I say! BBC says television soap trumps Queen Mum

The BBC might soon stand for Britons Boiled in Crisco if the U.K. broadcasting conglomerate doesn’t bloody well snap to its senses.

Britons are said to be up in arms that the BBC has decided to pass on covering events marking the 100th anniversary of the birth of the Queen Mother two weeks before her actual Aug. 4 birthday. Apparently, the planned bash would conflict with a popular soap opera, “Neighbors.”

The issue surfaced in the House of Commons on Tuesday as newspapers blasted away on the media front.

“How Dare the BBC Snub the Queen Mother?” the Daily Mail sniffed. The Daily Telegraph called it “sad and surprising that the BBC is ignoring the main pageant in honor of this extraordinary life.”

Said Prime Minister Tony Blair: “I think everyone would like to see a televised broadcast of the Queen Mother’s celebration, because everyone wishes her well. It would be a fantastic event for the whole of the nation.”

Neither the BBC nor Buckingham Palace have commented on the matter.

CLASH MIGHT PLAY AT BENEFIT CONCERT: London’s still calling the Clash, and for the first time in 16 years, the Clash might be answering.

Rolling Stone reports that the founding four members of the once-billed “Only band that matters” have agreed to perform together during a June 16 concert in London paying tribute to late rocker Ian Dury.

If it happens, it would be the first time Joe Strummer, Mick Jones, Paul Simonon and Nicky “Topper” Headon have appeared on stage together since the Clash broke up in 1985. There has been no word, however, on whether they’ll play such Clash standards as “Rock the Casbah” “Train in Vain (Stand by Me),” or “Should I Stay or Should I Go.” Observers don’t expect the boys to use the show as a springboard to a full-fledge reunion.

The Clash dissolved in 1985, after Strummer and Simonon fired Jones and Headon Headon’s drug problems had been giving the band fits for years and they have refused many offers to reunite, including lucrative deals to headline Lollapalooza, says Rolling Stone.

The fun-loving Dury, who died March 27 after a lengthy battle with liver cancer, was little-known in the States but was a 1970s cult favorite in the United Kingdom with singles such as “Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick” and “Drugs and Sex and Rock and Roll.” His June 16 tribute will benefit Cancer BACUP, an organization for which Dury had been a spokesman. Other stars booked for the event at Brixton Academy include Robbie Williams, former Sex Pistol Glen Matlock, Madness, Neneh Cherry, Kirsty MacColl, Republica’s Saffron and Dury’s band, the Blockheads.

  1. CLEAN TURNS THE TIDE: It was supposed to be Always, but Procter & Gamble Co. won’t be pushing the Pringles on Dr. Laura Schlessinger’s upcoming TV talk show after all. Last week P&G did say it would be the first major advertiser on the syndicated show, but no amount of Secret could keep the conglomerate from sweating over what the good doctor might say next. The backpedaling started on Tuesday. “The focus of the show was supposed to be responsible parenting,” spokeswoman Gretchen Briscoe said. “It’s become impossible to separate Dr. Laura’s opinions on a broad range of topics from the specific focus of this (TV) program.”

No Ivory girl she, Dr. Laura won’t even be getting a Metamucil plug for her radio show after this season. Messages left at Paramount were not returned Tuesday. Will the doctor Cheer up and Bounce right back to her old Sunny D self, or will the Scope of her loss Dawn upon her? As for P&G, it thinks, therefore Iams. (Note: The People column is not and shall never be a space for shameful product placement.)

VONNEGUT FEELING: If you happen to be heading to Smith College in Northhampton, Mass., you might want to consider getting into the English program. Kurt Vonnegut has left New York City and will teach advanced writing in the fall, according to the Daily Hampshire Gazette. The 77-year-old author has taught at various institutions, including the City University of New York. His artist daughter, Nanette who lives with her artist husband and their three children in Northhampton said the move will help him recuperate from a January fire in his Manhattan brownstone. He had been hospitalized for smoke inhalation.

Today’s People Column was compiled by Vera H-C Chan and Randy McMullen from staff and wire reports. Comments? Write to us c/o the Times, P.O. Box 8099, Walnut Creek, CA 94596-8099. Or call 925-943-8262, fax 925-943-8362, or e-mail


Birthdays: Singer Perry Como (88), Pope John Paul II (80), actor Bill Macy (78), sportscaster Jack Whitaker (76), actor Pernell Roberts (70), actor Robert Morse (69), actor and TV executive Dwayne Hickman (66), baseball Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson (63), bluegrass singer-musician Rodney Dillard of The Dillards (58), baseball Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson (54), country singer Joe Bonsall of The Oak Ridge Boys (52), actress Candice Azzara (51), rock musician Rick Wakeman of Yes (51), actor James Stephens (49), country singer George Strait (48), R&B singer Butch Tavares of Tavares (47), rock singer-musician Page Hamilton of Helmet (40), singer-actress Martika (31), rapper Special Ed (26), R&B singer Darryl Allen of Mista (20), actor Spencer Breslin (8).