EMMA THOMPSON has said the breakup of her marriage to Kenneth Branagh started three years ago - when they were being hailed as Britain's celebrity couple.

In an interview with Vanity Fair magazine, Thompson said the split had "nothing to do with anything, with anyone else," despite tabloid reports pairing her with actor Greg Wise and him with actress Helen Bonham Carter.

Chancellor Helmut Kohl and his wife Hannelore are to unveil their new cook book next week which glorifies the robust German cuisine that has made the leader a man of substance.

Hannelore gathered the recipes for Culinary Journey Through Germany, while her husband wrote introductions outlining the history, culture and his impressions of the nine regions featured.

Hollywood's martial arts expert Jean Claude Van Damme has received praise of sorts from unexpected quarters.

Zsa Zsa Gabor has said she considers Van Damme the sexiest of men. "It could be his European accent. Then again, it could be his handsome face and powerful body. He's also a little short, but so are my dogs, and I love my little Shih Tzus . . . He melts my bonbons," said the Hungarian actress.

Camilla Parker Bowles is to make her debut in the Spitting Image hall of fame.

Her puppet will appear in the ITV satirical show next Sunday, but the sketch will not be filmed until the day in case of any fresh Royal revelations in the meantime.

Camilla's puppet has a silver grey hairdo, a grotesque grin and crooked teeth. It cost £2,500 to build.

Other additions to the gang of puppets include Anthea Turner and Paula Yates.

An 11 year old Liverpool girl who wrote to Superman actor Christopher Reeve urging him not to give up hope following a riding accident which left him paralysed received his thanks yesterday.

Reeve's message was passed on to Gemma Quin, who has been in a wheelchair since 1992, by the actor's 16 year old son Matthew.