Pandora pandora@independent.co.uk

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Is proportional representation a non-starter? The results of an NOP survey in Wales may make grim reading for constitutional reformers. In January of this year the polling organisation found that only 6 per cent of the Welsh population understood the new voting system to be used for May's Assembly elections. Immediately after the elections another poll revealed that the number "in the know" had jumped to a mind-boggling 9 per cent - in spite of a pounds 2m information campaign involving such communications pundits as Bell Pottinger. However, the Electoral Reform Society is not panicked by the findings. "To be honest, we are surprised that the percentage was so high," a spokesman said.

YOU MIGHT have thought that the Royal Family would have been happy to lay on free facilities so that pictures of this summer's wedding between Prince Edward and Sophie Rhys-Jones (now the Count and Countess of Wessex) could charm the nation. Not so. Pandora notes that invoices have landed on picture desks across "Fleet Street", charging for installing telephones and erecting a stand for snappers. Is Eddie's day job failing to cover costs?

The Powers Behind the Prime Minister blew the lid off Tony Blair's "Bonapartist regime" in Downing Street. But for one of the authors, Dennis Kavanagh, the most exciting story was of Harold Wilson's fearsome aide, Marcia Williams. "What amazed me," Kavanagh told Pandora after the book's launch, "was that surviving civil servants still shudder at the memory of working with her." Williams's reign as personal and political secretary lasted from 1964 to 1976, during which time she allegedly tried to sack Sir Robin Butler for attending a Private Eye lunch; he later went on to become cabinet secretary. Though in later years Williams worked from home, the book says she was no less demanding of No 10, bombarding it with requests "such as asking the Private Office to arrange for Frank Sinatra to use the VIP suite".

RUMOURS FROM across the Atlantic suggest that the girlies from Friends, Jennifer Aniston, Courtney Cox and Lisa Kudrow, have been unsettled by the arrival of a new cast member, Elle Macpherson. It is not that the chemistry is wrong, but the girls are allegedly worried about how to look good next to the former Australian model. Star magazine reports that the trio have asked the programme's producers to hide Macpherson's attributes in baggy clothes.

Meanwhile, fellow Friday night television favourite Frasier has no hang- ups about new directions. The actor Kelsey Grammer has suggested his character has a gay affair, in order to boost ratings. The idea has gone down well with the sitcom's makers; they'd apparently like to see the British actor Rupert Everett in the role.

IF THE show must go on no matter what, then Disney's musical rendition of Aida in Chicago would have been forced to carry on without its two lead actors last weekend. Onlookers watched in silence when Aida's fated choice between love and country was upstaged by the more painful spectacle of the two actors tumbling from a faulty tomb set-piece. A dark spectacle, which has prompted the theatre to delay inviting critics to the Elton John/Tim Rice musical for another four weeks - even though the show will reopen to the public in the meantime. Perhaps this is what is known as a tomb try-out?

Pandora has been reminded of Harold Wilson's illustrious TV career after he resigned as PM in 1976. Following reports that Paddy Ashdown will become the first former, or existing, party leader to host a TV show when he presents the Channel 4 programme Powerhouse next week, a square-eyed friend of Pandora's has put the record straight. Harold Wilson once hosted two consecutive editions of the BBC2 chat show Friday Night, Saturday Morning. Guests included Coronation Street's Pat Phoenix and the cricketer Freddie Trueman.

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