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Last Updated: Friday, 21 July 2006, 15:23 GMT 16:23 UK
Faces of the week
Faces of the week

Our regular look at some of the faces which have made the news this week. Above are Lily Allen (main picture), with PRINCESS BEATRICE, DR JOHN REID, JOSIE RUSSELL and CHRISTIE BRINKLEY.

Lily Allen

The summer's newest hit pop act, the 21 year-old Lily Allen, is no stranger to either controversy or outrageous behaviour.

The daughter of actor, hell-raiser and champion ligger Keith Allen and the film producer Alison Owen, who split up after her father left when she was four, Lily Allen is a blend of outrageous self-confidence and earthy wit.

Her father's form is well chronicled. Thrown out of public school, he went to borstal for cat burglary and served time in jail after wrecking a bar.

Her mother struggled to bring up Lily and her younger brother Alfie, before becoming the producer of movie hits like Elizabeth, Proof and Shaun of the Dead.

And though Lily Allen says "I spent the first nine years in a council flat eating spaghetti on toast", her childhood was actually a mixture of privilege and provocation.

Lily Allen
Party girl: Lily Allen at this year's Ivor Novello awards
She attended some 13 schools, including Prince Charles's junior alma mater, Hill House, and Bedales. By her own admission, she first smoked dope, and took her first ecstasy tablet, while still in her teens.

And, in 1998 she and her brother Alfie were holidaying with their father in Ireland, travelling in a horse-drawn Romany caravan, when a bizarre accident occurred.

The horse reared up and crashed through the window of an oncoming van. Alfie was thrown clear, Lily - who was lying down - was unaffected. But their Keith was not so lucky.

As he told a journalist, he "managed to get a chain wrapped around my foot. It nearly tore my foot off, but snapped and an iron bar hit me in the mouth and knocked four teeth out."

So even her holidays seem to be as topsy-turvy as the rest of Lily Allen's life.

And it's not every girl who joins London's exclusive media wallow, the Groucho Club, at 17, the same year, incidentally, that she first went into therapy.

Not a fan of Posh

But after dealing drugs, something she freely confesses, dabbling in acting, checking into the Priory Clinic and working behind a bar, Lily Allen resolved to do something more creative with her life.

Last December, she uploaded four of her songs to MySpace, the website with a legion of teenage followers and is most associated with the rise of the Arctic Monkeys, though the band's members now dispute that the website was a major factor in their later success.

The reaction was both instant and positive. To date, the site's visitors have heard those first four songs more than 2 million times.

A debut single, LDN - text-speak for London - followed and her most recent outing, the upbeat and catchy Smile, has taken Lily Allen to the top of the charts.

Keith Allen
Keith Allen: His daughter is a chip off the old block
Allen's influences, particularly ska, reggae and funk, are immediately obvious and her voice, recently described as being "as thin as a supermodel's ankle" is also feisty and engaging.

And, despite being snubbed by the judges of the influential Mercury Music Prize, her first album, Alright Still, is poised to storm the charts.

But stardom does not seem to have affected Lily Allen. She remains quick to vent her spleen at those she dislikes.

Speaking of Victoria Beckham, Allen says: "She gives a bad image to children. No one should be that skinny. I don't care how much she says that's her natural weight, that's bull. She gets photographed every day and doesn't eat anything."

As to the girl band Pussycat Dolls, they "take all their clothes off, don't say anything, promote womanising and look like lap dancers as far as I'm concerned".

And her view of Bob Geldof, couched in a well-known Anglo-Saxon term, is just too direct to print here.

Next Big Thing or One-Hit Wonder? Who knows. But there's no doubt that the sound of this sweltering UK summer currently belongs to one highly-opinionated but undoubtedly talented young woman.


Princess Beatrice: Party girl
Princess Beatrice

Princess Beatrice, eldest daughter of the Duke and Duchess of York, celebrated her 18th birthday with a lavish fancy dress party at Windsor Castle. The masked ball, with the theme of "1888", was attended by 500 guests, including Demi Moore, Jack Osbourne and Sir David Frost, who partied until dawn amid the castle's historic battlements. Not everyone was impressed. Columnist Vanessa Feltz slammed the affair as "a gruesomely ostentatious, not to mention old-fashioned, fete champetre".

Changes: John Reid
Dr John Reid

A busy week for the Home Secretary, John Reid. Wednesday saw him outline big changes at the Home Office, with more than 3,000 redundancies being made allowing £115m of savings to be ploughed into immigration, prisons and probation services. The following day he announced reforms to the criminal justice system, including tougher sentencing measures. Dr Reid told MPs that the Government's aim was to rebalance the system in favour of the victim and the law-abiding majority.

Interview: Josie Russell
Josie Russell

Josie Russell, who survived the hammer attack which killed her mother Lin and six year-old sister Megan, has spoken at length for the first time of the horrific events which took place 10 years ago. Now 19, and about begin a design course in Bangor, north Wales Josie almost died from injuries sustained during the assault by Michael Stone, later imprisoned for life. She reflected, "I don't have nightmares any more. I don't think about anything except now."

Christie Brinkley: Split
Christie Brinkley
The Uptown Girl's love-life has taken a down turn. Former supermodel Christie Brinkley, once married to Billy Joel, has split from husband number four amid claims that he seduced two teenaged girls. Architect Peter Cook, married to Brinkley for 10 years, is said to have slept with two 19-year-old girls, one before and one while he was hitched. Brinkley's spokesman says she is "completely preoccupied with the protection of her children... and trying to heal." Peter Cook has not commented.

Written by BBC News Profiles Unit's Andrew Walker


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