Let the bells ring out! I can reveal that distinguished broadcaster Melvyn Bragg is to marry his long‑time lover Gabriel Clare-Hunt.
The ceremony will take place in his native Cumbria this autumn to coincide with his 80th birthday.
The news comes just six months after he divorced Cate Haste, his second wife.
Let the bells ring out! I can reveal that distinguished broadcaster Melvyn Bragg (left) is to marry his long‑time lover Gabriel Clare-Hunt (right)
Cate, who wrote a book about the wives of British prime ministers with Cherie Blair, was granted a ‘quickie’ divorce in November in a 50-second hearing at the Central London Family Court that brought to an end their 45-year marriage.
It is thought that Bragg’s daughter, Marie-Elsa, who is a Church of England priest, will officate at the wedding. She is his daughter from his first marriage to Marie-Elisabeth Roche. Known to friends as Lise, Roche killed herself in 1971.
Bragg confirmed the news of his impending nuptials to Gabriel, who is in her early 60s, but declined to comment further.
‘Gabriel has really looked after him this past year, and her care made him think how great it would be to marry her,’ says a friend.
The news comes just six months after he divorced Cate Haste (pictured), his second wife
‘He wants the double celebration of being 80 in October along with the wedding.’
Bragg was first reported to have had an affair with Clare-Hunt more than 20 years ago when she was a secretary at London Weekend Television, where he was arts controller.
In papers submitted by Cate, she said the marriage had ‘broken down irretrievably’ and cited ‘two years’ separation by consent’ as grounds for the divorce.
District Judge Anne Hudd granted a decree nisi, with neither Lord Bragg, who presents Radio 4 discussion programme In Our Time, nor Cate present.
She is his daughter from his first marriage to Marie-Elisabeth Roche (pictured). Known to friends as Lise, Roche killed herself in 1971
Two years ago, the Labour peer agreed a huge financial settlement with Cate, with whom he has two children: filmmaker Alice and science journalist Tom.
He is understood to have shelled out several million pounds to buy Cate her own home in Hampstead, North London, as part of an ‘amicable agreement’, even though they were not, at that stage, divorcing.
Searching for a soulmate gripped Bragg’s imagination in his novel Love Without End about two star-crossed lovers, Heloise and Abelard. It seems in real life, love conquers all, too.
Lady Edith ditches her corset for belly laughs
Laura Carmichael found fame as Lady Edith in period drama Downton Abbey, but claims she performs more convincingly when not forced to wear stuffy corsets.
‘There have been some rare times in my life when I can do a scene where I’m just wearing some pyjamas in bed, and I’m like: “Oh, my God, this is the best acting that I’ve ever done because I’m so comfortable,” ‘ admits the 32-year-old.
‘I could do a cop drama next, or a comedy would be so nice. I’d like to laugh; I do a lot of crying. I’m up for a giggle in jeans.’
Laura Carmichael found fame as Lady Edith in period drama Downton Abbey, but claims she performs more convincingly when not forced to wear stuffy corsets
Harry’s polo club chairman gets a blast from the past
The turf is flying at Ham Polo Club, where, in happier times, Princes William and Harry have enjoyed high-class sport.
Already plagued by banners placed at its entrance (as I disclosed yesterday) alleging that the club is run by ‘vindictive bullies’, it now threatens to become the battleground between the current chairman, Howard Davis, and his predecessor, Nicholas Colquhoun-Denvers, 70, over who is to blame for a massive operating loss of £330,000 in the last financial year.
The turf is flying at Ham Polo Club, where, in happier times, Princes William and Harry have enjoyed high-class sport
In a blistering letter to Davis, Colquhoun-Denvers says ‘there appears to be an unacceptable strategy to deflect attention from the fact that the 2018 annual accounts will not reflect well on your administration’, adding that the alleged ploy is ‘both ill-conceived and unacceptable’.
In the same letter he defends his wife, Annie, who produced the club magazine. ‘I believe that your comments with regards to ‘investigating’ Annie’s involvement at the club were unworthy of someone who holds the post of Chairman.’
