What is “Joan Smith” ?

Joan Smith

Joan Smith
Joan Smith
Joan Smith

Joan Alison Smith is an English novelist, journalist and human rights activist, who is a former chair of the Writers in Prison committee in the English section of International PEN.

The daughter of a park superintendent, Smith was educated at a state school before reading Latin at the University of Reading in the early 1970s. After a spell as a journalist in local radio in Manchester, she joined the staff of the Sunday Times in 1979 and stayed at the newspaper until 1984, although Smith still contributes book reviews, usually on crime fiction, to the publication. She has had a regular column in the The Guardian’s Weekend supplement, also freelancing for the newspaper and has contributed to The Independent, the Independent on Sunday, and the New Statesman.

In her non-fiction Smith displays a commitment to atheism, feminism and republicanism; she has travelled extensively and this is reflected in her articles. She is scornful of popular culture and once gave away her television set to her ex-husband, although she acquired a new set almost a decade later.

On 15 September 2010, Smith, along with 54 other public figures, signed an open letter published in The Guardian, stating their opposition to Pope Benedict XVI’s state visit to the UK.

In November 2011 she gave evidence to the Leveson Inquiry into press and media standards following the telephone hacking practised by the News of the World. She testified that she considered celebrities thought they could control press content if they put themselves into the public domain when, in reality the opposite was more likely. She repeated a claim that she has persistently adhered to in her writings that the press is misogynistic.

Although Smith was opposed to the 2003 Invasion of Iraq, disputing the false claims about the Saddam Hussein regime’s possession of Weapon of mass destruction, she has taken a different view during the Syrian civil war. As a consequence of the Syrian refugee crisis, and the 2013 Ghouta attacks using chemical weapons, she has called for military invention.

Outside the UK, Smith is probably best known for the Loretta Lawson series of crime novels which were published between 1987 and 1995. What Will Survive is a novel set in Lebanon in 1997 concerning a journalist’s investigation into the death of a model and anti-landmine campaigner.

She is a keen supporter of Classics in state schools, describing the 1997-2010 Labour government’s failure to act on the matter as “hardly their finest hour” and is a patron of The Iris Project. Smith is a supporter of the political organisation, Republic and an Honorary Associate of the National Secular Society.

Smith was married to journalist Francis Wheen between 1985 and 1993.

She had a relationship with Denis MacShane, a British Labour Party politician at the time. On 25 May 2009, during the expenses scandal of 2009 Smith wrote an article for The Guardian titled “I am sick of my country and this hysteria over MPs” objecting to the furore over MPs’ expenses which she cited as an example of bullying in public life, stating that her partner was an (unnamed) MP.

The couple subsequently split up in 2010 after seven years together; MacShane has subsequently faced a Metropolitan Police investigation into his expenses, and was forced to resign his seat.

In 2003 she was offered the MBE for her services to PEN, but refused the award.

Related Sites for Joan Smith

What is “Claudia Winkleman” ?

Claudia Winkleman

Claudia Winkleman
Claudia Winkleman
Claudia Winkleman

Claudia Anne Winkleman is an English television presenter, film critic, radio personality and journalist, best known for her current work with the BBC.

Between 2004 and 2010, Claudia presented Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two on daily on BBC Two. She was replaced in 2011 by Zox Ball. Since then she has co-presented the main results show on Sunday nights with Tess Daly for BBC One.

Claudia was the co-presenter of Let’s Dance For Comic Relief for it’s 1st two series in 2009 and 2010. She co-hosted the show with Steve Jones and was replaced by Alex Jones. Since 2009, she has hosted the main Comic Relief and Sport Relief annual telethons on BBC One.

In 2010, Claudia replaced Jonathan Ross as the presenter of The Film Programme on the BBC after Ross’ move to ITV. Winkleman currently presents the show annually on the BBC.

Since April 2013, she has presented the sewing series The Great British Sewing Bee for BBC Two.

Winkleman was born to a Jewish family the daughter of Eve Pollard, former editor of the Sunday Express, and Barry Winkleman, former publisher of The Times Atlas of the World. Her parents divorced when she was three; both remarried in 1979. Her stepfather is Sir Nicholas Lloyd, former editor of the Daily Express, and her half-sister, from her father’s 2nd marriage, to children’s author Cindy Black, is actress Sophie Winkleman, wife of Lord Frederick Windsor. She has a younger half-brother, Oliver Lloyd, from her mother’s 2nd marriage, to Nicholas Lloyd.

Brought up in the London suburb of Hampstead, Winkleman was educated at the City of London School for Girls and New Hall, Cambridge, obtaining an MA Hons degree in History of Art.

Winkleman’s 1st major television job was in 1991, on the regional discussion programme Central Weekend. In 1992, she began frequently to appear in the long-running BBC series Holiday, and this continued throughout the mid-1990s. This culminated in a special documentary in which she travelled around the world for 34 days reporting from Japan, India, Costa Rica and Dubai. Throughout this period, she appeared as a reporter on other shows, particularly This Morning interviewing celebrities, including Michelle Pfeiffer, Tony Blair, Alan Sugar and Harrison Ford. During the late 1990s, Winkleman presented a number of programmes on smaller digital channels. She had a stint on the cable channel L!VE TV, run by Kelvin MacKenzie and Janet Street-Porter, but soon left to pursue other projects. One programme made during this period was a short series titled Toilets shown on BBC Choice, which examined the “design, etiquette, psychology and hidden culture behind the humble loo”.

She also presented a number of gameshows including the dating show Three’s a Crowd, LWT show Talking Telephone Numbers, the 2nd series of Granada TV show God’s Gift and Fanorama, which featured a young David Mitchell as a team captain in his 1st television appearance. In 1997 she was the co-host of children’s Saturday morning TV show Tricky, along with a green cartoon dragon who called her “Claudia Winklebottom”. She was also an occasional team captain on a gameshow called HeadJam, hosted by Vernon Kay.

Between 2002–04, Winkleman began her 1st daily TV role when she hosted the BBC Three Entertainment update show Liquid News, taking over from Christopher Price on the now defunct BBC Choice. She shared the presenting duties with Colin Paterson, and later Paddy O’Connell. The show featured celebrity interviews, for example Winkleman interviewed S Club 7 in May 2003. In 2003, Fame Academy appointed Winkleman to present a daily update show on BBC Three, in conjunction with its 2nd series. Reporting from behind the scenes of the show, Winkleman conducted daily interviews with contestants, experts and celebrity pundits. She repeated the show in 2005 for the much shorter celebrity version Comic Relief Does Fame Academy. Also in 2005, Winkleman co-hosted The House of Tiny Tearaways, a BBC Three reality TV show, along with Tanya Byron, a British psychologist, writer and media personality. She also began hosting Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two, a supplementary programme to Strictly Come Dancing, taking over from Justin Lee-Collins.

Winkleman then presented several more reality shows including End of Story in 2004, a literature-based show, and Art School in 2005, a programme which saw five unlikely celebrities go through a two-week art course at the Chelsea College of Art and Design.

