an MA in international politics and diplomacy, only thought of writing professionally when she was asked to give up her Egyptian passport (her father is half-Egyptian and lives there) in order to progress in her job as a government policy adviser. She left and, after a stint in journalism, moved into poetry and then the theatre. She did the Royal Court's Young Writers "Unheard Voices" for a British Muslims programme, producing End of the Line, a showcase of short plays with other writers from the group. Since then she has written everything from a mini-opera for the Royal Opera House, to Sirens, a work-in-progress adaptation of ancient Greek texts.

Her second solo show, Zainab Chloe Katya, about "underground clean criminals who do things that don't directly hurt people but are still naughty", will have its first outing at this year's Latitude festival, where she's headlining the poetry arena on the Sunday.

"It's like a computer game in the form of a long poem," she explains. There's also a novel and several short stories in the pipeline, plus One Hour Only, set in an upmarket brothel, and which will be part of the Old Vic New Voices inaugural season of work at this year's Edinburgh Festival.


Dry Ice, Bush Theatre, London W12 (020 8743 5050) 8 to 12 May

While the balance between creative and commercial has always been a fine one to strike, the decision to shock or to sell takes on even more importance given widespread unemployment and the on-going difficult climate for retail.

"They've got to find jobs," agrees Rob Templeman, chairman of Graduate Fashion Week and of The British Retail Consortium. "At the moment there's 1.5 million under-24-year-olds unemployed. Fashion's moving, and you need younger people to help move it on."

After last year's GFW event, title sponsors George took on 68 fresh faces across their head office, in both design and marketing roles, including last year's Gold Award winner Rory Langdon, who has since created a sell-out collection for the brand. "We realise that the talent of tomorrow is the lifeblood of our business," says Fiona Lambert, George's brand director, "and we need that fresh young talent, because newness is what's driving the business forward."

George, along with seven other high street names including Karen Millen, New Look and House of Fraser, are also part of the GFW "protégé programme", which aims to place graduates in temporary – but paid – employment, so they can bolster their CVs and chances of getting something more permanent.

This year's Gold award winner, womenswear graduate Chloe Jones from Bath Spa university, impressed judges with sportified silk maxidresses, rendered modern with hoods and toggles, delicately finished with butterfly prints and raw hems.

Her collection will be adapted to make a high-street line, which will be sold by George later this year. There was innovative use of knits and textiles too, in Kingston University student Caitlin Charles-Jones's bright and futuristic wool separates, which featured Aztec-inspired go-faster stripes and rigid tubi sleeving picked out in high-gloss and iridescent metal threads. Both collections had a sense of directional wearability, blending complex design with something more ubiquitously palatable.

Meanwhile, the Zandra Rhodes award for Textile Innovation went to Xiaoping Huang of Lancashire University, for his deckchair-striped voluminous and three-dimensional concertina-pleated tailoring. While not traditionally commercial, there were aspects of this young designer's work which showed great potential for an imaginative take on mass-produced womenswear – something which the high street sponsors are keen to invest in. But there is a different, and more difficult, direction to take: while many college-leavers will choose to work for big high street names and corporate conglomerates, there are those who aim to make it on their own. And although the terrain is particularly inhospitable to small businesses and those starting out right now, the A-list's increasing tastes for the unknown – and more importantly, the as yet un-copied – mean there are more avenues than ever for graduates to taste success even at this early stage in their careers.

"Anyone who wants to start their own label, should ask themselves if that is really and truly the only thing they want to do," advises designer David Koma, who was also a judge at this year's event. He won awards for both his BA and MA collections at Central Saint Martins, before shooting to fame soon afterwards when his metallic, art deco designs were worn by both Beyoncé and Rihanna in the same week. "It is very, very hard and talent is only one of many elements you need."

But for Claire Barrow, who left Westminster University last month, it is about to become a reality. She has already had her pieces – intricately illustrated leather separates in a grungy, punkish vein – featured in Vogue, has designed a capsule for Joseph, a range of shoes for the brand Underground and is set to show at London Fashion Week in September.

Her classmate Ashley Williams, whose ironic trash-luxe collection was inspired by Texan oil wives and featured shopping bags reworked as jumpers and coats, had a host of celebrity friends (Alice Dellal, Pixie Geldof et al) modelling her creations at her graduation show and has already dressed pop star Rita Ora. In this age of Lady Gaga and directional divas, eye-catching and original graduate designers stand to gain plenty of exposure if they choose this sort of route.

"These students are very rare," says the director of Westminster's fashion design course Andrew Groves, "and most prefer to work within a design studio. It's a tough market – more than 3,000 people will be graduating with a fashion-related degree, so employers can pick the very best.

"But what's also vital is having a great personality – the hours in this industry are very long, and it doesn't matter how good you are as a designer, people need to enjoy being in your company as well." With some of the wit and warmth on show, it seems young London designers are an easy-going bunch: at Central Saint Martins in particular (showing its students' work for the first time in its new home in King's Cross), humour was prevalent as a weapon in the armoury against the potentially bleak employment market these designers are about to face.

Tigran Avetisyan's menswear featured oversized shirts and smocks covered in blackboard graffiti that read "so much pressure" and "nothing left to say", with models exiting to a soundtrack of Pink Floyd's "We Don't Need No Education".

Less strident, although just as characterful, were Ruoxin Jin's marvellously intricate knitted pieces: heavy on construction and bright colours, they also featured hundreds of painstakingly rendered knitted warrior figures, clutching spears and shields, climbing across sleeves, yokes, even hats.

And Molly Goddard's oversized crinoline dresses, layered in delicate doily crochet and gauzy neon pink tulle, combined prettiness with a certain nonchalance – a sort of statement dressing for the understated, which perfectly suited the mood and showcased her talents for texture and palette. Erin Hawkes, winner of the Young Design Talent Award, opened the show with a collection of loose-fitting and mannish modern-rustic pieces. She subverted latterday staples such as plaid and hoodies, with nostalgic, almost puritanical, apron skirts and Flemish-style hoods.

At the Royal College of Art, which showed collections from its MA students, menswear was treated inventively and irreverently, flouncing prettily as sporty pink separates by Hiroaki Kanai and as geometrically patterned tailoring, which bulged and distorted with extrusions that cleverly rendered print as structure, by Ichiro Suzuki.

Womenswear was rather more pragmatic though no less imaginative: Holly Russell's holographic and iridescent pieces set a tone of low-key, androgynous and accessible glamour, done with one eye on sales – it was easy to imagine a Topshop-friendly version of her high-waisted shimmering jeans, for example. Rebecca Thomson's printed-silk shirtdresses and all-in-ones were practical and chic; the furry gauntlets and veiled hats topped off with fuzzy pom-poms worn by her models belied the innate commercial nature of the collection.

Given the financial pressures on students these days, perhaps it comes as no surprise that the graduate collections feel more and more professional every year. It has been a rousing and spirited showing from the country's young talents – the future may be uncertain for them right now, but it'll certainly be bright.

Dawn Makin, who also attempted suicide after pretending for a year that she was going to work when she had in fact been suspended, appeared in court in a wheelchair yesterday to plead guilty to manslaughter.

She had originally been charged with murder but the plea was accepted on the basis of diminished responsibility as she was suffering from an "abnormality of mind" after being fired for selling information to Martin Campbell, who has pleaded guilty to breaking the Data Protection Act.

The body of Chloe Burke was found at the family home in Bury, Greater Manchester, in February last year. Ms Makin, 35, was lying unconscious nearby having cut her wrists and drunk a liquid thought to have been anti-freeze or bleach.

Ms Makin was bailed to remain in Rochdale's Birch Hill Hospital and is next due to appear in court on 30 August.

British delegates including David Beckham fly back from Greece to RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall.

They will attend a special ceremony welcoming the flame, before it is taken on a 70-day relay involving 8,000 torchbearers covering 8,000 miles.

The flame will finally reach east London's Olympic Stadium and the opening of the Games on July 27.

London was officially handed the flame yesterday in a rain-hit sundown ceremony at the old Panathenaic Stadium, venue of the first modern Olympics in 1896.

The flame was handed over to London to host the Games for the third time since the birth of the Olympics - in 1908, 1948 and now 2012. No other city has staged the Games three times.

Despite the buzz triggered by the last-minute news that LA Galaxy star and former England skipper Beckham was flying in specially to be part of the ancient ceremony, the more formal duties came down to the Princess Royal.

Both she and Karolos Papoulias, the Greek president, sat in ancient thrones that are part of the stadium during the hour-long event.

The flame was handed to the Princess, who was watched closely by other members of the official delegation including London 2012 chairman Lord Coe, Olympics minister Hugh Robertson, London mayor Boris Johnson, Beckham and five British sporting teenagers.

In his speech, Lord Coe thanked the damp crowd for Greece's warm hospitality and also for "laying on the British weather for us".

The past week had linked Britain and Greece in a "very special way in the spirit of peace and friendship", he said.

He added that the arrival of the flame on British shores will be a "resounding clarion call" to the world's top athletes to gather for the Games, and millions of Britons have been working hard to create a great welcome.

"If the Olympic Games are about celebrating the best athletes in the world, the Olympic spirit is about celebrating the best in ourselves and in our communities.

"We have found the very best torchbearers who, like Olympic athletes, will inspire a generation.

"As we prepare to bring the flame to the UK, we are reminded of our responsibility - like that of our predecessors in 1908 and especially 1948 - to stage Games that use the power of sport to unite the world in a celebration of achievement and inspiration in challenging times. A Games that will inspire the next generation to choose sport," he said.

Each member of the British delegation sheltered under blue umbrellas as they walked through the centre of the stadium to their front-row seats.

Everyone from the Princess Royal to Mr Robertson was named over the loudspeakers and greeted by cheers from the crowd.

There was also a chuckle from British people in the crowd as the announcer introduced Beckham as "Sir David".

The youngsters, who were picked by London 2012 for displaying Olympic values, exchanged symbolic olive branches to the tune of John Lennon's Imagine.

The five, who come from different UK regions, were from schools and colleges which are part of London 2012's Get Set education network and school linking programmes run by the British Council.

A smiling Sakinah Muhammad, 15, from Clapton Girls' Academy in Hackney, east London, said: "When I first found out, I was in shock. I did not believe what they were telling me and that I was going to be something that is such a big deal."

The other British teenagers included Scottish rugby player Dennis Coles, 17, from Doon Academy, Dalmellington, East Ayrshire; hockey player Chloe Brown, 18, from South Eastern Regional College in Bangor, Northern Ireland; and Swansea Harriers athlete and Mumbles Rangers FC player Sean White, 17, from Bishop Vaughan Catholic School in Swansea.

There was also Georgia Higgs from Helston Community College, a Falmouth Ladies hockey player and school sports ambassador who represents Cornwall.

The Olympic Flame was taken on a relay around the Greek mainland and islands since it was lit by the rays of the sun in ancient Olympia last week, before a trio of world champions brought it safely to the stadium.

It arrived in the hands of rower Christina Giazitzidou and was then carried by gymnast Vasilis Tsolakidis and rower Alexandra Tsiavou.

