Belfast Telegraph

The good, the bad and the downright ugly sides of 2014

By Frances Burscough

It’s that time of the year again when we look back for the sake of Auld Lang Syne - whoever he was! So as is customary, here’s a retrospective glance back at the most eccentric celebrity shenanigans, as reported on this page by yours truly.

January - The month was dominated by Celebrity Big Brother and the unlikely friendship between Liz Jones, the sassy columnist, and Jasmine Waltz, the beautiful glamour model. Liz confessed that Jas’s looks made her feel almost invisible and worthless in comparison. Her reply was “Don’t blame me for my looks. I was born this way!” which at the time seemed quite a fair response. Until the following day’s tabloid papers revealed pictures of her taken a few years ago when she looked almost completely different with thinner lips and less defined cheekbones and eyes. Suspicious? Yes we all were.

February - Blimey O’Reilly, does anyone remember the pictures of Raquel Welch (pictured right) taken that month on a Beverly Hills red carpet? That woman looked absolutely incredible! How does she do it? All you women of the blue-rinse brigade take note: she’s 73 and yet she looks like a woman less than half her age, with the same perfect hour-glass figure, flawless skin and incredible bone structure she had when she first hit the headlines as a movie starlet in the early Sixties. Whatever it was that she’d been having, count me in, even if it means bathing in asses’ milk and eating raw eggs every day. I want to look as good as that when I’m a great-grandma too!

March - A very sad month due to the tragic death of L’Wren Scott, the fashion designer girlfriend of Mick Jagger. I remembered her first as a model in the mid-Eighties when the concept of the supermodel first took hold. With her incredible 6ft 4ins statuesque frame and Amazonian looks she had an amazing presence on the catwalk or on photographic shoots, too. But it was the fact that she successfully stepped off the catwalk and rebranded herself as a couture costume designer that was most impressive. Her gorgeous creations always stood out at red carpet events and the Gustav Klimt-inspired gown she created for Nicole Kidman at the 2013 Oscars was my favourite glamorous gown of all time.

April - This month it seemed certain that the other big royal romance was off. According to “friends”, Prince Harry and his blonde bombshell Cressida Bonas called it a day and were officially no longer an item.

Now, if I were Harry, or even Harry’s “friend”, I’d have avoided making any comment at all. But in his royal wisdom he explained to the world that this was because Cressida was “too needy”. Big mistake, Harry. Not very chivalrous, either, of the handsome prince. So now, not only had he clearly dumped her, but he’d also added insult to injury. Nobody likes to be described as needy. In fact, the very last person you should describe that way is someone who actually is needy, because the word also translates as “attention-seeking”. I predicted that some sort of revenge would eventually follow ...

May - The TV Baftas left very little to the imagination. As always it was basically down to EastEnders versus Coronation Street. And the one that wins is usually the show with the most far-fetched plot lines to date. But there was one woman there who really did deserve some recognition. Sarah Lancashire is, in my opinion, one of the best actresses around. Remember all those years ago when she first started out as Raquel, the flirty barmaid in Corrie? Well since then she has really broken out of her mould as a ditzy blonde bombshell and appeared in some of the best dramas on British television. Her latest incarnation, as the troubled Yorkshire police sergeant Catherine Cawood in Happy Valley was absolutely superb. I’m certain she’ll be picking up more awards as a result.

June - The grand finale of Game of Thrones took place and it was well worth waiting for. The heart-stopping, stomach-churning, jaw-dropping action of season 4 had been unparalleled with a cast of thousands including giants, mammoths and bears (oh my!), but for me the best bit was spotting my friends in the background of almost every scene. Seriously, there are so many bearded blokes from Bangor working as extras in GoT (mainly in the Night’s Watch) that Wolsey’s Bar (where most of them hang out) should be renamed Castle Black Tavern. It’ll be a long wait until the next series. In the meantime, repeat after me: “I pledge my life and honour to the Night’s Watch, for this night and all nights to come.”

July - Robin Wright launched her latest movie A Most Wanted Man, and she remained one of my favourite actresses of the moment. At 48 years old, she’s still a natural beauty who has refused to conform to the cosmetically-enhanced ‘type’ that many of her peers have striven for. She has her own style, which is understated and cool, and despite fame, awards and glory she still comes across as very down-to-earth and laidback. While co-star Rachel McAdam minced around the red carpet in the traditional garb, Ms Wright strode up to the cameras wearing a simple silk singlet, pinstriped pants and comfortable brogues, but she still looked like a million dollars. That is what I call true chic.

August - It was announced that Sue Johnston, aka Barbara off the Royle Family, is to join the cast of Downton Abbey, as the ladies maid Denker to Maggie Smith’s brilliant Dowager Countess of Grantham.

So it seems I had some catching up to do. I’d only seen the first series, even though it’s been the top of my TV wish list for years. My excuse was that when you live in a house full of teenage boys, you surrender your right to the remote control in favour of more boyish viewing such as Bear Grylls, Ice Road Truckers and Man V Food. But I’ decided to rebel. Whether they liked it or not, it was going to be corsets and top knots for the foreseeable future until I got up to speed with Downton.

September - A friend of mine spotted Orlando Bloom browsing the shops in downtown Donaghadee. Yeah, right, I said, when she told me. But she was right, believe it or not, because the following day it was reported in the Belfast Telegraph that Orlando was at large in NI.

But that wasn’t the only story about Mr Bloom that caught my eye. Earlier that month he was also photographed on a yacht, somewhere on the Mediterranean (not quite as glamorous or impressive as D’Dee though, is it?!) holidaying with a beautiful brunette called Erica Packer. Nothing unusual there, you might think. What is weird though is that this particular beautiful brunette just happens to be the ex of billionaire James Packer ... who is currently dating the supermodel Miranda Kerr ... who just happens to be Orlando Bloom’s ex.

October - Have you ever looked at Beyonce and wondered how she manages to always look so original? Well, a fashion stylist to the stars took to the internet to show how derivative Beyonce’s looks actually are. And it seems there is one woman in particular whom Queen Bey likes to copy — none other than Jenny from the Block herself, Miss Jennifer Lopez. Yes, in a series of truly shocking photo comparisons, Beyonce is shown wearing exactly the same outfits, same hairstyles, accessories and make-up within just weeks (and sometimes just days) of J Lo. Now, they say imitation is the finest from of flattery, but I’m sure Jenny must be livid by now if she’s looked at all the clips that are currently going viral on social media.

November - The Fall returned and from the opening credits is was as riveting as ever. But one thing disappointed me and that was the quality of Stella’s blouses. In the first season she became such a champion of the sexy satin shirt that newspapers and magazines across the UK were writing special features about her silky stash. Heck, even I was asked to write an article about them in the fashion pages of the Belfast Telegraph. But in series two they were truly disappointing. Get your wardrobe sorted, Gillian Anderson, and stop being a boring big girls’ blouse!

December - This month Lady Gaga was pictured looking absolutely ridiculous (no change there, then) dressed in a voluminous floor-length white fur coat with a gigantic hood that made her resemble the Abominable Snowman. Now whether this was real fur or not isn’t known, but if it was it would probably have accounted for an entire pack of Arctic foxes. However, what almost certainly were real were the mittens she was also wearing which had been made from the heads of two rare Arctic badgers.

Lovely. What a charming example she is to all her young and impressionable fans — an ostentatious advocate of the slaughter of rare animals for fashion.

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