ALISON BOSHOFF: Clooneys purchase £6.7million mansion in France

ALISON BOSHOFF: Clooneys purchase £6.7million mansion in France

With 25 rooms, a tennis court and a dreamy aspect over Lake Como, you’d think George Clooney would never want to leave Villa Oleandra, the house he has owned there for 22 years.

However, I’m told its status has been downgraded after the purchase of an even bigger house in the South of France, with much more land – and that Como is now simply regarded as a ‘holiday house’.

Clooney, 63, and wife Amal, 46, quietly snapped up a mansion near Brignoles, in the Var region, in the spring of 2021. It comes with 425 acres, including an olive grove, vineyard, tennis court and boules pitch. And it seems the peace and privacy that comes with all that space has made it the Clooneys’ favourite place in the world.

The plan, according to a source in France, is that the family, including seven-year-old twins Alexander and Ella, will spend time at the house on Lake Como only in August, when the heat in France is unbearable.

The new £6.7 million, 18th-century French home sits in a swathe of countryside between Marseilles and Cannes, in an area known as ‘Green Provence’. A local source explained: ‘Como is too small for Alexander and Ella. It doesn’t have enough space for them to pursue proper hobbies like horse-riding, whereas they can do anything they want in France.’

ALISON BOSHOFF: Clooneys purchase £6.7million mansion in France

Amal Clooney (left) and George Clooney (right) in Venice, Italy, in 2023

The couple quietly snapped up a mansion near Brignoles (Stock Image)

The couple quietly snapped up a mansion near Brignoles (Stock Image)

Clooney has made friends with the local mayor, Didier Bremond. In January, he recorded a New Year message for the people of Brignoles which began: ‘Bonjour, Didier!’ It continued: ‘First of all, I would like to wish you all a very happy new year. I hope each of you had a wonderful holiday season. We want to thank all of you, because we love spending time in the Var and in Brignoles. And we are very grateful for your hospitality and for the friendship that Didier shows us.’

The actor and director has been seen recently wandering the streets of Cotignac, a nearby town, with Amal and their new St Bernard puppy, Nelson. And Clooney donated €20,000 to the neighbouring village of Le Val when it was hit by flooding in October 2021. The money helped provide shelter for residents for six months, while homes were restored.

Last year he financed a scheme which donated fruit and veg, grown on land next to his, to local schoolchildren for their lunches. He is even being called ‘George l’ecolo’ or ‘George the environmentalist’ locally.

The family also has a New York apartment – Amal, a leading human rights lawyer, is a visiting faculty member at Columbia Law School in New York. There is also a Thames-side home near Henley. Last year Clooney denied reports that he was going to sell up in Como. His house there is one of the largest private residences on the lake and has been valued at $100 million.

Will the Baby Reindeer brouhaha cost Richard Gadd the Best Actor Emmy? Gadd has undertaken publicity rounds ahead of voting for the awards, which are handed out in September, but the smart money is now on Ripley’s Andrew Scott instead. Both shows are on Netflix.

Sue Barker serves up her Wimbledon secrets 

Sue Barker says the famous BBC Wimbledon theme music ‘still fills me with fear’.

She presented the show from 2000 to 2022 and was also a semi-finalist at the tournament in 1977 – but loved attending as a fan last year.

‘It was different. I have to say, walking in the first day, I did not know what to do with myself. I wanted to go into the studio and argue with McEnroe and Tim Henman.’ Instead, ‘I queued up with my husband for a hot dog’.

Barker, who’ll be there this year on July 1, when the tournament begins, continued: ‘For the men’s final, I sat in my members’ seat and it was Alcaraz and Djokovic. I did not look to see who was sitting next to me, it was so exciting. It was nuts: the guy next to me was Sir Ian McKellen!

Sue Barker (left) interviews Serena Williams (right) at Wimbledon in 2022

Sue Barker (left) interviews Serena Williams (right) at Wimbledon in 2022

Sue Barker plays during Wimbledon in 1982

Sue Barker plays during Wimbledon in 1982

Speaking to promote her new book Wimbledon: A Personal History, Sue Barker said female stars from her era are a support to each other

Speaking to promote her new book Wimbledon: A Personal History, Sue Barker said female stars from her era are a support to each other

‘He started getting so excited in the third set. He started grabbing me and the next thing he was jumping up and screaming. At the end of the third set I was also jumping up, going: ‘Go on Carlitos!’