Chinese gymnast Li Ning, who lit the cauldron at the opening ceremony for the 2008 Beijing Games, and Greek weightlifter Pyrros Dimas were the last torchbearers in Greece.

In a symbolic move by the Hellenic Olympic Committee, they were picked to represent a link between the last Olympics in Beijing, Greece as the birthplace of the institution, and the next Games in London.


From mainstream witch to indie darling – or, more precisely, from Fleur Delacour in the Harry Potter series to Chloe in In Bruges – Poésy is increasingly bestriding the Anglo-Gallic film-making divide, a duality neatly encapsulated last year when she played both the French national icon, Joan of Arc, in the Cannes-competing Jeanne Captive, and a piece of arm candy in the hip US cable show Gossip Girl.

"I feel very privileged to have been welcomed in England in that way," says Poésy..Her latest English project has also been her most daunting – and although the role of Queen Isabella in Shakespeare's Richard II is only a minor one, the challenge of mastering iambic pentameters for the BBC's upcoming cycles of Shakespeare plays was considerable.

"It was like learning how to speak another language," she says in accented but perfectly fluent English. "You do Shakespeare at drama school but you do it in French. It's interesting to see, when you study theatre in France, the different translations of Shakespeare – because obviously in England you just work on one material."

She learned from her Bard-hardened Richard II co-stars, Rory Kinnear, Ben Whishaw and Patrick Stewart, and reflects with amusement on how she got into the Conservatoire National Supérieur d'Art Dramatique (France's equivalent of Rada) by performing, in English, Juliet's balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet. "No one had any idea of whether it was any good," laughs Poésy, who took her mother's maiden name for the stage. Her father, Etienne Guichard, is a theatre director, who used to pretend to Clémence and her younger sister, Maëlle, that their TV only played videos of movies. After a stab at couture that ended after a disastrous work-experience placement, Poésy grudgingly accepted her thespian fate.

"I was the one in the family who was saying I wanted to do something else," she says. "Mostly because I felt a bit silly saying that I wanted to be an actress before I actually was an actress – or it might have been being scared of failure."

A string of French roles playing teenagers ensued, before her English-language breakthrough as Mary, Queen of Scots in Jimmy McGovern's 2004 BBC drama Gunpowder, Treason & Plot – a role that led to Harry Potter. Her mother, a schoolteacher, had already encouraged her to read JK Rowling's books.

Harry Potter led to a variety of English language parts, from the aforementioned In Bruges, with Colin Farrell ("people love that film"), and the 2007 TV mini-series War and Peace, to playing Jim Sturgess's enigmatic girlfriend in the London-set horror film Heartless, and as James Franco's lover in Danny Boyle's 127 Hours. Now Poésy is involved in a somewhat more unusual romance, Mr Morgan's Last Love, an age-gap meeting of lonely hearts between a free-spirited Parisian and Michael Caine's retired and widowed philosophy professor. It sounds like Lost in Translation.

"Yuh, it's two lonely people finding each other, except it's Paris and not Tokyo," she says. "It's not a real love story but there's a lot of love in it... It was lovely to get to know him. He's incredibly simple, and he's got a very playful approach to the whole thing still. "

Poésy is also a musician (she plays guitar, and sang on last year's debut album by the Last Shadow Puppets' Miles Kane) and fashion icon – a face of the perfume Chloé and now the new face of Dutch urban fashion chain G-Star Raw .One poster we won't be seeing however, is of a naked, or semi-naked, Poésy. After a bad experience as an 18-year-old starlet, she has a clause in all her contracts that states any nude scenes she films can't be used in trailers or publicity stills. "People can find the scene and so whatever they want on the internet," she says, "but at least they can't use it on the trailer."

Birdsong is out on DVD on 12 March. Richard II is on BBC2 in July. Mr Morgan's Last Love is released this autumn

County were officially formed in 1862, playing matches among themselves for two years, and until 1910 they shared Trent Bridge cricket ground before moving to Meadow Lane. For their centenary they played an England XI and this time they have promised supporters a pre-season visit from "one of Europe's top clubs" – surely Juventus, who in September opened their new stadium with a friendly against Notts, the original donors of the Italian club's famous black-and-white stripes – readers may recall that when Juve's pink shirts faded too much, an Englishman playing for them arranged with a Nottingham friend for a set of County kit to be sent over.

Also commemorating this year's anniversary are a new book, Tied Up In Notts, by the veteran Radio Nottingham commentator Colin Slater MBE, who has now reported on nearly 2,200 of their games; and a new beer, brewed by Castle Rock and called "Pie Eyed 150".

Albrighton swift to shell out

It is always good to hear of a Premier League player properly rooted in his local community, so a happy new year to Aston Villa's Marc Albrighton, who watches his hometown teams Tamworth and Bolehall Swifts whenever he can, and is now sponsoring the Swifts, a team he watched with his father as a small boy.

The England Under-21 winger paid for a set of tracksuits and polo shirts in the Swifts' yellow-and-green colours, buys the winner of the club's man-of-the-month award a pair of top-of-the-range boots and does the trophy presentations at awards nights for the junior sides.

"I absolutely love watching non-League football, whether it's at Bolehall or down at The Lamb [Tamworth's ground]," he said. "It's good, honest football and there are no prima donnas."

Now Albrighton is part of the Bolehall family in more ways than one. His girlfriend Chloe is the daughter of the Swifts manager Daren Fulford and is expecting their first child next month.

Family background on both sides will, however, tell her what to expect: Albrighton's dad Terry missed his wife's birthday in 1982... because he had been following Villa to their glorious European Cup final victory over Bayern Munich in Rotterdam.

Red mist falls over Christmas

In the days when clubs played each other twice over the holiday period – often on successive days – there could be some remarkable swings in results, not always attributable to overdoing the festivities.

The most famous examples were probably in 1963, when West Ham lost 8-2 at home to Blackburn on Boxing Day and won the return at Ewood Park two days later 3-1; Fulham drubbed Ipswich 10-1 (which is still their record score) then lost 4-2; and Manchester United recovered from a 6-1 mauling by Burnley to beat them 5-1 at Old Trafford.

Something of the tradition survives in non-League football, though eight sendings-off in the Blue Square Bet Premier when the same teams were in opposition for local derbies this season on Boxing Day and New Year's Day suggests that ill-feeling carried over from the first game is a good reason to leave rather longer between the meetings.

The happiest club were Luton Town, who played Kettering twice and won 5-0 home and away, with no fewer than eight different scorers – and no red cards.

Put the boot into Boot Room

Liverpool's public relations effort before the Luis Suarez case was heard had been widely condemned.

Once the damning judgment was published last weekend and the club had another go at winning friends and influencing people, the verdict from media commentators included "staggering lack or remorse", "served only to make matters worse", "deeply self-serving".

From one self-confessed Liverpool supporter working for a national paper: "a farce... a shambolic display... a public relations disaster. The cup for cock-ups has a new home".

So that went well.


Nick Knight: "To 'I'm Rei. I don't exist'. I have been looking at your Tumblr and really like it. Do you fancy guest curating the SHOWstudio Tumblr for one week. Sorry if this is weird and out of the blue but I don't know a more formal way of contacting you. Nick Knight."

I'm Rei, I don't exist duly replies: "Can you imagine this being actually real?"

"It was this Tumblr full of slightly strange images", Knight says now. "It was a lot to do with death, a lot to do with sex and a lot to do with fashion. There were some abstract ones. And this blonde girl appeared every now and then. She was photographing herself and putting the photographs on to her Tumblr, and people were commenting on it. She's got a very distinctive face, an unconventional beauty. And people wrote quite savage things to her. 'What's wrong with your face?' That sort of thing. But she was putting herself out there, answering those comments. Her answers felt fast, open and vulnerable but at the same time tough. So I thought she'd be really good. I'm going to write to her."

To cut a long-ish story short, after some decidedly sceptical to-ing and fro-ing, culminating in Knight encouraging Nadal to contact the stylist Simon Foxton, who had guest curated Tumblr for SHOWstudio the month before and to substantiate his veracity, Ms Nadal, who also clearly does exist after all, agreed to participate.

With that, Knight dispatched an assistant who "struggled down to Barcelona with suitcases full of clothes" to a hotel near Nadal's home and, each morning, for seven days, asked her to deliver a white leather box overflowing with the requisite tissue paper and replete with a designer look and maybe accompanying music, make-up, scent, flowers, and even food, should it add to any atmosphere.

Nadal had the contents of this box to do with as she wished for 24 hours and, occasionally, there would be a second delivery, quaintly, for evening, and then it would be collected and a new look would arrive. The project was styled remotely by Ellie Grace Cumming and it says something of the weight of authority behind this project that clothes were provided by everyone from Alexander McQueen to Rick Owens.

The end results are remarkable, particularly given that the images of Nadal herself were shot on the photobooth application on her computer. They are interspersed with various carefully juxtaposed and more formal inspiration pictures –a close-up of hair backstage at McQueen, snakes, hard-to-identify nudes, a Nick Knight rose.

"This is her dancing in the Jil Sander dress," says Knight, speaking from SHOWstudio's London headquarters and scrolling through the finished work. "The tones are gorgeous. Cecil Beaton wouldn't have done any better. It's like a painting."

Praise indeed, given that this is a man responsible for many of the most arresting fashion images of the age, from a young Naomi Campbell dressed in Yohji Yamamoto to Kate Moss on any number of British Vogue covers. Having, over more than three decades, climbed his way to the top of the (establishment) tree, Knight, still potently idealistic after all these years, continues to fight against it. "What really gets to me is that you talk to art colleges and they're still teaching dark room," he says. "But nobody uses it any more. Nobody. Nobody teaches Tumblr, Instagram, Twitter, but that's what they should be doing."

Embracing new media was at least partly Knight's reason for founding SHOWstudio 12 years ago. And since that time he has put his money where his mouth is. Self-funded, the site features nurtures bright young talent as well as featuring many of the biggest names in fashion and indeed contemporary culture more broadly. Victoria Beckham, Lara Stone and the Chapman Brothers have all recently collaborated and allowed unprecedented access to their working process. They are awarded complete creative freedom in return.

The democracy of the internet has always been a driving force. In particular, the removal of the (frequently commercially interested) middle man is appealing, as Knight goes on to explain. "10 years ago I was working for magazines," he says. "I had no idea whether anybody was looking at my work. The only way I knew whether something I was saying had resonance was if I was booked by a client again. But the situation has changed. With things like Tumblr and Instagram, you're immediately and directly in contact with your audience. When I publish a picture on Tumblr, it's seen by more people than a picture I might have published in Vogue. And they tell me what they think and I can see them sharing. Previously, going right back to any form of patronage of the arts, to the Medicis, say, they would say, 'okay you paint the painting for that church but we tell you how to do it, we decide'."

"I started using Tumblr as both an inspiration source and a way to record the things that inspire me," Nadal says. "Because I am a very shy person, it's not logical to expose myself that way, where anyone can see me and comment. Maybe it has to do with the fact that I wanted to make it more personal, to make my Tumblr more than one image after another, and to make it more conceptual, although that might sound pretentious."

