Dog watches dog 28.08.03

Mirren catches sight of Ivan

Former Fleet Street showbiz journalist Ivan Waterman went underground to avoid detection when he finally came face to face with his unwilling prey, actress Helen Mirren. The glamorous star of stage and screen refused to co-operate with Waterman who wanted to pen a book about her.

In fact, Mirren telephoned pals – some of whom had earlier agreed to be interviewed – to protect her privacy. Roddy Llewelyn and society columnist John Rendell were both “warned” off by their former hippie chum from the Seventies.

But Waterman did manage to secure a string of revealing chats with thespians such as Dame Eileen Atkins, David Hare and Colin Baker.

The chat with Baker was particularly startling. The former Dr Who revealed that Mirren was starkers for a bed scene when they met on a BBC drama. The poor chap became so excited he had to beg the wardrobe department for skin-coloured knickers to hide his embarrassment.

Mirren, whose new film Calendar Girls is about to be released, met Waterman at the Cannes Film Festival, but she didn’t know it was him. Says Waterman: “I met her a year or two before at a Prime Suspect launch, but I just mumbled my pseudonym when she said ‘Hello’. If she knew it was me she would have blown a fuse.”

Whether or not she will blow a fuse when she reads the book, Helen Mirren – The Biography, remains to be seen.


Cad clobbered by critical experts

Members of the 320-strong Critics Circle were somewhat taken aback by an e-mail that arrived from council member Marianne Gray, herself a freelance film critic, lambasting the cad who has mischievously been circulating a report that veteran critic Tom Hutchinson’s job was up for grabs.

White-beard Tom, who has been reviewing films for the Hampstead & Highgate Express for longer than anyone can remember, has been confined to his home in Highgate for some time following a fall and subsequent complications.

Unable to see press shows in a cinema, he has been obliged to look at video copies in his house.

Now, it seems, someone has been putting the knife in. The forthright Gray, calling the mystery rumour monger “a scumbag who needs to get a life”, tells her fellow critics not to join the queue as the editor of the Ham&High is fed up with applications pouring in.


Boys in ‘Blue’ e-mail rejected

Police press officers aren’t usually known for their sense of humour, so Cambridge Times columnist John Elworthy felt the impish humour of Inspector Dick Holmes worthy of his readers’ – and Dog’s – attention.

Inspector Holmes, in one of his regular e-mails to the media, gives graphic details of an incident in which a motorcyclist threatened a man with a sawn off shotgun.

“A brief conversation took place, during which the male said, ‘make sure he gets the f****** money tomorrow’. After only a few minutes the male got back on the motorcycle and rode off,” he reports.

Or rather not quite as the inspector reported – for an earlier version the e-mail contained the F-phrase its entirety.

And as a consequence, reports the inspector to his media outlets, “the message was blocked by some of your systems due to the profane nature the offender’s language. Now amended – please feel free to use your imagination!”


A grocery act of betrayal

Wonder what the subs made of the pay-off line of Rod Liddle’s final column for The Guardian on Wednesday, filed just before he announced he was defecting to The Times. His last piece was about a woman who had told her husband and children she was going out for groceries, but in fact flew to Australia to be with her new lover. Liddle signed off as follows: “And now, if you’ll excuse me, I too need to pop out to the shops for some groceries.”


Hampstead hero

Hampstead & Highgate Express editor Geoff Martin enjoyed a scoop over North London rivals the Camden New Journal last week.

The editor celebrated his 50th birthday by scoring the second goal in a 2-0 victory in a 5-a-side grudge match between the two sides. Both titles were taking part in a community event in London’s Regent’s Park.

Ham&High deputy editor John Dunne said: “It’s always good to get one over the competition and Geoff was particularly pleased with his contribution.

As a striker he’s a bit like Teddy Sheringham, loads of experience and has plenty of tricks – but perhaps not as quick as he used to be.

Mind you he’s a Chelsea fan so he probably wouldn’t appreciate the comparison.” The other goal was scored by reporter Matt Eley.


Tell us something we don’t know

It has been widely reported that fertility experts, after an extensive survey, have concluded that women who drink a few glasses of wine are more likely to get pregnant than those who don’t.

Was a survey really needed? Ogden Nash reached the same conclusion about 80 years ago when he noted: “Candy’s dandy, but liquor’s quicker.”


It’s the fashion these days for reporters to attach an e-mail address to the end of their stories. But they aren’t always flattering. Sarah Pitt, of Plymouth’s Western Morning News, comes out as spitt@westernmorning news.co.uk.


The village of Torlock, on the Devon-Somerset border, has got its AA roadside rescue box back. In the days of yore, the sentry-style box was a godsend to motorists who chugged up Torlock Hill only to find the strain on their motors had been too great. When technology made the boxes redundant, former Mirror motoring writer Bryan Rimmer acquired it and moved it into his Cotswold cottage.

The other day though, Tony Miles, former Mirror editor and chairman, heard about this and said, “Ah, I have a holiday cottage in Torlock. Can we please have our box back – as a museum piece.”



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