Londoner's Diary: Goodbye to a likely lad and a lovely man

Heaven awaits: Rodney Bewes: Getty Images
Heaven awaits: Rodney Bewes: Getty Images

Farewell Rodney Bewes, pictured, the Likely Lad who passed away yesterday at the age of 79. His performance in the beloved sitcom made him something of a working-class hero but he was also a fixture of the London scene, and a regular at The Garrick and Chelsea Arts Club. When found there, he had an anecdote for every occasion. Back in the 1960s Bewes was starring in A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Ralph Richardson. Richardson, up there with the greats John Gielgud and Laurence Olivier, had top billing, playing Bottom to Bewes’s Flute. How to impress? Bewes bought an old Rolls- Royce and parked it outside the theatre, where Richardson soon spotted it.“I’d love a spin in your car, dear boy,” Richardson said. “Delighted, sir,” Bewes replied obligingly, buoyed by hopes of a new friendship, and proposed they meet the next day at noon. “Where to sir?” Bewes asked. “The Athenaeum,” Richardson said. “Come back for me at 2.30.”

Bewes also had problems in his film career. “There’s an M&S in South End Green where the cinema used to be,” he recalled in 2009. “I was sacked from there for screening the first reel of The Trials of Adolf Eichmann upside down.”RIP Rodney!


Nick Hytner and Nick Starr’s new Bridge Theatre had some teething problems last night as technical failures meant the performance of Young Marx had to be abandoned. Rory Kinnear, who plays Marx, explained to the audience just before the interval that they were experiencing “technical difficulties”. An interval was called and the audience waited a further 30 minutes before being told the show was cancelled. Some rather bad reviews ensued on Twitter.

Head-scratchers for the literary crowd

THE St Pancras Hotel welcomed a throng last night for the annual PEN quiz in aid of the literary charity. It was hosted by author Damian Barr, who opened the evening with an announcement: there would be no sports round. Cue cheers from the well-to-do teams. There was also a raffle, with Julian Barnes winning a bucket of meat.

The quiz, compiled by the Radio Times’ Simon O’Hagan, was fiendish and entertaining. Questions included “Which Zone 1 Underground station shares a name with a stop on the Paris Metro?” Also a puzzler was one about which author, having attended the 2017 Emmys, said: “My handbag developed a hashtag of its own.”

The Londoner however won’t alleviate your agony by telling you the solution. Answers, along with a cheque for English PEN, which supports writers in the battle for free expression globally, in the post.

Quote of the day

They haven’t gone away, you know: Maybots (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images) (Getty Images)
They haven’t gone away, you know: Maybots (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

‘Sort of Devil Wears Prada-era Meryl Streep mixed with Kryten from Red Dwarf. I like.’

The GMB union created a team of Theresa Maybots, presumably with the intent to mock. But people love them, even Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson

Seasonal celebrations for showbiz royalty

Somerset House held a party to celebrate the launch of season two of the Crown last night. The stars of the show, Matt Smith and Claire Foy, who play the Duke of Edinburgh and the Queen, were there as was Vanessa Kirby (Princess Margaret) and Billy Jenkins (the young Prince Charles).

Series creator Peter Morgan and his girlfriend Gillian Anderson also joined the party. Anderson was said to have been a shoo-in to play the Queen in series three but the role of the ageing monarch was given to Olivia Colman. Maybe Morgan will give his squeeze a role in the Queen’s latter years — after all, Anderson did play Miss Havisham in Great Expectations so beautifully.


A fine head of hair: Rebekah Brooks (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images) (Getty Images)
A fine head of hair: Rebekah Brooks (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

Prayers for departed journalists were held last night at St Bride’s church on Fleet Street. The Duchess of Cornwall listened intently as Sky foreign editor Sam Kiley gave a powerful address. “I believe democracy is under intense pressure, it’s under intense pressure from lies through social media.” Also nodding along in the pews was Rebekah Brooks, her flame-red locks having had a good trim. “I was beginning to look like a lady with a lot of cats,” she told The Londoner.

Christina did for Dobbin

The Crown Prince of Serbia returned to the site of his birth last night. He was born in Claridge’s, when room 212 was temporarily proclaimed Yugoslavian territory so he could be born on native soil.

The occasion? His cousin, Christina Oxenberg, pictured, took tea with The Londoner to toast her new book Dynasty, a document of her discovery of her royal relatives that’s out in February. In her youth she had a few run-ins with the British monarchy.

“I killed Princess Michael of Kent’s horse,” Oxenberg explained. “We were in Windsor, and Marie Christine [Princess Michael’s real name] came along on her horse. After lunch we went to the paddock and they put me on her horse. I was tiny, a little runt, and they put me on this monolith of a beast. And the horse clearly thought, ‘Screw you, I’m going home’ and headed for the stables with me on it. That meant crossing a road... I hit a lamp post and suddenly the horse was dead.

“Even now Marie Christine’s term of endearment is still ‘the girl who killed my horse’.”

Nathaniel Tapley,who tweets as faux MP Sir Ian Bowler, mocks those angry with companies who cut ties with media titles


REQUOTE of the day: American football star Colin Kaepernick, first to take the knee at a game, has a Twitter bio with the quote “Do not underestimate the determination of a quiet man”. It was said by... Iain Duncan Smith.

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