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Authors: Jilly Cooper

Tags: #General, #General & Literary Fiction, #Fiction - General, #Television actors and actresses, #Television programs, #Modern fiction, #Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945), #Cabinet officers, #Women Television Producers and Directors, #Aristocracy (Social class), #Fiction

Rivals

BOOK: Rivals
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RIVALS

JILLY COOPER

    

    'A combination of drama, sex and good social comedy… unputdownable' SUNDAY TIMES

    'Romping along at breathtaking speed, RIVALS is guaranteed to make it' TODAY

    

*****

    

    JILLY COOPER'S effervescent new novel marks the return of Rupert Campbell-Black, the devastatingly attractive hero of RIDERS, as it explores the cut-throat world of television. Reputations ripe and decline, true loves blossom and burn, and sex raises its (delicious) head at almost every throw as, in bed and boardroom, the race is on to capture the local franchise.

    

    'Written with unflagging energy, it is sexy, stylish and totally riveting' OPTIONS

    'I couldn't put it down'

    SUPER COOPER published by Corgi Books

    

    CORGI BOOKS

    

    RIVALS

    

    A CORGI BOOK

    

    0 552 13472 4

    

    Originally published in Great Britain by

    Bantam Press, a division of Transworld Publishers Ltd PRINTING HISTORY

    Bantam Press edition published 1988

    Corgi edition published 1989

    Copyright Š Jilly Cooper 1988

    Conditions of sale

    1. This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out or otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

    1. This book is sold subject to the Standard Conditions of Sale of Net Books and may not be re-sold in the UK below the net price fixed by the publishers for the book.

    This book is set in 10/1 Ipt Linotron 202 Goudy by Rowland Phototypesetting Ltd, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk Corgi Books are published by Transworld Publishers Ltd,

    61-63 Uxbridge Road, Baling, London W5 5SA, in Australia by Transworld Publishers (Australia) Pty Ltd, 15-23 Helles Avenue, Moorebank, NSW 2170, and in New Zealand by Transworld Publishers (N.Z.) Ltd, Cnr Moselle and Waipareira Avenues, Henderson,

    Auckland.

    Made and printed in Great Britain by Cox and Wyman Ltd, Reading, Berks.

DEDICATION

    

    To Annalise Kay

    who is as wise as she is

    good and beautiful

    

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

    

    A very large number of people helped me with this book. Most of them work in television and are exceptionally busy. They still found the time to talk to me and particularly in the case of those from HTV to

    entertain me with lavishness and generosity. All of them are experts in their own field. But as I was writing fiction, I only took their advice so far as it fitted my plot. The accuracy of the book in no way reflects their expertise. They were also all so nice to me that it was impossible to base any of the unpleasant characters in the story on any of them.

    They include Georgina Abrahams, Rita Angel, William Beloe, Michael Blakstad, Roy Bottomley, James Bredin, Adrian Brenard, Doug Carnegie, Stephen Cole, John Corbett, Jenny Crick, Mike Davey, Geoff Druett, Ron Evans, Su Evans, James Gatward, David Glencross, Stuart Hall, Nick Handel, Tom Hartman, Barbara Hazell, Stan Hazell, Paul Heiney, Bruce Hockin, Alison Holloway, Patricia Houlihan, Bryan Izzard, Philip Jones, Barbara Kelly, Susan Kyle, Maurice Leonard, Barrie MacDonald, Billy Macqueen, George McWatters, Steve Matthews, Lesley Morgan, Malcolm Morris, Jack Patterson, Bob Simmons, Tom Walsh, Ann de Winton, Richard Whiteiy, Ron Wordley and Richard Wyatt.

    Tragically, dear Eamonn Andrews, with whom I was privileged to work for four series on 'What's My Line?', died in November, after the book was finished. His utter integrity,  professionalism and gentle humour were a constant source of inspiration while I was writing it.

    I should also like to thank the crews, the drivers, the make-up girls and the wardrobe staff with whom I worked over the years, who came up with endless suggestions.

    I must thank the people who wrote three books which were invaluable to me in understanding the extraordinarily complicated process by which television franchises are awarded. They are William Butler, author of Hew to Win the Franchise and Influence People, Michael Leapman, author of Treachery? The Power Struggle at TV-am, and Asa Briggs and Joanna Spicer, joint authors of The Franchise Affair Creating

    fortunes and failures in Independent Television.

