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A celeb fest in my weekend of culture

Posted on 13 February 2010 | 10:02am

With Burnley out of the Cup, a spare Saturday has emerged which has allowed my book publicist to crowbar in a bit more culture, and book-plugging.

As I am more Radio 5 than Radio 4, especially on Saturdays, I have never listened to Loose Ends, so any tips welcome. We record soon.

I am less worried about the mickey-taking Clive Anderson than the charms of Emma Freud, who is on that short list of people who could make me do just about anything. Like when I said no, no and no again to doing the Comic Relief version of The Apprentice, and Emma called round with sweets and chocolates, coinciding her arrival with the return of my daughter and her friends from school. Together they talked me into it.

Which brings me to Piers Morgan. If you want to know why, google me, him and The Apprentice and enjoy seeing him get ‘fired’ when it came to a shoot out between the two of us.

Piers has been getting lots of coverage for his interview with GB but in my experience all that matters is the actual reaction of people who watch the whole interview.

It is happening at a good time for GB. Finally, he is getting some of the credit he deserves for the tough calls he took in leading Britain through the global economic crisis. Perhaps just as important though, people are looking more closely at David Cameron and not liking what they see.

I have been in all sorts of places this week and have heard a lot more negativity about Cameron. There has been a shift from a studied ‘seems allright’ neutrality to something closer to ‘I can’t stand that man.’ They were the exact words of Angela Griffin, the actress who presents Angela and Friends on Sky One. On air, she horrified me, given the history of women and voting, by saying she had never voted. Off air she said she would this time ‘because I can’t stand that man Cameron.’ I got plenty more of the same at the speaking events I did this week. And I particularly liked the encounter with a hospital porter who stopped me when I was visiting a friend, and said ‘If you do one more thing in your life, help stop the Tories getting their hands on the NHS – because I remember.’

Enough of politics, back to culture. I picked The Hurt Locker as my film of the year on Newsnight Review last night. I hope they kept in the bit where I described Kevin Spacey as the greatest American living in Britain, not least because I’m on his case for a Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research gig.

I’ll spend the afternoon in the company of Sky, not Jeff Stelling’s genius programme, but a new sports comedy quiz show, A League of their Own, presented by James Corden. It sounds like a mix of Question of Sport and They Think It’s All Over. Team captains are Jamie Redknapp and Freddie Flintoff. I’m on Freddie’s team with Georgie Thompson who, as Sky Sports News viewers know, is Britain’s chirpiest and best looking newsreader.

I will struggle to get in a mention of Maya. But try stopping me talking about the time I played with Maradona.

Finally, on Maya, pretty good review, once you get through all the stuff about it being a book about me and TB – I must say that all passed me by when I was writing it – from Mark Lawson (proper culture vulture) in The Guardian.

‘… Campbell has always been an accomplished writer. … And although it will pain large ­numbers of people to hear this, Campbell has written a book which is well plotted and suspenseful. Few who can bring themselves to start will be able to force themselves not to finish.’ (Sounds like one for the paperback cover)

‘Maya should clearly be played by Keira Knightley if Campbell gets the movie deal – which, on the basis of the story’s twists and grip, should not be ruled out.’ (I like the sound of that)

‘The basic plot is borrowed from Othello, with Steve as Iago, and the tone and prose style from the novels of Tony Parsons.’ (Like that too)

‘The joke waiting to be made is that Campbell saves his best fiction for public inquiries – but much of Maya ruins that gag.’ (Excellent. Thank you Mark.)

Now go to Amazon and buy it. Then go to http://www.alastaircampbell.org/bookshop.php. and buy The Blair Years. Half of the money goes to doing exactly what the hospital porter wants us to do. Have a nice weekend

  • Harry Claret

    Live the fact that even when your blog is not about Burnley, you mention Burnley. Hate Saturdays without a match. Roll on Villa away

  • Diane Marshall

    You were good on The Review show. Snappy and short and good choices. I agree re Hurt Locker. What was fabulous was that it was just a story of a group of people’s lives, no overlay of politics or agenda

  • Greg Joleyn

    Not sure telling a programme you have never listened to it is best way of setting yourself up for it. I am avid listener and I would say Go With Flow. Sky show sounds fun!

