Eddie storms The Gap!

CELEBRITY fans of the euro have accused High Street chain GAP of ripping off British shoppers. Comic Eddie Izzard and actor Kevin Whately yesterday picketed one store after a report showed GAP charge 40 per cent less in euros. They joined pressure group Shoppers in Europe in parading through the Oxford Street branch in London. The group are angry GAP do not accept the single currency even though prices are shown in pounds and euros. A spot check yesterday found three quarters of the stock cheaper in euros. A tank top cost 41 per cent less and a cardigan 33 per cent less. Shoppers in Europe said the fashion chain - who use stars including actress Juliette Lewis to advertise their lines - were not the only mark-up offenders. They are planning more name-and-shame campaigns. Member Baroness Sarah Ludford said: "Britain is paying the price of isolation. "We are being ripped off by shops able to charge higher prices here." GAP store manager Steve Morris said: "Our system isn't quick enough to accept euros yet but hopefully it will be by the end of the year." Recent research by an investment bank found that, in general, prices were 15 per cent cheaper in euro-land. But anti-euro campaigners insist prices will not drop if Britain signs up.

Fight! Fight! Fight!

Like two kids in the schoolyard...Bob Geldof is squaring off with Eddie on the issue of the Euro. You can read more about it here. Apparently, they're also playing dirty pool by releasing an ad showing Hitler as a euro-loving fool. Tsk. Tsk. You can also listen to Eddie's thoughts on the advert campaign. (thanks Donna) Another article here (thanks Cindy)



EDDIE IZZARD on taking a serious matter seriously
By Oonagh Blackman and Fiona Cummins

COMIC Eddie Izzard last night hit back at stars who took part in a pathetic advert that uses Hitler to try to rubbish the euro.

He said the pro-pound film, in which Rik Mayall plays the Fuhrer, was no laughing matter and that rejecting the single currency would be disastrous for Britain's future.

Eddie added: "If Hitler would have liked the euro how come Haider and Le Pen don't? I'm travelling in Spain where everyone's using the euro. They haven't all drowned, everyone's speaking Spanish, they haven't become English, they haven't become Welsh, they haven't become Afghans. They have retained their national character, supported Spain in the World Cup and have a whale of a time. And they can go to France and spend the euro. It's just happening, it's rolling on."

In the ad, due out in cinemas this month, former Young Ones star Mayall, dressed as Hitler, raises his arm in a Nazi salute. He cries: "Ein Volk. Ein Reich. Ein Euro" - One People. One Empire. One Euro.

Other celebs to appear include Sir Bob Geldof, Jools Holland, Harry Enfield and Labour MP Kate Hoey.

But critics said the ad is a desperate attempt by the pound lobby to influence public opinion using has-beens who young voters will never connect with.

And Eddie added: "There weren't any celebs of the sort for the No campaign at one point. It makes me think the campaign's worried actually."

He insisted Britain's failure to join the euro will damage our economy while Europe thrives.

Eddie said: "We are always behind in the European game we should be driving the bus. The idea of people coming together in Europe is a positive one. We would finally be able to benefit from the lower prices experienced by euro-zone people. Since the euro Germany's trade with Europe has gone up 20 per cent, Britain's has gone down five per cent. Staggering."

Former Blackadder star Tony Robinson added: "The No camp should make sure its arguments are not based on fear. We can't compete with other European nations if we don't have the same advantages."

And One Foot In The Grave actor Richard Wilson said: "I don't understand why people are so upset about losing the pound."

Tony Blair yesterday branded the anti-euro ad a joke. The EU said it was "insulting" and pandered to "xenophobia". A spokesman added: "The use of Hitler is in appalling bad taste." But anti-euro Tories were unrepentant. Party treasurer Stanley Kalms was asked whether Europe with the euro would be like one run by Hitler. He replied: "Yes, there is a danger we will be absorbed economically, politically into a single-party system."

The issues surrounding the euro are complicated at the best of times but now celebrities have added their two pence (or the equivalent in euros) worth to the mix.

Can the pull of the celebrity be enough to sway the opinions of the undecided? And if so, why should we trust comedian Eddie Izzard or singer Bob Geldolf and their views on keeping or ditching the pound?

