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Uncle Gary proves every family has a black sheep – even the Middletons


Every family has one: that relative with habits best described as “eccentric” and a history – personal, professional, legal – that can only be summed up as “complicated”. The one who is referred to, in euphemistic terms, as “an acquired taste”. For most of us, though, this character remains the preserve of whispered conversations and the odd fraught festive dinner. The odds of them, say, making a much-heralded appearance on an ITV reality show alongside Sharon Osbourne and Nikita off Strictly are relatively slim.

So spare a thought for the Middleton family. This week, while fending off increasingly wild conspiracy theories about Kate stepping back from the public eye to recover from abdominal surgery, the royal-adjacent clan are having to contend with another potential PR nightmare. That ticking time bomb of unwanted publicity has a name, and it is Gary Goldsmith.

“Uncle G” is the 58-year-old brother of Carole Middleton (who, in case you’re somehow unfamiliar with the Middleton family tree, is Kate’s mum, Prince William’s mother-in-law, and grandmother to the heirs to the throne). He is also the ultimate embodiment of the phrase “a bit of a character”, the black sheep of the family par excellence – and last night, he entered the doors of the Celebrity Big Brother house. For the next few days or even weeks, he will be shacking up with the likes of The X Factor judge Louis Walsh, Ekin-Su from Love Island and Fern Britton, formerly of This Morning, living in a house rigged with 24/7 cameras.

Royal hangers-on are a mainstay of reality television: just look at the post-palace trajectory of former butler Paul Burrell, who has supplemented his main career (talking about Princess Diana on daytime telly) with no less than three appearances on I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! – albeit in different countries’ versions of the show. Mike Tindall, the rugby-playing husband of Princess Anne’s daughter Zara, did a stint in the jungle, too, eating critters alongside Matt Hancock. But with Gary, proud owner of an Ibiza villa once named the “Maison de Bang Bang”, the CBB producers have a real wild card on their hands.

Goldsmith, who made his fortune in IT recruitment, has the words “Nouveau Riche” tattooed across his shoulders (other inkings include the initials “GG”, which also reportedly adorns the walls at the Maison de Bang Bang, and the phrase “spend and God will send”). His drink of choice is vodka with pink lemonade (he ordered it so many times at the Soho restaurant Bob Bob Ricard that they christened this cocktail of sorts with his initials). He calls himself “the King of Fun”, while his old colleagues used to refer to him as “the grand old Duke of Slough”. And since the Middleton family were catapulted into the spotlight by virtue of Kate’s relationship with a prince, Goldsmith has been embroiled in scandal after scandal.

In 2009, he was caught up in a News of the World sting, allegedly offering drugs to undercover reporters. His family were reportedly furious, but two years later, he still secured an invitation to Kate and Wills’ royal wedding – and turned up for the occasion in his signature low-key style, arriving at Westminster Abbey in a bright blue Rolls-Royce convertible. Then, in 2017, he was fined £5,000 and given a community order after admitting to assaulting his fourth wife Julie-Ann during a drunken argument; the judge described him as a “nasty drunk”. This incident has prompted the charity Women’s Aid to criticise his inclusion on the CBB line-up, which, they argued in Metro, “demonstrates the lack of awareness that the [show’s] production team has when it comes to survivors of domestic abuse”.

Black sheep: Gary Goldsmith has been beset by scandal over the past decade and a half

(PA)

Rather than retreating from the spotlight after these disgraces, Goldsmith is always happy to chat to the press about his niece and her regal in-laws. He has branded Camilla “absolutely adorable” after she shrugged off his red-top drama (“Don’t think twice about it,” she reportedly told him. “I get the same myself”) and last year waded into the media storm surrounding Prince Harry’s autobiography Spare, taking umbrage at Harry’s claim that Kate reduced Meghan Markle to tears in a pre-wedding row over bridesmaid dresses. “I’m particularly appalled by his vile confection of half-truths and complete fabrications because Kate is my adored niece,” he wrote in the Daily Mail.

Celebrity Big Brother’s producers are surely hoping that the loose-lipped “Uncle G” unleashes a whole load more family secrets when the cameras are trained on him. Harry and Meghan seem like his most obvious targets, but viewers will almost certainly be more interested in any unfiltered insights into how Kate and William actually react behind the scenes (at this point, the Sussexes have revealed pretty much everything there is to reveal about themselves through their own media enterprises). Of course, the “King of Fun” dropping chaotic bombshells is the last thing the royals need right now, what with a handful of senior members currently beset by illness. Goldsmith has apparently been “read the riot act” by Carole and her husband Michael (although they can’t have been particularly menacing, given that old GG went ahead and signed up anyway); the couple “aren’t happy” and find the whole thing “infuriating”, according to a source.

Will Kate be watching while convalescing at Adelaide Cottage, doing battle with ITVX’s countless ad breaks in order to catch up? Probably not – the stress surely wouldn’t do her much good. But whatever Uncle Gary ends up spilling on air, he’s unlikely to be excommunicated. After all, his family seem to have forgiven him worse. Perhaps over time, they’ve come to subscribe to the mantra he emblazoned onto the walls of his Ibiza pad: “It’s Gary’s world, you just live in it.”



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