Time, it seems, for the Natural Law party, never previously elected to parliament, to rejoice! It appears that the BBC has more confidence in its electability than the rest of us. Two weekends ago, when the corporation held the first of its general election dress rehearsals, it underwent four different dry-run scenarios, one of which predicted that the Natural Law party would win the seat of Bolton North East - a manoeuvre not likely to improve the temper of that seat's present incumbent, Peter Thurnham.
In case you think the BBC was merely joking - stories about Peter Snow's swingometer breaking have tended to colour the serious nature of this exercise - let me reassure you that the Beeb seriously invests in the implications of these drills. David Dimbleby (left) grills MPs' researchers, who act as stand-ins for their bosses, even more ferociously than he does on election night (as apparently a shaking researcher from Jack Straw's office will testify).
I understand that the BBC has never yet been caught out by an election. It has always been prepared for the right outcome. The four alternatives it proposes for the next election, therefore, are worthy of our attention. They are:
1) Labour landslide, winning 380 seats and a majority of 100;
2) The Tories hang on by their fingernails;
3) A Liberal Democrat breakthrough;
4) A hung parliament with a Labour majority.
The third scenario might seem remote, but the BBC knows better than to be hasty. Some will remember, with shame, how they nearly messed up in 1992. When asked to rehearse a Tory marginal victory scenario yet again, most staff yawned: "No, no - let's practise what's actually going to happen - let's go for the hung parliament."
Gyngell wields the axe
There is an interesting update to my story last week about the Granada's late-night dating show God's Gift. (You may recall I revealed how the producers ran a special "gay" episode, which the advertisers Saatchi & Saatchi failed to pick up on and inserted advertisements for army recruitment into the commercial breaks.)
The episode caused something of stir, it emerges, in the offices of Bruce Gyngell, chief executive of Yorkshire & Tyne Tees Television. Having happily broadcast the first 10 (heterosexual) shows, and voluntarily broadcast a repeat of each on Saturday night, Gyngell took one look at the tape of the gay show and decided to axe the series.
His official line is that he was "concerned about the quality of the programme". But Granada is not buying it. "You don't broadcast 20 hours of a programme and then decide the quality isn't up to it," says an insider, adding disparagingly "it's very simple - the man is a complete prude."
Name that star
Phew. After endless sleepless nights, the problem that has been pressing on my mind more than any other recently - how to pronounce Demi Moore's name - is solved. "You pronounce it D'mee," the actress (below) told the British actor Richard E Grant, who writes about their meeting in this month's Vanity Fair and appears to find her pedantry on the subject amusing. Which may strike some as rather pot-and-kettleish, since Grant is notorious in thespian circles for his insistence on punctuating his own name with that seemingly pointless initial.
Fight at the opera
It is not often that the nation's left falls out with the nation's luvvies, but in one corner of London there is a quarrel going on which has not only placed the local Labour council in an uncomfortable dilemma, but could also become embarrassing for Tony Blair.
Sadler's Wells theatre, which falls, like Blair's London residence, under the jurisdiction of Islington Borough Council, has applied for planning permission to convert the neighbouring residence of 181 Rosebery Avenue into extra dressing rooms.
The one obstacle to his proposals lies in the fact that 181 Rosebery Avenue, though owned by Islington council, has been occupied by a housing co-operative for the homeless run by the Vietnam war veteran Tim Clark for 16 years.
Clark, just to make things even more problematic, is also the membership secretary of the local Labour ward and has managed to get its support in his attempts to block the Wells proposals. He has also written to Blair to ask for his personal endorsement, and is awaiting a reply.
"We've spent pounds 25,000 over 16 years on making this property suitable to run the co-operative," storms Clark. "How can a Labour council, in all honesty, turn against their own ideals?"
Crunch time is 4 April, when the council's planning committee is to meet. More reports, please.
Tricky's new party trick
Pop stars are too grand, you might think, to need to gatecrash other people's private parties. Wrong. Last week at a birthday bash in North London the front door was flung open after midnight to reveal the pop singer Tricky (a nominee in this year's Brit awards) flanked by two blondes in silver halter-tops. That Tricky (otherwise known as Adrian Thaws) did not know a single person in the room did not seem to restrain his behaviour in any way. He marched straight up to the DJ, turned off the music, and proceeded to have a row. Tired and emotional, he was escorted off the premises. Next day, I'm glad to report, he issued a suitable apology. But no explanation. Very odd.Reuse content