Victoria Coren Mitchell - Writer, Broadcaster & Poker Player

Very Indiscreet Person

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

I have a new favourite column. Old hands on this blog may remember that I used to enjoy “The Platell Game”, guessing which way Amanda Platell would jump in her savagely opinionated articles for the Daily Mail.

  This one is a much gentler pleasure. It’s Amanda Holden this time, in her column at the back of the News Of The World magazine. It’s illustrated by a full-length photo of Amanda looking gorgeous in a tiny dress and high heels. That’s how you know she is a “guest star anecdotalist” rather than a normal columnist; you’ll notice from the average byline photo that we professional hacks never allow ourselves to be seen below the neck. It just wouldn’t be wise. Amanda, however, looks flawless in the thigh-skimming frock.

  The column’s title is VIP: VERY INDISCREET PERSON. Amanda, implies the title, will spill the beans on all that celebrity gossip to which she, as a star, is privy, with little or no thought to the social dangers this might cause.

  There were a few gems in this week’s column.

“Today”, whispers Amanda, “we go for a drive along the coast in our lovely rented convertible to Montecito, Santa Barbara. It’s home to gorgeous Brat Pack actor Rob Lowe and his wife Cheryl. My friend knows them and always stays with them when she visits LA, but I’m too shy to ask for his address! Hopefully, we might just spot him from afar.”

  Unfortunately, we have to assume that Amanda does not spot Rob Lowe from afar because at this point he disappears entirely from the text and we hear about the pool at Amanda’s hotel.

  But not to worry! More indiscreet celebrity revelations are to come.

“My friend Jane Wall, who used to be in The Bill”, Amanda is loose-lipped enough to tell us, “phones me. She’s preggers with her second baby and is having contractions every five minutes. ‘Get to the hospital NOW!’ I tell her.”

  Someone that used to be in The Bill is having a baby! And Holden is there to stop the presses just in time. But will their friendship recover from the whistle-blowing on this top secret? For the column’s climax…

  “[My husband] Chris and I go to Soho House”, reveals Amanda. “At a table in the corner are the Beckhams, Gordon and Tana Ramsay and Eva Longoria. Victoria looks glam as always. We don’t go over, though, as they look too cosy to be interrupted.”

  With this juicy story, we know we are in the hands of someone with significant star power and astonishing indiscretion. It’s like David Niven has published a third autobiography.

  Am I sounding bitchy? I don’t mean to. I fault only the misleading title; the writing is so gentle that I’m genuinely looking forward to next week’s. It’s like drinking a glass of water, or being asleep. And I like Amanda Holden, she comes across on Britain’s Got Talent as a very nice person.

  But I am thinking of applying to write the column when Amanda goes on holiday, as I once saw Brian Cant in a car park.


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Phil at 7:35 am on September 8th, 2010

I once met the lead singer of the Scissor Sisters.. in Glastonbury… in a marquee done out like a fifties rock n’ roll club… at 4 am…. he was clearly under the charms of some delightful substance… he was a lovely guy… and VERY short. Reckon News of the World would consider giving me a shot? Sadly I’ve never had the pleasure of any Bill alumni - hopefully this won’t disqualify me.

Ginger Pogue at 7:59 am on September 8th, 2010

She’s sounding like a bit of a “Diet Coke” version of Piers Morgan.

Mike at 8:37 am on September 8th, 2010

It is very rare these days for me to buy The News of World, but maybe I will buy a copy on Sunday just to check out Miss Holden’s literary skills.

If you were writing the column for the N of the W I would maybe even have the rag delivered to my home address on a regular basis. So let’s hope Amanda goes on holiday very soon.

I used to love reading Jilly Cooper’s columns in the Times and received a letter from her in which I praised her book ‘The Common Years’, about a dairy she kept whilst living in Putney.

Meanwhile I can reveal to the world that 18 months ago I saw Stephen Fry in the Norwich John Lewis’ coffee shop.

Saul Richardson at 1:19 am on September 9th, 2010

Les Dennis appears to have had a lucky escape!

jim carr at 11:38 am on September 9th, 2010

perhaps Ms Holden should ask one of her fellow hacks at the “NEWS OF THE WORLD” for some mobile numbers and pin numbers, do a bit of eavesdropping, and spice up her weekly porridge.

