Friday, May 12, 2006


There are two things known about Ronan Keating. The first is that he has a penis which could cast a shadow across three counties; the second is that he's terribly, terribly nice.

Being nice has served him well. He's doing nicely out of being nice.

But now, he's tired of being nice. In fact, he wants us to know he's a bit of a hell-raiser:

"All the Mr Nice stuff is a bit fucking annoying. I drink too much, I smoke when I'm drunk, and I wake up feeling like something's died in my mouth."

Yes, sometimes those grape kneehighs can go straight to your head. The difference, of course, Ronan, is when Keith Richards wakes up and feels like something small and furry has died in his mouth, there usually is something small and furry in there - or sometimes the Cheeky Girls, if it's been a really wild night. A half of Strongbow and a quick drag on a Senior Service doesn't make you Tommy Lee.


It doesn't mean the end of the Manics - which he says like it's a good thing - but James Dean Bradfield is set to release a solo album.

It's going to be called The Great Western, and it's made Bradfield quite happy:

"I just realised...I actually really enjoyed it a lot. Seeing 'Words and Music by James Dean Bradfield' written down actually made me feel happy. For once I've lost a bit of my insecurity."

James, of course, is the man who used to stand on stage and bellow 'you love us' over and over again, so it's nice to see him coming out of himself.


Is there a correct term for the ending of a reunion? The question becomes pertinent with the sad news that The Fire Engines are calling it a day. Again:

The band reformed in 2004 - after 23 years apart - when offered a once-in-a-lifetime chance to support their rock heroes The Magic Band. Davey and the group - Graham and Russell Main and Murray Slade - also opened for the Sun Ra Arkestra, their biggest music influences, during last month's Triptych Festival.

But the reunion has lasted longer than their original career and now Davey has decided to kill off the group.

So... a Win reunion next, then, is it?

[Plug: Get Codex Teenage Premonition while you can, then]


Due to the bungled licensing legislation rushed through by the government, the BBC has found itself unable to let audiences into its TV Centre studios - which means BBC employees are being asked to make up the numbers.

BBC DG Mark Thompson has been sending emails round asking them to come along and watch TOTP and Strictly Dance Fever, although the recent rounds of job cuts have left the Corporation so light of workers that even that's likely to bring in enough people to fill the studios.

Thompson is believed to be planning to send a similar email asking staff to turn up as part of the TV audience when the show goes out, too, although unions warn that might be beyond the limits of endurance.


Funnily enough, we first heard the news that Ashlee Simpson had a new nose while listening to Matt Drudge's show on Fox network radio this Sunday just past - curiously, he spent the first ten minutes of his show complaining about how terrible big media conglomerates are (this was on Fox, of course) and then the next ten moaning about how they treated Simpson's nose as if it was worth spending any time talking about.

Anyway, those of us who've suspected Ashlee as being unable to identify the difference between her various body extremities will not be surprised to discover that she doesn't seem to know if the nose she has now is the nose with which she was born:

when asked whether the rumor was true, the 21-year-old singer didn't confirm or deny it, but just giggled more.

"Maybe — who knows!"

Well, you should, Ashlee... you might zone out during the actual op but the bandages, the brusing? You'd notice. And the whole "not looking the same when you look in the mirror any more" aspect might be a giveaway.

"Everybody's already saying it, so I just don't talk about it. I'm like, OK, whatever. It doesn't bother me."

But if it doesn't bother you, Ashlee, then... erm, why not admit you've had a nose job?


We've not come across a plea-bargaining nightclub before, but in a bid to put an end to the investigations into the CCC's role in the death of Proof, the club is to close for at least a year.

The CCC had been caught in - ahem - the crossfire as the high-profile murders led local officials to notice it had been staying open later than it was supposed to:

Prosecutor Kym L. Worthy sued the club's owners in Wayne County Circuit Court. She released a statement Thursday saying the settlement had been reached and that it included the club's closing and the fine.

Worthy said state law for a nuisance violation permits only a one-year closing.

"We got everything we could under the law, and we got it very quickly," she told the Detroit Free Press. "We have learned from the untimely death of Keith Bender and Deshaun Holton that these clubs are not only dangerous to the patrons, but present serious quality-of-life issues for the law-abiding citizens that live near them."