More recently, Winkleman has presented a number of prime time programmes. In 2007, she took over from Cat Deeley as the main host for the 3rd series of Comic Relief Does Fame Academy, co-hosting with Patrick Kielty. She also presented the Eurovision Song Contest. She co-hosted coverage of the inaugural Eurovision Dance Contest 2007 alongside Graham Norton for BBC One in September of that year. She co-presented the UK selection process for the Eurovision Song Contest 2008 called Eurovision: Your Decision, this time accompanied by Eurovision stalwart Terry Wogan. In March 2008, Winkleman rekindled her partnership with Kielty when the pair hosted the final leg of Sport Relief 2008, announcing x19,640,321 as the final amount raised through viewers’ donations.

In 2007, Winkleman was the face of Sky Movie Premiere’s coverage of the 79th Academy Awards, repeating it for the 80th Academy Awards in 2008. The show was broadcast live in conjunction with the ceremony itself, running right through the night into the early hours of the morning. Winkleman has made many guest appearances on panel and talk shows, including: Never Mind the Buzzcocks, Would I Lie to You?, Have I Got News for You, Friday Night with Jonathan Ross and Lily Allen and Friends. In February 2008, she appeared on the British version of the comedy improvisational show Thank God You’re Here, hosted by Paul Merton. In it she had to improvise a scene in which she played a boarding school girl who had been called to the headmistress’s office.

Winkleman narrated the BBC Three show Glamour Girls, a documentary series focusing on Britain’s glamour industry.

In March 2009, Winkleman was announced as the host of the new series of Hell’s Kitchen on ITV1. She fronted the nightly show live from the restaurant in East London in its 4th series in the spring. On 14 November 2009, she stepped in on the main show of Strictly Come Dancing to present backstage, this was due to main presenter Bruce Forsyth being on sick leave. She co-hosted the show with Tess Daly and guest presenter Ronnie Corbett.

On 29 March 2010, she was named as one of the new co-presenters of The Film Programme, replacing Jonathan Ross. The Guardian stated, through her recent hosting of Sky Television’s coverage of The Oscars, Winkleman had “proved both a passionate and engaging advocate of cinema”, while her husband Kris Thykier is a film producer with credits on several mainstream releases.

It is through her work on Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two that Winkleman has gained the most public recognition. The programme, which started in 2004, was devised as a companion show to run conjoined with the 2nd series of Strictly Come Dancing, and continues to run to date. It follows a similar format to the one Winkleman made popular on Fame Academy, and sees the presenter deliberating and dissecting the ins and outs of the main competition, accompanied by an array of dance experts, assorted guests and the competitors themselves. The show is aired every weekday throughout the course of the series at 6:30pm on BBC Two. The show’s four judges also appear regularly on the programme.

One of the show’s features was “Len’s Masterclass,” a segment in which Head Judge Len Goodman demonstrated with Winkleman a dance move or two. Her attempts to follow the steps are accompanied by much girlish giggling. The 2011 series of the programme was presented by former Strictly Come Dancing contestant Zox Ball, as Winkleman was on maternity leave, and some different segments were introduced.

In 2012, it was announced that Zox Ball would be the regular presenter of Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two, with Winkleman’s involvement in Series 10 of the show being limited to co-hosting the Sunday night results show with Tess Daly. Claudia continues to host the Sunday night results show for Strictly Come Dancing.

Winkleman started her journalism career as a travel writer, with columns about her various worldwide excursions. She did so in The Sunday Times and The Independent, but also contributed to the free daily London paper Metro in a similar capacity. As her television career and family evolved, she travelled less, and began to write more general work, opinion-led Lifestyle journalism about womanhood, sex and relationships. She wrote for Cosmopolitan and Tatler amongst others. Between 2005–08, she wrote a regular Wednesday column for The Independent called Take It From Me, collating her thoughts on the lighter sides of current affairs, celebrity news and anecdotes concerning her own life.

In April and May 2008, Winkleman hosted a six-part comedy quiz series taking a humorous look into the week’s celebrity gossip, called Hot Gossip. The show was broadcast on a Saturday afternoon on BBC Radio 2; points were awarded to those who dished out dirt. The show featured many famous pundits, including Will Smith, Phil Nichol, Jo Caulfield, Rufus Hound and Jonathan Ross’ brother, Paul.

She hosts a weekly show also on BBC Radio 2 every Friday night between 10pm and midnight called Claudia Winkleman‘s Arts Show consisting of interviews with people from the arts world, as well as reviews and debate. In July 2010, Winkleman sat in for Dermot O’Leary. She covered for Ken Bruce for two weeks during the London 2012 Olympics 30 July–9 August 2012 on BBC Radio 2 10am-midday. She also covered for Ken Bruce again between 18–22 February 2013.

In 2007, she travelled to Uganda for Comic Relief, where the harsh realities of the AIDS situation there affected her greatly. Following this, she manned the phones at the BT Tower for the Disasters Emergency Committee in response to the problems in Darfur. In May 2007, she helped relaunch The National Missing Persons Campaign, and also supported a Christmas campaign by the charity Refuge, which aimed to stop domestic violence.

In June 2008, Winkleman was featured in Heat magazine with no make-up on, as part of a stand against the excessive airbrushing of prominent women, which she described as “pretty terrifying”.

Related Sites for Claudia Winkleman

What is “Serena Mackesy” ?

Serena Mackesy

Serena Mackesy
Serena Mackesy
Serena Mackesy

Serena Mackesy is a British novelist and journalist who lives in London.

Serena Mackesy is the daughter of the Scots-born Oxford military historian Piers Mackesy. She is also the granddaughter on her mother’s side of the novelist Margaret Kennedy and on her father’s side of Leonora Mackesy, who wrote Harlequin romances as Leonora Starr and Dorothy Rivers. She grew up on the Oxfordshire/Gloucestershire borders and went to school in Oxford, where she gained a University of London degree in English literature from Manchester College, Oxford.

Mackesy worked variously in offices, as an English teacher and on door-to-door sales before, as she told an interviewer in 2000: “I arrived at The Independent as a temp to cover for the secretary on the TV listings page… for a couple of weeks, realised I’d found somewhere I enjoyed and somehow never left…. I think the 1st writing I did was little potted movie previews on the weekend TV spread. The 1st thing anyone seemed to actually notice was a small daily bar review I used to write when the paper had a London supplement.” By 1997 she was a regular columnist.

As a child Serena Mackesy was a keen rider. She has described Malta as her favourite place in the world.

Mackesy established her reputation with the novel The Temp. This went into the Sunday Times Top Ten on publication. Since then she has published Virtue (2000), Simply Heaven (2002), and Hold My Hand (2008).

Work of Mackesy’s has been translated into French, Italian, Dutch, German, Japanese and Thai. Writers she admires include Kurt Vonnegut, C. S. Lewis, John Donne and the “other” Elizabeth Taylor (Angel).

Related Sites for Serena Mackesy

What is “Helen Fielding” ?