    I am also eternally grateful to Peter Cadbury, former Chairman of Westward Television, for giving me access to his autobiography which unaccountably has never been published, to Robin Currie, of the Fire and Rescue Service HQ, Cheltenham, to Toni Westall, secretary to Captain Brian Walpole, General Manager, Concorde, and to Tim and Primrose Unwin for inviting me to some excellent hunt balls.

    In addition I need to thank my Bank Manager, Keith Henderson, my publishers, Paul Scherer, Mark Barty-King and Alan Earney and all their staff at Bantam Press and Corgi, and my agent Desmond Elliott, for their faith and continued encouragement.

    Three brave ladies, Beryl Hill, Sue Moore and Geraldine Kilgannon, deserve thanks and praise for deciphering my ghastly handwriting and typing several chapters of the manuscript; so does my cleaner, Ann Mills, for mucking out my study once a fortnight.

    Finally, once again there are no words adequate to thank Leo, my husband, my children, Felix and Emily, and my secretary, Annalise Kay, whom I regard as one of the family, and who typed ninety per cent of the manuscript. Their collective good cheer, unselfishness and comfort over the past eighteen months knew no bounds.

    Bisley, Gloucestershire 1987.

    'Last Christmas' by George Michael reprinted by kind permission of Morrison and Leahy Music.

    'The Lady in Red' by Chris de Burgh reprinted by kind permission of Rondor Music (London) Limited. 'I Get a Kick Out of You'. Words and music by Cole Porter Š 1934 Harms Incorporated. Reproduced by permission of Chappell Music Limited, Š 1934 Warner Bros. Incorporated, j (Renewed). All rights reserved. Used by permission. 'We Don't Have to Take Our Clothes Off' by Narada Michael' Walden and Preston Glass Š 1986. Reprinted by kind permission of Carlin Music Corporation and Island Music, UK; Mighty Three Music Group and Gratitude Sky Music, USA; Mcagilbey and Rondor Music, Australia.

    Scanner's note:

    Map has been omitted.

CHARACTERS IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER

    

    JOHNNY ABRAHAMS Head of News and Current

    Affairs, BBC.

    GEORGIE BAINES Sales Director, Corinium elevision. LADY BARNSLEY A member of the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA), late of the White Fish Authority. BIRGITTA A comely but bolshie nanny working for the Verekers. HARDY BISSETT A franchise expert. Late of the IBA. MR AND MRS BODKIN Rupert Campbell-Black's couple. SIR CEDRIC BONNINGTON Chairman of Mid-West Television. HUBERT BRENTON Bishop of Cotchester. Anthony, SECOND BARON BADDINGHAM Chairman and Managing Director, Corinium Television.

    MONICA BADDINGHAM His wife.

    ARCHIE BADDINGHAM His elder son.

    BASIL BADDINGHAM Tony's illegitimate brother, ace polo player, and owner of the Bar Sinister in Cotchester High Street. SEBASTIAN BURROWS A news reporter, Corinium Television. DAYSEE BUTLER A very beautiful, stupid PA, Corinium Television. RUPERT CAMPBELL-BLACK Minister for Sport. Tory MP for Chalford and Bisley. Ex-member of the British show-jumping team. MARCUS CAMPBELL-BLACK His son.

    TABITHA CAMPBELL-BLACK His daughter.

    CAMERON COOK Producer/Director, NBS, New York. Later Head of Drama, Corinium Television. CHARLES CRAWFORD Retiring Chairman of the IBA. JUDGE DA VEY A member of the IBA.

    OWEN DA VIES Leader of the Opposition.

    WESLEY EMERSON Gloucester and England bowler.

    SUZY ERIKSON An American ex-girlfriend of Rupert Campbell-Black. LADY EVESHAM An early feminist, and non-executive Director, Corinium Television. CHARLES FAIRBURN Head of Religious Broadcasting, Corinium Television. JOHNNY FRIEDLANDER American actor and megastar, MARTI GLUCKSTEIN A brilliant East End accountant. MALISE Gordon Ex-chef d'equipe of the British show-jumping team.

    HELEN Gordon His wife. Ex-wife of Rupert Campbell-Black and mother of Marcus and Tabitha. LADY GOSLING Chairman of the IBA.

    GRACE Declan O'Hara's housekeeper.

    CRISPIN GRAYSTOCK Professor of English at Cdtchester University and a disgusting lecher. HENRY HAMPSHIRE Lord-Lieutenant of Gloucestershire -a

    much less disgusting lecher. Simon HARRIS Controller of Programmes, Corinium Television. GERALD MIDDLETON Parliamentary Private secretary to Rupert Campbell-Black. DECLAN O'HARA A television megastar.