Away from the camera's gaze, she dresses "like a tomboy" in "skinny jeans, a T-shirt and a variable number of layers of shirts, jumpers or jackets." She rose to the challenge of wearing more complex looks – from overblown and beautiful to highly provocative – in the manner, Knight argues, of a "a modern Cindy Sherman". "I was in different moods depending on what I was wearing," she says. "I tried to let the clothes influence me and can honestly say I gained self-confidence wearing these outfits and felt very powerful."

"I'm so excited about this project because it reinforces many of the things that I think fashion should be," says Knight. "We get very cut off and systematic and maybe miss the fact that fashion is capable of making somebody fall in love. I wanted to put the power back into it in a way."


Concept: Rei Nadal and Nick Knight

Tumblr curation: Rei Nadal

Styling selection: Ellie Grace Cumming

Headpieces: Sam McKnight

Make-up consultation: Val Garland

Nails: Marian Newman

Project photography and assistance: Chloe Orefice

Styling assistance: Gerry O'Kane

The average cost of a litre of petrol has risen to 137.44p, topping the previous all-time high of 137.43p a litre in May 2011, the AA said.

The rise puts more pressure on Chancellor George Osborne to reduce the tax burden on drivers in his Budget later this month.

Diesel is up to 144.67p a litre which is another new record.

AA president Edmund King said: "This new record for petrol and diesel just confirms what every family and business knows - fuel prices are hurting them badly and there seems no stopping them.

"We have asked the Chancellor to do what he can to protect the UK economy from fuel market volatility and record high prices which are stemming growth."

Mr King went on: "There is no more give in family and business budgets despite them cutting back on fuel purchase and other spending so they can get to work and go about their business.

"Britain cannot get back on its feet if fuel prices hold drivers and business to ransom every time market sentiment takes hold."

The price of petrol has risen by more than 1.25p a litre in the past week.

Overall, UK drivers are spending more than £6.8 million extra a day on fuel compared with a year ago, and more than £24 million more a day than they were two years ago.

It is now costing drivers around £3.45 more than it was a year ago to fill a typical 50-litre tank with petrol, while the cost has risen about £12.30 compared with two years ago.

The extra monthly cost to a family with two petrol cars, each consuming an average of 106.17 litres a month, has risen by more than £2.65 in the last week, about £14.65 in the last year and around £52.24 in the last two years.

Today's unwanted records follow a survey by the Countryside Alliance which showed that the price of diesel in rural filling stations is, on average, 4p more than in urban areas.

The alliance said cars are becoming an "unaffordable necessity" for many living in rural communities.

The costliest diesel - at 146.9p a litre - was in Purbeck in Dorset and Ryedale in North Yorkshire.

In contrast, diesel in Birmingham and in Dartford in south east London was "only" 139.7p a litre.

Overall, the alliance found that diesel in rural areas averaged 144p a litre, while in urban areas the average was 140p.

Countryside Alliance executive chairman Barney White-Spunner said: "Not only do people living in rural areas have to drive further to go to work, further to access essential services like schools, doctors and the supermarket, but they have to pay a lot more for their diesel to do so.

"The cost of fuel is a major concern for everyone who lives in the countryside, and cars are fast becoming an unaffordable necessity for many rural families.

"We urge the Chancellor to help the rural economy get back on its feet and to cut fuel duty in his forthcoming Budget."

The alliance survey follows findings earlier this week that UK motorists pay more in fuel tax than any other drivers in Europe.

And a report by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) has said that cutting fuel duty would create thousands of jobs and could be done at no loss to the Treasury.

Campaign group FairFuelUK met Treasury Minister Chloe Smith this week, armed with the initial findings of the CEBR report.

Ms Smith was expected to receive the full report today.


Documenting this annual migration is the young British photographer Chloe Dewe Mathews, whose project "Hasidic Holiday" captures scenes akin to a Victorian seaside trip: men in long, dark coats and brimmed hats wandering along the promenade; families playing in the seaside playground; and young men bathing fully clothed in the sea.

But perhaps most fascinating is what the Hasids bring with them: they don't simply arrive for a two-week holiday; they relocate wholesale. Arriving in large groups, with removal lorries in tow, the community bring all their possessions – and practices – from home, from children's bikes to cookers to fridges filled with kosher food.

And on the campus where they stay, a large marquee is erected as a temporary synagogue for the regular daily schedule of prayers and community meetings, demonstrating an unshakeable commitment to their way of life.

Chloe Dewe Mathews' 'Hasidic Holiday' will be showing at the inaugural Eye International Photography Festival, which runs from Friday to 1 July in Aberystwyth (aberystwythartscentre.co.uk/theeye)

The wettest June since records began in 1910 saw clothing retailers bring their summer sales forward while food stores suffered from a lack of demand for barbecue meat.

The consumer price index (CPI) rate of inflation subsequently fell to 2.4% in June, from 2.8% in May, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

Some economists said inflation would continue to fall - possibly below 1% - while unions said the drop in inflation was not enough as wage growth was still too weak.

Inflation has fallen from 5.2% last September to within 0.5 percentage points of the Government's 2% target, due to the waning impact of the VAT hike, falling energy, food and commodity prices, and bill cuts from utility providers.

Economic Secretary to the Treasury Chloe Smith said: "Inflation has more than halved since September, meaning a little less pressure on family budgets. This lower inflation should support high street spendingand growth in the economy in the months to come."

The fall in CPI was driven by a record May-to-June decline in clothing and footwear prices, which the ONS said was more typical of theJune-to-July period, reflecting earlier than average seasonal discounting.

The overall rate was also driven down by transport prices, which dropped 0.5% as the price of petrol at the pump fell by 4.3p to 132.8p in June and diesel dipped by 0.7p to 135.6p.

Food also helped pull down the overall rate after prices edged 0.1% lower. The ONS said the biggest fall within food came from meat prices, which fell 0.5%, with reports that the recent washout weather had hit demand for barbecue foods.

But the most recent figures on wages growth showed average earnings increasing by 1.4% in the year to April, far below the current rate of inflation.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "While the sharp fall in inflation will bring welcome relief for many workers, millions are still facing real wage cuts as the longest squeeze in living standards for decades continues.

"Falling inflation alone won't tackle our living standards crisis. We also need to see stronger wage growth, and for the Governmentto reverse damaging cuts to tax credits."

Last month's drop will add weight to the Bank of England's decision earlier this month to pump more emergency cash into the economythrough its quantitative easing programme.

The steeper-than-expected fall is also likely to raise the likelihood of further emergency support later this year as the UK struggles with weak growth.

Vicky Redwood, economist at Capital Economics, said inflation could fall below 1% by the end of the year.

"Admittedly, this was driven by a sharp drop in clothing inflation, which is probably a temporary result of the poor weather denting clothing sales," she added.

"Nonetheless, we think that evidence is tentatively building thatweak activity and large amounts of spare capacity are bearing down on underlying price pressures."

The largest upward effect on prices came from recreation and culture, in which the price of digital cameras fell at a slower rate than last year.

Alternative measures of inflation also fell, as the retail price index fell to 2.8% in June, from 3.1% in May.

Labour Treasury spokeswoman Catherine McKinnell said: "This fall in the inflation rate is welcome as last year's VAT rise continues to drop out of the figures. But families and pensioners are still facing a real squeeze on their incomes because of this Government's policies."


Gross domestic product (GDP) shrank by 0.3% between January and March, down from a first estimate of 0.2%, with much of the deterioration due to a 4.8% decline in construction - the sector's steepest fall in 11 years.

Labour said the revised figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that the coalition Government's austerity programme had failed, and called on David Cameron for a change of course to boost growth and jobs.

But Treasury minister Chloe Smith insisted the Government would not be deflected from its drive to get the deficit down.

"We need to stick to our path. It would not be acceptable to fail to deal with our debts," she told the BBC.

Ms Smith indicated that the most appropriate response might be for the Bank of England to print more money or cut interest rates, as the International Monetary Fund recommended in its report on the UK economy earlier this week.

"Monetary easing would be for the Bank of England to consider," she said. "That would be one of our first lines of defence."

The second estimate, which could be revised later, means the UK is in a technical recession - defined as two quarters of decline in a row - following a 0.2% fall in national income in the final three months of 2011.

Economists and business leaders have warned that a technical recession will hit confidence and could cause businesses to rein in spending at a time when they are being encouraged to invest to stimulate growth.

The current downturn is expected to be nothing like as severe as the previous recession of 2008/09, which spanned more than a year.

But uncertainty remains over the future of the eurozone, following an inconclusive summit in Brussels last night at which EU leaders failed to reach agreement on the balance between austerity and growth.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said that the UK economy was suffering a "chilling" effect from the situation in Greece, which goes to the polls on June 17 amid fears it might be forced out of the euro.

Speaking on ITV1's Daybreak, Mr Alexander said: "No rational person would think it would be right for Greece to come out of the euro."

Downing Street pointed out that while exports of goods to non-EU countries had grown by 4.4% over the period, exports to the EU had fallen by 3.1%.

"We have always made clear - and the Chancellor said in his autumn statement - that if the rest of Europe doesn't grow it would prove hard to avoid a recession here in the UK," said Mr Cameron's official spokesman.

"We cannot be immune from what is happening on our doorstep."

But shadow chancellor Ed Balls said that Britain's economic problems could not be blamed exclusively on the crisis in the eurozone.

"This is a recession made in Downing Street by this Government's failed policies," said Mr Balls

"Despite all the problems in the euro area, France, Germany and the eurozone as a whole have so far avoided recession and only exports to other countries stopped us going into recession a year ago.

"The result is that Britain is now in a weaker position if things get worse in the eurozone in the coming months."

Business leaders expressed surprise at today's gloomy figures from the ONS, which many had expected to be revised upwards.

David Kern, chief economist at the British Chambers of Commerce, said: "Fundamental doubts about the accuracy of the ONS's estimates persist. Virtually every business survey has indicated positive growth in the economy in the first quarter.

"Furthermore, the ONS's own labour market figures have shown an increase in employment and a 0.9% increase in the actual number of hours worked, which makes a quarterly fall in GDP difficult to comprehend. It is possible that the GDP estimate will be revised upwards later in the year."

The national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, John Walker, said: "Confidence among small businesses has picked up, and this resilience needs to be supported by Government if they are going to make use of it to pull Britain back out of recession.

"In order to strengthen economic recovery, Government policies must be bold to boost business investment and job creation - as well as consumer confidence."

The second estimate provides data for the expenditure side of the economy for the first time and revealed a slowdown in household spending, which increased by 0.1% in the first quarter, compared to 0.4% growth in the final quarter of last year.

But Government spending surged 1.6%, the biggest rise since the first quarter of 2008, driven by spending on health and defence.

The services sector, which accounts for some three-quarters of the economy, saw unrevised growth of 0.1%, after a decline of 0.1% between October and December last year.

The industrial production sector declined at an unrevised 0.4%, with manufacturing flat after a 0.7% decline in the previous quarter.


