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A. A. Gill

A. A. Gill
Born Adrian Anthony Gill
(1954-06-28) 28 June 1954 (age 61)
Edinburgh, Scotland
Occupation Columnist, author
Nationality British

Adrian Anthony Gill (born 28 June 1954 in Edinburgh) is a British writer and critic who uses the bylines A. A. Gill and AA Gill. He is The Sunday Times' restaurant reviewer as well as a television critic; he is also a Vanity Fair restaurant reviewer. Gill wrote his first piece for Tatler in 1991, and joined The Sunday Times in 1993.[1]

Gill, who has caused offence to various racial groups, was the subject of 62 Press Complaints Commission (PCC) complaints in the five years to July 2010.[2] One case, in regard to his review of Clare Balding's Britain by Bike received strong criticism, including "Gill's reference to TV journalist Clare Balding as 'a dyke on a bike' ... was pejorative, demeaning and gratuitous"[3] The Sunday Times editor John Witherow had replied to Balding "In my view some members of the gay community need to stop regarding themselves as having a special victim status and behave like any other sensible group that is accepted by society" in his defence of Gill.[4] The PCC upheld the complaint made by Balding stating “Freedom of expression is a key part of an open society and something which the Commission has defended robustly in the past. While the commentator is clearly entitled to his opinion about both the programme and the complainant, there are restraints placed upon him by the terms of the Editors’ Code. Clause 12 is very clear that newspapers must avoid prejudicial, pejorative or irrelevant reference to an individual’s sexual orientation and the reference to Miss Balding plainly breached its terms.”[5]

Life and career

Early life and education

Gill was born in Edinburgh to English parents, television producer and director Michael Gill and actress Yvonne Gilan, and brother to Nicholas.[6][7] The family moved back to the south of England when he was one year old.[8] In 1964 he appeared briefly in his parents' film The Peaches.

Gill was educated at the progressive independent St Christopher School in Hertfordshire and would later recall his experiences at the school for his book The Angry Island. After St Christopher, he moved to London to study at the Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design[citation needed] and the Slade School of Art, nurturing ambitions to be an artist. Following art school Gill spent six years "signing on, trying to paint, until one day he realised he wasn't any good".[6] At 30, having abandoned his ambitions in art, he spent several years working in restaurants and teaching cookery.


Gill began his writing career in his thirties, writing "art reviews for little magazines". His first piece for Tatler, in 1991, was an account of being in a detox clinic, written under a pseudonym. In 1993 he moved to The Sunday Times, "where he quickly established himself as their shiniest star", according to Guardian writer Lynn Barber.[6] Gill suffers from severe dyslexia and, consequently, all of his works are written by dictation.[9]


In 2010, The Sunday Times disclosed that Gill had been the subject of 62 PCC complaints in five years.[2]


Gill has been critical of the Welsh; in 1998 his descriptions of them as "loquacious, dissemblers, immoral liars, stunted, bigoted, dark, ugly, pugnacious little trolls" in The Sunday Times were reported to the Commission for Racial Equality.[10] Gill's comment was used as a prime example of what was described as "persistent anti-Welsh racism in the UK media" in a motion in the National Assembly for Wales put forward by 18 AMs representing the four main political parties.[11]

Isle of Man

His feud with the Isle of Man started in 2006 with a review of Ciappelli's restaurant in Douglas. Gill wrote that the island:
managed to slip through a crack in the space-time continuum […] fallen off the back of the history lorry to lie amnesiac in the road to progress […] its main industry is money (laundering, pressing, altering and mending) […] everyone you actually see is Benny from Crossroads or Benny in drag…. The weather's foul, the food's medieval, it's covered in suicidal motorists and folk who believe in fairies.[12]

This sparked off a minor diplomatic incident, the review being attacked in Tynwald with House of Keys member David Cannan demanding an apology for this "unacceptable and scurrilous attack", whilst Tourism Minister David Cretney said it would harm the island's tourism.

Gill made more comments regarding the Isle of Man in his Sunday Times column on 23 May 2010,[13] when he described its citizens as falling into two types: "hopeless, inbred mouth-breathers known as Bennies" and "retired, small arms dealers and accountants who deal in rainforest futures". His comments were made in the aftermath of Mick Jagger's suggestion that drugs should be legalised in the Isle of Man.[14] Gill added that "If … they become a hopelessly addicted, criminal cesspit, who'd care? Indeed, who could tell the difference?"


Gill has been critical of the English, describing them as "embarrassing" and an "ugly race" as well as a "lumpen and louty, coarse, unsubtle, beady-eyed, beefy-bummed herd".[15][16]

In February 2011, Gill described the county of Norfolk as 'the hernia on the end of England'.[17]

In December 2013 his column, published in The Sunday Times in the run-up to New Year's Eve, was the result of a night on the beat in Grimsby and Cleethorpes and was heavily critical of both towns where Grimsby is "on the road to nowhere" and Cleethorpes is full of "hunched and grubby semi-detached homes". [18] Humberside Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Grove described Gill as "A TWEED-suited, Mayfair-based writer, whose only experience of the North of England was his visit to Cleethorpes and his regular trips salmon fishing in Scotland."

