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Otr.. OFF THE RECORD; Donkey star's blast at Scots 'whingers'.

TV star Neil Pearson has launched an astonishing attack on Scots, accusing them of being "whingeing gits".

He also called Robert Burns a "second-string bard".

The star, who made his name in comedy Drop the Dead Donkey, hit out over criticism of plans to cast US star Johnny Depp as Robert Burns in a new Hollywood movie.

Pearson, currently starring in the BBC private eye series Dirty Work, scoffed at claims Ewan McGregor should have won the role.

In a letter to the Guardian, he said: "Grow up you whingeing gits.

"Depp is a world-class actor who'd get an audience for your second-string bard that he hasn't had before. You'd be lucky to have him.

"There's nothing funnier than watching the Scots lose their rag. Many irate Scotchers have been asking why Ewan McGregor wasn't cast.

"I can answer that. McGregor can't do it because he's shooting a movie in which he plays that well-known Scotsman, James Joyce, and will then make two more Star Wars movies in which, if his accent is to be believed, he will play an Englishman."

But Shirley Bell, of the Burns Federation, said a Scotsman should have been given the role.

She said: "There are so many good Scottish actors, I'm certain they could have found one to play Burns."

Last night Pearson said his stance was tongue in cheek. He said: "It's absurd to insist Scots characters must be played by Scots.

"Would that mean Timon of Athens would have to be played by someone from Athens or a black actor couldn't play Shakespeare unless the play is Othello?

"It would be a terrible shame if actors like Ewan McGregor and greats like Ian Bannen were restricted to playing Scots.

"Nationalism is great but when it teeters off into jingoism, it becomes insular and exclusive.

"In the Burns movie, will the actor they hire have to come to Ayrshire to satisfy people there they have cast the right person?"

Pearson also claimed he only regarded Burns as second-string in comparison to greats like Shakespeare.

The row erupted after Scots producer James Cosmo revealed Depp would star in the pounds 18million movie, which is to be shot in Scotland.

Happy days as Mick goes back to school

ROCKER Mick Jagger and ex-wife Jerry had a family trip to his old school yesterday with their children - including six-year-old Georgia who was on crutches.

The 56-year-old superstar opened the new Mick Jagger Arts Centre at Dartford Grammar School in Kent. And, after he signed the guitars of a school band who played Brown Sugar, he revealed he had been both a rebel and "a swot" for exams.

The Rolling Stone even tucked into a meal where he was once involved in a protest about school dinners and wrote on a wall "I was back! Mick Jagger".

SUPERMODEL Kate Moss has been urged to go back into detox amid fears she is drinking again.

The exclusive Priory clinic nursed her through a five-week programme in 1998.

But Kate was seen out drinking with friends earlier this week - just days after being rushed to hospital with kidney problems.

Now Priory sources say Kate should return . A spokeswomen said: "If she's started to drink, she should see one of our consultants."

Whitney's back in hot water

TROUBLED diva Whitney Houston was at the centre of a new row yesterday.

She was accused of making racist comments after turning up four hours late for a photo session.

Bosses at US magazine Jane say she made the Jewish slur and struggled to stay awake during the shoot.

Houston's bizarre behaviour comes after she was sacked from the Oscars ceremony last weekend for being "out of it".

And a probe has been ongoing in Hawaii since the singer allegedly left a suitcase containing marijuana at a security checkpoint of the Kona Airport.

The day after the drugs were seized, Houston went to school with her daughter Bobbi, seven. She sat beside her in class, telling her: "Nobody f***s with you."

Oasis star is a riot

OASIS star Noel Gallagher says his brother Liam could have started a riot if he had tried on his infamous antics in Scotland.

Noel said they were forced to cancel concerts in Japan recently because Liam had not prepared well enough for the tour and lost his voice.

He said: "I think it's a disgrace. It's a good job it was in Japan because the Japanese are not famous for their riots.

"If that was in Glasgow, the place would have been smashed to bits."

Oasis walked off stage at the SECC two years ago after a cup was thrown at Liam.

MEL C has lined up a Scottish date following her chart-topping success with Never Be The Same Again.

We can exclusively reveal that the Spice Girl will be the first of the group to perform a solo show in Scotland at Glasgow's Royal Concert Hall on September 9.

Tickets go on sale tomorrow. Call 0141 287 5511 for details.
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:McGIVERN, MARK
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Mar 31, 2000
Words:835
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