The club declines to comment but Colquhoun-Denvers, erstwhile President of the Federation of International Polo, the sport’s global governing body, evidently has his supporters.
‘In 25 years, the club never had a year-end with an operating loss,’ says one, ‘apart from the year of foot-and-mouth, when it was approximately £8,000.’
Mamma Mia! Lily’s toy boy is a model beau
Having a famous boyfriend is proving unexpectedly beneficial for Mamma Mia 2 star Lily James.
The 30-year-old blonde is on holiday in Europe without her other half, actor Matt Smith, but has found a way to keep him firmly by her side — by taking a micro-figurine of the 36-year-old as his Doctor Who character.
Lily, who has been dating Matt for five years, and with whom she lives in North London, has been sharing pictures on social media of the £1.50 toy — which she refers to as her ‘pocket-sized boyfriend’ — in various locations.
She is taking a break after finishing her stint in play All About Eve in the West End last week.
Having a famous boyfriend is proving unexpectedly beneficial for Mamma Mia 2 star Lily James
Lily, who has been dating Matt for five years, and with whom she lives in North London, has been sharing pictures on social media of the £1.50 toy
Chloe’s hot felon rocks red carpet without her…
Testing times, I fear, for heiress Chloe Green.
Only days after it became apparent that her father, former Bhs boss Sir Philip Green, is no longer a billionaire, her fiancé, convict-turned-model Jeremy Meeks, 35, has been sauntering around Cannes in the company of fellow model Andreea Sasu, 29.
The couple were arm-in-arm at the premiere of The Dead Don’t Die, to which Meeks (dubbed the ‘hot felon’) wore a black suit of the sort that he might favour for a court appearance, while Andreea opted for a plunging mini-dress.
Chloe, 28, who has an 11-month son, Jayden, with Meeks, was nowhere to be seen.
Jeremy Meeks, 35, has been sauntering around Cannes in the company of fellow model Andreea Sasu, 29
Royal designer Jenny Packham is worried about what her scruffy, television presenter brother, Chris, will wear at Buckingham Palace tomorrow when he goes to collect his CBE.
‘My sister said: “What on earth are you going to wear?” ’ the Springwatch host tells me. ‘She is slightly concerned I might let her down.’
Speaking at his first ‘pop-up’ conservation event in Mayfair’s Berkeley Square, he adds: ‘She doesn’t design menswear, but I have got a very smart suit, so she’s got nothing to worry about. I’ll wear a tie.’
The name maketh the man, Archie tells Archie
Society magician Archie Manners thinks he may have inspired the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s choice of name for their new son.
In some advice for baby Archie, he says: ‘As a conjuror, I have performed for your dad on a couple of occasions.
‘Obviously, I can’t comment on rumours that I used psychic suggestion or telepathy to implant the name ‘Archie’ in the Duke of Sussex’s brain as the perfect moniker for his firstborn. That would be a trangression of my sacred Magic Circle oath.
Society magician Archie Manners thinks he may have inspired the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s choice of name for their new son
‘You’ll just have to make up your own mind about how it happened.’
Manners adds: ‘With your charismatic, charming name comes certain expectations. Even before people meet you, they’ll expect you to be great fun — and I must say, I enjoy living up to the image.
‘Suppose my parents had called me Nigel or Eric — I’d probably be a chartered accountant, not a magician and TV presenter.’
Actress and veteran wildlife conservation campaigner Virginia McKenna — who with her late husband Bill Travers founded the Born Free Foundation — has given her personal approval to Prince William one day taking over from his grandfather, the Duke of Edinburgh, as president of the World Wildlife Fund.
‘William has spoken up for wildlife,’ she says, ‘and the lead has to come from the top to say that we are in danger of losing animals and, worst of all, tigers.’
David Baddiel made his name on television alongside fellow comedian and football fan Frank Skinner, releasing the football single Three Lions for Euro ’96.
Now the comedy duo are set to be reunited on screen. ‘We have talked about it, actually,’ Baddiel, 54, told me at the National Book Awards.
‘We want to do something. I think people would like to see us back together on TV. Is there an avenue for that? Yes.’