News, Culture & Society

‘Stephen was a very naughty boy,’ said Fry’s sister


One of many misconceptions about Donald Trump is that he never listens to counter-argument.

From my time working with him on Celebrity Apprentice USA, I know this to be completely untrue.

On Wednesday, the Trump administration signalled it would reverse an Obama- era ban on importing elephant-hunting trophies from Africa.

I sat next to Stephen’s sister Jo, a delightful lady who is also his long-time personal assistant. ‘What’s the one really embarrassing thing about your brother that the family is astonished has never made it into the papers?’ I asked. ‘Oh, there are so many things,’ she giggled

On Thursday, I penned a column explaining why trophy-hunting does nothing but increase elephant poaching.

Today, Trump tweeted: ‘Put big game trophy decision on hold.’

I responded: ‘Thank you, Mr President. Trophy-hunting is repellent.’

Minutes later, Trump retweeted my tweet, suggesting he agrees with me. Given I’m one of only 45 people he follows on Twitter, it’s quite possible he changed his mind after reading my column.

If the world’s permanently outraged liberals stop screaming at Trump and actually start negotiating with him, they might be pleasantly surprised.


Sad to hear David Cassidy has died, but not surprised. Three years ago, the former teen heart-throb gave me a heart-rending interview for CNN in which he finally publicly admitted to his lengthy battle with alcoholism.

We met in LA and he arrived sweating and shaking, and looking exhausted.

‘I’ve been lying to myself and everyone else about my disease,’ he confessed. ‘This is very painful to admit. It’s humbling and humiliating. If I take another drink, I’m going to die; physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, I’m dead.’

David, a sweet, charming guy, continued drinking and it did indeed kill him. RIP.


‘I’m hosting a SURPRISE birthday lunch for Stephen Fry to mark the occasion of his recent 60th,’ read the invite from Fortnum & Mason’s charming CEO Ewan Venters. ‘I hope you will join me for this jolly occasion.’

I arrived to find 24 guests including Dame Judi Dench, Stanley Tucci, Anna Friel, Griff Rhys Jones, Hugh Bonneville, Tess Daly, Andrew Neil and Sir Michael Parkinson.

‘Piers, my dear fellow!’ bellowed Fry, ‘what… a surprise!’

He didn’t elaborate on whether this was a good or bad surprise.

I made a beeline for Parky, who’s recovering from a back operation to repair two ruptured discs in his spine.

‘I’ve had to learn to bloody walk again,’ he sighed. ‘Fortunately for a long time I had the opportunity to master a drunken stagger, which has held me in good stead as I lurch from place to place.’

‘Congratulations on your morning show,’ said Maureen Lipman.

‘Glad you like it!’ I replied.

‘Oh, I don’t watch it myself,’ she exclaimed, ‘but I hear it’s very entertaining.’

I sat next to Stephen’s sister Jo, a delightful lady who is also his long-time personal assistant. ‘What’s the one really embarrassing thing about your brother that the family is astonished has never made it into the papers?’ I asked.

‘Oh, there are so many things,’ she giggled. ‘Stephen was a VERY naughty boy when he was younger. I remember when he was 14 and got a safety pin stuck in his left big toe. He insisted we take him to hospital and made a tremendous fuss about it.’

‘Was that the moment you realised he was a true drama queen?’


The conversation turned from sex robots (‘You’d have to get one that didn’t talk, Piers,’ said Tracey Emin, ‘because she’d never get a word in…’) to the global harassment furore.

‘My issue with all this,’ I opined, ‘is the way a hand on a knee over a boozy lunch is now being lumped in with serious rape.’

Kathy Lette promptly put her hand on my knee and began aggressively caressing it.

‘Now do you understand, Piers?’

‘You’ve definitely got me in two minds,’ I responded. ‘I can’t decide whether to report you or book us a hotel room.’

‘Some bloke stroked my arm inappropriately the other day,’ said Emin.

‘How did you deal with him?’ I asked.

‘I told him if he didn’t stop I’d smash his f***ing face in,’ she cackled.

Venters made a short speech to the birthday boy that ended with the words: ‘Stephen, you are one of the kindest people on the planet.’

This, I suspect, may be true.

When a friend of mine went through a grim public shaming experience a while ago, he was staggered to receive a sympathetic letter from Fry – a man he barely knew and who had no reason to feel anything but antipathy towards him.

Jo told me he does this all the time, often to complete strangers.

At the end of a sumptuous feast, the great Dench walked past me to leave.

‘Dame Judi!’ I exclaimed, leaping to my feet.

‘Mr Morgan!’ she responded, needlessly reminding everyone of my commoner title.

‘I’d like to pay homage to you,’ I gushed, ‘though I appreciate this feeling may not be entirely mutual.’

Dame Judi smiled, noncommittally.

I then told her my middle son Stanley, 20, is studying at Lamda, one of Britain’s top drama schools.

Her eyes lit up. ‘IS he?’

I’d just got interesting.

‘Yes… what’s the best piece of advice you would give a budding actor?’

‘Tell him to go and watch as much theatre as he can,’ she replied, with animated enthusiasm. ‘You can’t beat observing and learning from properly trained actors.’

Stanley was thrilled when I relayed this to him. My youngest son Bertie, 16, was less enthused when I posted a photo of the lunch on Instagram.

‘Are you with Jimmy Carr?’ he texted seconds later.

‘I was, but I’ve left,’ I replied.

‘So you were with my hero… the funniest human on Planet Earth… and you didn’t say?’

Lengthy pause.