Britons would rather have actress Helen Mirren as their guest at a dinner party than any other celebrity, a survey suggests.

Research by Freixenet found 42 per cent of people thought the Oscar-winner was the ultimate dinner party guest.

Potential conversation topics could include her outspoken criticism of the National Theatre during her theatre days in the 1970s, what it was like portraying Elizabeth II in The Queen or her recent claims she was date-raped while a student.

Mirren trumped Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson, whose grumpy-old-man persona appealed to 38 per cent of respondents.

Daniel Craig, who would obviously have to wear a dinner jacket, got 23 per cent.

All three might be slightly embarrassed to find themselves ahead of US president-elect Barack Obama, who was picked as their choice by 21 per cent.

At least he came ahead of Girls Aloud's Cheryl Cole. Her witty and urbane comments on The X Factor would be perfectly suited to polite dinner party conversation.

Lifestyle expert David Howse said the survey's results seemed to suggest a changing mood in the country.

"We have moved from a party party world of a little while ago to one of belt tightening credit crunch," he explained.

"All of this seems to have changed our attitude from 'loud but shallow', where Victoria Beckham would be the perfect trophy guest, to a place of intellectual choices."

Hence Cole's inclusion, of course.

20/11/2008 11:50:00