Londoner’s Diary: Modern cult of celebrity disturbs me, says Annie Lennox

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Annie Lennox (Dave Benett)
Annie Lennox (Dave Benett)

Welcome back to the final Londoner’s Diary of the week. First up Annie Lennox hits out at the modern culture of celebrity where “people who are famous just for being famous”. Later today swimmer Adam Peaty tells he he’s not massively confident about his Strictly appearance and Quentin Tarantino wonders if he’d prefer audio versions of Ben Affleck films as that way he wouldn’t have to look at the actor. And in SW1A Oxford University struggle to respond after their vice-chancellor says she’s embarrassed Micheal Gove was a student there.

10:52 , Robbie Smith

Annie Lennox has hit out at modern culture lionising “people who are famous just for being famous”. “I cannot stand the word ‘celebrity’… everything is morphed now,’” the musician reveals in a new book to be published next week.

Lennox, who lives in London and has won eight Brit awards, was interviewed for Hugo Huerta Marin’s book Portrait of an Artist. It features interviews with “trailblazing creative women”, including Yoko Ono, Cate Blanchett and Catherine Deneuve, as well as Lennox.

The Scottish singer blasted the “vacuous currency” of celebrity, labelling it “toxic”. She said: “I still have an old-school way of thinking in that you do something of merit — of value — and then, as a by-product, your work becomes the thing you are known for. “But we are way beyond that side-effect and it disturbs me”.

Lennox adds that “the whole game of being a celebrity… can be a very Faustian pact. “There is a momentum that comes with making music, making videos, being part of the system, touring, giving interviews, appearances on television, and all of that. I mean, I lived that life for decades and so now, I’ve kind of stepped out of it. I don’t like the values associated with it.”

SW1A

17:38 , Robbie Smith

Energy minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan is in Trinidad assessing the impact of climate change ahead of the COP26 conference. “Caribbean countries have contributed little to global emissions but are hugely vulnerable to climate change,” the Tory MP wrote online before sharing snaps of “spectacular” scenes from her trip. The Londoner doesn’t imagine she got there by boat.

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The Londoner was met with groans when we contacted the University of Oxford’s press office following its vice-chancellor claiming she was “embarrassed” Cabinet minister Michael Gove had studied at the institution. An officer sighed to us: “Is that really a story? Really?” Perhaps they believe embarrassment associated with Gove is obvious. A little shabby.

17:37 , Robbie Smith

Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Raven Smith and Jack Guinness (Dave Benett)
Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Raven Smith and Jack Guinness (Dave Benett)

Sophie Ellis Bextor is happy to be out again after her lockdown Kitchen Discos. The singer performed at the Diet Coke and Smeg fridge collaboration, and told us: “I look back at them and think they look quite exhausting.” In Fitzrovia, Kevin Rowland of Dexys Midnight Runners was at the relaunch of Christabel’s members’ club. He told us he was out with friends and someone said: “You look like Kevin Rowland — has anybody ever said that?” Rowland replied: “Yeah… a couple of times.” Sneaky.

Audio Affleck is Tarantino’s choice

17:36 , Robbie Smith

Quentin Tarantino (Getty Images for SiriusXM)
Quentin Tarantino (Getty Images for SiriusXM)

Quentin Tarantino once accidentally watched a film with audio description on — the setting that features detailed description for those with sight issues. He thought “‘what the f*** am I watching? Who is this genius director that thought this was a great idea? This is a magnificent idea… I am going to do this.’ And then I realised it was on blind mode”. When, at the Fane event in Alexandra Palace last night, he was told that the Ben Affleck film Daredevil, featuring a blind protagonist, has a good audio description version, he grinned: “I’m sure I would like that version more… I wouldn’t have to look at Ben Affleck.”

An anxious return to his homeland

14:44 , Robbie Smith

David Harewood (David Harewood)
David Harewood (David Harewood)

David Harewood admits he feels “anxious” about coming home from America to Britain, a country where people still complain “about the black family on the Christmas advert”. Speaking about his memoir, Maybe I Don’t Belong Here, to a Southbank Centre audience last night, the Homeland actor explained that “although America can be more overtly racist, I was seen there. They saw me and thought, ‘He’s good, let’s give him some more. Do you want to direct? Direct!”

11:57 , Robbie Smith

Adam Peaty (Getty Images for The National Lo)
Adam Peaty (Getty Images for The National Lo)

Adam Peaty may be an unbeatable Olympian in the pool, but when it comes to Strictly he admits “I’ve not got a f***ing clue what’s going on”. The Londoner bumped into the champion swimmer this week and he told us ahead of his Strictly appearance he felt “good, confident”, but also admitted some doubt. He then added cryptically “sometimes you’ve got to just let the f**ing egg cook itself and see what happens”. Has he coined an aphorism?

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