Helen Fielding

Helen Fielding
Helen Fielding
Helen Fielding

Helen Fielding is an English novelist and screenwriter, best known as the creator of the fictional character Bridget Jones, a sequence of novels and films that chronicle the life of a thirtysomething singleton in London as she tries to make sense of life and love.

In November 2012, Fielding announced she had begun writing the 3rd installment in the Bridget Jones series. Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy was published in Autumn 2013.

Fielding grew up in Morley, West Yorkshire, a textile town on the outskirts of Leeds in the north of England. She lived next to a factory that made the fabric for miners’ donkey jackets, where her father was managing director. He died in 1982 and her mother, Nellie, still lives in Yorkshire. Fielding attended Wakefield Girls High School and has three siblings, Jane, David and Richard. She studied English at St Anne’s College, Oxford and was part of the Oxford revue at the 1978 Edinburgh Festival, forming a continuing friendship with a group of comic performers and writers including Richard Curtis and Rowan Atkinson.

Fielding began work at the BBC in 1979 as a regional researcher on the news magazine Nationwide. She progressed to working as a production manager on various children’s and light entertainment shows. In 1985 Fielding produced a live satellite broadcast from a refugee camp in Eastern Sudan for the launch of Comic Relief. She also wrote and produced documentaries in Africa for the 1st two Comic Relief fundraising broadcasts. In 1989 she was a researcher on the Thames TV documentary “Where Hunger is a Weapon” about the Southern Sudan rebel war. These experiences formed the basis for her 1st novel, Cause Celeb.

From 1990 – 1999 she worked as a journalist and columnist on several national newspapers, including The Sunday Times, The Independent and The Telegraph. Her best-known work, Bridget Jones’s Diary, began its life as an anonymous column in The Independent in 1995. The success of the column led to two novels and their film adaptations. Fielding was part of the scriptwriting team for both.

Fielding divides her time between London and Los Angeles. She and Kevin Curran, a writer/executive producer on The Simpsons, began a relationship about 1999 and Fielding has two children by him: Dashiell, born in February 2004, and Romy born in July 2006. However, she and Curran broke up in 2009.

Fielding’s 1st novel, Cause Celeb, was published in 1994 to great reviews but limited sales. She was struggling to make ends meet while working on her 2nd novel, a satire about cultural divides in the Caribbean when she was approached by London’s The Independent newspaper to write a column as herself about single life in London. Fielding rejected this idea as too embarrassing and exposing and offered instead to create an imaginary, exaggerated, comic character. Writing anonymously, she felt freed up to be honest about the preoccupations of single girls in their thirties. It quickly acquired a following, her identity was revealed and her publishers asked her to replace her novel about the Caribbean by a novel on Bridget Jones’s Diary. The hardback was published in 1996 to good reviews but modest sales. Word of mouth spread, however, and the paperback, published in 1997, went straight to the top of the best-seller chart, stayed there for over six months and went on to become a worldwide best-seller. The diary – starting each day with its signature list of calories, alcohol and cigarette intake, is credited with spawning a new confessional literary genre in the form of Chick Lit.

Fielding continued her columns in The Independent, and then The Daily Telegraph until 1997, publishing a 2nd Bridget novel Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason in November 1999. The film of Bridget Jones’s Diary was released in 2000 and the film of the sequel in 2004. In 2005 Fielding began the further adventures of Bridget Jones in The Independent. On 9 November 2012, it was announced by Fielding on BBC Radio Four that she is currently writing the 3rd Bridget Jones novel, set in present day London.

Fielding credits Bridget’s success to the fact that it is about more than just single life, but “the gap between how we feel we are expected to be and how we actually are” which she has described as an alarming symptom of the media age.

Related Sites for Helen Fielding

  • Facebook

What is “Tracey Emin” ?

Tracey Emin

Tracey Emin
Tracey Emin
Tracey Emin

Tracey Emin, CBE, RA is an English artist. She is part of the group known as Britartists or YBAs (Young British Artists).

In 1997 her work Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963–1995, a tent appliquxd with names, was shown at Charles Saatchi’s Sensation exhibition held at the Royal Academy in London. The same year, she gained considerable media exposure when she appeared drunk and swearing on a live Channel 4 TV discussion.

In 1999, Emin had her 1st solo exhibition in the United States at Lehmann Maupin Gallery, entitled “Every Part of Me’s Bleeding”. Later that year, she was a Turner Prize nominee and exhibited My Bed — an installation, consisting of her own unmade dirty bed with used condoms and blood-stained underwear.

In 2004 her tent artwork was destroyed in the Momart warehouse fire. In March 2007 Emin was chosen to join the Royal Academy of Arts in London as a Royal Academician. She represented Britain at the 2007 Venice Biennale. Her 1st major retrospective 20 Years was held in Edinburgh 2008, and toured Europe until 2009.

In May 2011 Emin’s largest major solo exhibition in a public space was held at Hayward Gallery, London titled Love Is What You Want.

In April 2011 she opened the Turner Contemporary art gallery in Margate with Jools Holland and between May and September 2012 she is holding her 1st exhibition there, entitled “She Lay Down Deep Beneath The Sea”.

Emin is a panellist and speaker: she has lectured at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland, the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney, the Royal Academy of Arts (2008), and the Tate Britain in London (2005) about the links between creativity and autobiography, and the role of subjectivity and personal histories in constructing art. Emin’s art takes many different forms of expression including needlework and sculpture, drawing, video and installation, photography and painting.

In December 2011 she was appointed Professor of Drawing at the Royal Academy; with Fiona Rae, she is one of the 1st two female professors since the Academy was founded in 1768. Emin was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 2013 New Year Honours for services to the arts.

Emin was born in Croydon, at the time a part of Surrey, to an English mother of Romanichal descent. Emin was brought up in Margate. She has a twin brother, Paul. Emin’s father, a Turkish Cypriot, was married to a woman other than her mother and divided his time between his two families. He owned the Hotel International in Margate, and, when the business failed, Emin’s family suffered a severe decline in their standard of living, circumstances which have featured in some works. She was raped around the age of thirteen. In a “loosely autobiographical” film to be made of this event she only asked, in true documentary fashion, that “The extras will all come from Margate and I’ll hire a church hall there to hold auditions. I’ll ask each of the girls: ‘What is it you really hate about your mum?’”

In 1987 Emin moved to London to study at the Royal College of Art, where she obtained an MA in painting, though she has described this time as a very negative experience. Her influences included Edvard Munch and Egon Schiele; later she destroyed all her paintings from this early period, and for a time studied philosophy at Birkbeck, University of London. One of the paintings that survives from her time at Royal College of Art is Friendship which is in the Royal College of Art Collection.

In 1993 Emin opened a shop with fellow artist Sarah Lucas, called The Shop at 103 Bethnal Green Road in Bethnal Green. This sold works by the two of them, including T-shirts and ash trays with Damien Hirst’s picture stuck to the bottom. Lucas paid Emin a wage to mind the shop and Emin also made extra money by writing letters to people asking them to invest x20 in her as an artist, one being Jay Jopling, who became her dealer. During this period Emin was also working with the gallerist Joshua Compston.

