September 23 2014 Latest news:
by Tim Lamden
Thursday, June 12, 2014
Journalist and TV presenter Matthew Wright wants English Heritage to commemorate the Hampstead Garden Suburb home where Hollywood superstar Elizabeth Taylor was born.
Primrose Hill resident Mr Wright, 48, who hosts Channel 5 chat show The Wright Stuff, has set up an online petition calling for a blue plaque at the house in Wildwood Road.
English Heritage adheres to a strict criteria for blue plaque applications and will only consider subjects dead for 20 years.
But Mr Wright, who promised Ms Taylor in 1999 he would secure a blue plaque for her childhood home, says an exception must be made for the actress, who died aged 79 in 2011.
He told the Ham&High: “Elizabeth’s original fans will be dying off by the time English Heritage stick a plaque on the wall. They are denying people from all over the world the chance to see where she was born. She was incredibly proud of her roots.
“The rule is that you must wait 20 years to see if someone’s reputation has matured sufficiently. It’s idiotic, it’s risible to suggest Elizabeth Taylor needs to be dead for another 17 years to prove the point; she is going to be remembered for centuries!”
Mr Wright first met Ms Taylor at a press conference for the 1999 BAFTAs where she called him a “knucklehead” after he asked her for tips for the next day’s Grand National.
She then invited him to dinner at the Dorchester Hotel where she elicited a promise from him that he would secure the plaque after her death.
It is understood the owner of Ms Taylor’s former Suburb home is fully supportive of Mr Wright’s campaign.
However, English Heritage insists exceptions to its rules are never made.
A spokesman said: “If we start to make exceptions, where do we stop? One of the reasons our blue plaque scheme is held in such high regard by so many people is the rigour of its selection criteria.”
English Heritage has suggested Mr Wright approach “one of the many other excellent plaque schemes”, an idea endorsed by Richard Wiseman, chairman of Hampstead Garden Suburb Trust, which must approve all applications for plaques to be erected on homes in the Suburb.
He said: “I wouldn’t try to interfere with English Heritage’s judgement of the appropriateness of commemorating an individual.
“English Heritage don’t have a monopoly on blue plaques and there may be some that have been put up by other people. We would look at each application on its own merits.”
If you wish to sign Mr Wright’s petition, visit liztaylorblueplaque.com