‘Sex? I’ve fallen off that horse.’ Terence Stamp on love and life

No wonder women fall for Terence Stamp. He’s a handsome devil with impeccable manners and a gleam in his cornflower-blue eyes, even at the age of 79. But the legendary actor, who romanced Brigitte Bardot, Julie Christie and the supermodel Jean Shrimpton (and recently had a wife less than half his age) has to admit he is slowing down as a lover. ‘The fact is I am past my best. I’ve still got wonderful relationships with women but I’m not looking to get s***ged four times a week,’ says Stamp with that gruff, East End-turned-posh drawl of his. How about once a month?

The laugh in response is long and hearty. I’ll take that as a no. ‘My feeling about sex is that I’ve finally been tossed from the saddle of a horse that I’ve been clinging on to for the past 60 years. So it’s a kind of relief really.’ Continue reading “‘Sex? I’ve fallen off that horse.’ Terence Stamp on love and life”

Interviewing Michael Crawford, getting a bit weepy together for the love of our Nans

A long time ago – well, 1982, to be precise – I got on a number 38 bus from the Bakers Arms in Leyton with Gladys, my Nan. One of those women of a particular generation who had grown up in the East End listening to the cut-glass accents of the announcers on the BBC. Half Dot Cotton, half Queen Mum. She’d got that bus during the war to go and be a fire warden in the City, I think.

Anyway, in my mid-teens we suddenly went through a golden period together of going to the theatre up the West End, to see things she wanted to see and thought I’d like. Frank, the love of her life, had died a few years earlier and maybe this was a good way of getting out and about, I don’t know, but I do know that I loved it. We went to see Evita and The Mousetrap and we also went to see Barnum, starring Michael Crawford, which was the most extraordinary, daring and accomplished thing I have seen on the stage then or since.

He was breathtaking, singing, dancing, doing acrobatics, going on the high wire above our heads at the Palladium. Amazing. I never forgot the thrill of it, sitting next to Nan. Wow. So I was thrilled again to be asked to interview him for Event magazine, the result of which is published today.

I have to say, he didn’t disappoint. One of the nice guys: polite, professional and charming yes, but also honest and open and lovely. Very revealing too. We got to talking about our Nans. He still talks to his. She raised him and still gives him comfort although she’s long gone. “I always take my Mum and my Nan out on the stage with me.”

He told me about going to the theatre with his Nan and I told him about coming to see Barnum, and I don’t mind telling you that both of us had tears in our eyes then. Moments like we had with our grandmothers change lives for the better. If you are one, thank you. If you’ve got one, cherish her. They’re gone too soon.

So here’s the interview anyway, for Gladys. Thanks Nan. See you at the great Palladium in the sky.


Stop reading Shakespeare right now! Sir Ian McKellen says so!

Nobody knows William Shakespeare better than Sir Ian McKellen. The veteran actor has played all the leading roles, from Romeo and Hamlet to Macbeth and King Lear – so it is a shock to hear him declare that the way the plays are taught in many schools is wrong – and most of us should stop trying to read them.

‘Reading Shakespeare is almost as difficult as reading Mozart on the page [from the musical notes],’ says McKellen in that deep, warm voice familiar to millions around the world who may never have seen a play by the Bard in their lives.

McKellen is a genuine Hollywood superstar: Magneto in the X-Men movies and Gandalf in The Hobbit and Lord Of The Rings – the long, pointy hat worn by the kindly wizard sits proudly on a hat stand just inside the door of his home by the river in east London, startling visitors.

He appears grand but McKellen is also playful and candid when he wants to be, and today we’ll talk about everything from his guest role in Coronation Street to what he shouted at best friend Sir Derek Jacobi – co-star of the highly camp sitcom Vicious – in a blazing row on holiday (‘Oh Derek! Don’t be so stupid!’).

He’ll reveal how alarming it is to be heckled when you’re trying to perform a play – as several West End stars have been recently – and why he wishes people would remember how to behave in the theatre (‘We want them to laugh, we want them to cry – what we don’t want them to do is start texting their mates or joining in…’).

This interview first appeared in Event, the magazine of the Mail on Sunday.

Continue reading “Stop reading Shakespeare right now! Sir Ian McKellen says so!”

Okay Dave, now where’s the rest? Asking David Cameron about his money

When I interviewed David Cameron just before the election in 2010, there was one question that nobody else had asked him, because it was a bit unorthodox. It also seemed to me to be self evident. He was clearly a very rich man who stood to inherit a great deal more, but he was also talking about wanting to unite Britain and make it a fairer place, so why not do something that would demonstrate his sincerity? Why not waive his salary if he became Prime Minister? He could give it to charity. (Wiser heads than mine say it would have been political suicide, establishing him there and then as not the ordinary bloke he was making himself out to be, but I thought it was interesting to ask anyway.) Mention of his wealth rattled him. 

