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The Independent Culture
AFTER THIS week's Queen's Speech, shooting will be completed on a massive three-part documentary about the House of Lords, scheduled to screen on BBC2 in January. Producers of the programme balked when Pandora suggested it was an example of "fly on the wall" cinema verite. No, they preferred to call it "observational documentary", presumably out of respect for the august upper chamber where the noble lords would resent any intrusion of common house pests.

However, in view of the fact that past multi-part TV documentaries about institutions (Covent Garden Opera House, London's Zoo) have generated waves of viewer affection for the filmed subjects, isn't this programme about the Lords risky - at least from the Government's point of view? When Pandora suggested this to one of the producers, he laughed and said, "It would be nice if we could make the House of Lords popular." Will Tony Blair and Peter Mandelson share his point of view? Will BBC Director General John Birt soon be getting a phone call? Stay tuned to this channel.

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AT AN Irish press conference in Dublin last week, the former Labour leader, Neil Kinnock, was asked how he felt about the intensive vetting New Labour was giving to all its MEP candidates. "It would be unwise of me to comment," said Neil. "But Glenys is top of the [electoral] list in Wales. And I can tell you she has been top of my list for over 30 years." Pandora wonders if Kinnock's coy reticence reflects his rumoured bid for the Presidency of the European Commission - and the need for Tony Blair's backing that such a move would require?

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MORE UPDATES on Kelvin Mackenzie's exciting new Talk Radio. Having introduced Psychic News and The Weather Fairy almost immediately upon arrival, Kelvin has now reduced the general evening news coverage from three hours (4pm- 7pm) to one (4pm-5pm), while increasing sports coverage to three hours every evening. On Friday, Jo Phillips, the award-winning producer, was sacked. She was immediately offered a job by Radio Five, a major rival to Talk Radio. Meanwhile, insiders report that Kelvin's in the same great form that his colleagues from The Sun and the Mirror Group will long recall. "I don't know what you're talking about," is a characteristic opener on his arrival in a meeting. "But listen to me because I've got some great [expletive] ideas and you better [expletive] listen to them."

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OVER AT the BBC World 24-hour news station, a change of satellites has resulted in some European viewers, who failed to retune their satellite television sets, receiving the unexpurgated Eros Channel, instead of the Corporation's staid CNN-imitation. "I turn on to see the news and get `Debbie Does Dallas'," complained one Swiss viewer. "Hotbird 5 is a satellite that is stronger and has a wider footprint," explained a spokeswoman for BBC World. "We switched from the Eutelsat to Hotbird 5 on 10 November. Then British Telecom leased the old frequency to Viacom, who in turn leased it to Eros TV." If they get tired of it, perhaps they can lease it to Kelvin?

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SPEAKING OF Eros, Pandora has just seen the December issue of The Erotic Review. Perhaps it could benefit from a "BBC crossed frequency" experience, as several of its editorial offerings were, while humorous in a unintentional sort of way, numbingly anti-erotic. Take the publisher and "woman lover", Naim Attalah, on ladies' lingerie: "The divestment of knickers is like the loss of innocence, at once awesome and inevitable." Or the "design guru", Stephen Bayley, on Zippergate: "Nice to know that Monica Lewinsky withholding evidence was also enjoying a gustatory experience." Anybody who calls this "pornographic" must need some retuning of their own.

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"HOPE I die before I get old," was a memorable line from The Who's classic Sixties' anthem My Generation. Clearly Roger Daltrey (pictured), former Who star, has long changed his mind about the benefits of a long life. He's now appearing as Scrooge in a production of A Christmas Carol at New York's Theater at Madison Square Garden, and has cut a song called "God Bless Us Everyone" along with the Harlem Boys Choir, that is due to hit the airwaves soon. You'll listen in vain for the sound of smashing guitars, but you just might hear the old boy drop his cane.

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