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Home > Media

Fisting the Mitchells

7 November 2005

It is an extraordinarily rare thing for something as ugly as domestic violence to raise a smile. The last time we can remember it happening was back in 2003, when meringue-faced berserker Liza Minnelli was sued by her badly bruised plum of a husband, David Gest, for ten million dollars. But there was something so alien about Gest and Minnelli that we couldn't really empathise on any human level. However, this week, two of our most down-to-earth home-grown TV stars were set upon by the women in their lives, and few it seems can keep from revelling in their anguish.

Unconvincing East-end sub-gangsters Grant and Phil Mitchell have been in some absurd scrapes over the years, but in terms of sheer unbelievability, nothing has ever come close to this. It began in the early hours of Thursday morning in, as luck would have it, Battersea. Ross Kemp (Grant) and his tabloid-editing wife, Rebekah Wade, had been socialising with, amongst others, David Blunkett (the double-disgraced super-corrupt MP) and Rupert Murdoch (Satan's emissary on Earth), when, on their return home, a row broke out. Police later responded to a 999 call to find Kemp with a bruised and bloodied mouth and Wade with the victorious sneer of a fire-headed feminist warrior. Then the weird bit. With the blood still drying on Grant's swollen lip, brother Phil (also known as celebrity dogger Steve McFadden) paid a visit to his ex-girlfriend, Angela Bostock, to pick up some of his stuff from her garage. Police were already in tow, as the couple had something of a history of tempestuousness, but that didn't stop Bostock launching herself at McFadden like a dirty great fisting machine. Both Wade and Bostock were arrested. Both were later released without charge.

The chances of these two closely linked actors being attacked on the same day are so remote that naturally, the cynical are already suggesting that it could be some kind of set-up. This is not beyond the realms of possibility. Max Clifford on the other hand has hinted that Kemp must have had it coming. 'Rebekah does have a very strong personality,' he said, 'but she's not volatile, she just stands up for herself. If something happened, she would have been pushed to it.' Possibly. But Kemp seems so placid. It'd be difficult to imagine him upsetting anyone - unless of course he said something untoward about one of Wade's dubious pals. It's much easier to see why Bostock might have had a pop at McFadden. She had told press in the past, 'Steve loves watching dirty old men have sex. The father of my children is a pervert.' Under the circumstances, you can kind of imagine that every time she sees his face, she might want to slap it off.

Naturally, the Sun have underplayed the Wade story to the point of absurdity, insinuating that Kemp was as surprised as anyone when police turned up on his doorstep in the middle of the night. They described his vicious beating variously as an 'old-fashioned row', 'a silly row' and 'a lot of fuss about nothing', claiming that the fractured mouth Wade left him with was actually sustained whilst filming. But then as a former campaigner against domestic violence, it really wouldn't do to admit to knocking your spouse about.

Now all charges have been dropped and the story is in the hands of the press. Naturally they are more interested in Ross vs. Wade than McFadden, because frankly, once you've been smeared for dogging in a bizarre spiked wig, a little domestic violence is neither here nor there. So it is Ross Kemp then, whose wife's paper would have such fun with this story were she not directly involved, who must take the flak. The Daily Mirror set the tone for the coverage - which sadly is one of not taking the issue of battered husbands particularly seriously - with their headline, 'Are the EastEnders hardmen just a pair of big girls' blouses?'

But the question is irrelevant. They are victims of domestic violence and as such they deserve our sympathy and support, not our ridicule.


Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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