Gyles Brandreth

The whips’ office and their woes

18 min listen

There have been two recent defections from the Conservatives to Labour. There’s lots of chatter in parliament about a potential third defector. In this Saturday edition of Coffee House Shots, Katy Balls and James Heale hear from Gyles Brandreth, former MP and broadcaster. He takes us back to what it was like working in the

The day Keir Starmer cried on me about his childhood

I have had a good idea. It may even be an important idea. See what you think. The other day I interviewed Keir Starmer for my weekly podcast, Rosebud. It’s so called because of the Orson Welles film Citizen Kane. Rosebud, you will recall, was the trade name of the sledge on which Kane, as

King Charles isn’t racist

This week I have been working with the great Dame Judi Dench. We have been rehearsing a song by Noël Coward for a show we are doing together at the Royal Albert Hall next Friday. Judi met Sir Noël not long before he died in 1973. What she remembers best is his amused smile and

The comedy of the Queen’s coronation

Once, years ago, making small talk with Elizabeth II, I asked her if it was true that many peers attending her coronation in 1953 had taken sandwiches into Westminster Abbey hidden inside their coronets. ‘Oh, yes,’ she said. ‘They were in the abbey for something like six hours, you know. The Archbishop of Canterbury even

The King won’t be watching Harry and Meghan on Netflix

When it comes to the Harry & Meghan ‘this is our truth’ Netflix documentary, the senior members of the royal family have decided to do what the Queen Mother’s friend Noël Coward always did when faced with adversity or criticism. They are simply going ‘to rise above it’. It won’t be difficult. While the Queen

Britain’s best one-liners, from Oxford’s 2013 edition

Modest about our national pride — and inordinately proud of our national modesty. —Ian Hislop I always invest in companies an idiot could run, because one day one will. —Warren Buffett I find it easy to portray businessmen. Being bland, rather cruel and incompetent comes naturally to me. —John Cleese I always wanted to be

Diary – 5 May 2007

The telephone rang at 7.45 a.m. It was a journalist I know. She sounded tense. ‘Gyles,’ she said, ‘do you want to come out?’ ‘It’s a bit early, isn’t it, darling?’ I replied. ‘I mean, “come out”,’ she said with emphasis, adding, with a little laugh, ‘Everyone knows you’re gay.’ ‘Do they?’ I asked. ‘Am

Diary – 18 March 2006

Observation of the week: all too often a diary is the achievement of those without achievement. I was an MP and a whip in John Major’s government. My political career did not amount to much, but at least my diary provides a partial record of those years. I have been keeping a journal since 1959.