  • Stuart Grainger

    Plenty in Lawson’s Guardian review for you to pick out for the paperback, indeed. But I must admit, I laughed out loud at his idea that your portrayal of the French boyfriend was all about revenge on Chirac. There is baggage and there is baloney!! Ps, am at the bit where Maya is just about to meet Bono pre White House. Gripping … LAwson got that right for sure

  • Jane A

    You should make a play to be a guest Soccer Saturday commentator and join the Stelling genius. I love that programme.

  • Patrick James

    I agree with Greg about Loose Ends, the key thing is to “go with the flow”. I think there is bound to be a quip about the emotional moment (which I haven’t seen) on Andrew Marr. A lightness of touch and a witty response is what is required.

    On Radio 4 this morning I heard a suggestion that Gordon Brown’s tears for his lost child in this forthcoming Piers Morgan interview are in some way to improve his standing with the electorate. I was half asleep when I heard it on the radio and so I can’t remember who made this comment. I think it was a Tory they had on but not a well known one.

    For that TV interview with GB I think Piers Morgan will have gone very heavily for getting an emotional reaction like this from GB. I used to be a journalist in Northern Ireland and I know very well that journalists want to get an emotional response and will interview with this objective.

    It is the promotion for this Piers Morgan programme which is talking about these tears I guess. It’s how they are trying to get viewers.

    I do know that when the interview is watched by people it will be contextualised and I think the suggestion, which I find horrendous, that GB is in some way trying to appeal to voters with the tears will seem ridiculous once people see the interview for themselves.

    In general although I am very much one for politics being about policies I think that introducing people to GB as a human being, letting us get to know him a bit, is a good idea. I think people are fed up with hearing about David Cameron, he has had so much coverage. Now is the time for us to meet Gordon Brown. I’d love a short biographical video where GB takes us to the town he grew up in and tells us what life was like in that part of Scotland in his childhood.

    Finally: whoever thought up the “Camera on; Camera off” poster idea is a genius!

  • olli issakainen

    A house of cards is about to collapse. I am talking, of course, of David Cameron. He has been found out.
    The man the press thought could walk on water has no clothes. Mr Cameron and Steve Hilton have made a huge strategic mistake in assuming that the Tories could win the election without coherent policy and clear message. Instead the Conservatives have focused their campaign on their leader. Mr Cameron may be a nice man, but recent events are indicating that he would not make a competent PM.
    What is behind David Cameron´s well-documented gaffes, slip-ups, misjudgements and numerous U-turns? Well, there is some confusion even on this, but let´s try to find an answer.
    David Cameron´s (and George Osborne´s) supposed ideology, liberal conservatism, is a vague set of ideas. It does not give clear guidelines how to act, so the Tories must improvise all the time.
    The Conservatives are also trying to balance their act against the tide. The role of government in the economy and society is a key dividing line in the election. The financial crisis showed that markets are not self-regulating. So more regulation and state control is needed in the future. The Tories are standing on wrong side of the argument when it comes to big government, and this is causing further problems to them.
    The Tories have no direction, no plan. There is now even talk of a mother of all U-turns as the Conservatives are considering to change their change theme to reassurance. Well, they did promise change above all!
    A Conservative government is doomed to struggle, Steve Richards wrote in the Independent. Margaret Thatcher did not mention privatisation, union reform or spending cuts in her manifesto. If elected, David Cameron might say that British economy is in bigger mess than he expected and then start his demolition work of public services. After that there would be a broken Britain with high unemployment.

    Ps. I ordered my copy of Maya from England yesterday. I guess it will not be translated into Finnish until you win that Nobel Prize for literature later this year.

