CHARLI XCX has lifted the lid on her latest wild evening out with bestie Rita Ora, telling how the pair played a drunken late-night game . . . of chess.
She was celebrating at PR chief Matthew Freud’s GQ Awards after-party with Rita, Nick Grimshaw and a very boozy Brooklyn Beckham earlier this month.
And she admitted things got, erm, checkered, later in the night.
She told me: “I love Rita, she’s great. We ended up playing a game of chess. There was a board in one of the rooms, and we were like, ‘Let’s go’.
“It was a half-a**ed game, but she won. She is one of my favourite people to party with. I had a lot of fun with Grimmy that night too, he’s great.
“Brooklyn? I love it when people are having a good time.
“I also managed not to fall off my high heels, which I was so happy about. I don’t wear heels a lot, so whenever I do I’m like, ‘Now, focus, focus’.”
Charli takes over today’s column to celebrate the launch of her self-titled third album — and there are few people better to step into the hot seat.
The wild-child singer, who also lists Dua Lipa, Halsey and Lorde among her showbiz pals, has had enough benders to fill this column for a year.
But there is more to her than vodka-fuelled escapades.
In her most personal interview yet, she opened up about her struggles with depression and the on/off romance that inspired her latest music.
On Instagram last month, she told fans: “Sometimes I just want to quit everything.”
And Charli told me: “I’m a very honest person, and if I feel something, I probably say it. If I’m feeling any nervousness, or having a low day, then I say so.
“Instagram is the curated version of life, all the best bits, but sometimes we all have bad days and I think when I say stuff about it people can relate.
“It makes them think, ‘Oh OK, so it’s OK to feel this way’.
“I’ve always written songs from experience, but this album is more about emotions and my mental health, all the ups and downs of my emotions.
“Releasing something so personal does feel vulnerable, but I think what I’ve learned is that it is good to be vulnerable, it’s healthy. Everyone is human.”
Hit-maker Charli — who wrote Icona Pop’s anthem I Love It and Iggy Azalea’s Fancy — has been dating music manager Huck for four years.
Speaking about the romance for the first time, she said: “My boyfriend is brilliant. I feel really happy at the moment, and he’s inspired a lot of music.
“He is very chilled and he’s cool with it. He always says to me, ‘Just be true, be real’. I could never be with anybody who I felt restricted me. We have a good thing. Most of the romantic songs on the album are about him.
“Because we’ve been on and off, we’ve had all those purely romantic moments and other times when we were off, and we were really going through it.
“I think I’m quite realistic about relationships, but when it comes to love, I definitely think whatever form it comes in it should be celebrated.” Amen to that.
Of the 15 tracks on new album Charli, just one is a solo effort, with contributions from Lizzo, Troye Sivan, Sky Ferreira, Christine and The Queens and Haim.
But the one who got away is Robyn. Charli said: “I love her, she is my dream, but we just couldn’t get together.
“But my ultimate collaboration dream is Britney Spears – the seven-year-old me would just die.”
Kevin gave ice the cold shoulder
Strictly contestant Kelvin Fletcher snubbed his former ITV bosses – by opting to appear on the BBC ballroom show instead of Dancing On Ice.
I can reveal that the ex-Emmerdale actor, who appeared on the soap for 20 years, was in “advanced talks” about taking to the ice rink next year.
But he gave them the cold shoulder after Strictly came calling, desperate to fill the space left empty after Jamie Laing quit with an ankle injury.
My source revealed: “ITV had advanced talks with Kelvin about him taking part in Dancing On Ice this year. They were really keen to sign him up.
“But when Kelvin got the call from Strictly he decided that show would be a better move for him, and broke the news to ITV that he was out.”
The latest batch of DOI celebs will have to get their, ahem, skates on this year, as bosses have decided they will perform a group routine before Christmas.
I can reveal chiefs have taken a leaf out of Strictly’s book and planned a launch “extravaganza”.
The one-off show will give audiences their first look at the line-up, as they take part in what I imagine will be a very wobbly group performance.