    MAUD O'HARA His ex-actress wife.

    PATRICK O'HARA His son, an undergraduate at Trinity Dublin. AGATHA (TAGGIE) O'HARA His elder daughter.

    CAITLIN O'HARA His younger daughter.

    ORTRUD Yet another of the Verekers' comely nannies. CYRIL PEACOCK Lord Baddingham's PA and sometime Press Officer, Corinium Television. THE VERY REVEREND FERGUS PENNEY An ex-Prebendary of the Church of England, and a member of the IBA. PERCY Lord Baddingham's chauffeur.

    PASCOE RAWLINGS The most powerful theatrical agent in London. BARTON Sinclair Director of The Merry Widow.

    SKIP A beautiful American lawyer.

    LORD SMITH An ex-Secretary of the TGWU.

    DAME ENID SPINK A distinguished composer and Professor of Music at Cotchester University. Paul STRATTON Tory MP for Cotchester. An ex-Cabinet Minister.

    SARAH STRATTON His ravishing second wife and ex-secretary. SYDNEY Rupert's driver.

    URSULA Declan O'Hara's secretary.

    JAMES VEREKER Anchorman of Cotswold Round-Up', Corinium Television. LIZZIE VEREKER His wife, a novelist.

    ELEANOR VEREKER His daughter.

    SEBASTIAN VEREKER His son.

    HAROLD WHITE Director of Programmes, London Weekend Television. MAURICE WOOTON A bent Gloucestershire property millionaire.

    Rivals

1

    

    Sitting in the Concorde departure lounge at Heathrow on a perfect blue June morning, Anthony, second Baron Baddingham, Chairman and Managing Director of Corinium Television, should have been perfectly happy. He was blessed with great wealth, a title, a brilliant career, a beautiful flat in Kensington, houses in Gloucestershire and Tuscany, a loyal, much-admired wife, three charming children and a somewhat demanding mistress, to whom he had just bidden a long farewell on the free telephone beside him.

    He was about to fly on his favourite aeroplane, Concorde, to his favourite city, New York, to indulge in his favourite pastime - selling Corinium's programmes to American television and raising American money to make more programmes. Tony Baddingham was a great believer in using Other People's Money, or OPM as he called it; then if a project bombed, someone else picked up the bill.

    As a final bonus, neatly folded beside him were the morning papers, which he'd already read in the Post House Hotel, and which all contained glowing reports of Corinium's past six months' results, announced yesterday.

    Just as he had been checking out of the Post House an hour earlier, however, Tony's perfect pleasure had been ruined by the sight of his near neighbour and long-term rival, Rupert Campbell-Black, checking in. He was scribbling his signature with one hand and holding firmly on to a rather

    grubby but none-the-less ravishing girl with the other.

    The girl, who had chipped nail polish, wildly tangled blonde hair, mascara smudges under her eyes, and a deep suntan, had obviously just been pulled out of some other bed and was giggling hysterically.

    'Ru-pert,' she wailed, 'there simply isn't time; you'll miss the plane.'

    'It'll wait,' said Rupert, and, gathering up his keys, started to drag her towards the lift. As the doors closed, like curtains coming down on the first act of a play, Tony could see the two of them glued together in a passionate embrace.

    A deeply competitive man, Tony had felt dizzy with jealousy. He had seldom, particularly since he had inherited the title and become Chief Executive of Corinium, had any difficulty attracting women, but he'd never attracted anything so wantonly desirable and desiring as that grubby, vaguely familiar blonde.

    'More coffee, Lord Baddingham?' One of the beautiful attendants in the Concorde Lounge interrupted Tony's brooding. He shook his head, comforted by the obvious admiration in her voice.

    'Shouldn't we be boarding?' he asked.

    'We'll be a few minutes late. There was a slight engineering problem. They're just doing a last-minute check.'

    Tony glanced round the departure lounge, filled with businessmen and American tourists, and noticed a pale, redheaded young man in a grey pinstripe suit, who had stopped his steady flow of writing notes on a foolscap pad and was looking apprehensively at his watch.

    Boarding the plane twenty minutes later, Tony found himself sitting up at the front on an inside seat with a Jap immersed in a portable computer on his right. Across the gangway next to the window sat the young man in the pinstripe suit. He was even paler now and looking distinctly put out.

    'Good morning, Lord Baddingham,' said a stewardess, handing Tony that day's newly-flown-in copy of the Wall Street Journal.

    'Engineering fault sorted out?' asked Tony, as the engines started revving up.

