He was the Marxist scriptwriter who warned schoolchildren of the dangers of heroin in Grange Hill before introducing the first pre-watershed lesbian kiss on British TV in his gritty Liverpudlian soap opera Brookside. But now Phil Redmond is to be the plus-one of a pillar of the Establishment.
I hear his wife, Alexis Redmond, has been appointed as Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Cheshire, the Queen‘s representative in the county.
And courtiers see the influence of the Queen’s senior dresser Angela Kelly, a Liverpool docker’s daughter, in the appointment. Kelly is said to be a fan of Brookside and an admirer of the Redmonds.
Alexis Redmond, pictured with her husband Phil Redmond, has been appointed Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Cheshire, the Queen’s representative in the county
As the Queen’s representative, Mrs Redmond will present honours, medals and awards, and arrange royal visits
‘There’s an increasingly strong Liverpool connection at the Palace,’ says one. ‘You could say it fits in rather well with the Government’s Northern, levelling-up agenda.’
Kelly, 63, was raised in a council house but worked her way up to become the Queen’s closest confidante. Known as ‘AK-47’ because of her no-nonsense manner, she designs many of the monarch’s outfits.
Significantly, perhaps, the Queen chose to wear a hat designed by Kelly when she opened the Museum of Liverpool in 2011. Redmond showed her round as the museum’s chairman. She had previously been introduced to him and his wife when she met members of Brookside’s cast on another visit to Liverpool in 2002.
‘What always strikes me is that she is just so incredibly beautiful,’ Alexis, 65, later said. ‘You don’t expect that. The photographs never do her justice. She has a good sense of humour, too. Quite a wicked sense of humour.’
Alexis will step into a new pair of gold buckle shoes and velvet frock coat in August. Her duties will include presenting honours, medals and awards, and arranging royal visits.
The couple’s path to the Establishment began when Redmond was presented with a CBE in 2004.
A knighthood followed last year, and Alexis has already spent a year as Cheshire’s High Sheriff. Lieutenancy officer Robin Roberts confirms. ‘Alexis Redmond will be the first female lord-lieutenant of Cheshire.’
Despite wearing a face mask while out and about during the pandemic, Joseph Fiennes is still recognised by viewers of The Handmaid’s Tale, who don’t seem to realise he is not the despicable enslaver Fred Waterford in real life. ‘I have had odd scenarios,’ reveals the 51-year-old actor. ‘Strangely enough, even wearing a mask and sunglasses, you hear someone suddenly mumble, ‘Blessed be the fruit’.
‘How the hell did that happen? I must emanate this awful spirit of Fred.’
The smart set’s talking about… Lil’s new high-wire act
When Nell Gifford, the sister of society ceramicist Emma Bridgewater, tragically died of cancer in 2019 aged 46, most people assumed that the curtain would come down on Giffords Circus, which she created with her ex-husband, Toti.
However, her niece and fellow performer Lil Rice has swung into action and become the new ringmaster.
Lil Rice has swung into action and become the new ringmaster for Gifford’s Circus following the tragic death of her aunt, Nell Gifford
A talented acrobat, her first show, The Hooley, opens in a big top at Chiswick House & Gardens, in West London, next week. ‘The whole thing has been incredibly nerve-racking,’ Rice, 31, tells me from Daylesford organic farm in the Cotswolds, where she’s currently camped. She joined Giffords full time in 2018 and says: ‘I spent so much time with Nell that I’ve become a good judge of what Giffords Circus is. Really, it’s a tribute to Nell and every minute that we made of this show we thought of her.
‘We wondered what she would think and what she would like.’
Quote of the Week: ‘You try telling her…’
What Boris Johnson allegedly said at the G7 summit in Cornwall after an aide suggested Carrie should stop wearing red and stick to Tory blue.
An aide allegedly suggested to Boris Johnson that is wife, Carrie, pictured, left, should wear Tory blue rather than red