New ITV boss will need his biggest ten-gallon thinking hat when he faces mega-rich Cowell

Simon Cowell

Formidable: ITV chairman will need all his skills to deal with star earner Cowell

Archie Norman as new ITV chairman? The former Asda chief and ex-Tory MP, who is 55, is a fan of novel management techniques. He encouraged Asda staff to wear 'thinking hats' during brain-crunching sessions, demonstrating they were not to be disturbed while considering some new brainwave. Babe-in-the-woods Archie will have to wear his biggest ten-gallon thinking hat when faced with mega-rich Simon Cowell, who owns ITV's make-or-break show, The X Factor.

Meanwhile, reader Toby Sculthrop writes to say: 'I wonder if you - or any of your readers - can answer a question. Why is it - with dozens of highly-paid BBC managers earning more than the Prime Minister - that none of them are deemed fit and proper to run ITV? Or, indeed, put themselves forward for consideration?' Is it because they'd be lucky to get any sort of job outside the BBC?

Sir Michael Caine talks about acting (always such a treat!) in ShortList magazine. Specifically the scene in his new film Harry Brown in which he breaks down sobbing on hearing his only friend has died. What does he draw on for such moments, he is asked? Sir Michael, 76: 'I'm a Stanislavski, or method, actor. You go back in your own life for something to laugh at, for instance. If I need to cry, I always go back to a very sad event in my life that I haven't even told my wife.' Makes acting sound a bit disreputable, doesn't it?

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling, portrays himself as a chap of modest means in The Spectator. He writes: 'Our poor garden at home in Edinburgh normally acquires a bedraggled look in weeks leading up to Budgets and Pre-Budget reports. Note to the gardener (myself, in case you wondered): remember to get the rake out.' What a humbug! Darling's on £144,520 plus expenses etc and can easily afford a gardener. He 'flipped' his designated ' second home' four times in four years to collect the maximum allowances. He can certainly afford a squad of gardeners.

Julian Clary

No more nudity: Julian Clary wanted to have more naked sunbathing in London

Comedian Julian Clary, pictured, and gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell are among over 1,000 Bohemians who have lost a bid to set up a bigger naked sunbathing area at Highgate Men's Pond. Their spokesman Michael Peacock, 50, says: 'Germany has nudist areas in most major parks. Prague has a population of 1.2million people and seven facilities for naturists.Yet London has six million people and all we've got is this tiny strip of concrete.' A City of London spokesman says: 'Nude sunbathing is an ancillary activity.' Quite so.

Labour shoots itself in the foot in their latest party political broadcast, shot at Canary Wharf, showing giant TV screens emblazoned with negative news headlines such as 'Mortgage approvals slump to record lows' and 'Economy to slow this year despite rate cuts' as well as 'Weak pound aggravating inflation pressures'. Another triumph for Minister of Information Lord Mandelson!

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