In November 1993 she had her 1st solo show at the White Cube gallery, a leading contemporary art gallery in London. It was called My Major Retrospective, and was what is now seen as typically autobiographical in her work, consisting of personal photographs, and photos of her early paintings, as well as items which most artists would not consider showing in public, such as a packet of cigarettes her uncle was holding when he was decapitated in a car crash. This willingness to show details of what would generally be thought of as her private life has become one of Emin’s trademarks.

In the mid-1990s she had a relationship with Carl Freedman, who had been an early friend of, and collaborator with, Damien Hirst and who had co-curated seminal Britart shows, such as Modern Medicine and Gambler. In 1994 they toured the US together, driving in a Cadillac from San Francisco to New York, and making stops en route where she gave readings from her autobiographical book Exploration of the Soul to finance the trip.

The couple also spent time by the sea in Whitstable together, using the beach hut, which she uprooted and turned into art in 1999 with the title The Last Thing I Said to You is Don’t Leave Me Here, and which was destroyed in the 2004 Momart warehouse fire.

The result was Emin’s famous “tent” Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963–1995, which was 1st exhibited in the show. It was a blue tent, appliquxd with the names of everyone she has slept with. These included sexual partners, plus relatives she slept with as a child, her twin brother, and her two aborted children. Although often talked about as a shameless exhibition of her sexual conquests, it was rather a piece about intimacy in a more general sense, although the title invites misinterpretation. The needlework which is integral to this work was used by Emin in a number of her other pieces. This piece was later bought by Charles Saatchi and included in the successful 1997 Sensation exhibition at the Royal Academy of London; it then toured to Berlin and New York. It, too, was destroyed by the fire in Saatchi’s east London warehouse, in 2004.

Freedman’s interview with her appears in the catalogue. Other featured artists were Sarah Lucas, Gary Hume, Damien Hirst, Mat Collishaw, Gilbert & George, Critical Dxcor and Steven Pippin. Emin now describes Freedman as “one of my best friends”.

Emin lives in Spitalfields, East London on Fournier Street in a Georgian Huguenot silk weaver’s house which dates from 1726.

Although these early events caused Emin to be well known in art circles, she was largely unknown by the public until she appeared on a Channel 4 television programme in 1997. It was an ostensibly serious debate show about that year’s Turner Prize, and Emin appeared completely drunk, swearing, insulting the other panel members and saying that she wanted to go home to her mother, before walking out. From the interview: “Are they really real people in England watching this programme now, they really watching, really watching it?… They’re 25 minutes behind us, think about that… I’m leaving now, I wanna be with my friends, I wanna be with my mum. I’m gonna phone her, and she’s going to be embarrassed about this conversation, this is live and I don’t care. I don’t give a fuck about it.”

Two years later, in 1999, Emin was shortlisted for the Turner Prize herself and exhibited My Bed at the Tate Gallery. There was considerable media furore about this, particularly as the sheets of the bed were stained yellow, and the floor surrounding it had items from her room such as condoms, empty cigarette packets, a pair of knickers with menstrual stains and other detritus including a pair of slippers. The bed was presented as it had been when she had stayed in it for several days feeling suicidal because of relationship difficulties.

Two performance artists, Yuan Chai and Jian Jun Xi, jumped onto the bed with bare torsos in order to “improve” the work, which they thought had not gone far enough.

In July 1999 at the height of Emin’s Turner Prize fame, she created a number of monoprint drawings inspired by the public and private life of Princess Diana for a themed exhibition called Temple of Diana held at The Blue Gallery, London. Works such as They Wanted You To Be Destroyed related to Princess Diana’s bulimia eating disorder, while other monoprints included affectionate texts such as Love Was On Your Side and a description of Princess Diana’s dress with puffy sleeves. Other drawings highlighted The things you did to help other people written next to a drawing by Emin of Diana, Princess of Wales in protective clothing walking through a minefield in Angola. Another work was a delicate sketch of a rose drawn next to the phrase “It makes perfect sence to know they killed you” (with Emin’s trademark spelling mistakes) referring to the conspiracy theories surrounding Princess Diana’s death. Emin herself described the drawings, saying they “could be considered quite scrappy, fresh, kind of naive looking drawings” and “It’s pretty difficult for me to do drawings not about me and about someone else. But I have did have a lot of ideas. They’re quite sentimental I think and there’s nothing cynical about it whatsoever.”

International popstars Elton John and George Michael are both collectors of Emin’s work, with Michael, and his partner Kenny Goss, holding the A Tribute To Tracey Emin exhibition in September 2007 at their Dallas based museum, the Goss-Michael Foundation. This was the inaugural exhibition for the gallery which displayed a variety of Emin works from a large blanket, video installations, prints, paintings and a number of neon works including a special neon piece George Loves Kenny (2007) which was the centrepiece of the exhibition, developed by Emin after she wrote an article for The Independent newspaper in February 2007 with the same title. Michael and Goss own 25 works by Emin.

Like the George Michael and Kenny Goss neon, Emin also created a unique neon work for her supermodel friend Kate Moss called Moss Kin. In 2004 it was reported that the unique piece had been discovered dumped in a skip in east London. The piece, consisting of neon tubing spelling the words Moss Kin, had been mistakenly thrown out of a basement, owned by the craftsman who made the glass. The artwork was never collected by Moss and had therefore been stored for three years in the basement of a specialist artist used by Emin in the Spitalfields area. It was accidentally dumped when the craftsman moved. The term used in the work Kin is a recurring theme of Emin’s to describe those dear to her, her loved ones. Other examples can be seen in a monoprint called MatKin dedicated to her then boyfriend artist Mat Collishaw and released as an aquatint limited edition in 1997. Emin has also created a nude drawing of Kate Moss known as Kate, signed and dated as 1 February 2000 in pencil by the artist. In 2006 the same image was released as a limited edition etching, but renamed as Kate Moss 2000 (2006).

Emin’s monoprints are a well documented part of her creative output. These unique drawings represent a diaristic aspect and frequently depict events from the past for example, Poor Love, From The Week Of Hell ’94 (1995) and Ripped Up (1995), which relate to a traumatic experience after an abortion or other personal events as seen in Fuck You Eddy (1995) and Sad Shower in New York (1995) which are both part of the Tate’s collection of Emin’s art.

Related Sites for Tracey Emin

What is “Anita Roddick” ?

Anita Roddick

Anita Roddick
Anita Roddick
Anita Roddick

Dame Anita Roddick, DBE was a British businesswoman, human rights activist and environmental campaigner, best known as the founder of The Body Shop, a cosmetics company producing and retailing beauty products that shaped ethical consumerism. The company was one of the 1st to prohibit the use of ingredients tested on animals and one of the 1st to promote fair trade with 3rd world countries.

Roddick was involved in activism and campaigning for environmental and social issues, including involvement with Greenpeace and The Big Issue. In 1990, Roddick founded Children On The Edge, a charitable organisation which helps disadvantaged children in eastern Europe and Asia.

In 2003, Queen Elizabeth II appointed Roddick a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire.