There is little worse than having dead rappers in your lawn. It buggers house prices.


People who know about these things have been in touch with us to let us know that Primal Scream's new album has popped up out in the wilds of the internet. You, of course, will want to wait, but it's interesting to know its out there, isn't it?

Thursday, May 11, 2006


In a bid to try and salvage her acting career, Britney Spears has let it be known she'd happily take her clothes off for a movie role.

She'd even take them off in front of the cameras, too, if that also helps her pass the audition.


Call-me-Dave Cameron really isn't afraid to let the spectre of William Hague at the Notting Hill Carnival hold him back, is he?

He's going to pop up in the crowd at the V Festival this summer.

A festival source said: “The call came in to the organisers last week asking for tickets for a very important politician.

“There were a few raised eyebrows when they asked ‘Who?’ and David Cameron’s name was given. V can be quite a corporate event but there aren’t many grey suits trudging through the crowds with plastic pint pots full of warm lager.

“There are two tickets on their way to his London HQ and he’ll probably be welcomed by 50,000 pairs of drunken open arms.”

Curious... we could have sworn the event was sold out. And yet it could find tickets for Cameron. So now it really has.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


Kanye West will probably blame it on the cost of gas: Mercedes are suing him for thousands of dollars it says West owes in unpaid leasing fees:

Court documents state that West, who was president of KonMan when the company added the $75,000 Mercedes to its fleet in 2002, was supposed to bring the car back Jan. 18 when the lease expired. However, the luxury SUV (the very square-shaped model that looks as if it just drove in from a combat zone) has yet to be officially returned.

The DCFS trust, which is claiming that West personally guaranteed that the payments would roll in on schedule, is asking for $53,747 in damages along with accrued payments, interest and late fees.

You know how it is, though: you want to drive the SUVs back to the dealership, but you don't have the cash to fill them up...


Cream's decision to relocate Creamfields from its spiritual Liverpool home to nearby Runcorn is looking slightly dodgy, as Halton Borough Council's licensing rules means tickets are going on sale before a licence has been approved.

Local residents - many of whom have already expressed reservations - have until May 31st to lodge objections to the licence; the council could then take another twenty days to consider the application.

Cream are confident that they'll get the green light:

James Barton, chief executive of Cream said: "Our track record speaks for itself for providing as safe and secure an event as possible, for all those in attendance, but also ensuring that we effectively minimise disruption for those living in neighbouring areas."

... but then, he's trying to sell tickets, so he'd have to sound pretty chipper, wouldn't he?


You'd have thought that Michael Jackson would know well enough by now when to leave things alone - and by "things", we're not (on this occasion) talking about ten year-old boys in Andy Pandy pyjamas.

GQ has run a slight piece detailing one of its writers "attempts" to find Jackson in whichever Middle Eastern state he's hiding out in right now, illustrating it with a Jacko impersonator in a variety of fairly amusing pictures.

Now, you or I might see this and think "well, there's no such thing as bad publicity." Or maybe "it's GQ - who reads GQ anyway?"

Not Jacko.

He's drawn attention to the pictures and demanded the issue be withdrawn, and pulped:

“Mr. Jackson is furious that his image has been used in such a misleading way, and is demanding an apology from the editors of GQ, and its publisher, Conde Nast. Mr. Jackson is also demanding that the magazines be pulled from newsstands.”

Mr. Jackson really needs to get over himself. It's nice to see that - having apparently avoided bankruptcy - he now wants to burn up yet more cash on pointless legal activity.

Frankly, if anyone should be upset, it's the Jacko lookalikey. Twenty years ago, he could have had a lucrative career pretending to be one of the world's greatest singers; now, thanks to MiJack, he's reduced to pretending to be a kiddie-fiddler in a children's cinema. Maybe he should sue Jackson for ruining his professional reputation.


Rolling Stones people are dismissing suggestions that Keith Richards' tree-fall and subsequent brain operation have left him a shell of a man.

