Hugh Grant and David Furnish were among the loyal godfathers who turned up to the premiere of Damian Hurley’s debut film last week.

What did they think, as they sat there in the darkness of the Fulham cinema in West London, as the full horror of Strictly Confidential unfurled before them?

They are professional men, film industry stalwarts, masters of their trade. David has won an Emmy. Hugh was an Oompa Loompa. 

Can’t they say or do something? Shouldn’t they stop this folly, instead of encouraging talent-free Damian from making such a fool of himself?

The film is not terrible, it is not awful, it is not bad — it is worse than all of that. For Strictly is strictly dull and clumsy, bereft of a single interesting or original moment, thought, scene, shot or word.

Damian Hurley gives his mum Elizabeth a tight squeeze as they pose for the Press at the screening for his film Strictly Confidential

Damian Hurley gives his mum Elizabeth a tight squeeze as they pose for the Press at the screening for his film Strictly Confidential

Twenty-two-year-old Damian wrote and directed what is clearly meant to be a softcore erotic thriller set on a Caribbean island, but it has been described by one critic as a film that spills its secrets with ‘the lackadaisical plop of a daytime soap’. Emphasis on the plop.

Among the moodily shot sunsets, the waves crashing on shore and the intrusive music, Damian cast his own mother Elizabeth Hurley in the lead role of bereaved matriarch Lily, who has a lesbian affair with one of her daughter’s friends.

Paging Dr Freud! Are you expecting us, Oedipus?

There are several scenes where game old Liz plants her clammy hands on the upper thighs of nightclub singer Natasha (Pear Chiravara) in the manner of a shortsighted labradoodle breeder feeling up a puppy’s flanks for hip dysplasia. The saucy couple even kiss, with the terrifying Liz-lips moving in for a smooch like a heat-seeking, peach-glossed sink plunger.

Yet once you set aside the novelty of a nepo son exploiting the fading sex appeal of his 58-year-old mother for commercial and artistic gain, you are left with a lot of poshos twitting about in bikinis and plunge frocks — the cleavage count is at Austin Powers-esque level — spouting inane dialogue.

‘Maybe it’ll give us some closure. God knows, we can all use some,’ says Lily, dripping in the kind of max-coverage midnight make-up usually seen on drag queens. The script is risible; an utterance of text messages between dim teens. ‘I’m sorry!’ ‘For what?’ ‘Never mind!’

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‘We shot it in 18 days,’ says Damian, by way of excuse. ‘It’s just a bit of fun.’ Then why is it streaming on Prime Video, Fandango at Home, Apple TV and Roku? What other writer/director would be afforded such largesse and exposure on his first ever film?

The 22-year-old casted his model mother to be the lead role - in which he directed her raunchy sex scene

The 22-year-old casted his model mother to be the lead role – in which he directed her raunchy sex scene

L ook, nepo babies are a fact of life. From calamitous no-hoper Brooklyn Beckham to Lily-Rose Depp to Kate Winslet finding a co-starring role for daughter Mia Threapleton in a recent production called I Am Ruth, the rich and the famous are always going to push their own offspring or relatives to the front of the queue for plum jobs — and I don’t even blame them.

Why not? Let’s be honest here, most of us could and would do exactly the same, given half the opportunity.

Since humans first crawled out of the swamp, yak handlers and plumbers and nurses and gardeners and TV executives and accountants and shop owners and jam makers and dog walkers and merchant bankers and everyone else have all used their influence and insider know-how to encourage or usher their nearest and dearest in the family business.

And journalism is no exception. Every newsroom I have ever worked in has had its share of SADOs (Sons And Daughters Of) but here is the thing — most of them are actually quite good at their jobs. Inherited family traits can be intellectual and spiritual as well as physical.

And let’s not overlook the natural gift, the predilection, the unsung knack and the reflex instincts imbibed from father’s guidance and mother’s milk; from bib to crib to Lottie Moss — half-sister of supermodel Kate — launching herself on the X-rated Only Fans website. ‘I love the creative freedom it gives me,’ said Kate-lookalike Lottie, who earns £30,000 per month for cashing in on her genetic heritage and posing in her pants.