David Young at 11:51 am on September 9th, 2010

Had a poker-related one recently. Huck Seed walked past me when I was on the way to get my hair cut in Fulham Broadway. His name won’t mean much to some of you, but he’s a former World Poker Champion (1996) and featured in Vicky’s book ‘For Richer For Poorer’. That was weird!

MDW at 1:12 pm on September 9th, 2010

I recently walked past Robbie Williams with his new wife in a Chelsea hotel, I did not say hello because I don’t know him (Holden can have that one from me)

I’m never going to read Holden’s column but I think she’s probably an OK sort and to be fair she does look well so good luck to her

That’s the 2nd Brian Cant references this week, is Brian Cant having a bit of a revival ? - I’m up for that, bring back the Cant

Richard at 6:36 pm on September 9th, 2010

I used to drink with Bob Spiers in Widecombe. What a great guy. And I passed Robin Day on a street in London in 1979 & he smiled at me!
I bought the “News” of the World last Sunday & hid it behind the Observer - my daughter & partner were staying & I foolishly asked if they’d like me to pick up a “newspaper” whilst I was getting mine. They sensibly had left the Sun in the car (I spotted it on retrieving their wine contribution from the boot). You try to bring em up proper but best laid plans & all that.
Oh Vicky you should have a peek at me brother’s - he has some nice words to say about today’s Gaurdian poker item at Word Music. I concur.

Richard at 7:14 pm on September 9th, 2010

Ha, that was meant to be timbobig, not bog. He’d appreciate that. And on reflection I reckon Robin was 78 not 79. I thought Brian Cant was great but I only saw him through the arched window.

DaveBill at 6:32 am on September 10th, 2010

Cantona, Canton, Canto, Cant. I remember it well..
‘The Lovely’ Brian Cant no less.. :)

John at 8:29 am on September 10th, 2010

I saw Brian Cant - loads of times on the telly.  A great narrator, so where’s all his advert work?  I don’t think he even guested on The Trumpton Riots.  Ah, Mrs Honeyman - I’ve been expecting you! 

Fabio Capello's hairdresser at 11:51 am on September 10th, 2010

I saw Playaway being filmed when I was a kid, Brian Cant, Floella Benjamin and all. Re: Amanda, well she is very attractive in a “schmutzig” sort of way, which is good enough for the NOTW - content is pretty irrelevant the pic has lured them in.

To be fair, it’s a quality she shares with you, Victoria, although you do have other qualities - like a brain. Either would be welcome for a fish & chip dinner, that’s for sure.

Mike at 7:00 pm on September 10th, 2010

Well Vicky it seems that several of us have passed within photographing distance of celebrities. Maybe we can all do a piece in The News of the World sunday magazine while Amanda is away. 

This afternoon I was behind Susie Fowler-Watt in the M&S food hall queue in Norwich, but could not bring myself to speak to her.  She reads the evening news on my local BBC TV Look East programme.

David R at 1:23 am on September 11th, 2010

I once saw this puppet from Big Train in a shop in Covent Garden:

Sean at 9:20 am on September 11th, 2010

I once overtook Kenny Lynch on the M25.

Mike at 10:19 pm on September 12th, 2010

Victoria, you are the most amusing person. Having read your piece about travelling on lo-cost airlines, I can not believe that Andrew Rawnsley did not make any reference to you this week. Keep smiling.
PS- I shall start a campaign to restore the Greek letters on the TV quiz that you host with aplomb- it took me ages to get used to them.
PPS- would James Bond outwit you at poker? I think not

Lacey at 11:51 pm on September 12th, 2010

I know this doesn’t really have anything to do with this post, plus I didn’t know where else to write it, but I shall post it anyway.

I just wanted to say that as a (hopefully) future journalist you are quite the inspiration to me as a writer. Your blogs and columns never fail to impress or humour my little self (Okay, so that was a slight lie - with the poker ones I generally sit there thinking “If I had actually let my Great Uncle teach me how to play instead of just building a card tower then I would know what the bloody hell she is on about.”).

Anyway, thank you for doing what you do, Victoria.

