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Wednesday, July 14, 1999 Published at 14:31 GMT 15:31 UK


Top Gear host quits after conviction

Top Gear presenter Brendan Coogan has said his drink-drive conviction has cost him his dream job.

The 28-year-old pleaded guilty on Monday to driving with excess alcohol in his blood. He had been stopped by police the morning after a drinking session.

Coogan, the brother of comedian Steve, said he hoped his misfortune would serve as an example to others.

He has now left the BBC Two show - and said he believed his record would bar him from ever working for a motoring programme again.

"I resigned. I walked away because I did not want to embarrass them. It's unlikely I will ever apply to Top Gear again because of the conviction.

"Gutted is an often-used phrase, but it does not do justice to how I feel. I am devastated. I am nuts about cars and there I was contributing to Top Gear," he said.

"To have that all taken away from me for what was a stupid mistake - I was really down and upset about it, but I am starting to come to terms with it now.

"I'm not asking people to feel sorry for me because plenty of other people have lost their jobs in the same position.

"Top Gear is a programme everybody knows and likes. It was my top gig."

Madonna breaks radio record

Pop superstar Madonna has set a record by clocking up the highest number of radio plays for a single in the UK since records began six years ago.

Her track Beautiful Stranger, which has been in the top 10 for five weeks, was given 2,462 plays last week.

The song, from the soundtrack of the new Austin Powers film, edged just ahead of previous record holder Cher. Her single Believe managed 2,457 plays in one week.

Compo 'killed off' by actor's death

The character of Compo in Last Of The Summer Wine is to be killed off, the show's creator has revealed.

Roy Clarke told The Sun it was the only thing to do following the death of the actor who played him, Bill Owen.

"You cannot con the public by saying Compo has gone off," he said.

"They know Bill has died and this will have to be handled sensitively. But it is a sitcom and I have to make sure it's not too gloomy," Clarke added.

Lennon was a jealous guy, says Julian

Julian Lennon believes his father, Beatle John Lennon, would have resented his music career if he had lived.

"Knowing his insecurities, I think he might not have liked me doing well," said the 36-year-old, about to relaunch his pop career with a new US single.

Julian told Hello magazine he had not listened to The Beatles "in years".

But he said people play them when he is in restaurants to see if he reacts.

Barlow 'pulls plug' on Morrison duet

Bad boy singer Mark Morrison claims he has recorded a duet with Gary Barlow, but the former Take That star won't allow him to release it.

Morrison revealed that his current single Best Friend originally featured Barlow, but when the Mack went to jail, he pulled the plug.

"I guess me going to jail put him off, I was too bad for him!" Morrison said. The new version of Best Friend was recorded with Connor Reeves.

Lord of the Rings roles for Americans

Hollywood actors have been lined up for leading roles in the long-awaited film version of Lord Of The Rings, it has emerged.

The Daily Telegraph reports that two major roles have gone to American stars Elijah Wood and Sean Astin.

Wood, 17, whose films include Internal Affairs and Forever Young, has the lead role of Frodo Baggins while Astin, 28, plays his faithful servant, Sam Gamgee.

But Brits Tom Baker and Sir Anthony Hopkins are in the running to play Gandalf.

Street's Les can't escape the Platts

Actor Bruce Jones who plays Coronation Street's neighbour-from-hell Les Battersby has bought a house in Wales, opposite some real-life Platts.

Jones reportedly paid £90,000 for the property in Conway, after seeing it while filming a Street special in which Les described the Welsh as "taffs".

But his new neighbours, Lee and Janice Platt, insist they won't be planning any feuds, unlike their namesakes Gail and Martin from the Street. They say the TV star seems "really friendly".

Morrissey and Speer cheat death in smash

Comedy actors Neil Morrissey and Hugo Speer were lucky to escape with their lives after a dramatic car crash during a mercy mission to Kosovo.

Their car smashed into the side of a container after swerving to avoid another vehicle in Albania.

Men Behaving Badly star Morrissey said: "If we hadn't been in a 4x4 vehicle, we would have been dead."

Full Monty actor Speer is believed to have broken his foot in the accident.

Cruise takes control of Death Race 2000

Tom Cruise is to star with Sylvester Stallone and David Carradine in a remake of Roger Corman's low-budget classic Death Race 2000.

Indulging the star's passion for car racing, Cruise's company will produce the film, directed by Boogie Nights' Paul Thomas Anderson.

But Cruise, who is in LA with wife Nicole Kidman for the US premiere of Eyes Wide Shut, will first finish making Mission Impossible 2 and then star in a new Spielberg movie, Maximum Event.

US fans upset by Ricky ticket sell-out

Many American fans of the Latino pop star Ricky Martin have been left disappointed after tickets for two of his shows sold out in just 30 minutes.

Tickets touts have been asking up to $1,000 (£625) for seats originally costing between $35 and $95 to the October concerts in New York and LA.

Ricky himself is said to be "upset" by the development, and has assured fans that further opportunities to buy tickets in these areas will arise again when he plays there early next year.

Keitel defies age for submarine role

Harvey Keitel has been cast as a World War II submariner in new movie U-571, despite his age.

Most wartime submarines were manned by men in their 20s, but director Jonathan Mostrow has no qualms about casting 60-year-old Keitel in the role.

"Harvey's in great shape, maybe better than some of the other, younger actors on the picture," he said.

Younger cast members include Matthew McConaughey and Jon Bon Jovi.

Pretty Woman to co-produce tennis story

Julia Roberts is to co-produce a film based on the life of US tennis great Pancho Gonzales.

The actress's production company has bought the rights to the life story of the self-taught player from a poor background, who won Wimbledon, the US Open and French Open titles.

In 1969 he played the longest men's singles match at Wimbledon against fellow American Charlie Pasarell.

He was married to Andre Agassi's sister and died of cancer two years ago.

Film-maker to give it up for politics

David Puttnam, also known as Lord Puttnam, is giving up film-making to concentrate on his political career - saying his new film will be his last.

The producer, whose films include the Oscar-winning Chariots of Fire, said he realised that he could not do both when he was working on My Life So Far.

He said he one day found himself "with an orchestra waiting for me on one side of town and legislation awaiting me on the other" as a vote was about to take place in the House of Lords.

Stallone brothers settle movie dispute

Actor brothers Sylvester and Frank Stallone have settled a two-year row with two film companies over a Mafia-themed comedy which was never released.

Sylvester, 53, sued the companies in 1997, claiming they improperly used his name and likeness to promote the movie The Good Life, which starred his lesser-known brother, Frank, 48.

In a separate suit, Frank alleged the companies failed to pay him or provide a dressing room.

The details of the out-of-court settlement were not revealed.

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