The beard and the Hot Priest by Nick Baty

A Catholic school in Derby has come under fire for banning beards and moustaches. St Benedict Catholic Academy in Darley Abbey has outlawed facial hair except for religious reasons. In response, pupils have set up a Save the Beards petition online. The school’s uniform policy says that “any hairstyle…which may impact on the health and safety of the pupil is not allowed”. For those of us who had to shave at the age of 14, razors and shavers were most definitely a health and safety issue. And depilatory cream, while effective, can remove several layers of teenage skin at a stroke.


We were really happy to receive a piece from award-winning writer Frank Cottrell-Boyce. His is the latest in our series supporting SVP Awareness Month. Frank is an active member of his local SVP, venturing out on the weekly “Bun Run” which supports the Missionaries of Charity and their work with the homeless. As someone said just last week, “The SVP is the Church’s best-kept secret.” The Grapevine is more than happy to let that particular cat out of the bag.

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Fleabag represents the kind of “distinctively British” programme which the Government seeks to make mandatory, according to Media Minister, John Whittingdale. Addressing the Royal Television Society conference this week, Whittingdale unveiled plans to instruct TV chiefs to produce programmes reflecting British values. He said: “In our upcoming White Paper, I intend to include proposals that will expand the remit of public service broadcasters, so that it includes a requirement for them to produce

‘distinctively British’ content.” Apart from Fleabag, Whittingdale also cited Derry Girls, Only Fools and Horses and the Carry On movies. These were, he said, “programmes that could only have been made in the UK”. It’s not clear what is so British about Fleabag. Her affair with the cool “Hot Priest” could have happened almost anywhere.


Meanwhile, Mass-going Tory MP, Nadine Dorries, has become Minister for Culture. Dorries doesn’t hold back – in 2018, she applauded France and Denmark for banning the burka. When voting against the 2013 equal marriage she said: “I have so many gay friends. Don’t ask me why. I just love gay men. So all three of them gave me a hard time about that vote.” Wonder what she'd say to Hot Priest, played by the gay, former Catholic, Andrew Scott.