BBC News Online takes an irreverent look at the reasons why we should or should not believe the words of the stars.

Bob Geldof: Anti-euro

Reasons to listen to him:

  • He is a businessman - His TV production company Planet 24 was responsible for launching Channel 4's Big Breakfast and sold his share in travel company Deckhair.com before 11 September knocked the stuffing out of the travel market.

  • Persuaded hundreds of musicians to give up their time for free for the Live Aid concert in 1985, and inspired millions to dig deep for famine relief in Africa.

  • Doggedly sticks to his guns - he is still campaigning for Africa 17 years after Live Aid.

  • Was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

  • Was given an honorary knighthood in 1996.

  • Expressed the thoughts of a nation with his Boomtown Rats number one I Don't Like Mondays.

    Reasons not to listen to him:

  • He saddled his children with the names Fifi Trixibelle and Peaches.

  • Was a journalist before turning to music.

  • Does not know what a hairbrush is.

Eddie Izzard: Pro-euro

Reasons to listen to him:

  • Promotes various charities including the Prince's Trust and Amnesty International.

  • Prince William is a big fan - although he might not not back Izzard's views on the euro seeing as he is destined to adorn pound notes one day.

  • Has appeared on the panel of BBC One's Question Time, proving he can be serious some of the time.

  • His humour transcends boundaries - he has even cracked America with his unique sense of humour.

  • He appeals to the masses - one comedy tour was seen by 35,000 people.

  • He can speak to our European cousins in their own language without having to shout really loud. He promised to perform his stand-up routines in English, French, Italian and Spanish when he launched his "yes" campaign.

    Reasons not to listen to him:

  • He looks better in a dress and make-up than some women.

  • Experienced poor judgement in picking movies - he starred in the universally panned remake of The Avengers.


Izzard urges euro embrace

Comedian Eddie Izzard will become one of the first people to spend the euro in London after speaking out in favour of European integration on the eve of the currency's introduction.

 Izzard has slammed his fellow UK countrymen for their "half-hearted" view of the euro, saying it could become a blueprint for co-operation across the world.

He is also planning to perform his stand-up comedy routine in German, Italian and Spanish.

We either do the European project or we forget it

Eddie Izzard

He has already performed in French, as well as English.

One of the only UK stars to campaign for the euro, Izzard will travel from London to Paris and back on 1 January to pick up euro notes.

He will spend them in some of the UK retailers who have promised to accept the currency when it is introduced in 12 other European countries.

He said his motivation was "the idea of the European people coming together and realising that we're not all different".

"This is a 'coming together' thing, and we've just got to keep going on this project," he said.

"We either do the European project or we forget it. But not this half-hearted thing that we do in Britain."

Living proof

Those in the UK should not worry about losing their national identities, he said.

"In Scotland, they've got the pound and we've got the pound... but if you watch an England v Scotland football match, I think you'll realise the Scottish have kept a certain identity.

"You don't lose national identity, and we're all the living proof of that in the United Kingdom."

That's what we've got to be heading towards, where we are all one glorious, wonderful world

Eddie Izzard

Izzard has performed a string of shows in French in Paris, and has been learning German in preparation for a European tour, to start in 2003.

He also said he would like to learn Spanish and Italian. "They laugh at the same stuff. Comedy is human," he said.

The launch of the euro was a "great chance" to bring people together, he said.

"If 26 languages and 800 million people, including Russia, can all come together - which could happen - then this could be what happens in the rest of the world.

"That's what we've got to be heading towards, where we are all one glorious, wonderful world."

He said he was "fascinated" by politics but was not about to become a politician because he would have to give up his comedy and acting career.

Rave reviews

Izzard, 39, has made his name with his eccentric stage shows, sometimes wearing a dress, plus supporting roles in films including Velvet Goldmine and The Avengers.

He will soon be seen starring as Charlie Chaplin in Peter Bogdanovich's The Cat's Meow and as a transvestite cabaret performer and ex-soldier in All the Queen's Men.

Izzard is currently performing on the London stage, playing to rave reviews in comedy A Day in the Death of Joe Egg.