Killing of a baboon

In October 2009, Gill sparked controversy by reporting in his Sunday Times column that he shot a baboon dead. His column averred that he knew "perfectly well there [was] absolutely no excuse for [the shooting]", and that he killed the animal to "get a sense of what it might be like to kill someone".[19][20] He went on to state, "[T]hey die hard, baboons. But not this one. A soft-nosed .357 blew his lungs out."[20] The action prompted outrage, including from animal rights groups.[20]


In September 2010, the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) made a formal judgement against Gill for referring to the sexuality of the BBC Sport presenter Clare Balding in "a demeaning and gratuitous way" by calling her "a dyke on a bike". The newspaper "defended Gill by saying he was well-known for his acerbic and sometimes tasteless sense of humour."[21]

Reviewing Mary Beard's BBC television series Meet the Romans in April 2012, Gill wrote that the academic "should be kept away from cameras altogether".[22] Beard in response accused him of being "frightened of smart women".[23]

He was once ejected from one of Gordon Ramsay's restaurants, along with his dining partner Joan Collins.[1] Ramsay stated, "… personal attacks and insulting my staff is something I'm not putting up with [from Gill] […] I have made it quite clear that he is not welcome at my restaurant."[24] Gill in turn described Ramsay as "a wonderful chef, just a really second-rate human being".[25]

In a November 2012 interview with the New Zealand Weekend Herald, comic/writer/presenter Michael Palin made his apparent great dislike for Gill clear when asked if he read any of the journalist's work, by saying "I would not go out of my way to do so".[26]

On 27 October 2013 he reviewed the Autobiography of the singer-songwriter Morrissey for The Sunday Times.[27] This article won the Hatchet Job of the Year Award from the Omnivore website in February 2014.[28] In the review he wrote: "This is a book that cries out like one of his maudlin ditties to be edited. But were an editor to start, there would be no stopping. It is a heavy tome, utterly devoid of insight, warmth, wisdom or likeability."[28]

Personal life

Gill's first wife was the author Cressida Connolly, daughter of the writer Cyril Connolly. They later divorced. His second wife, whom he married in 1990,[6] was Amber Rudd, a financial journalist and later Conservative MP for Hastings and Rye. They have two children, Flora and Alasdair.[29]

He now has a long-term relationship with Nicola Formby, editor-at-large of the Tatler, for whom he left Rudd in 1995,[6] and who appears in his column as "The Blonde".[29][30] They have twins, Edith and Isaac, born in March 2007.[31]

He is a recovering alcoholic who drank until the age of 30.[8]


  1. ^ a b Silver, James (7 May 2007). "'My opinion is worth more than others'". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 24 April 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Plunkett, John (17 September 2010). "Clare Balding complaint over AA Gill column upheld". Guardian (London). Retrieved 31 July 2013. 
  3. ^ McNae's Essential Law for Journalists By Mike Dodd, Mark Hanna; Oxford University Press 2014, 528 pages, page PT54
  4. ^ Clare Balding complains to press watchdog over 'dyke' jibe The Guardian; by Carolyn Davies; 30 Jul 2010
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ a b c d e Barber, Lynn (6 January 2004). "The secret diary of Adrian Gill, aged 45". The Guardian (London). 
  7. ^ Michael Gill – Comment – Times Online
  8. ^ a b Durrant, Sabine (15 December 2005). "A is for Adrian". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 23 April 2010. 
  9. ^ Barber, Lynn (25 May 2008). "Let him eat cake". The Observer (London). Retrieved 3 November 2008. 
  10. ^ Writer reported over "ugly little trolls" Welsh jibe
  11. ^ 'Anti-Welsh racism' protest | BBC News Wales | 2 February 2000
  12. ^ Gill, A A (22 January 2006). "Ciappelli". The Times (London). Retrieved 23 April 2010. 
  13. ^ Gill, AA (23 May 2010). "Our couch potato Olympic mascots". The Times (London). 
  14. ^ "Jagger 'legalise drugs' Manx call". BBC News. 20 May 2010. 
  15. ^ A man at cross purposes
  16. ^ I hate England
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^ "Outrage as food critic AA Gill shoots an 'inedible' baboon during safari 'to get a sense of what it's like to kill someone'". Daily Mail (London). 26 October 2009. 
  20. ^ a b c Booth, Robert (26 October 2009). "AA Gill shot baboon 'to see what it would be like to kill someone'". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 26 October 2009. 
  21. ^ BBC.CO.UK "Clare Balding complaint over sexuality is upheld" 17 September 2010. Retrieved 17 September 2010.
  22. ^ John-Paul Ford Rojas "Mary Beard hits back at AA Gill after he brands her 'too ugly for television'", Daily Telegraph;, 24 April 2012
  23. ^ Mary Beard "Too ugly for TV? No, I'm too brainy for men who fear clever women", Daily Mail, 23 April 2012
  24. ^ Ramsay, Gordon (14 October 1998). "Why I threw out A A Gill". The Independent (London). Retrieved 24 April 2012. 
  25. ^ Glendinning, Lee (28 August 2007). "Guidebook diners lose their appetite for Gordon Ramsay". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 23 April 2010. 
  26. ^ Michele Hewitson "Michele Hewitson Interview: Michael Palin", New Zealand Herald, 3 November 2012
  27. ^ A. A. Gill "Autobiography by Morrissey", The Sunday Times, 27 October 2013
  28. ^ a b Alison Flood "Hatchet Job of the Year goes to AA Gill for Morrissey broadside",, 11 February 2014
  29. ^ a b Kay, Richard (8 October 2006). "A novel way to find your long-lost son". Daily Mail (London). 
  30. ^ Gill, AA (21 August 2005). "Tugga". The Times (London). Retrieved 23 April 2010. 
  31. ^ Barber, Lynn (25 May 2008). "Let him eat cake". Guardian (London). Retrieved 3 November 2008. 


Further reading

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