The theatres have gone dark and the cinemas are closed, while scripts gather dust in locked rooms and production has ceased on television soaps.
However, those in need of a drama fix need look no further than the law courts in London, where the showbiz trial of the century — or at least the pandemic — has begun.
Everything about the Johnny Depp case is wild, sensational, astonishing. It has laid bare a world in which the jets and the islands are private, but where the excess and indulgence have been made horribly public.
It confirms all our worst fears about Hollywood, where darkness and despair grow like knotweed under the rivers of fresh-pressed juices and endless lemon sunshine.
JAN MOIR: Whoever wins this sickening scrap, Johnny Depp and Amber Heard BOTH lose
In the witness box this week, Depp, once the highest-paid actors in the world, sometimes spoke of himself in the third person and delivered his lines with a Chaucerian flourish, as if he were merely playing another role.
He told the court he has the values of ‘a Southern gentleman’, which meant that, ‘I would never strike a woman, under any circumstances’. At another point, he said: ‘I don’t know who Johnny Depp is.’ But who does any more?
Depp is suing The Sun newspaper for £39 million over allegations of domestic violence. The 57-year-old actor has taken offence at an article that called him a ‘wife-beater’. He denies attacking his former spouse, the actress Amber Heard — but she insists he did, on at least 14 separate occasions.
The 34-year-old beauty seems to have spent much of their marriage prowling around with a camera like a blood-spatter analyst from the hit TV show CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.
Photographs she has taken purporting to be of bruises and cuts inflicted by her husband have been made public — although he claims it was she who was violent towards him, alleging that she once punched him in the face repeatedly, attacked him with a drink can, burnt him with a cigarette and even severed the tip of his finger.
For people like Johnny and Amber, lost in the onslaught of addiction or entitlement, the rules erected by society don’t apply. Here we have a wife who needed her husband to grow up, and a husband who needed more support than his wife could give
Decanters, champagne, vodka bottles and mobile phones were all, it is said, hurled during their fraught marriage, which lasted between 2015 and 2017. If both are telling the truth, their relationship echoes that of Inspector Clouseau and his manservant Cato, who were forever concocting new ways to beat each other up in the Pink Panther films.
Even Depp and Heard’s pet Yorkshire terriers Boo and Pistol did not escape the torment of their complex lives.
Boo allegedly ate a lump of cannabis, while Pistol was held out of the window of a speeding car by Depp. One can only be thankful they never had children together: it doesn’t bear thinking about.
The trial has been running for only four days but, already, the evidence is exhausting, petulant, sickening. It gives matrimonial dirty linen a bad name, up to and including actual soiled bedsheets. Depp claimed he decided to divorce Heard after she deliberately defecated in their bed for a prank. And they say romance is dead!
One wonders what good, if any, can come of all this. It is sad to see the breakdown of any marriage, particularly one that suggests Hollywood and the fame game can still have a pernicious effect on those drawn into the vortex.
For people like Johnny and Amber, lost in the onslaught of addiction or entitlement, the rules erected by society don’t apply. Here we have a wife who needed her husband to grow up, and a husband who needed more support than his wife could give.
In an English summer, Johnny Depp appeared outside the court wearing sunglasses: a different pair for every day this week. Why not? He’s still big! It’s just the movies that got small.
Behind expensive aviators, white-rimmed lenses or square black frames, his gaze was hidden — but the voltage of his celebrity was undimmed. Here stood Captain Jack Sparrow, Edward Scissorhands, the Lone Ranger and a bona fide Disney legend. He wore a black bandana as a face mask and pulled it down at the request of photographers.
Behind expensive aviators, white-rimmed lenses or square black frames, his gaze was hidden — but the voltage of his celebrity was undimmed. Here stood Captain Jack Sparrow, Edward Scissorhands, the Lone Ranger and a bona fide Disney legend. He wore a black bandana as a face mask and pulled it down at the request of photographers
His suit was navy, his shoes seemed to have built-up soles and heels, his request for his ex-wife to be banished from court when he gave testimony was denied. On the first day she appeared hand-in-hand with her lawyer and her sister; an all-blonde triptych of girl power, 2020-style.