He is also a keen Labour supporter, donating £10,000 to the party during the last general election campaign.  --bbc.com

A single currency's no laughing matter

Eddie Izzard is Britain's leading euro enthusiast, but despite his comic genius he could not be more serious about it. Patrick Collinson met him

Patrick Collinson

Saturday December 22, 2001 | thanks Marian for the scans

click for larger picEddie Izzard is not joking. On New Year's Day he's hopping across the channel to pick up some euros; he plans to be among the first to spend them in Britain's shops. Heaven help the shop assistant who refuses to take them.

"I've got permission from my producer here to go across to Calais on January 1, get some euros, spend some in France, then spend them in a whole bunch of shops in Britain. Even the Daily Mail is listing where you can spend them. I thought the Daily Mail would be saying "no, no, no, no".

He has already forced the Comedy Theatre to accept euros at the box office from January 1. Indeed, he's managed to persuade an entire London theatre group to take euros when they finally appear in note and coin form in 10 days' time.

Izzard is playing to rave reviews in A Day in the Death of Joe Egg at the Comedy Theatre. He stars in a soon-to-be-released film about Charlie Chaplin, directed by Peter Bogdanovich. Other stars would be on the TV chat show circuit, promoting both. Not Izzard. His publicist sighs that the only thing he's talked about over the past month is the euro. He even uses his Wap phone to monitor movements in the euro.

It is their huge good fortune that the 'yes' campaign for a single currency counts Izzard, probably Britain's most feted comedian, as its unofficial cheerleader. The other side, after all, has got Jim Davidson. click for larger pic

For Izzard, it is a vision thing. "We had two world wars to see how many of our grandparents and our great grandparents we could pile up in heaps. With Europe coming together it is the final building block in the idea that we will stop rolling tanks across each other's borders and killing each other.

"We've got to decide whether we are all very British in the Victorian way or are we in fact Romans, Normans, Danes, Vikings, and Celts moving left right and centre. In truth we have always been moving around."

The Izzard name is French Hugenot, and he was born in Yemen where his father worked with BP. But the cosmopolitan internationalist of today spent his adolescent years, freckled and red-haired, in Bexhill-on-Sea, a haven of geriatric Englishness with, he says, "every gradation of conservatism".

Perhaps it was his father's occupation - an internal auditor - that sparked Izzard's interest in economics and finance. After school he won a place at Sheffield University to study accounting and financial management with mathematics. "It was the biggest thing I could find in the UCCA book," he says.

It only lasted a year. "It was incredibly boring. I got the impression it was global shopkeeping." But he has remained fascinated with economics and politics ever since. "I find economics incredibly interesting, but in reality it's only interesting in a shoptalk sort of way - like saying 'country X, wow, the GDP!"

There is no rich vein of comedy in the euro for Izzard. "I don't do jokes on the euro. They always want jokes. Oh, it's Eddie Izzard, put him on the funny seat. It's boring. It's incredibly boring. It's dry and tedious. How many conversations can you have about finances? Zero. I mean (his voice slows) historic cost accounting. I can say this, I found it kind of tedious."

Yet the straight-faced Izzard never lasts long. Off stage he treats you to your own private show; rants, monologues, and sketches held together by vocal gestures and acute observational detail. Sadly his comic genius transcribes poorly into the printed word.

Mention Britain's role in Europe and he bounds through a hilarious sketch about two buses. It ends with a plea for Britain to grab the steering wheel. "Why can't we just say we're not scared about driving and say you Germans, you can sit over there and the French you sit there. But no, we have to sit at the back over there with Sweden, because, well, they're not sure either. I think we should bloody drive."

He flips back and forth between euro mundanity and idealism. He jumps from taxi fares in Italy ("you drop three noughts, put the point in there, take that off there...hell, it's incredibly difficult) through to complete European political integration. "What we are doing is the most difficult thing that has ever been done in the world. It's 26 languages, 400m people, it is bigger than anybody can dream of...if we can get it right it could be a blueprint for the rest of the world."

But don't accuse him of misusing his position as a comedian to preach politics instead. "Maybe I am using my position in doing this, but I'm backing it up with action as well."

