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Last Updated: Friday, 29 April, 2005, 16:04 GMT 17:04 UK
Faces of the week

Our regular look at some of the faces which have made the news this week. Above are Michael Winner (main picture), with Sir Alan Sugar, Abigail Witchalls, "The Scream" and Sir John Mills.

MICHAEL WINNER

The unveiling of the UK's first national police memorial marks the culmination of a 20-year campaign by Michael Winner. But the 69-year-old film director has many more strings to his bow, including a well-documented love-life, a series of cult TV adverts and a reputation for speaking his mind.

The London weather was suitably sombre, with a lowering sky and rain showers, as Her Majesty the Queen unveiled the roll of honour containing the names of 1,600 police officers who have been killed while on duty.

The prime minister was there, together with the leaders of the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties, who had taken timeout from their hectic electioneering to be at the ceremony in person.

And, with them, was the colourful, controversial - some would say irritating - man who had made all of this happen: Michael Winner.

"They are the names of officers who were shot, run down, stabbed, blown up, beaten to death or knifed. They fight a war that has no beginning and no end - what an extraordinary group of people they are."

Michael Winner and the Queen
Friends in high places: Michael Winner and the Queen
Michael Winner's belief that fallen police officers should be honoured began when 25-year-old WPC Yvonne Fletcher was shot dead outside the Libyan Embassy in London in April 1984 while controlling a crowd of demonstrators.

Her killer, believed to have fired the fatal shots from inside the embassy itself, has never been brought to justice and Winner founded the Police Memorial Trust as a result of her murder.

To date, the Trust has erected more than 30 memorials to individual officers killed while on duty.

But, beyond this, Michael Winner has a reputation for high-living, films of variable quality and hundreds of oft-reported one-liners.

He was born into a comfortably-off Jewish family - his father was in property, his mother, a compulsive gambler who lost an estimated 8m - and was educated at a Quaker school and Downing College, Cambridge, where he edited the student magazine.

Star-struck

But even then, he could already boast of a track record in showbiz, having written his own column "Michael Winner's Showbiz Gossip", in the Kensington Post, from the age of 14, and interviewed Hollywood icons like James Stewart and Marlene Dietrich.

Though best known for his Death Wish films, each a sort of Groundhog Day with guns, in which Charles Bronson proceeds to blow-away a succession of villains with tedious repetition, Michael Winner's earlier films were notable both for their innovative style and quirky humour.

Marlon Brando
The late Marlon Brando: One of Winner's Hollywood pals
In among veritable dross like Some Like It Cool - young woman turns her husband and parents on to the joy of nudism - and the Cool Mikado - a psychedelic butchering of Gilbert & Sullivan, Winner also directed a number of real gems.

These include elegant films like The Jokers, with Oliver Reed - a Winner regular - and Michael Crawford, plotting to steal the Crown Jewels, and I'll Never Forget What's'isname, a paean to the Swinging Sixties, starring Reed as a troubled advertising man trying to find a better life.

Friend of Brando, Lancaster and Bronson, Winner often produced, directed, wrote and edited his own movies. Oh, and he turned down James Bond, the French Connection, the Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and the remake of King Kong.

Cutting critic

More recently, it has been his colourful love life, and not his films, that has made the headlines.

Famous for squiring some of the world's most beautiful women, including Joan Collins and Sophia Loren, he also enjoyed a six-and-half-year relationship with the actress Jenny Seagrove, who walked out after catching him with another woman.

Today, his girlfriend is 39-year-old Paula Lombard, who has just replaced Geraldine Lynton Edwards, 64, Winner's paramour for the past three years.

"When I tell people I've slept with more than 130 women," he says, "they are appalled but, you know, I've been doing it for 55 years so I don't think that's bad going!"

And his outspoken style has brought a new twist to his restaurant reviews, Winner's Dinners, in the Sunday Times.

Jenny Seagrove
Old flame: Jenny Seagrove
Take this example, for instance: "Everything went wrong, from very slow food delivery to courses that were so heavy that if [Antony] Worrall Thompson had been the chef on the Titanic it would have sunk long before hitting the iceberg." In return, the celebrity chef pasted Winner's photograph to toilet seats in his restaurant.

Other eateries, most notably London's swanky La Gavroche, no longer allow Winner through their doors.

Today, Michael Winner, who lives in a vast house in West London, is a regular on panel shows like Have I Got news For You, and has achieved a certain fame for his television advertisements for an insurance company, which he writes and directs, too.

Featuring Winner in drag, or dressed as a fairy, his catchphrase, "calm down dear, it's only a commercial", has hit a chord with the public.

Michael Winner divides opinion. To some he is a multi-talented man with the capacity to laugh at himself, others call him a pompous self-publicist.

Whatever the case, the national police memorial will, in its way, be a memorial to the man who has worked for so long to bring it about.


Sir Alan Sugar: Judgment day approaches
Sir Alan Sugar

Tension is mounting on the BBC Two television programme, the Apprentice, as entrepreneur Sir Alan Sugar prepares to choose the person to land a 100,000-a-year job. The original 14 would-be whizz-kids have been whittled-down to just two: saleswoman Saira and transport manager Tim. Their final task: to plan a swanky event, recruit staff and design a venue. The one who makes most money will win. For the loser, there's Sir Alan's deathless verdict: "You're fired."

Improving: Abigail Witchalls
Abigail Witchalls

Abigail Witchalls, the young mother who was stabbed in the neck as she walked along a country lane in Surrey, continues to make progress in hospital. Mrs Witchalls, who is believed to be paralysed from the neck down following the attack, has been able to give a number of statements to police investigating the case. Officers have praised the 26-year-old as being a "very intelligent and strong young woman".

The Scream: Fears
"The Scream"

Reports from Norway suggest that Edvard Munch's iconic painting, The Scream, stolen last year, has been destroyed. The internationally-renowned work, painted in 1893, and another Munch painting, The Madonna, were taken from Oslo's Munch Museum in broad daylight by two armed and masked thieves in August 2004. According to the Dagbladet newspaper, the paintings were burnt in order to destroy conclusive evidence. Three men have been charged in connection with the theft.

Sir John Mills: Mourned
Sir John Mills

One of Britain's best-loved film actors, Sir John Mills, died at the age of 97. Sir John, who won an Oscar in 1971 for his portrayal of a mute village idiot in Ryan's Daughter, appeared in more than 120 films in a career lasting 60 years. Famous for roles in films including Ice Cold In Alex, Hobson's Choice and The Colditz Story, his marriage to the actress-turned-playwright Mary Hayley Bell, founded a showbusiness dynasty, producing daughters Hayley and Juliet.

Compiled by BBC News Profiles Unit's Andrew Walker


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