THE ROMANTIC LINK? Close: Anne Robinson and Interior Designer David Collins, Who Is 11 Years Her Junior

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Byline: Alison Bowyer

GIVEN her substantial investment in a series of age-defying cosmetictreatments, Anne Robinson could be forgiven for feeling more than a bit miffedby her latest unkind soubriquet, 'the highest-paid pensioner on television'.

She is inclined to gloss over the fact that she recently celebrated her 63rdbirthday. In fact, thanks in part to a punishing regime of exercise andself-denial, she is displayingeven by her own surgically enhanced standardssomething of the lustre of youth these days.

Recent nights on the town have seen her experimenting with the always riskyabove-the-knee skirt length favoured by women 40 years her juniorthough observers say she carried off the look rather well, noting that therehas been a definite girlish ebullience about the television presenter of late.

It is not just the prospectannounced last weekof a reported [pounds sterling]10 million coming her way when her show The Weakest Linktransfers to BBC1 next year that has put a spring in her step. The Mail hasdiscovered that she has also been enjoying a string of dates with a dashingmillionaire architect.

Indeed, Anne has been gleefully confiding that she has been 'absolutelyastonished' by the number of men who are queuing up to date her (though areputed [pounds sterling]60 million in the bank can't have harmed her romantic prospects).

Friends say the newly single star, who in September announced she was divorcingJohn Penrose, her husband of 27 years, has struck up a close friendship withsuave man-about-town David Collins.

The handsome interior designer is said to have accompanied her to severalsocial events in London in recent weeks.

They were together last month at a book launch at Luciano's, the fashionablerestaurant in St James's owned by Marco Pierre White. On that occasion, MissRobinson was clearly pulling out all the stops. Immaculately made-up, andsporting a trendy grey wool mini skirt and black velvet jacket, she leanedcoyly against her date while he placed a proprietorial arm around hershoulders.

Perhaps significantly, the normally talkative Miss Robinson has been distinctlyreticent about discussing her new flame.

But let us not forget, this is the woman who famously joked, just hours afterannouncing her marriage was over, that she was in the market for a toyboy.ANDin a typically bitchy dig at her portly, soon-to-be-ex-husband, she specifiedthat only those in good shape need apply.

Could it be that the foppish Collins, who at 52 is 11 years her junior, ideallyfits the bill? Tall, slim andimportantly for the fashionconscious Miss Robinsonimpeccably well dressed, his boyish good looks belie his years.

He is certainly extremely well connected. A regular fixture on theinternational party scene, he has designed some of the chicest bars andrestaurants in the world, and counts Madonna among his closest friends. He waseven invited by the superstar singer to design her bedroom, which heconstructed, he says, 'like a Chinese puzzle'.

The Fulham-based designerwho trained as an architect in Dublinworked on the new [pounds sterling]24 million refurbishment of Fortnum and Mason in Piccadilly,as well as London celebrity restaurants The Wolseley and Petrus. Otherhigh-profile projects include hotels in Los Angeles and The London NYC in NewYork, where he also has an office.

In short, the well-read Collins, with his links to the transatlantic arty set,is something of a catch for the status-conscious Miss Robinson.

Friends say he has been 'a huge support' to her in the period since herseparation was announced. 'She certainly hasn't had to resort to internetdating,' one friend told the Mail this week. 'She's had lots of suitors, whichhas really taken her by surprise.' All of which spells bad news for Penrose,the man whose shrewd business brain helped turn Robinson into the highest-paidwoman on British television. …