The action includes a unique, one-man bid to create a single currency in European comedy. For the past four years he's done shows in French in Paris, and is now learning German to do gigs in Berlin. He puts his fluency in French somewhere below Antoine de Caunes' heavily accented English: "It's not brilliant - it's still like a French guy going 'So I wazz in ze zoopermarket and you haad all zeese things there', but you know, you've got to start, have the idea and go for it."

The "fear thing" that Brits have for Europe is a constant theme. "Everybody's worried about losing the British identity. But remember this whole United Kingdom thing - we did a deal with Scotland, and if you watch a Scotland-England football match I think you'll note there's something of a national pride thing going on there. With the euro, we're not going to lose it, the Germans won't become Dutch, the French won't become Italians."

In France he's not yet the star he is in Britain. "I haven't broken through in Paris, but then I'm introducing a new medium, I'm introducing a sexuality because I'm a transvestite, and French for transvestite is travesty, which is like going round saying I'm a catastrophe, and I'm doing stand-up comedy, which isn't quite what they go for. I'm really running up a hill backwards."

Ah, the transvestite thing. I cast my eye round his dressing room at the Comedy but can find nothing that puts the 'camp' into the euro 'Yes' camp. No slinky high heel boots, no lipstick, no mascara. Instead he is in a 'blokey' phase, and when we meet he is wearing plain jeans, tee-shirt and a distressingly un-pervy leather jacket.

Is Eddie Izzard the transvestite comedian the warm-up act for Eddie Izzard the serious euro-politician? After all, he donated £10,000 to the Labour Party and hosted events with then Minister for Europe Keith Vaz. Does he want to be a Labour member of the European Parliament?

There is a pause. "Yep, I'm interested..." then he looks around. "But I'd have to give all this up. I've spent years trying to get here, I mean years."

In a couple of hours he'll be on stage again. It is a play set in late 60s Britain, and every night he is handed a ten-bob note. "I'm working in old money," admits Britain's leading euro enthusiast.

RealPlayer CLIP of Eddie on the Euro
          (thanks Marian)

RealPlayer CLIP of Eddie on the Euro...deja vu
          (thanks Spoot)

Eddies' War of the Readies


THE birth of the new euro banknotes and coins became a tale of two Eddies last night.

Arguing in favour was comic Eddie Izzard.

But his stance was at odds with Bank of England boss Sir Eddie George, who has said the 12 nations which ditched their own currencies were taking a big gamble.

Izzard, 39, staged a political stand-up routine in London to launch a poster.

It depicted Britain as a car missing a Channel ferry and toppling into the sea instead of cruising down a highway into the heart of Europe.

He announced: “We’re either doing this European thing or we should forget it.

“Let’s get on the European bus and start driving it, not sitting in the back.”

Izzard said his motivation for backing the euro was “the idea of the European people coming together and realising we’re not all different”.

He added: “We’ve just got to keep going on this project.

“We either do the European project or we forget it. But not this halfhearted thing that we do in Britain.”

Sir Eddie, 63, had warned earlier of perils in handing control over interest rates to the European Central Bank.

He said: “I see the ‘one size fits all’ policy as a disadvantage and a special risk.”

Eddie Izzard wants the Euro

Eddie unveils euro posterComedian Eddie Izzard is heading a campaign to get the Euro introduced into Britain.

Eddie Izzard, famed for his ability to do his stand-up routines in a number of languages, is working hard to support the Euro. He wants to be the first person to spend the currency in Britain and lashed out at his fellow countrymen for being such stick-in-the-muds about not wanting it. He planned a trip on 1 January to Paris to pick up some notes and bring them straight back to spend them in London shops that have promised to accept them. "This is a 'coming together' thing, and we've just got to keep going on this project," he said. "We either do the European project or we forget it. But not this half-hearted thing that we do in Britain."


Comedian unveils pro-euro posterEddie Izzard unveils Euro Poster
Eddie Izzard has unveiled a poster in London to mark the arrival of the euro. The poster aims to symbolise Britain's exclusion outside the single currency. The euro becomes legal tender in 12 of the 15 European Union countries at midnight.The poster launch was organised by the Britain In Europe group. --Ananova.com



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