Some reports suggest that when he's released from hospital, he will be shambling about, uncertain of his surroundings and barely able to string together a coherent sentence. Others, though, doubt he'll get back to normal so quickly.

We still don't know why he was up the tree.


Channel 4 must have thought that their new teatime policy - Paul O'Grady instead of Chris Evans - was going to spare them having to send apology letters to Ofcom.

Not quite.

Elton John popped up on the show and managed some light, pre-watershed swearage, although it's hardly the "outburst" the Daily Mirror would have you believe:

[Elton said] he changed his name from Reginald Kenneth Dwight because it made him sound like a "banker or wanker, one of the two."

Pretty light, even in a light entertainment context, but enough to make twenty people complain - which, even if you don't count the tabloid journalists ringing in to complain to shore up the story still means three or four people got upset.


Annoyed that some people have been selling tickets at an unfair mark-up (because, after all, that's their job), Ticketmaster have cancelled a slew of tickets for Tom Petty and Pearl Jam's US dates.

The 460 tickets which have been expunged are going to be put onsale again, this time with demands for (of course) photo ID to let Ticketmaster pretend it's some sort of government agency. The company have worked with Tom Petty's management to deduce which of the the tickets sold for the shows were being offered for resale on eBay, although it's not clear what methodology they used; nor if there's any room for appeal if you've had your ticket unfairly cancelled (because, let's face it, Ticketmaster aren't exactly CSI, are they?). It's unlikely that TM's mysterious booking fees will be repaid, either, which makes a great business for them selling tickets twice.

We would hope that the company also announces that the interest they made having 460 lots of cash sat in their bank account will be donated to charity - even at the lowest ticket price they'd have made about twenty-two thousand dollars on these tickets, which could have churned up quite a tidy sum sat in Ticketmaster's bank for a couple of months. Because if the public can't make money from ticket touts, then why should Ticketmaster?


Also not entirely unexpected: Britney Spears has confirmed that she's pregnant again. One step closer to a future populated entirely by the offspring of Kevin Federline.

Someone really should take her to one side and tell her what's causing it.


Adam RickittIt's been expected for a while, but now it's official: David Cameron's new comedy Conservative Party have decided to try and fast track Adam 'the second Nicky Tilsley from Coronation Street' into the House of Commons. Adam joins Louise Bagshawe - yes, the pulp novelist - and Zac 'Lord' Goldsmith on a list of glittery Tories who locl parties in safe seats are "expected" to choose from.

The Tories will be hoping that Adam can replicate his success outside of Coronation Street - which includes slinking back to Corrie for a while, taking part in Five's disgraceful attempt to turn the Andes rugby plane crash into light entertainment and, of course, his glittering musical career.

1999's Good Times may have been the gayest record ever, and certainly the only record in recorded history whose entire campaign was conducted with the artist never wearing a shirt, and seldom trousers. We suspect that Adam might try and get away without a tie as a Conservative candidate.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


We hadn't cared much for Fall Out Boy this far, but judging by how fuming they've managed to make a parent who took her little cherubs to one of their gigs - in Charlotte North Carolina, apparently - we might need to look at them again:

An angry parent has written an email to Fall Out Boy's label, Island Def Jam Records, after taking her daughters to see the band last Tuesday (May 2) in Charlotte, North Carolina. The woman wrote that she was enraged by bassist Pete Wentz's "personal political testimony" onstage, complaining that "the ticket said 'all ages,' and your band was very foul-mouthed and anti-morals. Charlotte is not the demoralized city that liberal San Francisco and other cities across the North and West are...this was a concert, not some liberal homosexual rally."

The woman promised to contact national news organizations and other venues where Fall Out Boy would be playing, claiming that the band would lose "a lot of financial support" as a result. She concluded, "Your responsibility was to sing your songs. When you opened your mouth to talk, you blew it...By the way, my children will not be a part of your sick idea of family."

And what form did this "liberal, homosexual rally" take? Pete Wentz says:

"The only thing I said in Charlotte was, 'You can leave this show and say, ‘I think this guy is an arrogant jerk,’ or think, ‘This band is better than this one,’ because these are your opinions. The only thing we consider unacceptable is for you to engage in sexist, racist or homophobic behavior. If you do, we don't want you as a fan.'"