The news heaps more pressure on the Coalition over its handling of the economy and increases the likelihood that the Bank of England will approve more money printing in the coming months to boost demand. The UK sank into its first double-dip recession since the 1970s last month when the ONS estimated the economy shrank in the first quarter, following a 0.3 per cent contraction in the final three months of 2011.

Further grim economic news came yesterday from the Department for Education, which said the number of young people aged between 16 and 24 now considered "Neet" – not in enducation, employment, or training – rose to 954,000 in the first quarter of the year, up from 925,000 in the first quarter of 2011. The figures also show that the numbers of 16-18-year-olds alone who are considered Neet are rising again. In total, 183,000 were out of education and work in the first quarter of this year, compared to 159,000 for the same period in 2011.

The Treasury minister, Chloe Smith, rejected calls for the Chancellor to slow down the planned spending cuts. "We need to stick to our path. It would not be acceptable to fail to deal with our debts," she said

Yesterday's downward revision was prompted by a larger than realised fall in output in the construction sector. The ONS said building activity shrank by 4.8 per cent over the first three months of the year. Central government spending on building projects fell by 13 per cent in 2011 and is scheduled to fall by a further 5 per cent this year.

The second estimate of GDP showed that consumer spending rose by just 0.1 per cent over the quarter and that manufacturing output was flat. Despite the Government's austerity drive, government expenditure rose by 1.6 per cent, which the ONS said reflected an expansion of the defence and health sectors.

The designer brands giant Richemont yesterday added the upmarket leisurewear brand Peter Millar to its wardrobe, which already holds Chloe clothes and Cartier jewellery. The Swiss firm's acquisition of Peter Millar, popular with US golfers, comes just weeks after Burberry's profits warning shocked the European luxury sector.

Salt, Root and Roe homes in on Iola and Anest, a pair of identical Welsh twins, now in their seventies, who live on the coast of North Pembrokeshire. In a fantastical underwater sequence at the start of Hamish Pirie's beautifully realised production, we see the two old ladies tied together with a skipping rope, recreating a childhood game. The rope symbolises the umbilical strength of their bond and, indeed, the next time we see them thus bound, at the end, it is in the ultimate sisterly solidarity of a suicide pact, weighed down with pebbles and walking into the sea. The mettle of their mutual devotion has certainly been proven by Iola's drift into dementia.

Price's writing is amusingly alert to the absurdities that surround this heartbreaking situation. The play plunges us into the hapless predicament of Anest's middle-aged daughter, Menna (a comically distraught and very touching Imogen Stubbs). She can't seem to win on any front. Her husband is so obsessed with germs he hasn't touched her for years and makes her wear latex gloves. And when a letter sends her rushing back to her childhood home, all her attempts to put a stop to the schemes of her aunt and mother re-emphasise her essential exclusion from their intimacy. "I used to tell myself I was one of them. That we were three twins," she confides to the local copper. Like triplets, he suggests. No, hers was the forlorn fantasy of being a third twin.

Anna Calder-Marshall piercingly traces Iola's erratic shifts between eccentric scattiness (boiling Menna's mobile in the teapot, for example) and bewildered, bullying violence, while Anna Carteret brings a moving dignity to the anguish and determination of her unafflicted sibling. Chloe Lamford's excellent design hangs swags of soiled sails over the proceedings and surreally displays a miniature model of the farmhouse in a bubbling fish tank. Just as Prices's script seamlessly combines the dotty and the distressing, so it is able at once to invoke poetic marine myths and hilariously debunk them. There seems to be a tradition in this family of fathers going missing. Is it because they were mermen? Anest suggests a more prosaic explanation. "What's more likely," she asks, "that he's a cheating bastard, or half-fish?"

To 3 December (0844 871 7632)

Booth in talks for Kick Ass sequel

Lindy Booth is in talks to play Night Bitch, a superhero with no powers, in Kick-Ass 2: Balls to the Wall. Directed by Jeff Wadlow, the sequel sees Aaron Johnson and Chloe Moretz reprise their respective roles of Kick-Ass and Hit-Girl with Christopher Mintz-Plasse returning as the villainous Red Mist.

Will Jolie take on Cleopatra?

Hollywood is getting hot under the collar about Cleopatra with Columbia Pictures, courting Ang Lee to direct a movie starring Angelina Jolie. The project has been coveted by directors since Scott Rudin acquired Stacy Schiff’s non-fiction book Cleopatra: A Life and began developing it as a Jolie vehicle.

McTiernan faces jail over wiretaps

Die Hard director John McTiernan faces 12 months in prison for his links with the private investigator Anthony Pellicano and illegal wiretaps. The case has bounced around for five years. The filmmaker was first indicted for hiring Pellicano to wiretap The Dark Knight Rises producer Chuck Roven.

DeGeneres set for Nemo sequel

Ellen DeGeneres is being lured back to reprise her role in Disney/Pixar’s planned Finding Nemo sequel. Assuming a successful cast, DeGeneres would voice Dory, a fish suffering from short-term memory loss. Writer/director Andrew Stanton, who wrote the original 2003 film and co-directed it, is set to return.

Gaghan’s Candy Store irresistible

Writer-director Stephen Gaghan has written a crime-thriller, Candy Store. Such is the Oscar-winning scribe’s draw, the script already has Brad Pitt and Denzel Washington sniffing around. No deals are done but if the film comes together it would mark Gaghan’s highest-profile directing project since 2005’s Syriana.

Smith will play wannabe MP Mrs Crumb, the mother of young heroine Chloe who befriends a whiffy tramp in the best-selling children's tale.

She will be joined by comedian Johnny Vegas, who has been added to the one-hour film, playing her husband Mr Crumb.

Olivier Award-winning Smith, 31, has recently been seen in ITV's drama Mrs Biggs, playing the wife of great train robber Ronald Biggs. She is also known for Two Pints Of Lager, as well as her stage roles in Legally Blonde and Rattigan's The Flare Path.

She is currently playing the title role in Hedda Gabler at the Old Vic.

Downton Abbey star Hugh Bonneville was recently announced in the lead role as the homeless but refined Mr Stink who goes to live in lonely Chloe's shed. Walliams will also make an appearance playing the prime minister after notably playing a fawning aide to the PM in his hit comedy Little Britain.

Smith said: "David is such a brilliant writer, and the character just jumped off the page when I read it. I can't wait to work with Hugh and Johnny."

The book by Walliams, who has worked with Men Behaving Badly writer Simon Nye to adapt the tale, has sold more than a quarter of a million copies.

Chloe's "perfect" younger sister Annabelle is being played by Isabella Blake-Thomas, who appeared as Violet-Elizabeth Bott in the BBC's Just William adaptations two years ago.

The BBC is working with Walliams's production company on the family story, expected to be screened around Christmas.

Mr Stink was Walliams's second children's book and was shortlisted for a Blue Peter award for the best book of the past decade, but lost out to Diary Of A Wimpy Kid.


I dare say most people would not have heard of Ms Smith, pictured, until the other night, when she was sent into gladiatorial combat with Paxman to explain the Government's decision to scrap the 3p fuel duty rise announced in August. Armed with nothing more than a pleasant manner and a few practised platitudes, Ms Smith's performance came across like a trailer for The Thick of It. As the answers to Paxman's grilling got more vague, her arms moved more wildly, almost assuming a life of their own. You didn't need to be a body-language expert to work out she wasn't waving, but drowning.

Ms Smith, 30, is a beneficiary of the MPs' expenses scandal, winning the Norwich North seat in a by-election after the resignation of Ian Gibson. She became the youngest person in the Government when she was appointed Economic Secretary to the Treasury. I would like to bet that she's a very competent, confident person in what might loosely be called real life, but that's not much to fall back on when Paxman has been let off the leash and hasn't had any red meat for a while.

Of course, she was given a hospital pass by George Osborne's department – a point made with characteristic pomposity, and opportunism, by John Prescott yesterday – but we have a right to expect a minister to have a certain mastery of his or her brief, and old Paxo was perfectly within his rights to give her a going over.

He was as remorseless and dismissive and supercilious to Ms Smith as he was to Michael Howard all those years ago, when he asked the same question 14 times. Nevertheless, what seemed like aggressive journalism in the public interest when a grizzled veteran like Mr Howard was the subject (or victim, more like) felt rather different when a young woman was in the firing line.

The imbalance of power between Paxman and Ms Smith threw off the faint aroma of bullying, but one of the laudable aspects of his style of interviewing is that he is completely gender blind, so perhaps we should be, too. And, judging from the response of the Twitterati, the principal loser from this unfortunate situation will be Mr Osborne, who was likened to an armchair general sending in his young troops as cannon fodder.

On Ms Smith's website yesterday, there was no mention of her appearance; she's more concerned with the shortcomings of our rail system preventing her from getting to the Royal Norfolk Show. There, no doubt, she'll encounter creatures with tough hides and thick skins. And they won't even have heard of Paxman!

The company said the sales have exceeded its expectations and it also revealed that two million games have been sold globally since the Vita's launch in Japan on December 17 last year.

The machine was finally released in America and Europe this month, selling 800,000 units.

When added to the 400,000 sold in Japan, the overall salesbase is 1.2 million.

In comparison, Vita's rival, the Nintendo 3DS, is said to have sold 400,000 unit sales over its Japanese launch weekend although it has gone on to sell 6.7 million consoles worldwide in the eight months since.

The Vita is essentially a remodelling of the Sony PlayStation Portable, adding a second thumbstick which gamers say it vital for playing many titles.

Featuring a large screen and a rear touchpad and coming in WiFi-only and 3G versions, it has been bolstered by critcally acclaimed games such as handheld versions of the popular Uncharted franchise and another iteration of WipEout.

SCE group president Andrew House told MCV magazine: "PS Vita was designed to deliver the ultimate portable entertainment experience, and we couldn’t be more thrilled with the reaction we’re seeing from consumers and the pace at which PS Vita is selling."


Top three Vita games


Uncharted: Golden Abyss

A small-screen version of a big console classic, Uncharted: Golden Abyss is seen as the flagship launch game for the Vita. Although it is lighter on the cut scenes and cliff-hanging set-pieces, it retains the ethos of the series to date. As a boys-own adventure - and despite not including the popular female characters Elena and Chloe - it sets a high bar for future handheld releases and it looks as lush as the PS3 version.


WipEout 2048

When the PlayStation launched in the mid-1990s, WipEout was one of the outstanding early games and it helped to heave gaming out of the bedroom and into mainstream lives. It became a favourite in clubs up and down the UK but it was also a tricky beast. Today the controls are more fluid, the action is just as slick and fast and it is retains all of the challenge of its predecessors. There are few finer racers out there.


Everybody's Golf

Games such as Everybody's Golf are almost expected launch titles for a Sony games console and while it is not going to be the game that makes your gran pick up the handheld in the hope of some Wii Sports-style play, it is nevertheless a cute and fun game of golf which is well worth buying, particularly because it is available for just under £30 (Sony, to its credit, has unveiled more fluid price structures for Vita games).

