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PANDORA IS told that the latest gag flying about Westminster concerns the Government's continuing obsession with media manipulation. It goes like this:

First Civil Servant: I hear Downing Street is setting up a Long Term Planning Unit.

Second Civil Servant: Oh, why is that then?

First Civil Servant: They're very worried about the day after tomorrow.


WAS THE Prime Minister amongst those who would have been disappointed by Wembley Stadium vice-chairman Jarvis Astaire when he said yesterday that the Stadium's twin-towers "will have to go because the entire stadium will need widening. But I believe replicas will be built." Certainly Tony Blair left nobody in any doubt of his feeling for the stadium when he wrote the following in Wembley - Venue of Legends, the official 75th anniversary magazine published this year: "As we approach the new Millennium, we all look forward to many more years of the twin towers of Wembley." If the original towers are replaced perhaps Mr Blair could ask Mr Mandelson to put them in his Millennium Dome?


WHILE NOT wishing to crow, Pandora must salute The Sunday Times for their homage to this column last Sunday. On the front page was the intriguing story of Judi Dench meeting Sir David Spedding, MI6 chief, for a Christmas drink - a story first broken in the British press in this column (30 November). Turn to page 3 and you encounter a veritable Pandora goldmine, with the story about Channel 4's planned programme on bestiality, which first appeared here on 18 November. As for the matter of the spat between Oliver Peyton's Atlantic and Marco Pierre White's Titanic restaurant's, don't say we didn't warn you (11 November).


MONTHS AGO rumours were circulating that actress Kirstie Alley was being offered pounds 3.5m to pose naked for Playboy. It never happened, and Playboy won't say if the offer might be taken up in future. However, what does appear in Playboy's January issue is an interview where Alley reveals that cast members of Cheers, the popular sitcom that launched her career, read their lines from crib notes hidden around the set. "When I watch the show now, I always laugh when I open the cigar box because I know I'm trying not to mess up," she told entertainment guide TV Gen. But Alley says she wasn't the worst offender, actor Nicholas Colasanto, who played the popular character of Coach, wrote his lines on trays, on the bar and on every available surface. Repeats of Cheers will never be the same again.


PANDORA READS with interest the interview with actor Edward Woodward (pictured) in the Liberal Democrat magazine informed. "He still finds time to be an active member of the Liberal Democrats," boasts the magazine. We learn that the actor, famous for his TV roles in Callan and The Equalizer, only joined the Lib Dems a few years ago, and used to vote Labour despite "the Liberal tradition" being "in my blood". Moreover, is it likely that this active member of the Liberal Democrats will be seen distributing some of the vast number of leaflets the party is infamous for producing? "Unfortunately, I am away from home quite a bit with my work, but I do get involved when I can" admits Woodward, wisely.


PROTAGONISTS IN the Pinochet debate are getting personal. An advertisement taken out in the Santiago newspaper Estrategia by Bruce Montgomery, chairman of the British Chamber of Commerce in Chile, launches a scathing attack on the British ambassador to Chile for failing to transmit the views of the Chilean people on Pinochet's arrest. For "driving Anglo/Chilean relations to its lowest point in history" Montgomery wants to make Ambassador Glynne Evans "persona non grata" and invites support. One angered reader was rather less than supportive and wrote back to Mr Montgomery in no uncertain terms. The letter, kindly shown to Pandora, reminds Montgomery that insults to Her Majesty's representatives once constituted high treason and that "the death penalty is still on the statute books for that offence,

so I would be

very careful before your

next trip to the UK."