Next week, she will give her version of events in the witness stand. It promises to be electrifying. On present form, it will probably be horrifying, too. And deeply, deeply sad. For ultimately there can’t be any winners here.
Road to the West is a two-way street
Shepherds Steve and Crispin prepare for a speed-shearing competition. Wheelwrights Greg and Mike build a gun carriage for the Victorian battleship HMS Warrior. Chef Greg goes foraging for inspiration while a Mawnan gardener creates a stumpery, whatever that is.
This can only mean one thing. The popular Devon And Cornwall series is back on Channel 4, celebrating the beautiful South West of England.
The series is hugely popular because we just can’t get enough of these two beautiful counties and the marvellous people who live there. They are so inventive and practical, what with their stumperies and homemade signs telling everyone to eff off, turn round and go home.
Will there be a welcome for those hoping to spend summer holidays in Devon and Cornwall this year?
Maybe. However, a little more understanding on both sides would be welcome. Cornwall might be picturesque, but it is one of the poorest areas of northern Europe. And not everyone who lives there benefits from tourism.
Their resentment at holidaymakers buying ice creams and lazing on beaches might be piercing and undeserved, but it is easy to understand.
How I envy madge’s … chandelier
What next? Madonna posted a topless selfie earlier this week.
One in which the fruity 61-year-old was wearing a bucket hat and a pair of black knickers — the roomy type many of us would instantly recognise as ‘Monday night comfies’.
This is the latest in a series of bizarre quarantine social media messages, which have found Madge talking rubbish in a flower-bomb bath (‘Covid is the great equaliser’), reading poetry aloud while naked and singing about her tea while holding a hairbrush (‘let’s go eat some fried fish, yeah’).
This is the latest in a series of bizarre quarantine social media messages, which have found Madge talking rubbish in a flower-bomb bath (‘Covid is the great equaliser’), reading poetry aloud while naked and singing about her tea while holding a hairbrush (‘let’s go eat some fried fish, yeah’)
The new image sparked instant debate, as she must have known it would, about whether or not she was too old to be posing semi-nude.
Actually, I thought she looked pretty good. But showing my own age, I was much more interested in her bathroom than her bod.
Marble splashbacks, linen roman blinds, vases of flowers and a chandelier! A material girl can only dream of such splendour.
Pay everyone the same? What a joke
My friend R has worked hard for years in the television industry. He started with nothing, built up his own successful business, sold it for a nice sum, and now works as a director of a well-known international production company.
They have just started an inclusivity committee, largely made up of younger members of staff, to form in-house opinion and corporate culture going forwards.
The committee’s first proposal? To add up the company’s total wage bill and divide it by the number of employees, so that everyone is paid the same amount.
My friend’s decades of experience, the thousands of important decisions he has taken, the celebrities he has promoted, the contacts he has made, the documents he has rubber-stamped, the responsibility he has shouldered, the meetings he has chaired, the deals he has negotiated, the staff he has fired, hired and mentored, the opportunities he has seized, the plans he has made, the corporate triumphs and failures he has learned from along the way?
In this brave new world, all these count for nothing. His efforts are valueless in the aggrieved eyes of new recruits who regard baby-boomer executives as worse than useless.
He would be paid the same as the post-boy — sorry, post-person — in a company where no one was incentivised to do well, or try hard, or take instruction from a senior colleague leading the charge. As R said: ‘Over my dead body.’
Still, one fears for the future if this lot ever seize control.
Lisa’s got her sparkle back
Good to see that Lisa Armstrong has gone back to work as a make-up artist — one of the best in the business, by all accounts.
Good to see that Lisa Armstrong has gone back to work as a make-up artist — one of the best in the business, by all accounts
Lisa has come through a difficult divorce from Saturday Night Takeaway host Ant McPartlin, who is expected to marry his new girlfriend soon. Still, the alleged £31 million pay-off Lisa received must have sweetened any residual bitterness.
She has her beloved dog Hurley, she looks glorious and, at the age of 43, she still has time for a new life. This week she advised lockdown ladies that ‘when your roots get too much,’ plait it all up and add a spray of gold sparkle.
That’s good advice for living well, too.