Photographs: Andrew Leo

Model: Zhulin at IMG

Hair and make-up: Krystle G using Chanel S 2012 and Hydra beauty Serum

Photographer's assistant: Chloe Coates

Stylist's assistant: Magda Bryk

Location courtesy of the Barbican Centre;

But that's another story, for in the time it takes to walk to the lifts, Beacham has eyeballed me with amusement and we've made a connection. By the time the lift has reached the 32nd floor, she's telling me how young people "now call a blow-job a blowey" and all about her dog, Sienna, rescued from Houston gangland and "tattooed like a Russian tart".

But then there are two Stephanie Beachams, it transpires. Or rather there is 'Stephy', whose interest is in decorating houses and making jewellery, and there is 'Stephanie Beacham', who is sent out to work in order to keep 'Stephy' comfortable in her pink, Malibu, cliff-top house ("better for tsunamis"), her mews cottage in Bayswater ("or a pissed-in passage in Paddington") and a house in Marrakech, Morocco, that she bought during the post-9/11, anti-Muslim hysteria in order to make up her own mind about Islam. "Stephanie Beacham feeds me," confides Stephy. "She is the cash cow and we have to keep her going. She has to go and get her hair done. Stephy doesn't look in a mirror.

"Don't make me sound schizophrenic," she adds hastily, but her arrangement seems admirably sane to me. Anyway, Stephy/Stephanie Beacham – for clarity's sake let's call her Beacham – has been on this side of the Atlantic for most of the summer, filming Sky1's supermarket comedy, Trollied, in which she plays a new manageress. "She's not Hilary Devey [of Dragons' Den fame], but she smokes 40 cigarettes a day," says Beacham in a husky, Hilary Devey-esque Lancashire accent. "She does her eyeliner on the bus and from 20 feet away she cuts a figure, but close-up she looks terrifying."

The 65-year-old Beacham is anything but terrifying in close-up. I'm far too ancient to be considered one of the 'toy boys' that delighted tabloid hacks for so long, but it's plain to see her allure for all those young men she has now abandoned. "I had to give them up," she says. "I was getting older and older and they were staying the same age – I always said they came in at 27 and I got rid of them at 32." She's now in a long-term relationship with an older man, a West Country doctor called Bernie. "He came as a surprise… out of left-field," she says. "Before he came along I was thinking, 'That's it – I retire'."

She also thinks the role in Trollied may be "game-changing" for her, and the start, she hopes, "of really fun character roles" – although she took it originally to be near her grandson, Jude, in Bristol, and to help her daughter, Phoebe, who has well-publicised problems with depression and drugs. Any improvement there, I enquire? Beacham shakes her head sadly, but this is the one area of her life she refuses to discuss.

The stunning panorama of London from the top of Centre Point proves a bit of a distraction – Beacham breaking off midpoint to snap (Stephy likes taking photographs and painting) such landmarks as the Gherkin ("cheeky"), the Shard ("it looks unfinished"), her anecdotes as picturesque and wide-ranging as the view. Like being offered £40,000 for a one-night stand ("I was 20 – you could buy a house for four grand in those days so I suppose that wasn't a bad offer") and that blacklisting incident, instigated by the powerful Hollywood producer Joseph E Levine. "He said, 'You walk out of this office with that attitude and you're dead'. Sam Peckinpah wanted to use me for Straw Dogs, apparently, and he said, 'You must have done something really bad because I'm a son of a bitch who can make anyone do anything and they won't let me use you'."

This was in 1972, stunting a highly promising career that had begun opposite Ava Gardner and continuing with Marlon Brando (who was to become a close friend), but was now largely restricted to the meagre offerings of the British film industry during its 1970s nadir, schlock such as And Now the Screaming Starts!, Schizo and Inseminoid.

"Insecticide as I called it," she says. "If I just snipped the scissors through it you could make a really classy CV. Unfortunately it's got some ugly things in there. For example, I had a play I wanted to do and I had Inseminoid – but I also had two babies upstairs who were my responsibility and I had £2,000-worth of bills sitting in front of me and so that was the decision made."

Single motherhood – bringing up daughters Phoebe and Chloe – began in 1979 after the break-up of her six-year marriage to the actor John McEnery. "Wrong man", she says. "I was an idiot and he's the first person to admit it.f But the point is we're now friends… in fact he was round having coffee when I was in London a week ago."

Salvation came in the form of Tenko, the acclaimed BBC drama about women inmates in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp, and the eponymous lead role in Connie, the underrated ITV rag-trade saga that was also a comment on Thatcherite Britain, and led directly to Beacham's casting opposite Charlton Heston in The Colbys – Aaron Spelling's spin-off from his hit US soap, Dynasty. When, after two seasons, The Colbys was cancelled, Beacham was invited to flounce off with Sable and join Joan Collins' Alexis Carrington on Dynasty for a season-long "battle of the bitches". Catch them on YouTube – they're hilarious, a wonderfully insincere "whoops" as Sable spills a drink down Alexis's décolletage, or (my favourite) her description of an ex-parte agreement: "Don't you understand Latin? It means the party's over".

"Camp enough for you?" asks Beacham wryly. "It got so silly but generally we did it. Bless Joan Collins. If it wasn't for Joan they would have thought an English accent wasn't understandable. Joan and I are nothing like each other, but she was very welcoming. We felt we represented the Eighties. Joan still is – if they've got a big enough spread, I'll be there too," she says, referring me to a recent advert for Snickers, starring Collins in fully Dynasty rig, but also featuring Beacham. "I only get the tail-end of it," she says. "Joan was kind enough to say, 'Let Stephanie do it', because she didn't want Linda [Evans] to do it." Ah, just like old times.

Sable was followed by a recurring role as Luke Perry's estranged mother in Beverly Hills 90210 and an oceanographer in Steven Spielberg's submarine adventure, SeaQuest DSV. But mainly, says Beacham, "the Nineties were about the death of parents. All my choices were so that I could be on the same time-frame as my mother… so I could talk to my mummy every day". Her mother, Joan, had been a housewife in Barnet, her father working in insurance, and Beacham once thought that sounded so uninteresting that she told as reporter she was born in Casablanca.

The Noughties saw her returning to British television – three years in Bad Girls ("fun, but not an absorbing job") and a stint in Coronation Street as Ken Barlow's bit-of-cultured-posh-on-the-side, the barge-dwelling Martha Fraser. "I started that with a lot of major problems and Bill (William Roache, who plays Barlow) was an ideal companion – he's so lovely. And then his wife died suddenly and I think it was a time that we were just meant to be working together. I think he believes the same thing as well."

Beacham's "major problems" included the death of her older brother. "He was only 70," she says. "The only thing I didn't do right was that he had a blackout – he thought it was a near-death experience – and he said, 'Stephy, I didn't see anything' and I didn't reassure him. Foolishly with my beliefs I didn't send him off." What are her beliefs? "I'm not a Christian… I'm open to all-comers. The most terrible thing is the absolute certainty of teenagers and Hitler."

I say I'm surprised she isn't a Christian, given the vivid nature of her own "near-death experience" in London's Royal Free Hospital in 1983. "I got gangrene," she recalls. "It was a mucked-up operation and I did the old white-light business. I was going towards the most magnificent and beautiful light and funnily enough it was the stone of Jesus's tomb and the light was behind it. I was being led by rough-hewn, brown, Franciscan monks."

In fact, there was speculation during her stay in Celebrity Big Brother in 2010, one of the reality show's vintage seasons, that she had been converted by Bible-thumping, born-again Christian Stephen Baldwin. "I loved that show," she says. "It was like being in a convent – it was poverty, it was chastity and obedience." Not a description many viewers would recognise, I suggest. "More obedience than I think people watching realise," she says, "a lot of temperature turning down and turning up… a lot of manipulation.

"I was doing it for the money," she adds, straying into the blindingly obvious, although she won't say how much. "I turned it down three times and they offered me such ridiculous amount of money I would have been mad not to do it. I thought I was going to be kicked out after the first day because of my demographic." Instead, audiences warmed to her relationship with Ivana Trump, bonding over life's little luxuries ("I was really jealous of the percale of her sheets"), and her role as peace-maker amid a volatile mixture of Vinnie Jones machismo, Stephen Baldwin eccentricity and Heidi Fleiss fragility. "I loved Heidi Fleiss, and I'm still in touch with Ivana," says Beacham, who beforehand sought tips from someone she knew in the SAS about surviving in a hostage situation. "Always look after the weakest member of the group – that was Heidi Fleiss; never volunteer – humiliation is their tool; find everything that happens to you funny."

And Beacham does see the funny side of most things, although she admits to being dragged down by her deafness in one ear, the result of her mother contracting chickenpox during pregnancy. However, there are small compensations. Disability means that her two dogs, Nutrina and the aforementioned Sienna, get to travel with her in first class when she jets between LA and London. "When my assistant brought them over for the first time they said, 'You're only allowed one service dog' and she said, 'But they only work eight-hour shifts…'.

"I think the deafness affects me more than I realise, I think it makes me more tired. I loathe parties. I attend, smile and leave." In fact, she's now reluctantly heading off to a party being thrown for Sky talent. She invites me along, but I have to be somewhere else – a pity because it would fun to catch Stephy's acerbic asides while Stephanie Beacham dutifully attends and smiles.

I leave her as I found her, standing stock still, a petite statue amid the madding crowd, her hair immaculately in place.

'Trollied' is on Sky1 HD at 9pm on Fridays

Security at the flat was tight and basic contents insurance was included in the room charge, but it was while she was on a weekend visit to a friend in Nottingham that she was robbed. "I had my phone stolen from my bag on a night out at a club in Nottingham. It was an iPhone 4. I'd just walked into the club, and went straight to the bar. I put the bag on the counter and just turned round and found the bag was unzipped and my ID and phone were missing," says Glews.

The bar manager was sympathetic but told her that there had been a spate of similar thefts in the club. Normally standard contents insurance wouldn't have covered her for the loss, but Glews had been sensible enough to take out an additional policy with that covered high-value personal possessions away from home. After reporting the loss to the police and getting a crime number, Glews telephoned her insurance company, Endsleigh Insurance, the following morning. She says her claims adviser was extremely helpful and with a minimum of formality a cheque for the £400 value of the phone, minus a £10 excess charge, was on its way. "The loss was reported on Easter Saturday and the cheque came through on Tuesday immediately after the bank holiday," says Glews.

Glews paid her premium in instalments of £10 a month, a sum easily budgeted for, unlike the loss of something as vital as a phone. Not all of her friends are so prudent.

"One of my friends, she's never had insurance and she's had four phones lost or stolen. Her dad's very patient. But after the last time, he put his foot down and made her take out insurance," recalls Glews. She adds that few of her contemporaries are aware of the high cost of an iPhone or that such a phone makes them a target for thieves. "If you get it supplied free under a contract you just aren't aware of how expensive it is to replace. Mobile phone companies will offer insurance when you buy so it makes sense to take up that offer," says Glews.

