What do you think the Queen’s favourite song is? It’s a question which has vexed successive organisers of Jubilee concerts — who have, over the years, entertained Her Majesty with a diet of pop from Kylie, Ed Sheeran, Sir Paul McCartney and even Grace Jones.
Give up? Well, I can reveal that the answer is Cole Porter’s 1934 murder ballad Miss Otis Regrets, a bone-dry satire about the lynching of a society woman who has murdered her unfaithful lover.
In the song, most famously recorded by Ella Fitzgerald, Miss Otis’s butler delivers her regrets that she is ‘unable to lunch today’.
What do you think the Queen’s favourite song is? It’s a question which has vexed successive organisers of Jubilee concerts — who have, over the years, entertained Her Majesty with a diet of pop from Kylie, Ed Sheeran, Sir Paul McCartney and even Grace Jones
He explains that having discovered she had been seduced and betrayed, she went after her lover, took a gun from under her velvet gown and ‘shot her lover down’.
Porter wrote the song originally as a parody of a cowboy’s lament which he had heard on the radio. It was then rewritten over the course of a number of cocktail parties with his friends.
Andrew Lloyd Webber told me he was informed that this was the Queen’s favourite tune. So he arranged for Oscar nominee Jessie Buckley to sing it for her at a private event to mark her Diamond Jubilee.
He said: ‘I was involved in organising the entertainment for the Queen’s last Jubilee and we had a private evening. I got Jessie to come and do the song Miss Otis Regrets, as that is a favourite; and some Rodgers and Hammerstein numbers which I had been told Her Majesty liked.
‘We had all the Queen’s trainers and jockeys as the choir … and they were absolutely awful!
Porter wrote the song originally as a parody of a cowboy’s lament which he had heard on the radio. It was then rewritten over the course of a number of cocktail parties with his friends
‘Jessie was singing about two feet away from the Queen. Any performer would have been intimidated, but not a bit of it. She was wonderful,’ he said, adding: ‘I believe Jessie is one of the most talented people that I have ever come into contact with.’
Lord Lloyd-Webber explained that after getting to know Buckley on the TV talent show I’d Do Anything, he became convinced she had genuine star quality — an assessment clearly shared by the judges of the Olivier Awards, who named her Best Actress in a musical for her performance as Sally Bowles in Cabaret.
Jessie came second on I’d Do Anything — Jodie Prenger won — but it spurred her on to apply to RADA and embark on an acting career.
‘I got to know her pretty well after the TV show,’ Lord Lloyd-Webber said. ‘I think, in a way, her not winning it was the best possible thing that could have happened.
‘I remember having lunch with her and she said she had made up her mind that she wanted to be a dramatic actress and to keep the singing under wraps. And although she did do some jazz singing after that point she never really pushed it forward.
‘She is in a class of her own, I think, as a singer. But she has a very firm view of what it is that she wants to do next — and I don’t think it will be singing.’
Andrew Lloyd Webber said: ‘I was involved in organising the entertainment for the Queen’s last Jubilee and we had a private evening. I got Jessie to come and do the song Miss Otis Regrets, as that is a favourite; and some Rodgers and Hammerstein numbers which I had been told Her Majesty liked’
Talented Mr Flynn joins up for Ripley
This first picture of Flynn as Dickie was taken during filming on the Amalfi coast last summer
Jude Law was Oscar-nominated for his iconic performance as wealthy charmer Dickie Greenleaf in the 1999 film The Talented Mr Ripley.
Now actor Johnny Flynn — so striking in The Dig and Emma — is stepping into Law’s espadrilles in a forthcoming big-budget TV adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s book.
This first picture of Flynn as Dickie was taken during filming on the Amalfi coast last summer.
Flynn, 39, says that the eight-part show is ‘quite beautiful and quite noir’, and we can expect it to air later this year.
Andrew Scott, who was Moriarty opposite Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock, and Fleabag’s ‘hot priest’, will play Tom Ripley, who is sent to retrieve Greenleaf from his sybaritic life in Europe, but instead falls under his spell.
Dakota Fanning plays Greenleaf’s girlfriend, Marge — the part taken by Gwyneth Paltrow in the film. Ripley has been made by the company Showtime.
Jude Law was Oscar-nominated for his iconic performance as wealthy charmer Dickie Greenleaf in the 1999 film The Talented Mr Ripley
Fire up the Quattro! The time-travelling drama Life On Mars, which begat the similarly successful Ashes To Ashes, is revving up for a new spin-off called Lazarus.
Actor John Simm, who starred as Detective Inspector Sam Tyler in Life On Mars — and was seen dying in the programme in 1980 — has confirmed he is to be reunited with Philip Glenister, who played abrasive DCI Gene Hunt, in a new show which will be shown on BBC One. (Like the other two programmes Lazarus shares a title with a David Bowie song.)
Simm said: ‘My co-star Phil Glenister and I met the writer Matthew Graham the other day and he told us the pilot episode he’s currently working on contains the mother of all car chases, which is very exciting.’