In 2004, Roddick was diagnosed with liver cirrhosis due to long-standing hepatitis C. After she revealed this to the media in February 2007, she promoted the work of the Hepatitis C Trust, and campaigned to increase awareness of the disease.

In 1997, Anita developed the Body Shop’s most successful campaign ever, creating Ruby, the size 16 doll, who was thought to bear a passing resemblance to Barbie. The campaign evolved from a new strategic positioning developed by ethical communications consultancy Host Universal, who created the image of the naked red-haired doll, hands behind her head and wind in her hair, that became the embodiment of the campaign. The photographer was Steve Perry.

By 2004, the Body Shop had 1980 stores, serving over 77 million customers throughout the world. It was voted the 2nd most trusted brand in the United Kingdom, and 28th top brand in the world.

On 17 March 2006, L’Orxal purchased Body Shop for x652 million. This caused controversy, because L’Orxal is involved in animal testing and because the company is part-owned by Nestlx, which has been criticised for its treatment of 3rd world producers. Anita Roddick addressed it directly in an interview with The Guardian, which reported that “she sees herself as a kind of ‘Trojan horse’ who by selling her business to a huge firm will be able to influence the decisions it makes. Suppliers who had formerly worked with the Body Shop will in future have contracts with L’Orxal, and whilst working with the company 25 days a year Roddick was able to have an input into decisions.”

Roddick was known for her campaigning work on environmental issues and was a member of the Demos think tank’s advisory council. Children On The Edge is an organisation that Roddick founded in 1990, in response to her visits to Romanian orphanages.

Upon seeing the conditions the children were in, she created COTE to help manage the crisis and worked to de-institutionalise the children over the course of their early life. COTE’s mission focuses on disadvantaged children affected by conflicts, natural disasters, disabilities, and HIV/AIDS.

On 13 December 2005, the National Post reported that Roddick had decided to turn her back on the world of commerce and give away her fortune, worth some x51 million.

Roddick also wrote the book Take It Personally, which encourages equality and an end to the exploitation of workers and children in underdeveloped countries.

On 14 February 2007, Roddick revealed she had been diagnosed with hepatitis C. Roddick said, “I have hepatitis C. It’s a bit of a bummer, but you groan and move on”. On 30 August 2007, less than two weeks before her death, Roddick was a special guest in an episode of the live television programme Doctor, Doctor broadcast on Channel 5 in the UK, in which she talked about hepatitis C with the presenter and general practitioner, Mark Porter.

On live television, Roddick explained that her hepatitis C was unexpectedly diagnosed in 2004, following a blood test that was part of a medical examination needed for a life insurance policy; the blood test indicated abnormal liver function and subsequent blood tests diagnosed hepatitis C. Roddick explained that she had a large blood transfusion in 1971, after the birth of her younger daughter, and that she was convinced that the transfusion had infected her with hepatitis C. This was about 20 years before blood donors were screened for hepatitis C in the United Kingdom. She reported that she had developed cirrhosis of the liver, and that her main symptoms were itching and poor concentration. She briefly mentioned that medical treatment with interferon didn’t suit her. Roddick explained that she kept fit and active, and that she attended biannual out-patient hospital appointments in Southampton, as well as being under review by the liver transplant team at the Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge.

Roddick died of acute brain hemorrhage at about 6:30 p.m. on 10 September 2007, after being admitted to St Richard’s Hospital, Chichester the previous evening suffering from a severe headache. She fulfilled her promise to leave her estate to charities, on moral grounds.

Roddick was a close friend of Littlehampton Community School. In 2003, it successfully applied to become a Business and Enterprise specialist school. Much of the money required was donated by Roddick. As a result of this donation, a new building that was built with this money was named ‘The Roddick Enterprise Centre’. The Littlehampton College also hosts ‘Roddick Days’ such as ‘Day of Action’ and ‘One World’; these events allow students to give something back to their local community and learn about what is happening around them.

The school is currently planning the building of an academy. Following the death of Roddick, it has been widely suggested that any future academy should be given her name in memory of the local entrepreneur.

The Body Shop opened in Brighton in March 1976. The company entered the stock exchange in 1984. The 1st sponsorship, which was made possible by the wealth generated by the IPO, was for Greenpeace posters in 1985. The IP for “The Body Shop” in the USA was purchased for $3.5 million some time later[vague].

Related Sites for Anita Roddick

What is “Janet Street-Porter” ?

Janet Street-Porter

Janet Street-Porter
Janet Street-Porter
Janet Street-Porter

Janet Vera Ardern, known as Janet Street Porter is a British media personality, journalist and broadcaster. She was editor for two years of The Independent on Sunday. She relinquished the job to become editor-at-large in 2002. Her distinctive London accent and her teeth have been the butt of many comic routines.

Janet was a contestant on the 4th series of I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! in 2004. She came 4th place. In 2013, she competed in Celebrity MasterChef, claiming the runner-up position, losing out to Ade Edmondson.

Since 2011, Janet has been a regular panellist on the ITV chat show Loose Women.

Janet Street-Porter was born Janet Vera Ardern in Brentford, Middlesex, a daughter of Stanley W G Bull, an electrician and Cherry Cuff Ardern a Welsh school dinner lady. Her mother was still married to her 1st husband, George Ardern, at the time, and wasn’t to marry Stanley until 1954, hence her name being recorded thus in the birth records. She was later to take her father’s surname.

She grew up in Fulham and Perivale, West London. Her family, she says, were poor. She went to Lady Margaret School in Parsons Green from 1958 to 1964 and then spent two years at the Architectural Association School of Architecture, where she met her 1st husband, photographer Tim Street-Porter.

She dropped out of college and found media work. After a brief stint at a girls’ magazine called Petticoat, she joined the Daily Mail in 1969, where she became the deputy fashion editor. She became fashion editor of the Evening Standard in 1971.

When the LBC local radio station began to broadcast in 1973, Street-Porter co-presented a mid-morning show with Fleet Street columnist, Paul Callan. The intention was sharply to contrast the urbane Callan and the urban Street-Porter. Their respective accents became known to the station’s studio engineers as “cut-glass” and “cut-froat.” Friction between the ill-sorted pair involved constant one-upmanship that made for compelling listening, causing, it was claimed, more than one traffic accident.

In early 1975, Street-Porter was launch editor of Sell Out, an off-shoot of the London listings magazine, Time Out, alongside its publisher and her 2nd husband, Tony Elliott. The magazine wasn’t a success.

Street-Porter went into television at LWT in 1975, 1st as a reporter on a series of mainly youth-oriented programmes, including The London Weekend Show. She went on to present the late-night chat show Saturday Night People (1978–80) with Clive James and Russell Harty. She later produced Twentieth Century Box (1980–82), presented by Danny Baker.

She was editor of the innovative Channel Four Network 7 show from 1987. The same year the then BBC 2 boss, Alan Yentob, appointed her head of youth and entertainment features. She was responsible for the twice-weekly DEF II and commissioned Rapido, Red Dwarf and Rough Guide. Her Network 7 show was in 1988 awarded a BAFTA for its graphics.