We now know a little more about why, as seen in the current fuss and a story here by the Mail on Sunday detailing the Cameron family money. Dave says he is not currently benefitting from any offshore trust,  but as the piece says, that does not apply to any wealth held by his mother. His father was a successful broker and the legacy detailed in his will revealed only assets registered in the UK, we’re told. So where’s the rest of the money, Dave? 

None of us would be surprised if the tap that he turned off by divesting himself of shares when it looked likely he was going to achieve political power suddenly started to flow again once he has had his time in office, whether through his mother’s wealth or assets his father had registered overseas that we don’t currently know about. By then, as we have found with Tony Blair, only a relative few people will care if he becomes properly, filthy rich. Indeed, as a Conservative former Prime Minister, that will almost be expected. 

This is a curious story, because Mr Cameron is under attack for a situation that is not on the face of illegal. Unfortunately, as Fraser Nelson said on Radio 4 this morning, this man who has done nothing wrong appears to be behaving with the evasiveness of Al Capone. 

It does, of course, contrast sharply with his own public statements on tax. And it brings home the impression that he is too rich and too comfortable to really understand what the rest of us need from a leader (as can also be said of George and Boris, come to that). It may explain why he was rattled back in 2010 when this exchange happened in my interview for Live, the predecessor to Event, the magazine of the Mail on Sunday:

Their joint family wealth as a couple has been estimated at £30 million. 

‘It’s guesswork. Unbelievable. It’s extraordinary. Look, we own a very nice house in London, and a house in the constituency on which we have a mortgage. Other than that we both earn good money and we have some savings. But I don’t want to give you a figure because that will be blasted all over the papers. You know where I work. You know my salary. It’s all public. I don’t have any outside earnings. I am very happy for anyone to do the maths.’ 

Let’s do that, then…

The house in north Kensington is worth about £2 million and is mortgage-free. The one in Witney, Oxfordshire, would sell for about £1 million. He earns £131,000 a year plus allowances as Leader of the Opposition, and Samantha is thought to earn about three times that as creative director of Smythson. Even with a very conservative estimate of savings, stocks and shares, their worth must exceed £4 million (before any inheritances).

They will never have to worry about not having enough money for food or a roof over their head – so why should the taxes of those who do have such worries be used to pay the mortgage interest on this multi-millionaire’s second home?

‘Because as an MP you need to live in two places, and there is an expenses system for that. By the way, I caused future prime ministers, whoever they may be, not to be able to claim income on a second home. That was my act, I said it needed to happen.’

Wouldn’t it be a grand, healing gesture – and a vote winner – if he offered to serve as Prime Minister without pay?

‘I couldn’t actually.’

He’s joking, surely? ‘No. I have a salary as an MP. But I don’t have any other income.’

He has now, including the rental income from his home in Shepherds Bush, as the information (emphatically not his tax returns but a summary of information from them) he has released shows, but that may be considered fair enough. It may also be all he has available to him at the moment but will the situation change in the future? Let’s wait and see. In the meantime, Dave the man of the people looks more than ever like David, a super privileged member of the one per cent. Maybe that’s what we want in a leader, I don’t know. It’s certainly what we’ve got. 

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/moslive/article-1262623/David-Cameron-Eton-money-babies-power-Id-war-for.html#ixzz1FG52ydud

“Killing Steven Hawking would not be good!” Richard Branson on dyslexia, fidelity & taking his mates to space 

Tough guy to interview, Sir Richard Branson. He’s polite, smiles a lot, gets down to it quickly without any small talk and comes up with snappy answers most of the time, with an ear for a good quote, but you often get the sense it’s just another brief encounter for a man whose life is full of them. Not this time. Strangely, in the midst of a busy promotional day for the reborn Virgin Radio, in a boardroom with Edith Bowman and a bunch of advertisers and sponsors outside, he gave a glimpse of things that really seem to matter to him – including the mystery of how his marriage has held together so long, given his glamorous, jet-setting life. I’ve met him before, on his yacht in Monaco harbour during the Grand Prix five years ago, when he was more relaxed but less interesting. Death and taxes, love and marriage, all the big stuff came up. Plus Brexit (a disaster for Britain) and how dyslexics make the best leaders. So here it is, today’s piece for Event, the magazine of the Mail on Sunday. Let me know what you think.