King John II at 1:51 am on September 13th, 2010

I wonder, what would VC, or any of her admirers, recommend as a way of relinquishing a copy of her fully read and no longer wanted poker title FRFP? as there is very little space in my bookcase cabinets and something often has to go when I make a new purchase. It seems a waste just to throw it away as it is the type of sturdy book that still looks fresh long after it has been read.
Ahh, problems, problems. 

Victoria Coren at 10:06 am on September 13th, 2010

Give it to a charity shop.

King John II at 12:50 pm on September 13th, 2010

Charity shop? excellent idea, will do. Umm, never thought of that. I suppose that is what comes of being the type of bloke no longer inclined towards charitable giving.
There is a PDSA shop on the high road. This is where FRFP and all future unwanted good conditioned books will go and, hopefully, may a thousand blessings be bestowed upon me for such altruistic acts. God save the King.

The Tim at 9:44 pm on September 13th, 2010

Just to say I thought the question on islands was rather unfair – how can you expect the contestants to know that Australia is classed as a continent and not an island? – I’d say it’s more of an island than Borneo as the latter is not single country - it’s part of Indonesia and Malaysia – Greenland is usually considered part of Denmark.

For those who think I didn’t listen, I don’t doubt that the answer is technically right – I’m merely saying that the question was much too hard and ambiguous - even for people as talented as the Urban Walkers.

Chris (more cynic than sickophant) at 4:35 am on September 14th, 2010

Re: Urban Walker comment ‘I dont own a mobile’ - Could you imagine life without technology VC?

Philip at 7:27 am on September 14th, 2010

I must admit that I had higher hopes for the article too. I thought she might be indiscreet about the mock sincerity which leads her to amuse us on a Saturday night, gurning unconvincing expressions through her “nightmarish, unyielding, vinyl hockey mask of a face”. But no.

It’s a shame that The News of the World is being dragged into the gutter in this way. I wonder if, VC, you would consider batting for the other side. Just lose a few of the longer words, and drop in a few unfounded reactionary comments and Bob’s your uncle.


Roy_Hudd at 8:42 am on September 14th, 2010

The Tim - I’m with you on this. Even if it is a continent, surely it can also be an island? Also, when I was at school, I was told that the continent was Australasia. Then again, when I was at school we still had nine planets in the solar system.
It’s all moot anyway as the answer was Greenland - I guessed the connection, but not the answer for that one. We did rather well last night - good enough to do our Quiz Hour dance around the living room afterwards.

The Tim at 4:46 pm on September 14th, 2010

Great – at last someone agrees with me! It’s just that it was always going to be easier for the team not asked the question as most people would have said Australia and Greenland was the only other plausible answer. The Urban Walkers fell into an intelligence trap.

BlackadderedBob at 12:02 am on September 30th, 2010

Being from a suburb in north London, having not attended university and very much playing catch-up to the educated - and if im honest, having absolutely no idea who you were until roughly three hours ago - Though having now just watched “Have i got News for You” (only because id fallen asleep and missed the football - so was now waiting for the highlights and needed 30 mins to kill without finding out the scores) - you Ms Coren have intrigued me…..

so much so that i have found myself here, adding a comment to your blog, showing my admiration of your humour and writing skills - you have gained yourself a new fan! Just thought id let you know.

God bless TV…......though ignorance is bliss since i have no idea who Brian Cant is, but do Amanda Holden…...keep up the great work.


Ken Singtone at 5:40 pm on December 12th, 2010

When byline photos started to appear it seemed bordering on rudeness.  I expect photos to be relevent to the article.  Hacks are wise to stick to head shots, unless they are writing about themselves.  However, as you often do so, I took up the implicit challenge here.

I agree that Amanda Holden seems a really nice person, and looks stunningly gorgeous, so I visited her website and studied her pictures very carefully (very enjoyable too).  Then, I gave your TV appearances the same careful examination.  The good news is that I find you just as delightful.  I feel sad that attractive curvy women like you should feel inadequate because it is fashionable to be thin. 
Hilarious articles too, Victoria.

Victoria Coren - as attractive as Amanda Holden & as funny as Woody Allen

Victoria Coren

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