    Not quite meeting his eyes, the girl nodded brightly; then, looking out of the window, she seemed to relax as a black car raced across the tarmac. Next there was a commotion, as a light, flat, familiar drawl could be heard down the gangway:

    'Frightfully sorry to hold you all up; traffic was diabolical.'

    All the stewardesses seemed to converge on the new arrival, fighting to carry his newspaper and put his hand luggage up in the locker.

    'Won't you be needing your briefcase, Minister?' asked a male steward, shimmying down the gangway.

    Rupert Campbell-Black shook his head. 'No thanks, sweetheart.'

    'Have a nice zizz then,' said the male steward, going crimson with pleasure at the endearment.

    As the doors slammed shut, Rupert collapsed into the seat across the gangway from Tony. Wearing a crumpled cream suit, a blue striped shirt, dark glasses and with an eighth of an inch of stubble on his chin, he looked more like a rock star than one of Her Majesty's ministers.

    'Terribly sorry, Gerald,' he murmured to the pale young man in the pinstripe suit. 'There was a terrible pile-up on the M4.'

    Smiling thinly, Gerald removed a blonde hair from Rupert's lapel.

    'I really must buy you an alarm clock for Christmas, Minister. If you'd missed that lunchtime speech, we'd have been in real stuck. Good of them to hold the plane.'

    'Thank Christ they did.' Looking round, Rupert saw Tony Baddingham and grinned. 'Why, it's the big Baddingham wolf.'

    'Cutting it a bit fine, aren't you?' said Tony disapprovingly.

    Both men required each other's goodwill. Rupert, as an MP within Tony's television company's territory, needed the coverage, whereas Tony needed Rupert's recommendation to the Government that he was running a respectable company. But it didn't make either like the other any better.

    'Bloody good results you had this morning,' said Rupert, fastening his seat belt. 'I'd better buy some Corinium shares.'

    Slightly mollified, Tony congratulated Rupert on his recent appointment as Tory Minister for Sport.

    Rupert shrugged. The PM's shit-scared about football hooliganism seems

    to think I can come up with some magic formula.'

    'Setting a Yobbo to catch a Yobbo perhaps,' said Tony nastily, then regretted it.

    'I was at Thames Television yesterday,' said Rupert icily, as the plane taxied towards the runway. 'After the programme I had a drink with the Home Secretary and the Chairman of the IBA. They were both saying that you'd better watch out. If you don't spend a bit more of that bloody fortune you're coining from advertising on making some decent programmes, you're going to lose your franchise.'

    As Rupert leant forward so Tony could hear him over the engines, Tony caught a whiff of the scent the girl had been wearing in the Post House foyer earlier.

    'And you ought to spend some time in the area. How the hell can you run a television company in the Cotswolds, if you spend all your time in London, hawking your ass round the advertising companies?'

    'The shareholders wouldn't be very pleased if I didn't,' said Tony, thoroughly nettled. 'Look at our results.'

    Rupert shrugged again. 'You're also supposed to make good programmes. As your local MP I'm just passing on what's being said.'

    'As one of your more influential constituents,' said Tony, furiously, 'I don't think you should be checking into the Post House with bimbos half your age.'

    Rupert laughed. 'That was no bimbo, that was Beattie Johnson.'

    Of course! Instantly Tony remembered the girl. Beattie Johnson was one of the most scurrilous and successful women columnists dubbed

    by Private Eye 'the First not-quite-a-lady of Fleet Street'.

    'She's ghosting my memoirs,' added Rupert. 'We were doing research. I always believe in laying one's ghost.'

    Below the blank stare of the dark glasses, his curved smiling mouth seemed even more insolent. As the plane revved up, both men turned to look out of the window, and Tony found himself trembling with rage. But not even the splendid, striped-silk-shirted bosom of the air hostess, which rose and fell as she showed passengers how to inflate their life jackets, could keep Rupert's eyes open. By the time they were airborne, he was asleep.

    Tony accepted a glass of champagne and tried to concentrate on the Watt Street Journal. He didn't know which he resented most Rupert's

    habitual contempt, his ability to sleep anywhere, his effortless acquisition of women, or the obvious devotion of the palely efficient Gerald, who was now sipping Perrier and polishing the speech Rupert was to deliver to the International Olympic Committee at lunchtime.

    There had hardly been a husband in Gloucestershire, indeed in the world, Tony reflected, who hadn't cheered four years ago when Rupert's beautiful wife, Helen, had walked out on him in the middle of the Los Angeles Olympics, running off with another rider and causing Rupert the maximum humiliation.

