When Charles Dance was pictured canoodling in Venice with Alessandra Masi during the summer, most of his fans assumed she was just a holiday fling.
I can reveal, however, that the Italian film producer has moved in with Game Of Thrones star Dance at his home in North London as their relationship becomes increasingly serious.
At 53, she is 21 years his junior.
Charles Dance was pictured canoodling in Venice with Alessandra Masi during the summer, and their relationship is growing increasingly serious
‘They are very much a couple,’ one of Dance’s friends tells me.
‘Who knows? Perhaps he’ll get married again.’
Dance, who plays Lord Mountbatten in The Crown, was seen this week near his home with Masi.
Asked recently if he was scared of going about his normal life during the pandemic, the actor declared: ‘Oh, f*** that, darling, no.
‘One of the most damaging things about the way we react to this situation is fear.
‘So I think we have to be optimistic and not fearful and fight through that.’
He first met Masi in 2018 when he acted in the arty film, The Book Of Vision, on which she was the unit production manager.
She was hired to work on his next movie, The Inn At The Edge Of The World.
After his long marriage to sculptress Joanna Haythorn ended in 2004, Dance told an interviewer he had not been ‘the greatest husband in the world’.
Before their split was announced, he was linked to actress Emilia Fox.
Dance, 74, who plays Lord Mountbatten in The Crown, was seen this week near his home with Masi, 53. Friends say they are ‘very much a couple’
Having retained the matinee idol looks which propelled him to stardom in Eighties drama The Jewel In The Crown, he then embarked on an eventful late-life bachelorhood with a string of lovers all at least two decades his junior.
First came a relationship with actress Sophia Myles, a vicar’s daughter. Next, he courted model Shambhala Marthe, whom he met in a fruit market.
She was succeeded in his affections by painter Eleanor Boorman, with whom he had a daughter when he was 65.
Bags of history and fashion on display
The Victoria and Albert Museum’s bosses, Tristram Hunt and Nicholas Coleridge, are determined to give this damned virus a good hand-bagging!
They are pressing ahead with the V&A’s new exhibition, Bags: Inside Out, despite the pandemic.
More than 300 noteworthy bags will be exhibited at the museum in London’s South Ken, ranging from a £150,000 red despatch box owned by Sir Winston Churchill to Mulberry handbags carried by Kate Moss and Margaret Thatcher’s iconic Asprey.
Fergie’s top chaser to be immortalised
Sir Alex Ferguson’s passion for horse racing helped ease the pressure during his long reign at Manchester United.
And, I can reveal, the former manager is so thrilled with the exploits of his top chaser Clan Des Obeaux, who returns to action at Haydock today, that he’s having the horse immortalised.
Fergie and his fellow owners have commissioned leading sculptor Willie Newton to create a bronze of the horse, which has won the King George VI Chase at Kempton for the past two years.
Sir Alex owns the horse in partnership with close friend and United fan Ged Mason together with Somerset farmer Paul Barber.
A good run today at Haydock should set up Clan Des Obeaux for the hat trick bid in the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day.
Fleabag’s virtual carol singing
Fancy a night in with Fleabag star Phoebe Waller-Bridge?
With carol concerts being called off this year because of the pandemic, I hear she and other famous figures have found a way to keep the festive spirit alive.
Waller-Bridge will be giving a reading at this year’s virtual Fayre of St James’s, hosted by the Quintessentially Foundation, alongside polymath Stephen Fry, Prince Harry’s ex-girlfriend Cressida Bonas and The Grand Tour host James May.
Phoebe Waller-Bridge will be giving a reading at this year’s virtual Fayre of St James’s, alongside polymath Stephen Fry, Prince Harry’s ex-girlfriend Cressida Bonas and The Grand Tour host James May.
‘A virtual carol concert is still a carol concert,’ May tells me. ‘By buying a ticket for just £30, people will still be able to get in the Christmas spirit.’
The December 1 event will also include musical performances by Emeli Sande, Craig David and James Blunt.
Ticket sales will go towards The Felix Project — which rescues surplus from the food industry and distributes it to local charities and schools — as well as The Childhood Trust, which supports the 700,000 children living in poverty in London.
(Very) modern manners
Alexa Chung insists lipstick is more vital than ever, despite face coverings causing sales to drop
Lipstick sales have collapsed since face coverings became de rigueur, but Alexa Chung insists it’s more vital than ever — to ensure you don’t wear your man’s mask.
‘I still wear lipstick — but then it starts wearing me when it’s transferred onto my mask,’ says the model and television presenter, who’s going out with chocolate heir Orson Fry.