As to what time-travelling wrinkles and mysteries will come into play, Simm just said: ‘When Matthew explained the concept of the new series to Phil and I, we just said: ‘That’s amazing!’ We are looking forward to getting started.’
How Lily Mo and Nic love a fright night
Lily Mo Sheen certainly took a shine to her screen father Nicolas Cage, whom she calls ‘King Cage’
Lily Mo Sheen certainly took a shine to her screen father Nicolas Cage, whom she calls ‘King Cage’.
The actress, 23, is the daughter of British thesps Kate Beckinsale and Michael Sheen, and makes an impressive debut in her first major screen role in The Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent: a romp in which Cage plays a fictitious version of himself.
In the picture, Cage accepts an offer of $1 million to attend the birthday party of a billionaire super fan . . . who turns out to be an arms dealer.
Sheen confides that she was already a fan — but working with the star of Leaving Las Vegas, Wild At Heart and Moonstruck strengthened her admiration. ‘I think it’s impossible to love movies and not to love Nic,’ she said. ‘What’s so cool about him is his encyclopaedic knowledge of movies,’ which led to long conversations about their shared love of ‘sick’ horror films.
Sheen was raised in LA by Beckinsale — who in an Instagram post once described her daughter as ‘precocious, unique, terrifying and gorgeous’.
But she remains close to her father, Michael Sheen, whom she praised for offering ‘endless unconditional love’.
‘I was into art when I was younger and would make literally the worst paintings and give them to my dad for his birthday and he would be crying because he was so touched.’
Now living in New York, after completing a degree at the city’s university, she said she felt ‘very lucky’ to have had two actors as parents, because she grew up believing that it might be her destiny, too.
Her mother has already seen The Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent and was so proud that she took photographs of her daughter on screen with her phone.
Lily’s dad, who lives in the UK with his pregnant girlfriend, Anna Lundberg, and their young daughter, hasn’t caught it yet. But he’ll get his chance when it opens here next Friday.
Strictly’s John gets back to business
He performed a perfect pivot: going from being champion of the Great British Bake Off to winning thousands of new fans on Strictly Come Dancing.
But John Whaite (pictured), who reached the finals of Strictly with partner Johannes Radebe, has suffered an unfortunate setback in his cookery school business.
Newly released accounts reveal that John Whaite’s Kitchen Ltd is £353 in the red. A note on the company’s website explains that it has ‘closed until further notice’.
The business was set up by Whaite in 2016 in a 400-year-old barn on his family farm in Wrightington, Lancs. It offered cookery classes and also hosted supper clubs and private dining.
John Whaite (pictured), who reached the finals of Strictly with partner Johannes Radebe, has suffered an unfortunate setback in his cookery school business
However the cold winds of the Covid pandemic — combined with Whaite’s success as a dancer — appear to have killed it off … at least temporarily. Accounts released for the period up to March 31 last year show the business had assets of nearly £38,000 — but owed creditors around £36,500.
After provisions for liabilities were subtracted the business was left with minus £353.
The home page of John Whaite’s Kitchen has a message which runs: ‘Due to the effect of the Covid 19 pandemic and John’s current schedule we will remain closed until further notice. If you have an outstanding booking with us, please get in touch.’
Whaite, 33, has been heavily involved with Strictly for the past six months. He joined rehearsals for the show in September, and after the finals in December joined the Strictly Tour, which ran until February.
He wrote on Instagram: ‘A lot of you lovely people are asking if I’m OK now Strictly has ended. Thank you. I promise I’m fine. Naturally, I’m sad that it’s over because for the past six months I’ve had so much fabulous fun, so there was always going to be a little bit of bereavement — as when anything so spectacular comes to an end — but I feel very lucky to have been able to take part in it. We made some beautiful memories that I’ll cherish forever, but we move on and we have to dust ourselves off and get on with real life.’
A report on the business filed with Companies House states that the intention is for John Whaite’s Kitchen to continue trading and to return to profitability. Another company of which Whaite is a director, Flour and Eggs Ltd, has reserves of £19,171. That business handles the earnings from the publishing of cookbooks.
Do try to catch The Thief, His Wife And The Canoe, which goes out on ITV over four consecutive nights from Easter Sunday.
I’ve seen the first two episodes and they are a delight — engrossing, thought-provoking and with a wicked dose of black humour.
Monica Dolan is outstanding as Anne Darwin, who assists her husband, John, in his scheme to ‘do a Reggie Perrin’ in his canoe, in order to escape from his debts. Actor Eddie Marsan (right) is magnificent, too, as the conniving John Darwin: a manipulative charmer who plans to start a new life in Panama, after his ‘death’.
Marsan has form playing horrible husbands (see Tyrannosaur, with Olivia Colman; and Happy Go Lucky opposite Sally Hawkins).
‘I have abused all the great actresses of our generation,’ he says of his roles. ‘I have been a serious b*****d. Toxic masculinity is what I do.’
Do try to catch The Thief, His Wife And The Canoe, which goes out on ITV over four consecutive nights from Easter Sunday
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