    But, infuriatingly, Rupert had appeared outwardly unaffected and had risen to the occasion by winning a show-jumping gold medal despite a trapped shoulder nerve, and going on two years later to win the World Championship, the only prize hitherto to elude him. Then, giving up show jumping at the pinnacle of his fame, he had moved effortlessly into politics, winning the Tory seat of Chalford and Bisley with ease. Even worse, he had turned out a surprisingly good MP, being very quick on his feet, totally unfazed by the Opposition or the Prime Minister, and prepared to fight very hard for his constituency.

    Although scandal had threatened eighteen months ago, when Rupert's then mistress, Amanda Hamilton, wife of the Foreign Secretary, had withdrawn her patronage on finding out that Rupert was also sleeping with her teenage daughter,

    by this time, in the eyes of a doting Prime Minister, Rupert could do no wrong. Now, as Minister for Sport, with Gerald Middleton as an exceptional private secretary to do all the donkey work, Rupert was free to roam round exuding glamour, raising money for the Olympic team here, defusing a riot against a South African athlete there. Responsibility, however, hadn't cleaned up his private life at all. Divorced from Helen, he could behave as he chose, hence his cavorting with Beattie Johnson in the Post House that morning.

    Glancing at Rupert, sprawled out on the pale-grey leather seat, taking up most of Gerald's leg room, beautiful despite the emergent stubble, Tony felt a further stab of jealousy. He couldn't remember a time in his forty-four years when he hadn't envied the Campbell-Blacks. For all their outlandish behaviour, they had always been looked up to in Gloucestershire. They had lived in the same beautiful house in Penscombe for generations, while Tony was brought up behind net curtains in a boring semi in the suburbs of Cheltenham. Tony also had a chip because he only went to a grammar school, where he'd been teased for being fat and short, and because his conventional colourless father (although subsequently ennobled for his work in the war) had been considered far too valuable as a munitions manufacturer to be allowed to go off and fight, unlike Rupert's father, Eddie, who'd had a dazzling war in the Blues.

    Even when Tony's father had been given his peerage, Eddie Campbell-Black and his cronies had laughed, always referring to him dismissively as Lord Pop-Pop, as they blasted away slaughtering wild life with one of his products on their large estates.

    Growing up near the Campbell-Blacks, Tony had longed to be invited to Penscombe and drawn into that rackety, exciting set. But the privilege had been bestowed on his brother Basil, who was ten years younger and who, because Tony's father had made his pile by then, had been given a pony to ride and sent to Harrow instead of a grammar school, and had there become a friend of Rupert's.

    As a result of such imagined early deprivation, Tony had

    grown up indelibly competitive not

    just at work, but also socially, sexually, and at all games. Spurning the family firm when he left school, he'd gone straight into advertising and specialized in buying television air time. Having learnt the form, from there he moved to the advertising side of television. A brilliant entrepreneur, who felt he was slipping unless he had a dozen calls from Tokyo and New York during Christmas dinner, by changing jobs repeatedly he had gained the plum post of Chief Executive at Corinium Television eight years ago.

    Having shot up to five feet ten and lost his puppy fat in his twenties, Tony had in middle age grown very attractive in a brutal sort of way; although with his Roman nose, heavy-lidded charcoal-grey eyes, coarsely modelled mouth and springy close-cropped dark hair, he looked more like a Sicilian wide boy than an English peer. He chose to proclaim the latter, however, by wearing coronets on absolutely everything. And on the little finger on his left hand gleamed a massive gold signet ring, sporting the Baddingham crest of wrestling rams, above the motto chosen by Lord Pop-Pop: Peaceful is the country that is strongly armed.

    Considerably adding to Tony's sex appeal was a hunky bull-necked body, kept in shape by self-control and ruthless exercise, and a voice deliberately deep and smooth to eradicate any trace of a Gloucestershire accent. This only slipped when he went into one of his terrifying rages, which flattened the Corinium Television staff against the cream-hessianed walls of his vast office.

    In fact, it irritated the hell out of Tony that, despite his success, his fortune and his immense power, Rupert still refused to take him seriously. He would not have been so upset by Rupert's sniping if it had not echoed a warning last night from Charles Crawford, the rotund and retiring Chairman of the Independent Broadcasting Authority (or IBA as they were known). The IBA's job was to grant franchises to the fifteen independent television companies every eight years or so, monitor their programmes and generally beat them with a big stick if they stepped out of line.

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