Londoner’s Diary: Robert Peston gives anti-vaxxers the slip

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Robert Peston (Dave Benett/Getty Images for The)
Robert Peston (Dave Benett/Getty Images for The)

Welcome back to the Londoner’s Diary. First up Robert Peston responds to the anti-Covid vaccine activists who were videoed chanting “bring me Peston” outside ITN studios yesterday. Also Jack Thorne talks about his new pressure group which aims to improve representation for disabled people working within television and Henry Normal tells us about his the rebellious way of poets John Cooper Clarke and Lemn Sissay. In SW1A we note how Brexit has indeed created more jobs after all, albeit for politicians.

12:12 , Robbie Smith

IT WAS a mixed bag for self-styled “anti-vax” protesters yesterday. On the plus side, their demonstration against news channels was at least at the right building. They had previously mobbed the BBC’s Television Centre in White City, only to find out it hadn’t been used by the corporation since 2013.

But their chants outside ITN’s Grays Inn Road headquarters to “bring out Peston” had a fatal flaw. Robert Peston, right, tells us: “I wasn’t at ITN ... I was out of London.” The presenter hypothesised how Gil Peck, the protagonist of his new novel The Whistleblower, set in the Blair years, would have reacted. He said: “[Peck] would not have noticed the fracas, because he would have been in the Groucho plying a contact with drink to get a story— it’s 1997 remember.”

The book has a conspiracy theory plot that may appeal to the protesters, with “a dark web of interests that link politics, finance and the media”.

SW1A

13:37 , Robbie Smith

The PM announced the appointment of 10 trade envoys yesterday, including Kate Hoey. The peer and former Vauxhall MP was the obvious choice to promote trade with Ghana. Ken Clarke used to be a roving trade envoy covering the whole world, but now there are more than 30. So Brexit has created jobs after all — albeit for politicians.

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SIR Lindsay Hoyle is the first Speaker to have an official Twitter account, but he saves the best stuff for his personal feed. On top of the regular photos of him beaming with pride at family fun days in his Chorley constituency, he’s taken to posting late-night tweets about his love of Motown. Wholesome.

13:36 , Robbie Smith

Suranne Jones attends the BFI Southbank premiere screening of new BBC drama “Vigil” (Dave Benett)
Suranne Jones attends the BFI Southbank premiere screening of new BBC drama “Vigil” (Dave Benett)

Doctor Foster star Suranne Jones promoted her forthcoming TV thriller Vigil with co-stars Tom Edge and Shaun Evans at a BFI screening and Q&A last night. Jones, who wore a pale pink power-suit for the event, was in her element. “That was fun…and I’ll be home by 9pm!” she posted on Instagram. The high life.

13:35 , Robbie Smith

John Cooper Clarke (Getty Images)
John Cooper Clarke (Getty Images)

Henry Normal, who helped bring Gavin and Stacey and Alan Partridge to life with production company Baby Cow, has spoken about the rebellious ways of modern poets. He recalls one incident in which he picked up John Cooper Clarke for a show at 3pm, only to find the poet eating a custard tart — for his breakfast. Then there’s Lemn Sissay, who Normal says had to be fed the lines of his own poem while on his radio show after partying too hard. Normal has now left the industry to publish his verse collections, The Beauty Within Shadow and The Distance Between Clouds. Here’s hoping he can manage the lifestyle …

Thorne spells out push for diversity

12:44 , Robbie Smith

WRITER Jack Thorne last night announced he has set up a pressure group which wants to “make every space accessible” to improve representation for disabled people working within television. “We’re calling ourselves Underlying Health Condition,” he said during the James MacTaggart Memorial Lecture, “because frankly, TV has one.” The Harry Potter and the Cursed Child playwright, who is working with actress Genevieve Barr and producer Katie Player, fears the industry has gone backwards on diversity due to Covid and is calling for a “dedicated fund”. “Making these changes will cost and after a pandemic they can’t simply be passed onto the studios,” he warned.

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