If you watched the Strictly dancers’ first outing through your hands, consider the ante upped.
But thankfully Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean, as well as a host of previous stars, will also be performing. So that should give our nerves a break.
Kylie is Jack pal
Jack Savoretti now counts Kylie Minogue as one of his friends after working on her latest album.
Jack, who topped the charts with his album Singing To Strangers, said he “hit it off very quickly” with the Aussie singer after bonding over a cup of tea in a studio.
He told me: “We clicked enough to say we wanted to try and write something together, and we did. I am so proud of that song – Music’s Too Sad Without You – because I feel like it’s also a side of Kylie you don’t see often. She was so genuine and honest.”
Jack went on to perform with Kylie at La Fenice Opera House in Venice on his wife’s birthday. The singer, who will be touring the UK with his band in November, said: “It was just this perfect moment.”
Shawn's the one for Cam
Charli has defended loved-up pals Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes after the pair filmed an over-the-top video of them snogging this week.
The couple, who went public with their relationship in July, locked lips and licked each other in the clip, after being mocked by fans for kissing “like fish”.
Charli, who co-wrote Senorita with the duo and appeared alongside Camila on Taylor Swift’s Reputation Tour, gave them her full backing.
She told me: “I’ve only met Shawn a few times but he’s such a nice guy and Camila is great. I love her, and think she’s amazing, so I’m so happy she is happy. It’s always nice to work with your friends.
“So for me to feel I’m in a space where I can work with someone, we have to be hanging and having fun.”
Charli was also full of praise for superstar Taylor. She said: “I think for any woman who is doing her thing, speaking up and using her voice is very inspiring.”
Gary has eyes on hot summer
Look away now, Paul Hollywood.
The Bake Off judge’s ex Summer Monteys-Fullum has got herself a new admirer – former EastEnders and Footballers’ Wives actor Gary Lucy.
The pair, follow each other on Instagram and Gary, who has been liking Summer’s pictures, has told pals he thinks she is “fit”.
It’s hardly Shakespeare but he has got his point across, I suppose. My source said: “Summer has definitely caught Gary’s eye. Things have gone no further than that but he’s very interested in her.
“If she was up for a date he’d jump at the chance.”
It looks like this has got all the right ingredients for a sparkling romance.
Emma off with online
Emma Willis might be hosting a show all about social media – but she admits the thought of her own children going online “fills her with dread”.
Emma, who has Isabelle, Ace and Trixie with Busted bassist Matt Willis, is determined to keep the three kids offline for as long as possible.
Emma, has replaced Maya Jama as the host of The Circle – which involves contestants who communicate online trying to trick each other.
And she said: “Before I had watched it, I was like, ‘Surely that’s everything that’s wrong with social media?’ That people can pretend to be other people.
“It’s everything that fills me with dread about my kids being on it.
“But it’s almost highlighting you shouldn’t go on there because ‘Kate is really Alex’. I think it’s a good, big, red flag for people on social media.”
Emma insists she is only on social media for “happy reasons”.
And she hit out at trolls, saying: “If that’s your bag, get on with it. But for me it’s a waste of energy and time, so don’t drag me into your pit.”
A my-ghty mum
Myleene Klass has hit out at critics who slammed her for going back to work too soon after having son Apollo.
After celebrating the arrival with boyfriend Simon Motson just six weeks ago, Myleene cradled the baby on the red carpet at London Kids’ Fashion Week on Friday.
Asked about the criticism, she said: “Isn’t there enough pressure on women as it is? Not one person has asked my partner, ‘Why are you back at work?’ Their opinions don’t pay my mortgage.
“If I was a trophy wife, waiting for handouts from my husband, people would be chastising me for that, for not going to work and not earning my own money.”
Victoria Beckham has been cooking up a new beauty range – but not getting too hands-on judging by the pristine white coat in this snap she shared.
Posh also opened up about her beauty regime this week, insisting: “I’m not really bothered about my wrinkles.”
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