Londoner’s Diary: Charlie Chaplin gets his #MeToo reckoning in new film

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Charlie Chaplin  (Getty Images)
Charlie Chaplin (Getty Images)

Welcome back to the Londoner’s Diary. Charlie Chaplin is set to be re-examined in light of the #MeToo movement in a documentary being screened for the first time in London this week. Environmentalist and presenter Chris Packham tells us Buckingham Palace lawns could be replaced with a “wild flower meadow” and Queenie author Candice Carty-Williams tells us the publishing industry is full of nepotism and it is “just insanity”. In SW1A we take a look at Boris Johnson’s £25,000-a-week holiday near Marbella.

10:54 , Robbie Griffiths

A DOCUMENTARY being screened for the first time in London this week re-examines Charlie Chaplin in the light of the #MeToo movement, its director has told The Londoner.

The actor and comic started a relationship with his second wife Lita Grey when he was 35 and she was 15. They married in secret in Mexico in 1924, and divorced acrimoniously three years later, with her accusing him of cruelty. The case caused a storm at the time, but Chaplin’s popularity remained high. Three of Chaplin’s four wives married him as teenagers.

James Spinney who co-directed The Real Charlie Chaplin with Peter Middleton, told The Londoner: “It felt crucial that the film foreground the voices of the women in Chaplin’s life and the impact of their relationships with him. Lita’s story raises questions not just about Chaplin’s behaviour but also about how the media and political establishment create a culture of impunity for powerful people.”

The documentary is showing on Thursday as part of the London Film Festival. It explores Chaplin’s work and life as the “first modern celebrity”, and focuses on his humble childhood in Elephant and Castle. “There’s a disconnect between his iconic status and people’s unfamiliarity with his films and also his life, which is one of the great rags to riches stories” says Spinney.

It also contains new interviews with Chaplin’s children. One son says he was “frightened” of him. “Everyone who gets too close to him he’ll end up suffocating. He couldn’t help it,” he says.


14:30 , Robbie Smith

RISHI SUNAK’S public bust-up with Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng over help for struggling firms is likely not to be his last scrap. Liz Truss is angling for the return of foreign aid, while Michael Gove wants more funding for his renamed levelling up department in the spending review, The Londoner hears. Let the sabre-rattling commence.


BORIS JOHNSON is reportedly holidaying at £25,000-a-week villa Torre de Tramores near Marbella, owned by Lord Goldsmith. It was once owned by Zac’s father James, a Brexiteer after the PM’s own heart — he founded the anti-EU Referendum party in the Nineties. It was reported that James travelled to Tramores to die in 1997 partly to avoid French death duties.

13:30 , Robbie Smith

Benedict Cumberbatch and Claire Foy (Dave Benett)
Benedict Cumberbatch and Claire Foy (Dave Benett)

Claire Foy and Benedict Cumberbatch enjoyed some feline company at a Regent Street screening of The Electrical Life of Louis Wain, about an artist who paints cats. On the South Bank, Sandra Oh attended the premiere of The French Dispatch and Jude Law and Ruth Wilson watched new film True Things. Dolly Alderton and Otegha Uwagba partied at the launch of the Saatchi Yates gallery — a year after it opened.

Queen Bey’s got high Standards ...

12:30 , Robbie Smith

Beyoncé reading the Evening Standard (Beyoncé reading the Evening Standard)
Beyoncé reading the Evening Standard (Beyoncé reading the Evening Standard)

As if we didn’t already know Beyoncé had good taste. Queen Bey confirmed her reputation as the ultimate influencer by sharing images of herself reading the Evening Standard, right, to her 213 million Instagram followers over the weekend. The singer also posted a photograph of our front page. She and her husband Jay-Z visited town last week to promote The Harder They Fall. The film is produced by the rapper and stars Idris Elba. We like to think she was reading the Diary.

Author’s blast at ‘insane’ nepotism

12:00 , Robbie Smith

QUEENIE author Candice Carty-Williams says the publishing industry is still full of nepotism and it is “just insanity”. Carty-Williams, who is preparing to launch her young adult novel Empress & Aniya, tells us there is still a glut of publishers who will give a very average book a chance, simply on the basis that it was written by a friend or contact. There is only one solution, she says: “People need to start hiring people who don’t look like themselves.”

10:58 , Robbie Smith

Chris Packham (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Chris Packham (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Environmentalist and presenter Chris Packham had a tough weekend after an arsonist targeted his New Forest home on Friday morning. But it didn’t stop him marching to Buckingham Palace the next day to hand in a petition calling for the rewilding of royal estates. The royal family own more than 1.4 per cent of land in the UK, and Packham suggests that palace lawns might be replaced with a “wild flower meadow”. The presenter says Prince Andrew doesn’t have to fear wolves at Balmoral just yet: the first priority would be “beaver and wild boar”. Phew.

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