In 1992, she provided the story for The Vampyr: A Soap Opera, the BBC’s adaptation of Heinrich August Marschner’s opera Der Vampyr, which featured a new libretto by Charles Hart.

Street-Porter’s approach didn’t endear her to critics, who objected to her diction and questioned her suitability as an influence on Britain’s youth. In her final year at the BBC, she became head of independent commissioning. She left the BBC for Mirror Group Newspapers in 1994 to become joint-managing director with Kelvin MacKenzie of the ill-fated L!VE TV channel. She left after four months. In 1996, Street-Porter set up her own production company.

She has appeared on numerous reality TV shows, including Call Me a Cabbie and So You Think You Can Teach. The latter saw her trying to work as a primary school teacher.

In 2004, Street-Porter was a contestant on the ITV series I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!. She finished 4th place.

Street-Porter conducted numerous interviews with business figures and others for Bloomberg TV.

Since 1998, Janet has appeared annually on BBC’s Question Time. Her most recent appearance was 4 October 2012.

In 2000, Street-Porter was nominated for the “Mae West Award for the Most Outspoken Woman in the Industry” at Carlton Television’s Women in Film and Television Awards.

In 2006, she appeared regularly on chef Gordon Ramsay’s The F-Word, where she was the “field correspondent.” In this capacity, it was her job to locate outlandish or unusual food such as crocodile and then tempt diners to have a taste. In the 3rd series of the show she caused controversy when she attempted to serve up horse meat at Cheltenham Racecourse. She was thwarted by the police, who described the stunt as highly provocative, and she had to dish the meat out elsewhere. Ramsay himself became the target of animal rights protesters, who dumped a ton of horse manure outside his restaurant at Claridge’s.

In 2007, Street-Porter starred in an ITV2 reality show called Deadline. She served as a tough-talking editor who worked with a team of celebrity “reporters” whose job it was to produce a weekly gossip magazine. The celebrities in question had to endure the Street-Porter tongue as she decided each week which of them to fire.

In 2011, Janet became a regular panellist on ITV’s lunchtime chat show Loose Women.

In 2013 she appeared in Celebrity MasterChef, and reached the final three in the competition, but lost out to Ade Edmondson.

Street-Porter became editor of the Independent on Sunday in 1999. Despite derision from her critics, she took the paper’s circulation up to 270,460, an increase of 11.6 per cent. In 2002 she became editor-at-large, writing a regular column.

She has written for numerous newspapers and magazines.

Knowing that he was an alcoholic is critical to understanding his sense of disorientation and his attitude towards the police, which might on 1st viewing of the video footage, seem a bit stroppy.”

Related Sites for Janet Street-Porter

What is “Si%C3%A2n Berry” ?

Si%C3%A2n Berry

Si%C3%A2n Berry
Si%C3%A2n Berry
Si%C3%A2n Berry

Sixn Berry is an English politician and member of the Green Party of England and Wales. From 2006 to 2007, she was one of the Green Party’s Principal Speakers. She was the party’s candidate in the 2008 London mayoral election.

Born and raised in Cheltenham, Berry attended the selective Pate’s Grammar School. She attended Trinity College, Oxford, where she studied Metallurgy and the Science of Materials. Upon graduating in 1997, she moved to London.

Berry joined the Green Party aged 28 whilst working as a medical copywriter for large pharmaceutical companies, which she then decided “conflicted” with her principles. She resigned, becoming increasingly politically active and beginning a new career in an ethical temping agency that dealt with a wide range of charitable organisations. She was, until recently, a website manager at Imperial College London but quit this job in order to focus on her mayoral campaign.

In her 1st major party political role as the Green Party Campaigns Co-ordinator, Berry spearheaded the Green Energy Works Campaign, calling for low carbon, non-nuclear energy to tackle climate change. She also led a campaign against the renewal of Britain’s nuclear weapon, the Trident submarine, which saw her travel to the nuclear submarine base in Faslane, Scotland, to protest.

Berry has narrowly missed being elected to Camden London Borough Council three times in local elections: once during 2002 and twice in 2006. In the 2002 local elections, she came 5th in the Highgate ward with 811 votes, just two votes behind a Conservative candidate in 4th place and 38 votes behind the 3rd place required to gain a seat. The 2006 Local Elections would see her contest the Kentish Town ward, in which she gained 1,057 votes and came sixth, 156 votes short of 3rd place. A 7 December 2006 by-election in the Kentish Town ward saw her come 2nd with 812 votes, behind the Liberal Democrat winner who polled 1093 votes.

In 2005, Berry was the Green Party’s parliamentary candidate for the Hampstead and Highgate constituency in the General Election. She polled 5.3% of the vote, coming fourth.

Berry was elected as the Green Party’s Female Principal Speaker unopposed in Autumn 2006, succeeding Dr Caroline Lucas MEP and, working alongside male Principal Speaker Dr Derek Wall, served until Autumn 2007 when Dr Lucas resumed the post following an election. She wrote a regular blog for the New Statesman current affairs magazine from November 2006– July 2008.

On 12 March 2007, the Green Party announced that Berry would be the party’s candidate in the 2008 London mayoral election, after she received 45% of the votes in the London Green Party’s internal election. Berry recommended that her voters back Labour Party candidate Ken Livingstone as their 2nd preference and Livingstone did likewise. Berry was endorsed by The Independent and The Observer newspapers, with Ken Livingstone as 2nd preference. Berry came fourth, with 3.15% of 1st preferences and 13.50% of 2nd preferences. This was the highest placing for a Green candidate in Mayoral elections at the time, later beaten by candidate Jenny Jones coming 3rd in front of the Liberal Democrats at the 2012 London Mayoral Elections.

Berry was a founder of the Alliance against Urban 4x4s, which started in Camden in 2003 and became a national campaign demanding measures to stop 4x4s “taking over our cities”. The campaign is notorious for its “theatrical demonstrations” and spoof parking tickets, credited to Berry (although now adapted by numerous local groups), some 150,000 of which have been placed on 4×4 vehicles by campaigners. The group was successful in getting the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, to adopt one of its founding principles when he introduced a higher congestion charge for vehicles with high emissions. The Alliance campaigns further for greater taxes and stricter controls on advertisements for 4x4s. An international ’4×4 Network’ has now been founded.

In her local borough of Camden, Berry has also campaigned against the Iraq war, genetically modified foods and air quality problems, and supported local services threatened by redevelopment projects. She has advocated “green development” in Kings Cross Railwaylands to provide more family-housing.

She initiated the Census Alert campaign to stop Lockheed Martin from running the UK Census, and is a Patron of the Fair Pay Network.

Most recently she was a driving force behind the Reheat Britain campaign for ‘boiler scrappage’ which secured funding to replace some of the most inefficient boilers in the UK through the 2009 annual Pre Budget Report.

On 15 September 2010, Berry, along with 54 other public figures, signed an open letter published in The Guardian, stating their opposition to Pope Benedict XVI’s state visit to the UK.