Theft prevention and insurance is something universities take very seriously these days, especially when students bring high-value items such as mobile phones and laptops to their halls of residence. "Insurance is essential, especially in a big city, and we encourage our students to make sure their belongings are covered. Comparison sites are a good way to shop around for the best deal and to find one which fits their needs while watching out for inflated premiums and high excesses," says Mark Crawley, dean of students and director of widening participation and progression at the University of the Arts London, the umbrella body that covers Central St Martins and the major London art and design colleges.

At University of the Arts London, contents insurance is included in the charge for a room at halls of residence and claims can be made through the university. "We have an excellent relationship with our insurers and we can help students settle claims quickly. But if they have any unusually high value kit, like high-end cameras or computers, they can extend their cover when they arrive," adds Crawley.

Prevention and awareness are also important. Goldsmiths, University of London includes information on personal security on its induction material, on its student website, and on the contract students sign when applying to live in halls of residence. "We tell them to lock up before you go out and to always include friends in your travel arrangements so no one's travelling alone at night," says Sue Tarhan, accommodation services manager. Halls are extremely secure with 24-hour security on site and resident assistants working on a rota system to provide care and advice.

Last year, Goldsmiths offered contents insurance as part of its service to students in halls. This covered students' loss of valuables if flats were broken into and flood and fire damage to articles in rooms. Water leaks can easily cause damage. The university's insurance will cover up to £3,000 for the loss of a mobile phone, £2,500 for a computer and up to £600 for a musical instrument, or for jewellery or watches.

Not all claims are as dramatic as a flood, fire or theft. It is important to be covered for everyday accidents, especially for peace of mind. Charlotte Binks was in her second year of a business studies BSc at Coventry University when a late night essay came to an abrupt end.

"It was during the end of year exams and I was working at my desk late at night with a glass of water on the side when my dress caught the edge of the glass and tipped the contents right over my MacBook Pro. It died straightaway," she says. Fortunately she had taken out a top-up policy covering loss or damage to expensive IT and phone equipment.

Following advice from the manufacturer, Binks unplugged the laptop and stood it on its side for the water to drain out before putting it in a warm dry place. It was no use and armed with a report from the Apple Store Binks contacted Endsleigh who paid up immediately.

For students away from home for the first time, taking out insurance is a wise precaution. Though it is fair to say that if you are thinking of taking your rare Stradivarius violin to your student halls of residence, forget it! The premiums alone would probably cancel the hall fees – and then some!

Save with first online Sainsbury's shop

New customers doing their first grocery shop using Sainsbury's' online store are entitled to £10 off purchases over £50. To claim the discount simply enter the code 4FG6-J3ND-RRPH at the checkout. The offer is only available to customers opening a new online account with the supermarket, and can only be used on a single grocery shop.

Designs on a deal with Bronx Shoes

Bronx Shoes specialise in making similar versions of high-end footwear that often come in at less than 10 per cent of the price of the designer products. A current example is a black leather boot with a similar stud and buckle design to a Chloe shoe. The Chloe version costs £850, while Bronx's is just £80. Visit BronxShoes.com for more information.

Hurry up for Wallis money-off offer

New customers shopping at Wallis only have today to claim £10 off orders over £50. The offer created in partnership with , is activated by entering the code MVC50 at the Wallis checkout, and expires at midnight. Get your orders in quick at

Sweet discount on Greggs doughnuts

Greggs has a discount on the new addition to its "superstar doughnuts" range. Four cinnamon "ball" doughnuts with whipped-cream fillings and icing are available for £2.15. Visit .

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Adidas, supplier of Olympic kit for Team GB – including cyclist Victoria Pendleton – has slashed sales forecasts for its Reebok brand after it lost to Nike the rights to supply all NFL American football jerseys. The company also discovered fraud in its Indian business. Adidas chopped Reebok's targets by €1bn to just €2bn

HMV woes mount in slow summer

Loss-making retailer HMV blamed a "very quiet new release schedule" in music, DVD and games markets for poor summer sales. Like-for-like retail sales at HMV fell by 11.6 per cent over the 20 weeks to 15 September. The company, which has 243 shops in the UK and Ireland, suffered a loss of £16.2m for the year to April.

Buyers circle Aer Lingus stake

Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary said the low cost airline has received a number of approaches to buy its 30 per cent stake in Aer Lingus. Addressing shareholders at yesterday's annual meeting in Dublin, O'Leary said Ryanair had been approached by other airlines and financial institutions who wanted to break up Aer Lingus.

G4S recovers in Scotland

Beleaguered security giant G4S has won its first British contract since failing to provide enough guards for the London Olympics. The £20m, five-year deal with the Scottish government to manage electronic tagging of offenders comes at a crucial time for G4S. It has already taken a £50m hit on the Games.

BP eyes Rosneft share swoop

Oil giant BP yesterday said it was ready to invest in state-owned Russian rival Rosneft if the British firm sold its 50 per cent stake in troubled joint venture TNK-BP. BP said: "If we are successful in selling our stake in TNK-BP we would be interested in investing some of the proceeds in buying shares in Rosneft."

Bloomsbury in Indian move

Harry Potter publisher Bloomsbury has launched its own imprint in India. Chief executive Nigel Newton has high hopes for Bloomsbury India, saying the country has "probably more of the book-buying demographic than that of the UK, US and Canada combined".

British Land sells supermarkets

British Land has sold seven supermarkets to a variety of investors for a total of £118m. The property group, which is the largest owner of supermarket buildings outside the retailers themselves, said all the sites had been sold at or above their March book value.

Investec bankers sue for bonuses

Two former Investec bankers are suing the Anglo-South African financial services group for £6.3m in a claim for unpaid bonuses. Andrew Brogden, who ran the structured finance desk until 2011, and deputy Robert Reid have made the claim, which the bank said "had no merit". whatsoever."

Achica breaks through 1m mark

Achica, the online homewares retailer set up by the co-founder of Asos, said its customer numbers have smashed through the 1 million barrier this month. The private members' site sells luxury brands at up to 70 per cent off via flash sales lasting 48 hours.

Millar time as Richemont buys

Luxury goods giant Richemont yesterday added upmarket leisure-wear brand Peter Millar to a wardrobe, which already holds Chloe clothes and Cartier jewellery. The deal for the brand comes weeks after a Burberry profit warning shook the sector.

The financial advisory group Hargreaves Lansdown has posted record results, with annual revenues up 15 per cent at £239m and profits up more than a fifth at £153m. Its co-founder Peter Hargreaves, whose 34 per cent stake is set to net him a £34m dividend payout, said: "We have done incredibly well in the face of such malign markets."

Ashley jackpot as JJB flourishes

Sports Direct has shown its troubled arch-rival JJB Sports a clean pair of heels , posting a 25 per cent rise in sales in recent months to £519m, with profits up 20 per cent to £211m. This leaves its founder andowner Mike Ashley in line to pocket 8 million shares under his bonus deal, worth £256m at yesterday's share price.

Richemont luxury sales soar 12%

Chinese consumers have been flying to Europe to take advantage of thefalling euro to buy Cartier watches, Mont Blanc pens and Chloe handbags, according to the Swiss luxury group Richemont, which has reported jewellery sales up 12 per cent and forecasts a 20 to 40 per cent jump in first-half profits.

Fennell in talks with EME Capital

Theo Fennell, the king-of-bling jeweller beloved by Victoria Beckham and Sir Elton John, is in talks to be taken over by a private-equity house. The company confirmed it is in "very preliminary talks" with the private-equity firm EME Capital, perhaps best-known as bankers to the night club firm Soho House.

Fees soar by 70% in four years

Mortgage fees have reached new high levels, according to analysts at Moneyfacts. Four years ago the average fee was £889. Since then it's climbed 70 per cent to £1,514. Sylvia Waycot of Moneyfacts said: "There is no logical reason why fees have increased so much. In August and September alone, they have increased by an average of £42."

UK rises in global competition table

The UK has climbed from 10th to eighth place in the World Economic Forum's annual league table of global competitiveness. The table is onceagain topped by Switzerland. The WEF said the UK benefited from an "efficient labour market" and was praised for having "sophisticated and innovative businesses".

Blessing wants pay linked to economy

Bankers' pay must be geared more towards pay in the real economy, Martin Blessing, the chief executive of Commerzbank, said yesterday. Hissalary has been limited to below £400,000 after the German bank needed astate bailout.

Direct Line to axe jobs and call centre

Direct Line Insurance plans to cut 891 jobs to make it more profitable as it heads towards a £3bn stock market listing. Britain's largest motor insurer, part of Royal Bank of Scotland, is looking to close its call centre in Teesside and cut costs at its head office in Bromley.

Casino and bingo games boost 32Red

The online gaming firm 32Red has posted a 50 per cent rise in half-yearly revenues to a record £16.5m, boosted by casino and bingo games. It said the buoyant performance has continued despite the "distraction" of the Olympics.

Prezzo profits are on the rise

Prezzo has posted a 14 per cent rise in half-yearly revenues to £68m as it opened 12 new restaurants. The group, which runs 194 Italian restaurants, reported a 4 per cent rise in underlying profits to £7.6m. Prezzo opened seven new restaurants in its first half last year.

Critic's stout denial

It is not unheard of for hardbitten news reporters on rival titles to wrong-foot each other, but who knew that things were so cut-throat on the arts pages? As the curtain came down on a late-running out-of-town show last week, London critics fled to catch the approaching train on an infrequent service. But when one reviewer, faced with a sprint down the high street that would serve as an Olympic qualifier event, asked Mark Shenton of the Daily Express and The Stage if she could hitch a ride in his taxi, he pronounced the car full, climbed in with his two companions and slammed the doors shut as the driver sped off, leaving one surprised woman of a certain age standing in the road. But hang on, taxis take four passengers, don't they? Shenton is the well-built pal and Critics' Circle ally of Financial Times critic Ian Shuttleworth, or Fatty, as he was dubbed in a spat with The Daily Telegraph's Tim Walker, which led to factions standing on opposite sides of the room at interval drinks time. Maybe needing extra room in the car is a sign that Shenton too has chosen avoirdupois over chivalry.

Job risks

And talking of chivalry, popular singer and actor Jess Conrad OBE, 76, has been talking about the success of his fast-selling new CD of old favourites, Dreamboats and Petticoats: Three Steps To Heaven. Jess, though, seems to know more about crooning than he does about chivalry, or even self-deprecation. He tells me: "I still get women throwing underwear at me. It used to be skimpy, but these days there's a lot of pretty large button-gusset stuff and it's a bit of a health and safety issue – they could have my eye out!" He adds: "I'm a sex symbol for women who no longer care. I mean, women still fall for me – but that's only because they can't stand up."


What lies behind Rupert Murdoch's casual dismissal of "the English", when asked why he was reluctant to invest in the UK. Author Peter Jukes, who is just finishing his book The Fall of the House of Murdoch, tells me it's all down to Murdoch, with his Scottish Presbyterian ancestry, seeing himself as "a poor colonial boy, fighting against elites and the 'English' establishment".