Well, you can see how such San Franciscan talk would play so badly in Charlotte. It's virtually as if he sodomised the entire audience, at once, with cheeses.


A poorly-proofed report on The Gauntlet claims that Fear Factory singer Burton C Bell was electrocuted on stage in Luxembourg last night:

Burton was sweating and somehow, he got an electric shock through the mic and he fell down, he layed there almost 1 minute and then the others took him backstage, the show was over, nobody told us what happened, cause the mic was danegrous

The venue, meanwhile, are quick to claim it's no big deal:

"FEAR FACTORY had a shortcut on one 110/220V trafo of one of their own guitar amp, which caused the fuse to blow three times during their set (the two opening acts went well) Nobody got hurt, no ambulance etc needed. The tour manager informed us after the show that the problem has occurred before on their tour."

Hang about... they keep using the equipment which punches 240 volts into Burton Bell? We know we'd encourage them to do so, but you would have thought they'd want to take better care of him...


Of course, Ananova headlines the story Madge says she's a 'crap mother', but clearly, Madonna is saying nothing of the sort:

"It is a struggle to balance my career with my children. I'm always going: "Oh God, I'm a crap mother". I want to get home and put my kids to bed.

"And then sometimes, if I'm spending a lot of time with my children, I think: "Oh God, I just want to be an artist". And you know, it's hard."

To us, that sounds less like she's saying she actually is a crap mother, more just inviting us to feel sympathy for her, as she struggles to balance the churning out of albums, appearing at cult sign-up sessions, approving the books she's apparently written, organising photoshoots with thingybloke, her husband, and - at the same time
- still finding time to fax over insuructions to the childminder.

Lourdes, it seems, doesn't really want Maddy around much anyway:

"Sometimes she doesn't want me to come to certain things because she knows everyone is going to pay attention to me and then they'll treat her differently.

"I took her to school on the first day last year, and all these kids were buzzing around.

"She came home that day and she was really irritated and kind of bummed out, like people were playing this contest - what would it be like to be Madonna's daughter?"

Lourdes' friends are nine years old, Madonna. Would they even know who you are? It's not like you're one of the Pussycat Dolls or anything.


You'd have thought that the Labour government would have had enough on its hands, what with the crumbling edifice of Blairism and all, but it's decided that it's going to have a look at ticket touting, too.

The reports that Creative Industries Minister James Purnell (that's as opposed to the destructive industries minister, of course) is inviting ideas doesn't exactly fill one with hope - after all, most Labour initiatives designed at "helping" the music industry tends to be rushed through and ill-conceived. (The bungled New Deal for Musicians, for instance, or the legislation which requires all pubs to be expensively licensed before anyone can have a bit of a sing-song.)

Anyway, Purnell's calling for input:

"We'd like to hear your readers' views," Purnell told NME.COM. "Why it is these tickets are disappearing? Is it professional operators or just lots of individuals who are finding a way of making £200, £300? How that can be stopped? Does the Glastonbury way of doing it does that work well?"

The minister added that the government have been discussing the issue with the concert industry at a series of "touts summits" and now wanted to hear from music fans.

"There are some genuinely complicated issues, but also a lot of differing views," he explained. "Some people say it's a free market and if you ban it from auction sites it's just going to go underground, and other people say it's so out of hand that people aren't getting tickets who should be getting them."

It's interesting that Purnell mutters about the free market, but at the same time poses the question "how can it be stopped" - which suggests his mind may already have been made up.

If you'll let us put some aluminium headgear on for a moment, remember the "Glastonbury way of doing it" is to link ID to a ticket - so we're far from convinced that this isn't merely another way of trying to sell ID cards to the public in a different form. And while we're not keen on people making hundreds of quid of Reading Festival tickets, we'd much rather see Labour making time to slap down supernormal profits in places where they run into millions - banks, say, or oil companies.

If we were running a touting ring, we'd be writing a few cheques for Labour Party funds right now. Not that it'd buy influence, of course.

Anyone want to persuade Purnell he might be better off looking at Ticketmaster's fees structure?