Berry is also author of a number of books, including 50 Ways to Greener Travel, 50 Ways to be a Greener Shopper, 50 Ways to Save Water and Energy and 50 Ways to make your house and garden greener. Her most recent book is Mend it!

Related Sites for Si%C3%A2n Berry

  • Facebook

What is “Rosie Boycott” ?

Rosie Boycott

Rosie Boycott
Rosie Boycott
Rosie Boycott

Rosel Marie “Rosie” Boycott is a British journalist and feminist.

Daughter of Major Charles Boycott and Betty Boycott nxe Le Sueur, Rosel Boycott was born in St Helier, Jersey and was educated at the independent Cheltenham Ladies’ College and read mathematics at the University of Kent. After working briefly for the radical magazine Friends in 1971, she co-founded the feminist magazine Spare Rib in 1971 with Marsha Rowe. Two years later she and Rowe became directors of Virago Press, a publishing concern committed to women’s writing, with Carmen Callil, who had founded the company the previous year.

From 1992–96, she was editor of the men’s magazine Esquire. Boycott was the 1st female editor of two national broadsheets, heading The Independent and its sister publication the Independent on Sunday. While editing the Independent on Sunday in 1997, she campaigned for the decriminalisation of cannabis use by individuals, earning her the nickname “Rizla Rosie”. She addressed the Decriminalise Cannabis rally in London’s Trafalgar Square on 28 March 1998. Later, she edited the Daily Express (May 1998–January 2001), leaving soon after the newspaper was bought by Richard Desmond, who replaced her with Chris Williams. She is currently the Travel Editor for The Oldie magazine and hosts The Oldie Travel Awards each year.

Boycott has presented the BBC Radio 4 programme A Good Read. She has sat on judging panels for literary awards, notably chairing the panel judging the 2001 Orange Prize for Fiction. She is also a media advisor for the Council of Europe. Boycott is a Trustee of the Hay Festival in the UK and in Cartagena, Colombia. In March 2002, she denounced the New Labour government as “more reminiscent of a dictatorship than a free healthy democratic system”, and announced her support for the Liberal Democrats. She was rumoured to have considered becoming a Parliamentary candidate.

Boycott has made several appearances on Newsnight Review and other cultural and current affairs programmes, where the fact that she is a recovering alcoholic has been discussed. She started drinking heavily again after losing her job at the Express. She was banned from driving for three years in September 2003 after crashing on the A303 in Wiltshire, injuring another driver. She was cut free from the wreckage. A court was told she had also been caught drunk driving the day before. Since her accident, Boycott has been running a farm in Somerset. She campaigned for Diana, Princess of Wales in the 2002 BBC programme to find the greatest Briton.

On 5 August 2008 she was appointed as the chairman of London Food as part of Conservative Mayor Boris Johnson’s attempt to help improve Londoners’ access to healthy, locally produced and affordable food. In September 2007, Boycott appeared in the 3rd series of Hell’s Kitchen, and was the 1st contestant to be voted off. In June 2009 she appeared on Celebrity MasterChef. The same month she was one of five volunteers who took part in a BBC series of three programmes Famous, Rich and Homeless about living penniless on the streets of London.

Related Sites for Rosie Boycott

What is “Angela Gheorghiu” ?

Angela Gheorghiu

Angela Gheorghiu
Angela Gheorghiu
Angela Gheorghiu

Gheorghiu was born in 1965 in Adjud, Romania. Along with her sister Elena Dan, she sang opera music from an early age. At age 14, Gheorghiu began to study singing at the National University of Music Bucharest, primarily under Mia Barbu. Her graduation in 1990 followed the overthrow of Nicolae Ceaușescu the previous year, enabling her to seek an international career immediately. Her professional opera debut took place at the Cluj-Napoca Romanian National Opera as Mimx in La bohxme in 1990, the same year she won the Belvedere International Competition.

Gheorghiu made her international debut in 1992 at the Royal Opera House as Zerlina in Don Giovanni. She debuted at the Vienna State Opera as Adina in L’elisir d’amore and at the Metropolitan Opera as Mimx in La bohxme. In 1994, she was auditioned by the conductor Sir Georg Solti for a new production of La traviata at the Royal Opera House. Her debut as Violetta led her to international stardom.

Gheorghiu has concentrated her repertoire on several different roles: Violetta, Mimx, Magda, Adina, and Juliette. In 2003, she debuted as Nedda in Pagliacci and as Marguerite in Faust. A soprano with a large range and a dark coloured voice, Gheorghiu is also able to sing spinto roles. She has recorded Tosca and Leonora in Il trovatore for EMI and sang in her 1st Tosca at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, in 2006. Her performance was an overall success, although because the famous Zeffirelli production of 1964 was replaced by a new production (which premiered with her), there was comparison between the Toscas of Gheorghiu and Maria Callas, for whom the Zeffirelli production was designed.

Gheorghiu took part in many concerts, singing alone or together with her colleagues. Among the most important ones, the reopening of the Royal Opera House Covent Garden and Teatro Malibran in Venice (2001) and at the opening the new Opera House in Valencia, in the presence of the Queen Sofia of Spain (2005). She sang at the “Prom at the Palace” (2002), the event that marked the Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, a concert that is available on DVD. She also sung at the Queen Beatrix’s Jubilee Gala in Amsterdam (2005), at the New Year’s Eve Concert at Palais Garnier in Paris (2006), at the “Met Summer Concert” in Prospect Park, New York (2008) or at the Memorial Concert for Luciano Pavarotti in Petra (2008). In 2009, Gheorghiu was invited to honor Grace Bumbry during the 32nd Annual Kennedy Center Honors, in Washington, DC. She performed “Vissi d’arte” from Puccini’s Tosca in the presence of Barack Obama, the president of the United States.

In December 2000, Gheorghiu performed the title role in the film Tosca, directed by Benoit Jacquot, together with Roberto Alagna and Ruggero Raimondi. One year later, in 2002, Gheorghiu interpreted Juliette in the movie Romxo et Juliette, alongside Roberto Alagna and Tito Beltrxn, also released on DVD.

In November 2010, Gheorghiu made her debut in Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur, a new production of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. The Observer wrote, “It’s hard to imagine anyone bettering Angela Gheorghiu in this part. Her voice, feather-light and creamy yet with a core of steel, matches the liquid way she moves on stage. She’s a natural actress and made the improbable death scene heartbreakingly believable and her signature aria ‘Poveri fiori’ simply unforgettable.” The Telegraph wrote, “Adriana is known as a nice, easy sing for ageing or challenged prima donnas, so Gheorghiu, in her vocal prime, should have found it a doddle. But her 1st aria was bumpy and nervous, and she fudged the end of the second. Elsewhere, in duet and declamation, she often sang exquisitely.”

In July 2011, Gheorghiu sang the title role in Tosca at the Royal Opera House conducted by Antonio Pappano, and the following September returned there for the revival of Faust, which was broadcast live in cinemas all over the world. In April 2012, she appeared for the 1st time at the Teatro Colxn, Buenos Aires, in a concert of duets with Roberto Alagna.

