News, Culture & Society

SEBASTIAN SHAKESPEARE: BBC veteran John Simpson goes to war on gender neutral loos

John Simpson says gender neutral toilets are upsetting for women

As BBC’s grandly titled World Affairs Editor, John Simpson has reported from all the world’s hotspots and even claimed to have liberated Kabul.

But now the veteran journalist, who is paid up to £200,000 a year, finds himself facing a different kind of war close to home — gender-neutral loos at Broadcasting House.

‘If I were a woman, I’d be really upset about it, I wouldn’t like it at all,’ he tells me.

‘As a man, I’m not too bothered by the idea, but I am a bit. I think it’s worse for women to have gender-neutral toilets than it is for men. But then we have to be politically correct these days, don’t we?’

Simpson, 74, has never been politically correct in his long and distinguished career and once accused his bosses of being ‘b*****ds’ and the Corporation of ageism.

He took revenge on a former boss who wanted to force him out of the BBC by portraying an ‘unfavourable’ version of him in his new novel Moscow, Midnight.

The BBC has installed gender- neutral lavatories in all its buildings and offers paid leave to staff changing gender in an attempt to be more welcoming to trans people.

The BBC has 417 employees who identify as transgender out of a total staff of 21,239, according to statistics released last year.

A Corporation spokesman tells me: ‘We are proud to support diversity and have a BBC that is open to everyone, and New Broadcasting House has male and female toilets along with single-occupancy toilets which can be used by any member of staff regardless of gender.’

Joan’s goodbye to old friend Gillian Lynne 

It was a poignant moment for Dame Joan Collins as she attended the memorial yesterday for her old friend Cats choreographer Dame Gillian Lynne at St James’s Church, Piccadilly.

Dame Joan Collins attends the memorial yesterday for her old friend Cats choreographer Dame Gillian Lynne 

Dame Joan Collins attends the memorial yesterday for her old friend Cats choreographer Dame Gillian Lynne 

Wearing a Philip Treacy hat with a net veil and black leather gloves, Dame Joan, 85 — who knew the former dancer since 1961 — joined Dame Gillian’s husband, actor Peter Land, Sir Patrick Stewart and broadcaster Anneka Rice at the service.

But it was singer Michael Ball who stole the show. ‘Gillian’s just appeared on my shoulder and said “don’t b****r up the song,’ he joked, before launching into a rousing rendition of Love Changes Everything.

When Motorhead guitarist ‘Fast’ Eddie Clarke, the last surviving member of the hard rock band, died in January aged 67, he made sure his pooch would be well looked after.

He left his dog Cookie to his former partner, along with £25,000 to look after his four-legged friend for the rest of its life. Fast Eddie loved his pet so much, he would always drive to his home in Spain so that Cookie didn’t have to fly.

Davis blames cocktail parties for ballooning during Brexit

Former Brexit Secretary David Davis admits his wife of 45 years, Doreen, is having some explaining to do at home after his recent weight loss.

‘I was fat, I’m now a stone lighter. Before I did the Secretary of State job, I was a stone and a half lighter, then being driven everywhere, all the cocktail parties, I got to 15st,’ Davis, 69, tells me.

Former Brexit minister David Davis says his wife worries he's having an affair because he's lost a stone

Former Brexit minister David Davis says his wife worries he’s having an affair because he’s lost a stone

‘I walk five miles a day and I never use the lift. Sometimes I skip breakfast.’

Speaking at The Spectator Parliamentarian of the Year Awards at the Rosewood Hotel, he adds: ‘I’m not worried that my wife will think I’m having an affair — she always does. In fact, I encourage it because it makes her try harder.’

Perhaps, if he’d spent a little less time at all those cocktail parties, we wouldn’t be in the Brexit last-chance saloon.

Colin Firth’s wife Livia is passionate in her displays of affection. When asked how she would ‘thank someone’ for a gift, she replies: ‘If it’s a friend, we usually give gifts in person and so I kiss them and hug them endlessly.’ 

Let’s hope Colin hasn’t planned to surprise her with anything too racy for Christmas.

 Livia says her days of wearing anything ‘super tight and super short’ are behind her: ‘I am too old now. I would look like a tart.’ Too harsh… 


Comments are closed.