The Ultimate Marmite Brand – Sunday Times News Review


If you are a millionaire heiress and editor-at-large at Vanity Fair magazine, you probably get better offers than a date in a cheap Vietnamese in east London with a recovering alcoholic, former heroin addict, divorcee pushing 40, who dresses as if he’s in One Direction.

Yet so it was, at Song Que in Hoxton — a restaurant Time Out magazine has described as “resembling a school canteen” — that the socialite Jemima Khan apparently fell for the comedian Russell Brand, like so many women before her.

One imagines Khan, perhaps in the Hervé Léger dress she wore to Hugh Grant’s last premiere, captivated, as Brand (dressed like David Hasselhoff playing Jack The Ripper, in a ruffled shirt open to his navel and leather jeggings) made small talk about transcendental meditation or consumerism; then Khan, dreamy-eyed, wondered how to introduce him to her mother, Lady Annabel Goldsmith.

It is possible to romanticise that early encounter, like the source who told The Sun on Sunday that Brand “wanted to connect with Jemima without the showbiz trappings she’s used to”. Or you could read it as a casual observer did: “A cheap Asian in Hackney? What a cynical ploy to get into a posh bird’s pants.”

But that is classic Russell: a Marmite Brand who divides opinion. You love him or hate him. There is no in-between. Despite all that is ostentatiously wrong with him — the hair, the hypersexuality, his inclination to come across like a teenager with a Messiah complex who has just discovered Karl Marx and the thesaurus — some of us (mainly women) cannot resist. Go on, admit it: you would, wouldn’t you? But why?

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