Nelly Furtado is repositioning herself in the music market - no more pop, now, she's decided, she's going to turn herself into an R&B star.

What's led to the change?

Well, besides pisspoor sales of her recent stuff?

It's getting back in touch with the real Nelly Furtado:

"For a long time I kind of denied my R&B and hip-hop roots.

"All that rap and R&B I listened to as a kid made an impression on me; I used to write R&B songs in my bedroom that sounded like Mariah Carey songs.

"Now I'm tapping into that again, and I'm like, 'Wow, I didn't know I could go back there.' It feels so good."

She's going to duet with Timbaland on the new album.

So, in short, then, her record label have encouraged her to chase the market. Isn't it lucky how the music she grew up listening to - but had forgotten all about - is the easiest market to crack these days?


It's not entirely unexpected, of course: Take That have signed up to record a new album.

"When we met them, it quickly became clear their best songs and albums are yet to come," said Polydor co-president David Joseph.

And you know what? We bet he really believes that, too.

Full coverage: The Take That reunion


Perhaps the most astonishing thing about Radio One's Station of the Year victory in the Sony Radio Awards is not that it won while its line-up is, relatively speaking, fairly stodgy, but that it never won when it had much more inventive programming going on. Moyles, Mills and Murray get a gong, but Peel, Morris and Radcliffe era didn't?

Mind you, there is a lingering suspiscion that the award givers don't actually listen to the radio at all, never mind the shows they give prizes to: Chris Moyles, it seems, is the most entertaining show in the Kingdom. Equally extraordinary: Kerrang, in its West Midlands FM version, won Station of the Year in the potential audience of a million or above category.

The best award - ironically, coming from a sponsor whose interests include a BPI-funding company who whinged about it - was a special prize to Radio 3's Beethoven experience for inspiring 1.4 million free downloads.

Monday, May 08, 2006


You wouldn't have thought there'd be much room for moral outrage at Anaheim's United Methodist Women's Assembly. But this year, there is.

Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls had been invited as a keynote speaker, and quite apart from those Methodists who can't abide pop-folk, there's great upsetment at a lesbian - and an out, lesbianing lesbian, of all things - being invited to give a talk:

"...Even if Ms. Saliers does not openly advocate for the acceptance of homosexual practice in the Assembly presentations, her public recognition as a lesbian icon puts the Women's Division in the place of endorsing the lesbian lifestyle and of offending the women of the church," said Faye Short, president of RENEW, a conservative women's organization.

Oh, come on Faye - she's promised she won't spend any time talking about the joys of fingers, what more do you want?

And, frankly, suggesting she's a lesbian icon is overselling her slightly - it's not like she's Phranc or anything.


Jay Black, singer with Jay and The Americans, has got a massive unpaid tax bill hanging over him.

The current suggestion?

That he sells off his band name.

In other words: to make the IRS happy, Black would no longer be able to perform as a member of the band he was part of, but someone else could.

The 'someone else' in this case are the other members of the band, who want to reunite and would like to do so under the Americans banner; making things a little more complicated yet is that Jay Black was the second Jay in the group - he replaced Jay Traynor. That must have been an interesting ad - "Successful band seek singer; must be able to hit high notes, have own van, be called Jay."

The price on the name is apparently $100,000 - the sticking point is if Black could continue to work as Jay Black and the Americans.


Pete Doherty has come up with an explanation for the picture which apparently shows him injecting a sleeping a woman.

He's painting pictures with his own blood and was merely trying to get hold of some more:

But he said a photo of him apparently injecting Laura, 21, was staged and he was actually drawing blood to use in a painting.

Doherty wrote on a website: "It's a staged shot and what a fucking liberty to suggest I'd bang up a sleeping lass."

Well, that's that cleared up, then.

Although if he's painting pictures with his own blood, why was he drawing someone else's?

And if you have a reputation for being a bit of a skaghead, why would you allow yourself to appear in a staged photo which made it look as if you were banging up a sleeping lass?

And pictures with blood? What, are you thirteen years old?


Normally, you'd not advise anyone being held in Wandsworth to prettify their prison-issue clothes by adding frilly edging to their jeans.

