SEBASTIAN SHAKESPEARE: It’s Downton 2021!

Formula 1’s former boss Bernie Ecclestone, who is worth £2.5 billion, once warned his daughter, Tamara, against the perils of reality television before she starred in a series about her life called Billion $ Girl.

But it fell on deaf ears then, and his future son-in-law, Sam Palmer, who is engaged to Ecclestone’s younger daughter, Petra, obviously has no reservations about the concept either because he is taking the plunge so he can lift the lid on the ‘demanding’ lives of the rich and famous.

I can reveal the 37-year-old from Essex will star in a new docu-series dubbed ‘the modern-day Downton Abbey’ which will shed light on the lifestyles of the wealthy by following the concierge service he launched earlier this year, called Staffing Properties.

Petra Ecclestone and Sam Palmer

Petra Ecclestone and Sam Palmer

 Petra Ecclestone and Sam Palmer

‘I don’t want this to be another “look at the glamorous life” of everything,’ Sam tells me.

‘It will show the glitz and glamour, but it will also show all the hard-working people involved and the very high demands of the people who live in these homes.’

Former recruitment consultant Sam has an eight-month-old daughter with Petra, 32, to whom he became engaged in 2018 following her divorce from businessman James Stunt, who is the father of her three elder children.

The family recently moved to Monaco after selling their 123-room mega-mansion, The Manor, in Los Angeles for £97 million.

‘There are a lot of shows out there, like Million Dollar Listing and Selling Sunset, that show you when a house sells, but they don’t show you how to run it,’ adds Sam.

Television venture: Sam Palmer with Petra

Television venture: Sam Palmer with Petra

Television venture: Sam Palmer with Petra

‘There are problems with running such a large home. Obviously we live this life — I have first-hand experience.’

Petra, however, has declined to take part in her partner’s venture.

‘We’re not bringing the cameras into our home,’ he explains. ‘They wanted to, but we said no. Petra doesn’t want to show our home life. I obviously do run a business that deals with people’s personal lives, so I will be on it.’

The show is being developed by London-based production company, Renowned Films, and Sam has been given creative control.

They will pitch it to broadcasters and digital platforms in the New Year. ‘We hope to roll out many seasons,’ he adds.

 Having brought out a new solo album at the age of 78, Sir Paul McCartney sighs that critics have been hailing the end of his career for almost 30 years.

‘Everything I do is always supposed to be my last. When I was 50 — “That’s his last tour.”

And I was like: “Oh, is it? I don’t think so.” It’s the rumour mill, but that’s OK.’

 England’s Kane joins forces with veterans  

He’s on a six-year, £62.4 million contract and rents a seven-bedroom mansion — with heated swimming pool, sauna and cinema — for £15,000-a-week. 

But England football captain Harry Kane is not one for forgetting those who lack even a fraction of his fortune.

He has, I can disclose, decided to champion a new military charity, the Tommy Club, which raises funds for ex-servicemen and women afflicted by injury or suffering Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, as well as offering them accommodation in its villages in Kent and Scotland and getting them into productive employment.

‘Harry has agreed to become a formal ambassador for the Tommy Club,’ a spokesman tells me. ‘It’s fantastic news.’

Kane, 27, was one of a number of Spurs players who, on the centenary of the end of World War I, planted 16 saplings — one for each club player killed in that conflict.

‘I want to know more and try and put myself in their situation,’ he reflected, ‘because you see movies and it’s probably nowhere near what it was actually like.’

 A Christmas reunion for Cats legends

 They were giants of the London theatre scene in the Eighties.

And three decades after their six-year marriage ended, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Sarah Brightman, who met when she joined the Cats cast in 1981, reunited for a socially distanced Christmas concert, performing Christmas Dream — written by Lord Webber and Sir Tim Rice — at Christ Church Spitalfields in London, and streamed online on Sunday.

Music at a distance: Sarah Brightman and her ex-husband Andrew Lloyd Webber

Music at a distance: Sarah Brightman and her ex-husband Andrew Lloyd Webber

Music at a distance: Sarah Brightman and her ex-husband Andrew Lloyd Webber

Music at a distance: Sarah Brightman and her ex-husband Andrew Lloyd Webber

Music at a distance: Sarah Brightman and her ex-husband Andrew Lloyd Webber

The impresario, 72, tickled the ivories while his ex-wife, 60, belted out the song. ‘Christmas is my favourite time of year,’ she said. 

‘This year more than ever, we need the joy, happiness and magic this season brings.’

Spare a thought for Chocolat author Joanne Harris, who reveals she has been diagnosed with breast cancer and is looking for light relief to keep her mind off it.

‘Oh, 2020. You are really spoiling us,’ she remarks sardonically on social media. The 56-year-old mother of one, whose bestselling novel was adapted for the screen with Johnny Depp and Juliette Binoche, adds: ‘It is a primary cancer, so should

respond to surgery and radiotherapy. But, yeah. It’s still scary, and it sucks.

‘So send me your pictures of otters, cats and recommendations for box sets.’

 Hollywood heartbreaker Jude Law is looking for a date this Christmas. Despite being

busy now that his wife, psychologist Phillipa Coan, has given birth to their first child — his sixth — the 47-year-old film star is carving out time to have a glass of wine with one of his admirers. 

The 20-minute Zoom date is being auctioned for charity, Choose Love, which helps refugees in the UK.

Bidding ends tomorrow, and the highest bid is currently £480.

 Gillian’s got a new girlfriend  

Actress Gillian Anderson has playfully declared she has a ‘new girlfriend’ following her split last week from The Crown writer Peter Morgan after four years.

The 52-year-old, who plays Margaret Thatcher in the Netflix show, shared a picture of herself online with her Labradoodle. ‘Meet my new gf Stella,’ she captioned it, making fans think the pooch could be named after her character, Stella Gibson, in TV drama The Fall.

Gillian Anderson captioned the photo ¿Meet my new gf Stella¿

Gillian Anderson captioned the photo ¿Meet my new gf Stella¿

Gillian Anderson captioned the photo ‘Meet my new gf Stella’

While with Morgan, mother-of-three Gillian admitted: ‘I could be with a woman next year! It’s just who I am.’

 There is no doubt who wears the trousers in the Clooney household.

Hollywood star George, who has been married to Amal for six years, says he devotes a lot of his time to domestic chores.

‘I’m doing the laundry and mopping,’ says George. ‘I’ve been taking out the garbage and doing the dishes every day since mid- March. 

I spent all day re-staining the outside furniture. I actually feel like my mother in 1964. I have some idea why she burned her bra.’

Graham Norton bade an emotional farewell to his Radio 2 Saturday morning show,

thanking producers and listeners. But one name was missing. ‘It would have been good manners to wish Claudia Winkleman all the best for when she takes over the slot next year,’ sniffed a BBC insider. 

Perhaps his deal to present a rival show on Virgin Radio lay behind the lapse? At least he tweeted to congratulate Claudia when her appointment was announced last month.

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