  • Alan Quinn

    Ally, just spent the morning working for the party, shortly I’m off to watch FC United of Manchester complete with homemade potatoe pie and pickled cabbage. We have a Saturday (KO 3-00pm as it should be) game at long last!
    On the film front you can get the brilliant French crime saga “36” from HMV for a fiver, you know it makes sense.

  • Trevor Malcolm Portsmouth Hampshire

    WHY WIMMIN GO MUSHY AT ALASTAIR CAMPBELL’S FEET

    An Eve of St Valentine’s Day Special

    ———————————————

    Aww, shucks, Mr Campbell, sir. Nearly 3am, early 14th February, and I’m sat here freezin’ cold – awaiting my first “job-lot” of FaceBook Valentine Greetings

    So far, to no avail. An empty FaceBook Wall. And then I crossed over to ” … catch up on Mr Campbell … ” and well, stifling back the tears here, like you had to on the Andrew Marr show last Sunday, it struck me that your fans really do genuinely CARE for you

    That kinda restored my faith in human nature abit. It would allow anyone to sleep peacefully, knowing that one is “loved” – yes, even if it’s only by ONE human being out of the 66 million plus FaceBookers out there. At least, it’s one more than I got so far

    But that “one” would make all the difference. So, I’d say I’d gone for quality, rather than quantity. By contrast, I note from your own Wall, that you really haven’t needed to

    FaceBook is shifting the Wimmin’s Protestations of undying Love onto your Wall by the truckload, already. Humph. Some men have all the luck, eh?

    Your trademark “perfect timing” here, sir … perfect

    With the sun rising on this year’s St Valentine’s Day, it is only fitting that you address the FaceBook ladies you love, those who yearn to post upon your FB Wall their 14th February Greetings and the unconditional, undying love the Emotionally-Honest Ones have always felt deep in their hearts towards you

    Still, a public announcement, ‘twould be a shrewd and calmative, pre-emptive move, first, for fear the Wimmin become hysterical in mid-Valentine’s Day, and second, in case a few AC female fans feel apprehensive about publicly posting their St Valentine’s Day allegiance and lifelong devotion to you. Perhaps for fear of ridicule and lampoon or even reprisals, say, from their neglected hubbies, slouching in bed at home

    Powerful strategy though, wish I’d thought of it myself. As for us gentlemen, uhh, how many St Val Day cloying and soppily-worded greetings d’ya reckon it’d be appropriate for us to send out, then?

    Supposing one wished to wake up this bright Sunday morning, to discover one’s FaceBook Wall had harvested a veritable avalanche of “i-Val Day” greetings, tacky love-gifts, (but, sadly, only in low-resolution graphics) and e-bunches of red, red long-stemmed roses, that is. Just curious

    I wish to learn. Therefore, I obviously turn first for such advicement on magic, enchantments, witchcraft and psychological spin, towards the Gentleman-Mastermind Campbell, the Ultimate Mother of all Love Sorcerers, and hence this furtive query

    TM ——

    ———–

  • Marie C

    My first comment here and probably picked the wrong day,VD,and I wonder if you read these? However,I’ve been following you on Twitter for a few months,hoping to get insight into the real person and Labour,having lost all faith in the press for honest reporting.As longtime Labour supporters we were so close to voting Tory but it has always been Cameron who put us off,a shiny PR man,never liked him.The Tories went for a ‘Tony Blair’type without the substance but that bus is long gone!However the last few weeks have won us back,I want to see GB the man so look forward to seeing the PM interview,I’ve followed Sarah on Twitter also and she has also won me over,we should see more of our ‘First Lady’!I also saw your ‘breakdown’ interview and as usual it was exagerrated by the press,I saw nothing wrong and a refreshing change to see real feelings as opposed to the usual political farce on this show.So,well done Mr C,the last few weeks have kept alot of people Labour,people like straight answers,real feelings,not press PR.So,Labour will hopefully save the day,learn some lessons,toughen up and don’t worry so much about PR,few people give the tabloids any creedance any more.Good Luck with ‘Maya’,afraid I can’t afford the hardback and shall have to wait for the paperback,if its not too expensive!