Speaking to promote her new book Wimbledon: A Personal History, Barker said female stars from her era are a support to each other. Chris Evert, who announced last year that her ovarian cancer had returned, is being helped out by former rival Martina Navratilova, who has herself battled breast and throat cancer. Barker said: ‘I’ve heard how Martina is making lunch and taking it over to Chris’s home.’

Funnyman Stephen Merchant is exceedingly houseproud and visitors to his place in London aren’t allowed to eat at all in the home cinema in the basement. ‘In my movie theatre, no one is allowed to talk or eat. And they have to drink from sippy cups. Not a joke.’

Maika hunts down devilish serial killer

Scream queen Maika Monroe, star of horror hit It Follows, is the lead in a new movie Longlegs, likened to Silence Of The Lambs… with a Satanic spin.

The Santa Barbara-born actress – who just went Instagram official with Ariana Grande’s ex Dalton Gomez – plays an FBI agent in the film. And Nicolas Cage is five-star bonkers as the serial killer with whom she shares a connection.

The movie, out on July 12, is billed as ‘the most terrifying film of 2024’, but it has some competition in what’s shaping up to be a summer of screams. 

Scream queen Maika Monroe (pictured), star of horror hit It Follows, is the lead in a new movie Longlegs, likened to Silence Of The Lambs... with a Satanic spin

Scream queen Maika Monroe (pictured), star of horror hit It Follows, is the lead in a new movie Longlegs, likened to Silence Of The Lambs… with a Satanic spin

The Santa Barbara-born actress - who just went Instagram official with Ariana Grande's ex Dalton Gomez - plays an FBI agent in the film

The Santa Barbara-born actress – who just went Instagram official with Ariana Grande’s ex Dalton Gomez – plays an FBI agent in the film

Upcoming releases include the hotly anticipated M. Night Shyamalan film Trap, starring Josh Hartnett; and Maxxxine, third in the Ti West Trilogy, starring Mia Goth.

Longlegs was written and directed by Osgood Perkins, oldest son of actor Anthony Perkins — the star of Psycho.

Emma girl’s Lord of the Rings role 

Gaia Wise, the daughter of actors Emma Thompson and Greg Wise, is to get her biggest role yet in a Lord Of The Rings anime feature film by New Line Cinema. She will play Princess Hera, daughter of Helm Hammerhand, the King of Rohan, who is voiced by Succession’s Brian Cox.

Gaia Wise (centre) with her parents Greg Wise (left) and Emma Thompson (right)

Gaia Wise (centre) with her parents Greg Wise (left) and Emma Thompson (right)

Lorraine Ashbourne, the wife of Andy Serkis (Gollum in the Peter Jackson films!), is also in the cast.

The film The Lord Of The Rings: The War Of The Rohirrim is set 183 years before the original trilogy, and will be released by Warner Bros in December.

Adele has been having the time of her life playing Las Vegas for the past 19 months. However she says she has never gambled, because she thinks she would fritter away her £165 million fortune if she started.

‘The penny slots! Those do look very, very fun. But I’m a germaphobe, so touching all those coins sets me off.’

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Adele has been having the time of her life playing Las Vegas for the past 19 months

Adele has been having the time of her life playing Las Vegas for the past 19 months

She added: ‘My partner loves to gamble. It’s terrible. I think I’d be sh** at it. And I also think I’d love it so much that I’ll just go bankrupt, basically. So that’s why I have never gambled.’

Singer Bruno Mars reportedly racked up a huge gambling debt during his Vegas residency, but Adele, who counts him as a pal, confided: ‘Actually it’s not as bad as the Press are making out. I think he’s absolutely fine.’

Winkleman waltzes out of showbiz agency YMU 

Strictly Come Dancing co-presenters Claudia Winkleman and Tess Daly are set to split up – with Winkleman leaving their shared showbiz agency YMU.

In a move due to be announced later this month, sources say Winkleman, 52, is walking away from the company that’s looked after her for around a decade. She is understood to be heading for a new firm, Little Arrow Management Limited.