But when it's Pete Burns, it's not like leaving your jeans alone would exactly allow you to melt into the background.


Also haggling over the cost of fliers and trying to decide between two-star hotels are The Sleepy Jackson, plotting a mini-jaunt around the UK in July:

12 Leeds, Cockpit
13 Manchester, University 3
14 Glasgow, King Tuts
15 Nottingham, Rescue Rooms
17 Oxford, Zodiac
18 London, Scala


Bobbing along on some sort of crest of a wave, We Are Scientists have added an extra London date for their Autumn tour - they'll now play Brixton on November 10th as well as the 9th.


The news that - despite early assurances that Keith Richards was fine following his accident - he's had to have brain surgery to release the pressure in his skull still has brought no answer to the most pressing question about the whole affair:

Why had Keith Richards climbed a palm tree in the first place?

Everybody seems to have a different theory as to just how sick Richards actually is. But most bets seems to be coming down on the 'full recovery' side.


Paul, Yoko and Ringo are going to have to think of another way to make some more money to pour onto their huge pile of other money: a judge has thrown out their latest complaints about the behaviour of Apple.

They claimed the US firm broke a deal aimed at ensuring there would not be two Apples in the music industry.

But Mr Justice Anthony Mann ruled that the computer company used the Apple logo in association with its store, not the music, and so was not in breach.

Naturally, the Beatles and estates of Beatles won't let it lie; they're going to appeal.

INDIEOBIT: Grant McLennan

It's with great sadness we hear of the death of Grant McLennan, singer-songwriter with The Go-Betweens.

Grant was born in 1958. Raised on a cattle ranch in Rockhampton, Queensland, McClennan's childhood fed into perhaps his best song, Cattle an Cane, which was voted one of the ten best Australian songs of all time in a recent ARIA poll.

McLennan met Robert Forster during his time at Brisbane University in the 1970s. The pair bonded over a love of punk and folk, obsessions which found an outlet in a band. Borrowing a name from LP Hartley and an initial template from The Saints, the band released a string of singles before pulling in Lindy Morrison, relocating to London and putting together 1982's debut album, Send Me A Lullaby.

As too often the way, critical acclaim (although that underestates the love expressed for them by Record Mirror and Snipe fanzine) failed to turn into a sales breakthrough. Liberty Belle and the Black Diamond Express and Tallulah, though packed with classic songs, didn't make much movement in the charts; when the next collection 16 Lovers Lane failed to prpvide a hit, the band decided that five star reviews and guest slots on cover-mounted eps couldn't provide a living, and went their separate ways.

For McLennan, this meant a short period in a duo, Jack Frost, with The Church's Steve Kilbey, before embarking on a solo career with 1991's Watershed. There would be a couple more solo albums, but a brief Go-Betweens reunion in 1995 led to a more permanent regrouping at the turn of the century - a deal sealed with The Friends of Rachel Worth. This album featured not just Forster and McClennan, but also Sleater-Kinney in their entirety, an indication of how deeply the band had managed to influence left-field music and their status as elder statesmen of off-chain music.

The reactivated band continued to work together - and continued to see disappointing sales returns. 2005 saw the release of Oceans Apart (ARIA's Best Contemporary Album for the year) and this year brought That Striped Sunlight Sound, a live CD/DVD package.

McClennan was sometimes - perhaps unfairly - characterised as the more workmanlike of the twin songwriters of the band, most amusingly on Smudge's single I Don't Want To Be Grant McClennan ("I want to be Robert Forster/ in rock and roll seventh heaven/ but the songs that I write/ in the middle of the night/ all sound like Grant McClennan), but it would be fairer to say that he wrote in a style more directly connected to his emotions - less showy than Forster, perhaps, but equally able to find the words to bring a choke to the throat.

Apparently, he complained of feeling ill yesterday and went to bed; he died in his sleep, at home in Brisbane. Grant McClennan was 48 years old.

Sunday, May 07, 2006


It's not easy to feel sympathy for Charles and Camilla, but even the hardest-hearted republican will feel a twinge imagining the poor couple getting invited to the beckham's conspicuous consumption in aid of charity party.

