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People diary: Cameron Mackintosh plays down talk of a Highlands rift

Naomi Campbell during her birthday party At The Billionaire's Club

Naomi Campbell during her birthday party At The Billionaire’s Club Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Sir Cam makes a stand on Scotland

If there’s one thing likely to get Sir Cameron Mackintosh’s goat, it’s asking
him to comment on reports about run-ins with locals in the Scottish coastal
village of Mallaig.

Sir Cameron Mackintosh: Mallaig people ‘unbelievably supportive’ (REX

Over the past decade, his nearly 15,000-acre estate in the west Highlands has
been as much a seat of controversy as a retreat from the stresses of his
life as a billionaire producer.

Overseeing the return to the West End of mega-hit Miss Saigon, Sir Cameron
described as “absolute nonsense” reported objections by some locals to his
imminent £750,000 development for the village harbour – the latest in a
string of supposed disputes that have also yielded two cases of suspected
arson against his property since the year 2000.

“It’s all being stirred up by the press but it is nothing,” he says. “Go and
talk to people in Mallaig – they have been unbelievably supportive. There
has never been any estrangement. I’m more Scottish than a lot of them up
there, and I’ve been going there for 60 years.

“I’m proud of the things I’ve helped to kick-start in the village and the
village has been appreciative. They’ve even signed a petition in my support.”

One aspect of his relationship with Scotland he’s happy to discuss, though, is
a subject many north of the border might go quiet about: his opposition to
Scottish independence.

With Scottish roots, an English father and a Maltese mother, he’s a one-man
melting-pot. “I treasure my Malteseness as much as I do my Scottishness,” he
declares. “I love my Englishness, too. I very much hope that Scotland stays
an integral part of the United Kingdom. I feel I’m British and I hope that’s
what will remain.”

Mackintosh threw a lavish party on the terrace of Somerset House last week to
celebrate the return of Miss Saigon. The noise of a helicopter about to land
prompted revellers to wonder, “It must be Cameron arriving!”.

It turned out only to be a sound effect to herald the start of a 10
minute-long firework display over the Thames.


Number of homes Damien Hirst plans to build to create his own resort in Devon.

The controverisal British artist has won his latest fight with planners to use
the Ilfracombe farmland he bought for £900,000 a decade ago to start a new

The Turner Prize-winning Hirst – who made his name pickling sheep and sharks
in formaldehyde – is thought to be the world’s richest artist.

A final decision on his plans for the “Hirst-on-Sea” development will now go
to North Devon District Council.

For Hollywood’s sake, save the Rivoli Ballroom!

Supermodel Yasmin le Bon was spotted at a photoshoot for Vanity Fair last week
at the Rivoli Ballroom, the last chandelier-hung dancehall in London.

Supermodel Yasmin le Bon (JANE MINGAY)

The Art Deco ballroom in Brockley, south-east London, draped in red velvet
with atmospheric gilt-edged wood panelling, is becoming a favourite shoot
location among Hollywood directors. The new Avengers sequel, as well as the
recent Muppets film, were partly shot in the barrel-vaulted auditorium.

But what will become of the ballroom where Strictly Come Dancing judge Len
Goodman, as a Fifties teenager, used to impress the ladies with his fancy
footwork? The building has been put up for sale for a reported £7.5 million.

Ken Clarke takes Bilderburg back seat

Ken Clarke’s role at the group has been amended to ‘former member’ (PA)

On the eve of this year’s gathering of the Bilderberg Group, which brings
together the world’s political elite, leading thinkers and business
powerbrokers, Kenneth Clarke has stepped down from a front-line role.

Mr Clarke, a Minister Without Portfolio in the Cabinet Office, had been a
member of the Bilderberg steering committee for two decades, cherrypicking
delegates to speak at the conference. However, ahead of the 62nd conference,
which opens on Thursday in Copenhagen, his role has been amended on the
group website to that of “former member”.

After last year’s meeting, at the Grove Hotel in Hertfordshire, Mr Clarke was
called to Parliament to explain his membership of the group – which
conspiracy theorists say operates as a “secret world government” – by
Left-wing MP Michael Meacher.

Mr Clarke admitted he may have failed to declare his role, and that he had
“forgotten” the gatherings were paid for from funds raised by the group.

A spokesman for Mr Clarke said that the veteran MP had decided to retire from
the Bilderberg after a 20-year spell working with it.

The questions Lord Hurd’s heard many times before

Lord Hurd of Westwell, the former foreign secretary, was asked at a literary
event the other day what it was like working with Margaret Thatcher. “You
soon learnt never to disagree with her in Cabinet,” he replied. “When she
asked you to do something, you really didn’t want to do, you just quietly
forgot to do it afterwards.”

After delivering a talk about his acclaimed Disraeli biography at a Books at
the Barn event in Andover, Lord Hurd divulged that he was always asked that
question about Baroness Thatcher.

He then revealed the other frequently asked question: “What did I think of my
Spitting Image puppet?”

On this occasion, the good people of Hampshire were too polite to mention

Who said…?

I think people hate atheists because we give away the ending

Emma Thompson on… why she shuns social media

Emma Thompson (AP)

‘I’d rather have root canal treatment for the rest of my life. I can’t bear
the thought of being connected all the time. God knows what it’s all doing
to us’


‘I’ve just seen another huge billboard – you in your underwear’

David Beckham takes a call from his mum, Sandra


Jonathan Agnew

Cricket commentator


It’s a sad but true fact about twitter that when you block people for

being rude and offensive they just get angrier in the background

Kirstie Allsopp

Property guru


For those who were less than thrilled by my #bbcqt appearance, please remember
it’s more than a little scary and many TV folk say no to it

Rory Bremner



It’s almost impossible to say the name of Thai PM Yingluck Shinawat without
adding ‘give a dog a bone’

Mike Batt

Wombles songwriter


Thought for the weak: stop being weak

Womble up your weakness

Anthea Turner

Self-proclaimed ‘telly tart’


Anthea Turner (REUTERS)

They’ll be licking ice creams in Hell before I give up acrylic nails

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(via Telegraph)