"Murdoch effectively parlayed the anti-establishment rhetoric of the New Right, derived from Richard Nixon, to a British audience. So much of that rhetoric, especially in Scotland, comes from the imagined community of betrayed Borderlanders," says Jukes, who says Murdoch was heavily influenced by Richard Nixon's famous 1952 "Checkers" speech. "Nixon hailed from a Scottish background, like so many of the shock jocks and avatars of the New Right from the 60s onwards: Nixon, Limbaugh, Coulter, Beck, Perry. They tally with a wave of Scottish immigration, trapped between the Protestants of New England and the Royalists of the South, who migrated along the marginal lands of the Appalachians, through Tennessee and the Ozarks to Oklahoma, and then followed through to southern California in the depression."

Who he?

Notwithstanding Janet Street-Porter's strictures referenced in her column today, we shouldn't be too hard on poor Chloe Smith, who was on the wrong end of a Paxo-bashing on Newsnight on Tuesday. Despite having had a rough time of it on Channel 4 News at 7pm that evening, evidently she did little to improve her prospects in the intervening three hours or so before appearing with Paxo. But it's quite possible she didn't know who he was. She didn't have a TV until she entered parliament in 2009. Laudable, maybe, but unwise for a modern politician, surely.

What a card

Herman van Rompuy, President of the European Council, may be many things to many people. Ukip leader Nigel Farage, for example, said a couple of years ago that Van Rompuy has "all the charisma of a damp rag and the appearance of a low-grade bank clerk". But you can't say he lacks magnanimity. Those who attended Stanhope Capital's debate on the future of Europe last week heard Farage admit that he and Mr Van Rompuy will never be bosom buddies, "but he did send me a Christmas card last year". "I was totally astonished when I opened it," says Farage, who was lucky to survive a plane crash a few months after issuing his damning verdict. "Perhaps he felt sorry for me after my trials and tribulations. But if he thinks I'm going to ease up on him, he's got another think coming.


For the third year in succession, David Cameron will be spending at least part of the summer holidays in Cornwall. So be braced for lots of, er, cheesy, or indeed meaty photo-opportunities of Dave tucking into a tax-free warm pasty....

'Oy George

Exciting news from clubland. Iain Duncan Smith has been made an honorary life member of Pratt's, saving himself the annual £265 per year membership fee. Pratt's, as you won't need reminding, is a gentleman's club just behind the Ritz in central London. The male staff are all called George, presumably to save members the bother of remembering their names. The club suffered a crisis in the 1980s when a woman took a key drink-pouring post, but further angst was averted when it was agreed that she should be called Georgina.

High notes

Booking opens on Friday for the viewing galleries at the Shard, architect Renzo Piano's crystalline London spike, but the musically minded may be able to get to the top another way. Composer Samuel Bordoli wants to use the Shard as a concert venue. His "Live Music Sculpture", to be played a week today above the newly installed Olympic rings on Tower Bridge, could be a precursor to a performance at the Shard. In the Tower Bridge work, 30 instrumentalists will be dispersed around the vast 42-metre-long walkway at the top of the bridge, enabling the audience (also in the walkway, high above the road) to hear music which, rather than emanating from one source as in a conventional concert, effectively envelopes them. Bordoli is a believer in audiences' "remarkable ability to hear and process 360-degree sound", and is keen to immerse them in it. Given that the Shard is, at 310 metres tall, the highest building in Europe, with 95 floors and a £450m price tag, in Bordoli's hands it has the potential to be the world's largest and costliest glass harmonica, too.

Green, 20, is the daughter of Sir Philip Green, the Topshop tycoon and fearsome fashion mogul behind the Arcadia group, which is home to the high street stores Miss Selfridge, Dorothy Perkins, Wallis and Burton.

Better known until now for appearing in the reality TV series Made in Chelsea, Chloe made her first foray into the family business this week, with an eight-piece footwear collection available in her father's many outlets.

CJG, after the designer's own initials, is a capsule of hyper-high heels and wedges for the ultra-glamorous; every style of footwear, be it stilettos or booties, is equipped with a towering platform that makes other vertiginous shoes on the market look practically sensible in comparison.

"My girlfriends and I sat down and spoke about shoes," Green says. "What we wanted, needed, and everything kind of started from there." It goes without saying that what the daughter of Britain's 17th richest man needs from a shoe is rather different from what the rest of us look for – these are not for you if you need to run for a bus, have to do your own supermarket shop, or are lowly enough to ever have to bend over.

But of course, walking is certainly not what these shoes are made for. They tap into exactly the sort of taxi-to-table lifestyle that seems so prevalent right now, despite the supposed "age of austerity". Just look at the guest list from Green's launch party last month: most of her Made in Chelsea chums, and a healthy smattering of faces from its rival series The Only Way is Essex (the common ones). Aspirational doesn't even begin to cover it.

"Designing my first shoe collection is a dream come true," Green adds. "Each shoe is named after someone special to me."

The gold peep-toe booties that I tried are dubbed "Tiger Lily" (£150), in homage to an unknown, but presumably rather glitzy, friend. Each pair in the collection is finished with a jade green, lacquered sole – a nod to the success of the scarlet soles of shoe-turier Christian Louboutin. Green knows her stuff.

The question is, though, can she design shoes? In a recent interview with Grazia, she laid bare her creative process: colouring in pre-printed templates. More traditional cordwainers need not worry then.

Shoppers are suckers for shoes: you get a lot of wear from them; they won't look any different if you get a bit fat; and they fulfil every last gaudy fashion fantasy that you dare not wear above your ankles. In that respect, she clearly has her father's eye for a prize.

But while Green's shoes may be high, they're far from the height of cool – which isn't to say they won't sell well among the clubbing classes. The exaggerated chunky soles and 14cm heels in the collection feel dated, but Green's fans won't care about that. And as I teeter ludicrously down the street, I certainly feel swayed by the power of celebrity. Swayed almost to the point of falling on my face.

It's fairly well known (publicists are relentless) that I had wanted to write something about King George VI ever since "Bertie" became my boyhood hero for handling his stammer a great deal better than I was handling mine.

"Listen to him," my parents urged, as we crowded around our wood-cabinet vacuum-tube wartime radio, listening to his measured tones accompanied by a symphony of static.

"He was far worse than you," the parental team assured me. "Listen to him now." Translation: there's still some hope for you, poor stammering blighter.

Years later I started doing some research and stumbled across the King's speech specialist, Lionel Logue – an untrained, non-credentialed Australian wannabe actor with a Harley Street practice. Ah ha!

I made contact with one of his sons, Valentine, who offered to meet with me and show the notebooks his father kept while treating the King. There was one minor caveat: I had to get permission from the Queen Mother. She wrote, "Please, not during my lifetime, the memory of those events is still too painful." I dutifully waited a quarter of a century until that wonderful lady had her last gin and tonic. Then I got to write the movie and the play. Got what I wanted. Easy peasy. Not quite.

I was two thirds into the screenplay when I had the distinct feeling that air was leaking from the tyres. I showed the pages to my then wife who, with great diplomacy, suggested that while of course it was utterly brilliant, it was just a tad... er... diffuse. She recommended – as an exercise – it might benefit by first being written as a play. The physical limitations of the stage would force me to concentrate on my key relationship. After all, The King's Speech is basically two men in a room. If that tent-pole were firmly erected I could then hang everything from it like Christmas tree ornaments.

Trouble was, once written, I began to view it as far more than an exercise. I'd always wanted, above all things, to be a playwright. Being a born show-off is an unfortunate state for a boy who can't speak publicly. However, if stammering meant I couldn't say the lines, at least a playwright might create them. So I wrote leaden imitations of George Bernard Shaw, and the occasional earnest homage to Bertolt Brecht.

It will not come as a total shock to learn that this didn't help me earn a living. Then, after decades of bill-paying years in the trenches of Madison Avenue, Fleet Street and Hollywood... Eureka! TKS had been born.

My offering made its way to the desk of a fledgling producer, who managed to arrange a reading at the Pleasance theatre in Islington. The director, Alan Cohen, had only a few hours to work with the cast and then... There I was listening to my play. People were laughing, crying, clapping. Good Lord.

Afterwards, a nice couple came over and asked if they could send the piece to their son. I had no idea who they were, or who their son was, but feeling benign, I said "Send to your heart's content." Later I learned that their son was the TV and film director Tom Hooper.

Tom didn't read it. Not for months. I suppose directing 14 hours of the TV mini-series John Adams was time consuming. Meanwhile, attempts were being made to get the play produced. Some of the very best people in London said no. A rejection note I will always treasure came from a reader at the National Theatre who sniffed, "This is not yet a play, and if it were to become one it still wouldn't be for us." I've had it framed.

Other energies were afoot. Bedlam Productions and See-Saw Films teamed up and raised enough development money for me to transform my stage play back into a screenplay. That took about two weeks. Geoffrey Rush committed to play Logue. Momentum jumped in on the UK side, The Weinstein Company from the other side of the Atlantic.

After six months silence, Tom Hooper surfaced and asked if the rights were available. I said no, but the job of director was. Suddenly we were off to the races. Colin Firth came on as Bertie (did I get lucky!) and a truly Best of British cast was assembled.

When Tom first read my script, he declared it the best he'd ever been sent. I reminded him of that several dozen drafts later. In the process I learned, scene by scene, line by line, the difference between what works on the screen and on stage. I'm grateful for the lesson.

The film went on to win every gong in sight and make buckets and buckets of money for everyone except the author (bad contract!)

"No, you can't always get what you waaaaaaant." Which sounds like I'm being an ungrateful sod. But truly, I was thrilled with the film. Yet I desperately wanted to see it on stage.

Then, miraculously, it started to happen. The first requirement was a name director.

A friend was appearing in a production of The Madness of King George, directed by Adrian Noble. When I saw it, I knew he was a man who understood how to do a history play.

Timing, however, presented a problem. The film was almost too successful. Would people really want to see it again, albeit in a different form? Would there be any actors brave enough to test their mettle against the acclaimed work of Firth and Rush? It was decided that it would be very modest. A nice UK tour. That would suit me fine.

Rehearsals began. Immediately I realised that I was getting both what I wanted and needed. Within days, Charles Edwards as Bertie and Jonathan Hyde as Logue had made the roles their own, as did the rest of the wonderful cast. The film was quickly forgotten. Don't get me wrong, Tom's captaining of my ship was brilliant; he made some wonderful choices. For the film. But now I was able to go back to my original vision. More wicked humour. More of the behind-the-scenes politics that make this very personal story so fascinating. More domestic drama. More... immediacy. Because film and stage are so very different.

Not only is the writing itself different, so is the acting. A film performance is an edited assemblage of hundreds of little bits – short "takes", or pieces of takes. That's not in any way to denigrate a great film performance (I was privileged to get many in The King's Speech). Film acting requires a prolonged overview that makes my mind boggle – keeping emotional track of scenes filmed out of sequence, often weeks or months apart.

The stage presents a different challenge. The actor must craft an entire performance in one take. Then do it eight times a week. From the moment the curtain goes up, it's all one long "take". One can feel the electricity.

As I watched the actors (Charles, Jonathan, Emma Fielding as Elizabeth, Ian McNeice as Churchill, Joss Ackland as George V, Charlotte Randle as Myrtle, Michael Feast as Archbishop Cosmo Lang, David Killick as Stanley Baldwin, and Daniel Betts as Edward VIII) work their magic, I was humbled – and very grateful. This was my King's Speech.

