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Becks goes gongless

Poor David Beckham. The former England football captain might have thought that he was all set for a knighthood after queuing for Queen Elizabeth’s lying in state in September. The talk had been a gong for Becks in the first New Year’s Honours list of the King’s reign. Not any more.

It seems that Beckham’s decision to take £10 million to promote the football World Cup in Qatar has meant that he is out of favour with honours bigwigs again. “Beckham is not getting one,” an insider tells me. “He was a banker but apparently his decision to take the money from Qatar is a big black mark.” Keep trying, Becks.

Monkey business

Gyles Brandreth was master of ceremonies at the Oldie of the Year awards at the National Liberal Club. As other winners the Duke of Kent, Jeremy Paxman and Dame Sian Phillips looked on, veteran naturalist Jane Goodall was presented with her award, greeting Brandreth as a chimpanzee with a loud howl. Goodall told him: “When a female meets a male chimpanzee, he is seen as dominant. If you like me, reach out and pat my head.” Brandreth started patting. “You are in luck because today I am identifying as a male,” he replied, reassuringly.

Gielgud’s £55,000 fee

Brandreth recounted a lunch at the House of Commons with the late actor Sir John Gielgud, then aged 90, who told him he was delighted to be there “because all of my real friends are dead”. Gielgud never stopped working. His trick was to charge £55,000 for a day’s filming, Brandreth explained, “And then he would graciously give the second day for free. And then on the second day he used to bungle his lines – so they had to give him a third day, which was the same price as the first day.”

Big thoughts at the BBC

BBC director-general Tim Davie was asked what management advice he would give to chief executives at the CBI conference this week. “I don’t like being puffed up around this but I think just walking off,” he said. “Your best time is probably just sitting in a caff, spending half an hour thinking, ‘Where am I? What is going on here?’ And I just don’t think we do enough of it, so I really do try to preserve that.”

Judi Dench’s horse whispering

Dame Judi Dench popped over to Mane Chance, the horse sanctuary run by A Woman of Substance actress Jenny Seagrove near Guildford, ahead of a fundraiser for the charity at Charterhouse School in January. Dench was keen to see a Dutch elm that Seagrove planted three years ago and named after her.

Seagrove told me: “Judi said hello to the tree. And she met some big horses and very gently and quietly told one of them, Freya, the entire “Owl And The Pussycat”. And the horse fell asleep right next to her. It was just glorious. Judi can’t be used to her audience falling asleep, but in this case it was a compliment.”

Nigel is back with Debbie

Debbie Moore, the former model and entrepreneur, had a reunion with Nigel Farage on his eponymous GB News programme this week. By chance, Farage’s father Guy was her “chaperone” the very day, 40 years ago this month, that she floated Pineapple Dance Studios on the stock market, becoming the first woman to take a company public. Moore – dressed in a mini-skirt – was introduced to the various suited brokers. She tells me: “Nigel’s Dad was equally as charming as Nigel.”

Moore – who was famously photographed for a John Swannell poster – blazed a trail for women in business. She adds: “I am from an era when we liked to be wolf-whistled at. Men are wonderful.”

Vega’s royal moment

American singer Suzanne Vega – who is touring the UK in February and March – met the late Queen Elizabeth at the charity Casa Alianza’s base in Kettering. “I worked with a guy there named Fred. The Queen was there for the opening of their new building,” Vega, 64 told me.

“When people see the picture of us shaking hands, they think that she’s saying something like, ‘Oh, I’m a big fan of Luka’, like she knew my work. But not at all. She shook my hand and said, ‘So you work with Fred … what do you do?’ ”

Peterborough, published every Friday at 7pm, is edited by Christopher Hope, the Telegraph’s chief political correspondent and the author of the daily Chopper’s Politics newsletter. You can reach him at

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