The royals muttered about how fabulous to be invited, but, ah, they're already... what night is it? Oh, then? How sad, they're going to see Anne that night. What, bring her as well? Well, they'd love to, but... the tables. Booked tables already, at the Pizza Hut... can't cancel... sorry, and that...


Damien Holland, son of Chaka Khan, has been cleared by a jury on murder charges relating to the death of a seventeen year-old at a party at his mother's home.

Grammy-winning star Chaka testified on her son's behalf during the trial - but his lawyer said he didn't think jurors were swayed by her fame.

"She didn't sing to them or anything," he said.

How restrained for an LA courtroom.


Nobody really thinks Britney Spears has much of a future as an actress - a view that could only be strenghtened in those who saw Crossroads. But you know who really thinks she stinks?

Her drama coach:

"Britney is an untalented, self-focused wannabe.

"I can imagine her ruining a televised drama by suddenly staring straight into camera and either winking, shaking her boobs or blowing a bubble of gum. But not all at the same time that would be asking far too much of her."

So, slightly worse than Madonna, but better than Paris Hilton, then.

But is the likelihood to waggle her tits actually a handicap with the roles she's likely to be looking for? (Surely, if you cast Britney, it'd be for her way with a push-up bra anyway?) She's not going to be looking for that Lady Macbeth opening:

Of Shakespeare she said: "I know who he is, know he's dead and I don't want any knights-in-armour stuff." And when asked to read from a Harold Pinter play the singer held up a hand to shut her drama coach up, before scoffing: "Whoever Pinto is, or was."

The coach - who was, it should be pointed out, canned after a couple of lessons - asked not to be named, and it seems that Spears has worked her way through so many drama teachers it'd be unlikely even she would be able to work out which one it is who's being so cruel. As cruel as to suggest Britney is just like everyone else:

"Britney's no better or worse than any newcomer to acting.

"The big difference is, she's into shortcuts. She kept telling me to skip elements of the course she believed weren't necessary.

"It was clear she really hadn't understood the concept of any of them. She came across as a spoilt child in the body of a young woman, who's not used to being told no."

Ah... but maybe she was acting the role of a spoilt child in... no, okay, that's unlikely...


You'd have to go a long way to find someone more forgiving than Victoria Piddington - she was a fan who turned into the partner of Howard Donald, and stuck with him all the way through his time as the one whose sole saving grace was "at least I'm not Jason Orange" only to see him flounce off with someone else.

Even so, she's still happy to see the band back together:

"Seeing Take That back together is a dream come true for most fans—even though Robbie Williams isn't there," says Victoria.

"And it is for me too, but it also stirs up old memories and red raw emotion. Howard was the best thing to happen to me, but when he walked out it was the worst."

Now, that's fandom - even although one of the band dumped you after ten years, leaving you holding the baby, you still want to go and see them play live. Even if Robbie Williams isn't there.

Victoria is also more than generous in her descriptions of Donald's libido - kitchen table, cars, up against an oak tree and even in a bed, although she does stress it was "all over the bed" - which, again, is surprising in the context of a woman scorned who might otherwise have taken the opportunity to suggest, at the very least, something stunted or kinked in the wrong direction. Presumably Howard really doesn't know what he threw away.


Of course, when you're a multi-millionaire and fall out with your wife, there's at least the luxury of several other homes from which to choose. The News of the World reckons that Paul McCartney and Heather Mills have been spending time apart under two of their different roofs following "the barney to end all barneys."

How serious is the falling-out? A friend is on hand:

"Things are so strained that when it was time for little Beatrice and Olly the family dog to go and see Paul at the farm on Friday someone else drove them there. Heather couldn't bring herself to go.

We're not quite sure how people tell its time for a dog to go visiting. Perhaps it had a leash in his mouth and a winsome look?

"We're all hoping they can patch things up but it looks in a bad way. Who knows what will happen?"

Nobody does, of course, which allows the NOTW to fill the gap with illustrated maps showing the distance between the farm where Paul is and the flat that Heather is in, and acres of speculation, none of which is based on anything more solid than, say, suggesting Paul will find comfort in the arms of Yoko Ono.