We opened to a packed house at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford with bravos, cheers and a standing ovation. This joyous reception continued in Nottingham, Bath, Brighton, Richmond and Newcastle. Now we embark upon the West End.

As a young lad in austerity England (the one after the war), my grandfather would take me to plays at the Hippodrome. The diva and leading man would swoop on stage, stop in a pool of light, strike a grandiose pose, and everyone would clap thunderously. I so wanted to be part of that world.

Now I've got both what I wanted and needed. No need to sing another Rolling Stones number, the one about not getting no satisfaction.

This is very satisfying indeed.

'The King's Speech', Wyndham's Theatre, London WC2 (0844 482 5120) to 21 July

Six people have been charged after an Indian woman, 37, from Hyderabad was allegedly trafficked to Britain and subjected to a series of sex attacks, Scotland Yard said yesterday. The six, who include an optician and a supermarket manager, will appear in court next month.

UK a world leader in cyber crime

The UK has leapt up the world's cyber crime league table, and is now the seventh worst country for cyber attacks. Britain is responsible for 2.4 per cent of all hacking attempts worldwide, according to figures forthe first three months of this year compiled by IT security firm the NCC Group.

Anger over invites to Jubilee lunch

There was controversy over the guest list for the Queen's Jubilee "Monarchs' Lunch" at Windsor Castle. Autocratic rulers from Bahrain and Swaziland were among attendees, but the Foreign Office said invitations were issued to all of the world's sovereigns.

De Botton seeks the thinking man's porn

Philosopher Alain de Botton is to bring together leading figures frompornography and the arts to identify a "new pornography" which is ethical and "fit for thoughtful, good human beings", including children.His initiative is part of his School of Life movement, which offers advice on leading fulfilled lives.

President's guerrilla past leads to apology

The Rio de Janeiro state government has said it will apologise to Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff for the human rights abuses she suffered during the country's 1961-1985 dictatorship. Rousseff is a former leftist guerrilla who spent three years in prison during the dictatorship.

Qatada may be freed by end of the month

Abu Qatada could be freed on bail by the end of the month. The Jordanian, described as Osama bin Laden's top man in Europe, will have his bail application heard by an immigration judge on 28 May. The radical cleric is being held in a high security prison while he fights deportation to Jordan.

Island nation joins fight against piracy

Mauritius has agreed to prosecute Somali pirates, helping overcome one of the main hurdles in cracking down on the piracy that has hit international shipping. Mauritius has agreed with Somalia, Somaliland and Puntland to accept suspected pirates for prosecution and trial from June.

Warsi takes aim at 'minority' of men

The Muslim cabinet minister Baroness Warsi has hit out at the "small minority" of Pakistani men who see white girls as "fair game". In outspoken comments following the Rochdale grooming scandal, she urged Muslim community leaders to act to isolate such men.

Two protesters shot dead in Damascus

Forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad shot two protesters in the capital, Damascus, and fired in the air to break up demonstrations in Aleppo, activists said. It was the second consecutive day of street protests in Aleppo, Syria's largest city, visited by UN monitors on Thursday.

Condemned killer fights for hip surgery

A condemned killer's fight to receive surgery for agonising hip pain has given Kentucky officials a headache. Robert Foley, 55, was convictedof killing six people between 1989 and 1991, and officials are struggling to justify spending thousands of dollars for surgery on a manthey plan to execute.

Student fees to blow out national debt

Higher university fees could raise the national debt by up to £100bn over the next two decades, researchers say. Students at English universities are eligible for government-backed loans to cover fees of up to £9,000 a year, and the total debt will build up until sufficient repayments kick in.

Trayvon killer may have called for help

An FBI expert has found crucial evidence in the Trayvon Martin case was inconclusive, saying it was impossible to tell if the voice screaming for help belonged to the black Florida teenager or to George Zimmerman, the neighbourhood watch captain who shot him.

UN nuclear chief to sign deal on access

The UN nuclear agency chief will visit Tehran to sign a deal allowinghis organisation to resume probing Iran's nuclear programme. The visit by Yukiya Amano will allow both sides to agree on access to sites, information and officials for the International Atomic Energy Agency investigation.

Fry and Laurie to reunite in ghost film

Stephen Fry and former comedy partner Hugh Laurie are to reunite in anew animated film based on The Canterville Ghost, a short story by Oscar Wilde. The actors, who met at Cambridge University, have collaborated on numerous shows including Jeeves and Wooster and A Bit ofFry and Laurie.

UN 'did not want to embarrass dictators'

Sacha Baron Cohen has revealed the UN barred him from shooting footage for his film The Dictator in its New York headquarters. He told the UN: "This is a pro-democracy movie". But the organisation claimed filming was problematic, as it represents "a lot of dictators".

Monmouth signs up to be first 'Wiki' town

Monmouth in South Wales is to be the world's first "Wikipedia town" in a collaboration with the web's most popular encyclopaedia. The Monmouthpedia aims to cover all aspects of local life, including people,places and wildlife. Wikimedia UK, its charity arm, said it will be thefirst of many such projects.

Italian Proms kingis back for more

An Italian man who has attended every single Proms season for the past half century has told i that the BBC and the Royal Albert Hall are his "real family". Giancarlo Stoppini, who lives near Milan, has securedtickets for 55 of this year's BBC Proms.

Bust-up rumoured as Van Halen delay tour

Van Halen's fractious history of bust-ups seemed to continue yesterday with the postponement of more than 30 concert dates in the band's US summer tour. Rolling Stone magazine reported that a source with knowledge of the tour said: "The band is arguing like mad. They arefighting."

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Articles in Print

  • The Fearless Personal Inventory
    Mortified -- the funniest public ritual of personal intimacy to mark the rise of confessional reality.
  • The Zombie Zeitgeist
    A full scale movement is on the lurch. But why the best zombie movie ever made a video game?
  • Believer interview with Mark Allen
    Digital artist and awesome gallerist Mark Allen talks about Tekken Torture Tournament and other projects where people were wired to machines and did strange things in public.
  • Believer interview with Marjane Satrapi
    Enlightening Q & A with the Persian cartoonist, memoirist, quick conversationalist in which she declares: “THE WORLD IS NOT ABOUT BATMAN AND ROBIN FIGHTING THE JOKER; THINGS ARE MORE COMPLICATED THAN THAT.”
  • ¡Viva Border Volleyball!
    Two on two on a toxic and geopolitically divided beach. (Nifty pictures and video available!)
  • Yeti Researcher
    Yet another 100-page issue of the world's top academic journal devoted scholarship about the Yeti, Bigfoot, Sasqatch, and other mystery primates worldwide. For researchers and lay audiences alike, the latest YR features a history of Sasquatch sightings in southern California, an update on the wily orang pendek of Sumatra, and a new look into Teddy Roosevelt's obsession with bagging a Bigfoot. As Editor-in-Chief, I promise you won't be disappointed.
  • The Jacuzzi Apocalypse
    Notes from Y2K. With some humor, and a nifty drawing by Carson Mell.
  • Monkey Love
    My contribution to the vast cultural conversation on King Kong and the viability of simian-human romance
  • Man's Best Friend
    Nintendogs puts existentialism in the palm of your hand
  • Digital Trim
    Hillary Clinton likes her coffee cold


  • Panda PowerPoint!
    I guess I don't mind being "the entertainment" when it's at Mark Allen's second annual Holiday Fry-B-Que. Presented: preliminary findings from my ongoing research into the most charismatic megafauna of all: Giant Pandas.
  • McSweeny's Presents: The World, Explained | Dec 9, 2006
    For those who missed it, there will be more. World, Explained is going strong! Money was raised, laughs were had, and for those paying attention, small amounts of useful information about things like the aurora borealis were transmitted. Plus: Michael Cera = lovably funny. And Nick Diamonds' renditions of Dumb Dog and Hanging Tough are still in my head. As is that horribly catchy Fresh Step jam.
  • Jest Fest at Skylight Books
    Somehow I wound up hosting the 10th anniversary jubilee for Infinite Jest at Skylight Books. Because who doesn't love a jubilee, right? Despite being delirious with Hepatitis A (that's the mild, non-lethal kind; I'm not at risk for Hep B since I always go the needle share and choose clean-looking prostitutes), I managed to not mis-pronounce anyone's name and make an erudite joke and poke gentle fun at Michael Silverblatt.
  • McSweeny's Presents: The World, Explained | June 10, 2006
    Number Three! Last one was sold out so we moved to a slightly larger theater. Andy Richter hosted, and his opening exegesis of CSI: Miami warmed the people up right. Evany Thomas presented her very scientific findings on the Secret Language of Sleep; Starlee Kine bared her neuroses to the world (or at least the 300 people in the audience); Josh Davis showed video of his 135-lb self sumo wrestling a 550-lb opera singer from San Bernardino; and Davy Rothbart closed it out with some Found Magazine magic. Grant Lee Phillips, Sam Shelton and Zooey Deschanel provided the music punctuation! I can still hear their rendition of We Are the Champions.
  • McSweeny's Presents: The World, Explained | Feb 11, 2006
    The second in our series of precision comedy and fact-based entertainment extravaganzas benefiting 826LA. Patton Oswalt was kind enough to host, and Jon Brion joined in on the piano and guitar as thematic accompaniment. Presenters included: David Rees, Michael Colton, John Hodgman (along with his hirsuit troubadour, Jonathan Coulton), and me. Plus: a fashion show of exciting multi-user garmentry.
  • Little Gray Book Lecture at Galapagos
    How to Observe President's Day. Jonathan Coulton's technical wizardry has made this entire show available online. The summary from PRX: Sarah Vowell, John Hodgman and Joshuah Bearman on Presidents' Day, along with a fifteen-piece marching band and a new song about all forty-three presidents. My contribution? Yes, from Yeti Researcher. Again. Actually that was the first one. So I have only five stories!
  • Little Gray Book Lecture 25 at Galapagos
    The Animals: Are They Our Enemies? In the case of my presentation about the giant gerbils of Xinjiang, the answer is yes.
  • July 25: TJ to LA -- A Night McSweeney's Readings
    I was honored to be part of a strange triptych along with Salvador Plascencia and Josh Kun. Sponsored, somehow, by La Ciudad magazine, we all packed into Beyond Baroque with no air conditions. 150 people showed at 7 o'clock on a Friday evening, which we took as a good sign of something. Sal held up and anxiously discussed drawings from his novel, Josh delivered an essay on the Dr. Moreau of Tijuana, and my shtick (again) was Pac Man and metaphysics, this time with fun slides.
  • October 8th: Skylight Books w/Stephen Elliott
    Fun times were had by all. Someone in the audience actually mistook me for an expert on the psychology human character. We ate shrimp cocktail and drank cheap wine and laughed at Bush and celebrated the certainty of right besting wrong in American democracy. A lot of good that did.
  • October 9th: MoveOn Fundraiser in Los Angeles
    See above.

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