In June 2012, Gheorghiu celebrated 20 years since her debut on the stage of the Royal Opera House, London, by performing in La bohxme with Roberto Alagna. In July 2012, she held her 1st masterclass at the Georg Solti Accademia in Castiglione della Pescaia, Italy. In November 2012 she returned to San Francisco Opera to perform in Puccini’s Tosca.

She has recorded many recital albums and complete opera recordings and often appears on television and in concerts. The EMI recording of Massenet’s Manon with Gheorghiu in the title role won the 2001 Gramophone Award for “Best Opera Recording”, was nominated for “Best Opera Recording” in the 2002 Grammy Awards. The EMI recording of Puccini’s Tosca with Gheorghiu, Roberto Alagna and Ruggero Raimondi in the title roles brought her the Deutscher Schallplattenpreis award in 2002. She also won Diapason d’Or Awards, Choc du Monde de la Musique in France, Cecilia Prize in Belgium, the Echo Award, the Italian Musica e dischi, Foreign Lyric Production Award, the USA Critics’ Award. Gheorghiu won the title of Female Artist of the Year at the Classic Brit Awards in 2001 and 2010. She was honoured with “La Medaille Vermeille de la Ville de Paris” and she was appointed an Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture and by her native country Romania. In December 2010, Gheorghiu was awarded a Doctor Honoris Causa by the University of Arts in Iasi and the Star of Romania, the highest decoration given by the President of Romania. In October 2012, Gheorghiu received the Nihil Sine Deo royal decoration from His Majesty King Michael I, honoring her contribution to promoting Romanian culture in the world.

Because I grew up in a country where there was no possibility of having an opinion, it makes me stronger now. Lots of singers are frightened about not getting invited back to an opera house if they speak out. But I have the courage to be, in a way, revolutionary. I want to fight for opera, for it to be taken seriously. Pop music is for the body, but opera is for the soul.”

Gheorghiu had a problematic relationship with former Metropolitan Opera General Manager Joseph Volpe after her debut there as Mimx in 1993. In 1996, Gheorghiu was cast as Micaela in a new production of Carmen, opposite Waltraud Meier and Plxcido Domingo. The production by Franco Zeffirelli called for Micaela to wear a blonde wig, which Gheorghiu disliked. When the Met toured the production in Japan in 1997, she refused to wear it on the 1st night to which Volpe famously declared, “The wig is going on, with you or without you” and replaced her with an understudy. She appeared at the Met again in 1998 for six performances of Romxo et Juliette with her husband, tenor Roberto Alagna as Romxo. Volpe had planned to engage Gheorghiu in Violetta Valery for a new production of La traviata, to premiere in November 1998 and directed by Zeffirelli. Alagna was to sing the role of Violetta’s lover, Alfredo Germont. According to Volpe, Gheorghiu and Alagna argued with the staff and the director over production details and continually delayed signing the contract. They eventually signed their contracts, and faxed them to the Met one day past their deadline. Volpe refused to accept them. The production opened with Patricia Racette and Marcelo xlvarez as the lovers.

In September 2007, Gheorghiu was dismissed from Lyric Opera of Chicago’s production of La bohxme by General Manager William Mason, for missing rehearsals and costume fittings, and generally “unprofessional” behavior. Gheorghiu said in a statement that she had missed some rehearsals to spend time with her husband, who was singing at the Met in Romxo et Juliette and rehearsing for Puccini’s Madama Butterfly and added, “I have sung ‘Boheme’ hundreds of times, and thought missing a few rehearsals wouldn’t be a tragedy. It was impossible to do the costume fitting at the same time I was in New York.

When the curtain opened on La rondine at Covent Garden, the audience gasped and applauded. People want to dream. If directors want to do something new with operas, why not do something beautiful?”

Despite these issues, Gheorghiu and Alagna returned to the Metropolitan Opera for five performances of L’elisir d’amore in 1999 and for four performances of Faust in 2003. Gheorghiu also performed at the Met as Lix in Turandot in 2000; as Violetta in La traviata opposite Jonas Kaufmann in 2006 and 2007; as Amelia in Simon Boccanegra in 2007; as Mimx in La bohxme in 2008; as Magda in the 2008/09 season in the ROH/SFO production of La rondine, the Met’s 1st performance of the opera since 1936; and for the 2009/10 season she appeared as Violetta, replacing her previous engagement as Marie Antoinette in a rare revival of John Corigliano’s The Ghosts of Versailles which was replaced due to the recession.

On December 31, 2008, Gheorghiu premiered the new production of La rondine at the Met, together with Roberto Alagna, Marius Brenciu, Lisette Oropesa and Samuel Ramey. The opera was last performed at the house over 70 years ago. She received some favorable reviews for her Magda: “Gheorghiu embodies the part, as actress and singer, with her natural charisma.” The New York Times opinion was more mixed: “Vocally, both leads are somewhat disappointing. Ms. Gheorghiu, as Magda, sings with gleaming sound and wonderfully dusky colorings in the strong top register of her voice. But the earthy richness of her mid-range singing sometimes turns breathy, and her low voice is curiously weak.”

In August 2009, Gheorghiu canceled all her scheduled 2010 Met performances of Carmen, for “personal reasons”. It was to have been her 1st public performance of the title role. She also cancelled other Met performances scheduled near the end of 2010. In March 2011 she cancelled all her scheduled performances of Gounod’s Romxo et Juliette at the Met, citing illness. Only days later she cancelled all her performances in the scheduled new production of Faust during the Met’s 2011/2012 season. According to her manager, “She felt uncomfortable in the concept”. Peter Gelb, the Met’s general manager, said that her frequent cancellations had become “an increasingly difficult problem for (the Met).” Gelb went on to tell that, as of then, plans were still in place for Gheorghiu’s return to the Met stage. He also said, “This has nothing to do with wigs.”

Divorced from her 1st husband, from whom she retained her surname, Gheorghiu married tenor Roberto Alagna in 1996. The couple have sung together often on stage and on studio recordings. She was once chosen the 74th “sexiest woman in the world” by the magazine FHM. In October 2009, Alagna said in an interview in Le Figaro that he and Gheorghiu had separated.

Following the separation, she declined to appear opposite Alagna in Carmen at the Metropolitan Opera in December 2009. The divorce, however, was called off in December 2009. In a March 2011 interview with the Daily Express she stated that she and Alagna were back together, and they were seen together in March 2011 backstage at London’s Royal Opera House where Alagna was performing in Aida. She also stated in the interview that although she still wanted to sing separately from her husband for a while, she was looking forward to the day when they could retire together and have their own pets. Later that year, they jointly opened a Greek amphitheatre in the Emirate of Qatar. In June 2012, they sang together in two performances of La bohxme at The Royal Opera House to commemorate the 20 years since they had met in the very same production. They also sang at a joint concert in Buenos Aires, and planned to perform together in Manon Lescaut and Adriana Lecouvreur in future seasons. Gheorghiu said of their separation, “It was stupid of us to be apart.” However, in January 2013, she announced that they had agreed to divorce.

Related Sites for Angela Gheorghiu