That company was set up earlier this year, and documents filed at Companies House show it has two directors – Winkleman’s movie producer husband, Kris Thykier (who gives his name as ‘Svend Christoffer Stael Thykier’), and Holly Bott, who was Winkleman’s agent at YMU, but left the company last year.

It’ll be a big deal if she leaps – Winkleman is one of the best paid presenters in Britain, thought to earn £150,000 a year for presenting Strictly Come Dancing on the BBC, and more than that annually for The Traitors and Channel 4’s The Piano. She also has a lucrative deal to promote Head & Shoulders shampoo.

Strictly Come Dancing co-presenters Claudia Winkleman (left) and Tess Daly (right) are set to split up - with Winkleman leaving their shared showbiz agency YMU

Strictly Come Dancing co-presenters Claudia Winkleman (left) and Tess Daly (right) are set to split up – with Winkleman leaving their shared showbiz agency YMU

The last figures filed by her company, Little Owl Productions, show the firm paid £174,000 in corporation tax in the year to April 2023, which would indicate a pre-tax profit of more than £900,000.

Winkleman joined the main Strictly show alongside Daly in 2014, after host Bruce Forsyth retired. In January this year, it was reported that ITV was to offer her ‘at least’ £500,000 to host shows on their network, but this was later denied.

Amanda Holden and Emily Atack also left YMU last year. Earlier this year singer and actress Nicole Scherzinger cut ties with the agency, coming off its website just six months after signing up. YMU said they continued to represent Scherzinger in a number of areas. A spokesperson for YMU said: ‘Holly [Bott] left YMU in December last year and both she and YMU remain on good terms. Her future plans are yet to be announced.’

Former Gogglebox star Rev Kate Bottley is no stranger to a wedding disaster. 

The CofE vicar said: ‘I’ve had owls swooping down with rings tied to their feet. I’ve had dogs as bridesmaids. I’ve had a best man who thought it would be a really good gimmick to lock the rings in a miniature toy safe…’

Former Gogglebox star Rev Kate Bottley is no stranger to a wedding disasterFormer Gogglebox star Rev Kate Bottley is no stranger to a wedding disaster

Former Gogglebox star Rev Kate Bottley is no stranger to a wedding disasterFormer Gogglebox star Rev Kate Bottley is no stranger to a wedding disaster

And then there was the mother of the bride, whose high heel snapped off on the way to the church.

‘Fortunately she was my size, so she wore my heels and I had to wear the only other shoes I’d got in the car – my dog walking Wellies – to do the wedding.’

Why it runs in the family for Simon and Hugh

Thespian legend Simon Russell Beale plays Hugh Bonneville’s agent – and friend – Bently Cassock in the forthcoming ITV comedy drama Douglas Is Cancelled.

In real life the two men have known each other for ever, as their fathers – both surgeons – moved in the same circles. Russell Beale, 63, said: ‘Although we’ve never worked together before, I’ve known him for ages. I first heard of him when I was 17. Both our fathers were medical people, and I remember my father saying: ‘So and so’s son is a brilliant actor.’ I recall a stab of envy as I was in the car with Dad, and thinking: ‘Oh, right, OK.’ ‘

Forthcoming ITV comedy drama Douglas Is Cancelled starring Hugh Bonneville (pictured)

Forthcoming ITV comedy drama Douglas Is Cancelled starring Hugh Bonneville (pictured)

Thespian legend Simon Russell Beale (left) plays Hugh Bonneville's agent ¿ and friend ¿ Bently Cassock

Thespian legend Simon Russell Beale (left) plays Hugh Bonneville’s agent — and friend — Bently Cassock

He added: ‘Hugh has also worked with Sam Mendes, who I work with a lot. And so he’s always been around and we have seen each other quite a bit over the years.

‘So even though this is the first time we’ve actually worked together, we were immediately comfortable with each other. If you look at his face, you’d expect him to be very generous, and he is. He has a real warmth, and there was great chemistry between us. He made me laugh, too… He does that bemused look so brilliantly. He’s a master of bemusement.’

The drama, in which Bonneville plays newsreader Douglas Bellowes, goes out on June 27.

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