‘I don’t actually mind that, though — because then I know which mask is mine, and which is my boyfriend’s.’
Now Tiggy’s brother goes to battle against The Crown
Prince Charles’s friends have been privately critical of The Crown, accusing producers of the Netflix drama of ‘trolling on a Hollywood budget’.
Now, a royal insider has put his head above the parapet and publicly slammed the hit show.
Princes William and Harry’s close friend Harry Legge-Bourke — the brother of their nanny, Tiggy, who was accused of being Prince Charles’s lover and will feature in the series — has slated its inaccuracies.
‘Just getting basics right would help,’ says Harry, who runs Glanusk Park, near Crickhowell in the Brecon Beacons.
The former Welsh Guards officer was particularly irked that he saw Olivia Colman, who plays the Queen, in full military uniform watching the Red Arrows at Buckingham Palace.
The mistakes in that scene alone, he says, range from the sartorial — ‘not wearing officer’s plume but warrant officer’s’, wearing a grenadier’s tunic but with Welsh Guards plume — to getting dates wrong.
Suggesting they seek the expertise of Downton Abbey’s historical adviser, Harry asks: ‘Why on earth didn’t Netflix use Alastair Bruce?’
Why Radio 4’s in hot water with Gibson
Fly-fishing pin-up Marina Gibson, who is said to have inspired David Beckham to hold his rod correctly, feels she’s being baited by the BBC.
Radio 4 started using the term ‘fisher-people’ instead of ‘fisherman’ on its flagship Today programme this week, and Marina is flipping angry.
Fly-fishing pin-up Marina Gibson has branded Radio 4’s use of the term ‘fisher-people,’ earlier this week as ‘ridiculous’
‘I am not a “fishing-person”,’ she tells me. ‘It’s such a ridiculous term. What’s wrong with “fisherman”? The word doesn’t have to mean only men.’
Marina adds: ‘You can call me an angler, if you like, but never a “fisher-person”.’
Or you might end up battered…
Jamie Lee Curtis shares secret of attraction
She became a sex symbol for a generation of schoolboys with her performances in Hollywood hits such as Halloween and Trading Places, but Jamie Lee Curtis says the secret of attraction lies not in physical attributes but in comedy.
And it’s been the key to her enduring marriage to British aristocrat — and Spinal Tap star — Lord Haden-Guest.
Jamie Lee Curtis says the secret of attraction lies not in physical attributes but in comedy, having married ‘super-funny guy,’ Christopher Guest
‘I believe that I can do anything. I can actually do anything in the world. I can build a house. I can cook anything. I can do anything, but I can’t make myself laugh,’ she says.
‘Laughter is the biggest thing that attracts me to men and women. I love to laugh. If you can make me laugh, I’m yours.
‘Obviously I married a super-funny guy, Christopher Guest, and we’ve been married 36 years in two weeks.’
A passage to India for Marina…
We lose our right to live in a European Union country on January 1, but Boris Johnson’s ex-wife Marina Wheeler could soon have the chance to move overseas.
Wheeler, who has four children with the Prime Minister, has revealed she’s considering applying to become a citizen of India, the land of her late mother, Dip Singh.
Marina Wheeler, who has four children with Prime Mininster Boris Johnson (pictured together in 2008) is considering applying to become a citizen of India
‘A few weeks ago, I found documents enabling my sister and me to apply for overseas citizenship of India,’ Marina says.
‘For so long I have wanted this — a formal link to the country my mother had proudly watched come into being.
‘I want to be a part of this great country.’
Earlier this week, she wrote in this newspaper how she was inspired to pen her new book about her family, The Lost Homestead: My Mother, Partition And The Punjab.
‘I embarked on an odyssey,’ she said, ‘a quest to find my roots, and the journey was extraordinary.’
Billie Piper fumes at her ‘boring’ rivals
Billie Piper recently claimed she’d been forced to move into directing because the same five actresses won all the best television parts instead of her.
Billie Piper has suggested her rivals are ‘irresponsible,’ for portraying nice women, saying ‘it’s not real, and it’s boring’
Now, the Secret Diary Of A Call Girl star suggests her rivals are ‘irresponsible’ for portraying nice women.
‘I’m always drawn to work that really unpicks what it is, what it means, what it costs you to be a woman,’ says the ex-wife of Laurence Fox.
‘The other stuff is frankly really f****** boring, and a really missed opportunity.
‘Playing the polite, civil, malleable women, or extensions of men. It’s not real, and it’s boring. Boring to act, boring to watch, unfair, and irresponsible.’