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West Ham’s season might have got off to a disastrous start at Manchester United yesterday but they’re still ahead of the PR game. The Hammers have been in the firing line over the deal that saw them relocate to Stratford’s Olympic (now London) Stadium. Most of the £752 million tab for the stadium and its conversion is being picked up by taxpayers, as approved by ex-Mayor Boris Johnson.
The Taxpayers Alliance (TPA) referred to it sarcastically as “the deal of the century” and West Ham, whose chief executive Karren Brady defended the deal, have fought back. The club is now employing the traditional football tactic of buying up the other side’s best players — two members of the TPA have been seduced over. Unfortunately it looks like at least one of their star signings has already scored an own goal. “Thank you for your email,” former TPA comms officer Harry Davis’s out-of-office message pinged when we went looking for comment on Friday. “I have now left the TPA to fight against the interests of taxpayers at West Ham United FC.”
Oh dear — whatever can he mean? This can’t be the same Harry Davis who only in December authored a TPA statement on the Olympic stadium offering. “Maybe out of respect for those that paid for it, the Hammers and the LLDC could rename it the Taxpayers’ Stadium.”
Davis follows former TPA campaign manager Tom Banks to West Ham — he now works for the club’s foundation. He previously called for a “wide inquiry into the whole contract” into the London Stadium. Is there anyone left at the TPA to cry foul?
Nice to see that a Hollywood web- slinger still has time for dad. Tom Holland, the British star of Spider-Man, flew into Edinburgh from Montreal yesterday for a one-day trip to the Fringe Festival. He was in the audience to see his father, comedian Dominic Holland, in his one-man show Eclipsed, which explores the rollercoaster of emotions felt when a lifelong career is overtaken by one’s young son. We imagine Tom gave it five stars.
What’s the Beeb going to do for the Bong?
Make the most of the booming chimes of Big Ben while you can: we have one week left before the bells go silent for a four-year renovation. So what will happen to the radio programmes that use live broadcasts of the hourly chime? They almost headed up the M1.
“After considering various options, we’ve decided that pre-recording Big Ben’s chimes offers the most reliable and resilient option whilst the Palace of Westminster carries out its repairs,” a representative told us this morning. Those options included the possibility of using Little John, a bell in Nottingham, “but we were unable to make this work because the midnight chimes were not available”.
Quote of the Day
“It’s like asking what everybody gets paid at McDonald’s without asking Burger King”
Vanessa Feltz, the highest-paid female BBC radio presenter, says knowing the salaries of BBC stars is irrelevant without getting the same information from its rivals.
Super Swede keeps the Dutch flag flying
Yesterday, The Soho Hotel hosted a VIP screening of Tulip Fever, the new period drama set in 17th-century Amsterdam. The film stars British talent Cressida Bonas, Cara Delevingne, Holliday Grainger, Jack O’Connell and Judi Dench, but only Alicia Vikander, the Swedish star of The Danish Girl, showed up to represent.
Guests did include model Daisy Lowe, presenter Laura Whitmore and Soho heiress India Rose James, and we can at least forgive Bonas for her absence. She was in a Sunday matinee at the Old Red Lion Theatre, in a production of new play Mrs Orwell. She’ll have to catch it at the cinema.
Tributes for Blanche Blackwell, best known as the muse and mistress of Bond creator Ian Fleming, have flown in since her death last week. Blackwell made
a big impression on Fleming. “It was a sign of his affection that he named the old guano tanker that provides cover for Dr No after her,” The Times wrote. Guano, for those unfamiliar with the term, is the sophisticated term for bird poo. Not the most romantic tribute we’ve seen.
Who’s got the Farage look?
“Hollywood, here we come…” tweeted political commentator Iain Dale last night. But he won’t be heading to the silver screen: The Bad Boys of Brexit, the pre-referendum diary by Arron Banks, is to be made into a six-part TV series. But who would want to play Nigel Farage?
Reports say the series could cost £60 million, and House of Cards thespian Kevin Spacey and Sherlock’s Benedict Cumberbatch have both been tipped as the man for the job. But could silver fox George Clooney conceal his pearly whites? Could Brad Pitt, the same age as Nigel, find other common ground for a method performance? And there’s something of the Farage in Hugh Grant, just around the eyes.
The casting will be tricky: satirical photographer Alison Jackson despaired that she couldn’t find a Nige doppelgänger. “He has a very unusual look,” she said diplomatically. “I’m constantly going up to people and embarrassing myself. Would you be happy to hear that you look like Nigel Farage?”
Farage says he wants to play himself. Because of course he does.
Tweet of the Day
“BONG BONG BONG BONG”
@Big_Ben_Clock, which tweets the bell’s chimes every hour, has a final week of fun before Big Ben goes silent next week
Posh toilet of the day: Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt will be looking forward to the £44K designer shower suite in the DoH’s new offices, complete with sensor-activated lights and lava stone tiles.
Fast friends: Jack and Mo hang out
Is Jack Whitehall taking on Olympic champions? He posted a pic of him chilling with Sir Mo Farah before his race on Saturday. In 2016, Whitehall took on Sir Bradley Wiggins in a Samsung ad called “Jack tries cycling”. Cruel observers labelled him a “limp athlete”.
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