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Winter 2005

Went to New York for the premiere of “Pride and Prejudice”, which just opened at some 200 screens to begin with, but which got rather wonderful reviews. It opens nationwide at the end of November. There’s been a lot of fuss about the new ending – to be accurate, the original Lizzy-and-Darcy-kissing ending which had been cut in Britain, because test audiences found it too soppy. Here in the UK the film ends with Mr Bennet giving his permission for Lizzy to marry; not suprisingly, when I met Donald Sutherland at the premiere, he said he preferred this one….I wonder why?… Anyway, American audiences were judged to have a sweeter tooth than their British counterparts. We’ll see about that.

Practically the nicest thing about the premiere was flying Virgin Upper Class, where they put you into a sort of pod which contains everything a human being could need. Whenever you wanted a meal, the crew cooked one for you. If you fancied a drink you wandered off to the bar, and if you needed a massage there was another room for that. And if you wanted to sleep you pressed a button and the whole thing, with a murmur and sigh, transformed itself into a deliciously comfortable bed, where you tucked yourself up under a crisp white duvet. All thanks to Jane Austen scratching away with her pen…


“Tulip Fever” seems to be getting itself together again. I got the news from the man who runs the Keira Knightley fan-website, who seems to know everything if it has the name Keira vaguely connected to it (she was going to star in the original version). Anyway, the director Peter Chesholm has taken it on, and Peter Flannery is writing the script. This time they’re going make it with a smaller budget, which might be no bad thing, and film it in Eastern Europe. Still, I shall only allow myself to get excited about this on the first day of shooting. No, the second day. Once bitten…


Meanwhile I’m adapting Dawn Annendale’s “Call me Elizabeth” for ITV. This is the rivetting story of a mother of six who becomes a prostitute to stop her family sliding into debt. And I’m working on my adaption of “These Foolish Things”, which hopefully will become a Working Title film set in Bangalore. I’m doing one or two events before Christmas, including an Intelligence Squared debate on 7 December (at the Royal Geographic Society); the motion being “Apart from chavs, the British have no class”. I’m speaking for the motion, along with Howard Jacobson and Boris Johnson. So if you have any ideas, I’d be awfully grateful. As always, you can email me on this or anything else at


Bye for now.