Elsewhere, Rafe Spall may be Timothy Spall’s son, but both are terrific actors in their own right. Benedict Cumberbatch’s parents were both actors, successful enough to afford to send their son to Harrow, but his triumph is entirely his own. Two more words. Miley Cyrus.

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The truth is that all dynasties thrive for a reason. I once had a Saturday job in my aunt’s hairdressing salon, so I’m just as guilty of cashing in on family connections as Roman Kemp — and if you want an ammonium perm or some rubber cap peroxide highlights, give me a call. My rates are still reasonable.

Meanwhile, showbiz hierarchies are always going to plant their dim bulbs in the rich mulch of nepo-manure, hoping they will flower into magnificent celebrity blooms. But here is my fear: isn’t the hurly-burly around Damian Hurley taking it too far? Far, far too far?

In the gene lottery of life, Damian has been both fabulously lucky and tragically unlucky. A successful MAW (model, actor, whatever) he has the cheekbones, the height and the connections to make it all happen before he turns 25.

He is charming and so eerily beautiful he could be the alien pod love child of Elizabeth Hurley and Keira Knightley, if such a thing were possible. And it might very well be, in his next film.

The pair have been promoting the film together both in the US and the UK, here pictured in Chelsea for its London premiere

The pair have been promoting the film together both in the US and the UK, here pictured in Chelsea for its London premiere

Y et Damian was 18 years old when Steve Bing, the billionaire father he had never met, took his own life in Los Angeles. That cannot be easy for him. Particularly as Bing initially contested his parentage, and the legal row went all the way to DNA.

But Mama Liz went into overdrive, marshalling a squad of rich and influential godparents to compensate for the paternal void in her only child’s life.

They included Elton John, David Furnish, Hugh Grant, the actor Denis Leary, the American millionaire Teddy Forstmann and aristo Henry Dent-Brocklehurst, whose family owns Sudeley Castle, among other things.

Liz didn’t sleep with all of them, at least that is what I am assuming, but it says something good about her that she remains friends with so many of her exes. This includes her former husband Arun Nayar, whom Damian has always regarded as ‘Dada’, his key father figure.

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Nayar was there for the Strictly Confidential premieres in both London and New York — and, really, hats off to him for that support. Not least because it has been more than a dozen years since he and Elizabeth divorced.

Yet when Damian and She-Damian embarked on their publicity rounds to promote Strictly in London this week, out popped the cloven hoof. Honestly, have this mother-son pair of indulged fools ever listened to themselves?

‘Oh God, I love all European cinema!’ shrieked Damian on Virgin Radio. How much did Liz help make the film, asked host Chris Evans? ‘I helped enormously,’ she purred, bristling with husky superiority and a Pussy Galore, The Grandma Years vibe.

In glamorous attire, Mum and son take to the red carpet at the 2024 Vanity Fair Oscar Party in Beverly Hills, California, last month

In glamorous attire, Mum and son take to the red carpet at the 2024 Vanity Fair Oscar Party in Beverly Hills, California, last month

Across all television and radio shows, Liz and Damian reiterated their mutual belief that it is absolutely fine that his only film-making qualification is a childhood interest in making movies.

‘I got my first camcorder when I was eight and I started writing and directing short films then,’ he said. ‘And Mum was the star of many of those.’

Shamelessly, Mum Liz even suggested on national radio that the tragedies Son Damian has endured were the inspiration for his debut bit of celluloid froth.

‘He is pulling on some sad elements that he had to deal with when he was much too young,’ she said, without a blush.

Who do these ridiculous, wannabe film auteurs think they are? Alfred Hitchcock and his muse Tippi Hedren? Steven Spielberg and the Jaws shark?

If Strictly Confidential wasn’t quite the funniest thing I have ever seen, then these publicity performances were — a masterclass in self-delusion. Perhaps you won’t be surprised to hear that Damian Hurley already has a new film project in the pipeline.

‘It’s my favourite thing I have ever written,’ he says, perhaps excluding that notebook where, as a child, he wrote I Love Mummy a thousand times.

At the moment, he is just waiting for the funding. And the tragedy is, he won’t have to wait for very long.

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