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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Robbie Griffiths

Sadiq Khan’s shades of grey over female authors at fiction prize

Mayor Sadiq Khan graced the Women’s Prize for Fiction ceremony last night, where Barbara Kingsolver won the £30,000 prize for her novel, Demon Copperhead.

But the Mayor didn’t seem very well-briefed on the matter at hand. When The Londoner asked him about some of the women novelists he has read recently, he struggled, naming Jacqueline Crooks and Elif Shafak before drawing blanks.

“Other than that I’ve read Alistair Campbell’s book, he’s not a woman,” said Khan. “Again, he’s not a woman but I love Richard Osman,” Khan continued, before adding “We all like a bit of E.L. James, don’t we? On that note, I’d better go.” As he scarpered, The Londoner was left with an image of the Mayor reading Fifty Shades of Grey.

Stanley Tucci (L) and Felicity Blunt attend the Women's Prize For Fiction 2023 winner ceremony at Bedford Square Gardens on June 14, 2023 in London, England. Pic credit: Dave Benett (Hoda Davaine/Dave Benett/Getty Images)

Among the guests were presenter Vick Hope and literary agent Felicity Blunt with actor husband Stanley Tucci, who is also her client for his books. Is she nicer to Tucci than other authors, we asked? “I actually think I was meaner, because one is meaner to one’s husband,” said Blunt.

Tory mayoral hopeful’s support for Trump

Tory mayoral hopeful Susan Hall and Donald Trump (City Hall / AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Susan Hall, who is in the last three to be Tory candidate for mayor, has some controversial views. She’s been a Donald Trump fan, encouraging him to “wipe the smile off” Mayor Sadiq Khan’s face by winning the 2020 US election.

The mayor and the then president were in a feud. Hall has been criticised for saying the black community has “problems with crime”. She also called anti-racism protesters who were out in Brixton “worrying”, and liked a tweet that labelled a picture of Met police officers taking the knee “embarrassing”. We contacted Hall to ask if she regrets backing Trump now that he’s in legal trouble, but got no reply.

Chancellor out at Spitting Image

Al Murray (C) attends the press night performance of

The Spitting Image musical opened at the West End’s Phoenix Theatre last night, prompting co-creator Al Murray to get up close with puppets of the Pope and Kim Kardashian. In the audience was Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, who got a relatively easy ride. His boss Rishi Sunak was mocked in a head boy’s outfit, and the Tory peerage row got a skewering. Alastair Campbell went too, and was treated to some jibes about his ex-boss Tony Blair’s record on Iraq.

Blackadder return off the cards

Tony Robinson attends the Park Theatre 10th Anniversary party on May 7, 2023 in London, England. (Dave Benett)

Blackadder star Tony Robinson is marking 40 years of the hit sitcom, but says there will be no reunion. “It would look like a rather desperate group of middle-aged men,” he says. He’s made a show about the sitcom’s “lost” pilot, which airs on Gold tonight. John Cleese is doing another series of Fawlty Towers, which Robinson hopes will “totally reinvent” the original.

Bowie producer defends music studio

Legendary David Bowie producer Tony Visconti is trying to save a Brixton music studio just up the road from where Bowie himself was born. Brixton Hill Studios, where many cult bands have practiced and recorded, say they are at risk of closure after their rent went up by £32,000 a year and the landlord decided to leave negotiations. Visconti has called for the “wonderful” site to be saved.

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