Diary: No hero's welcome for Ricky

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The Independent Online

Connoiusseurs of comedy will recall the excruciating sight of Ricky Gervais, sent to California to interview his comic idols for Channel 4, and squirming under the hostile glare of Garry Shandling (aka Larry Sanders of The Larry Sanders Show).

Shandling seemed to think little of his juvenile interrogator, and Gervais has since admitted that the encounter could have gone better.

Yet Shandling, it turns out, does recall Gervais's snivelling hero-worship, and has returned the favour with a friendly-ish quote in an interview with Empire magazine. He is, he says, "still interested in Ricky Gervais".

Shandling, 61, added: "I told him that I thought what he did on the Golden Globes was a notable risk". "Interested"? "A notable risk"? I think that's what is known in the business as "damning with faint praise".

* When former tennis prodigy John Bercow was appointed Speaker, Nadine Dorries, honourable-ish member for Mid-Beds, was one of his staunchest opponents. "Oily", she called him. (Also: opportunistic, disloyal and lacking any political courage). She was no better disposed to Señor Bercow's wife, Sally, describing her frequent tweets as "unseemly and in bad taste". Yet the pair patched things up in January, after dotty Ms Dorries announced she was having an affair with a married man, and Mrs Bercow unexpectedly tweeted her support. So complete is their reconciliation that Señor Bercow has now invited Dorries to sit on the Chairman's Panel, a job generally reserved for elder statesmen. Dorries' now ex-colleagues on the Health Select Committee will be relieved to hear less of her views on abortion (she's not a fan). Her new role, however, involves chairing public bill committees and Westminster Hall debates. "It will give me the hugest pleasure to shout 'order order' and to be obeyed," she blogged upon her appointment. I'm sure her fellow MPs look forward to it almost as much.

* It was alleged babydaddy Boris Johnson who first revealed Oliver Letwin's comments about "people from Sheffield" and how he didn't want too many of them "flying away on cheap holidays". Perhaps Johnson hoped to inflict upon a member of the government the same humiliation he faced in 2004, when he was made to prostrate himself before the people of Liverpool by then-Tory leader Michael Howard. But the PM has declined to subject his other fellow Old Etonian to the same fate, despite the entreaties of Sheffield Council. The limelight-evading Letwin will thus be free to enjoy the Easter hols in his picturesque Dorset constituency. You'd think, as a Big Society-booster and former Shadow Chancellor, that he might have had cause to visit Sheffield before, but staff at The Sheffield Star say they've no record of such a trip. Letwin's spokesman, meanwhile, seems uncertain. "I'm sure he probably has been there," he suggests. That memorable, was it?

* As his former News of the World colleagues contemplate the possibility of a few days in court, the FT reports erstwhile Number 10 spinner Andy Coulson has incorporated his new PR consultancy under the snappy name "Elbrus Consultants". Elbrus is, FYI, the tallest mountain in Europe – a bit like Everest, but rubbish. Of course, if Coulson had christened his company "Everest", potential punters might think he'd become a double-glazing salesman. This way, they can only confuse his firm with the existing Elbrus IT Solutions, Elbrus Capital Partners, Elbrus Ltd, and/or Elbrus Consulting.

* More skilful brand synergies from the exquisite pen of Elisa Roche, showbusiness editor of the Daily Express and loyal servant to Richard Desmond, philanthropist and former publisher of Asian Babes. Desmond's Channel Five has finally announced its acquisition of Big Brother, and the lovely Elisa dutifully reports the show's pending return, with a "sexed-up, 'rock'n'roll' house where stars will be encouraged to party like never before." Among the stars supposedly "in the frame" is Cheryl Cole, whose people say she hasn't even been approached yet (not that she'd be keen if she was, I'd wager). "We aim," Channel 5's director of programmes tells Elisa, "to bring Channel 5's energy, optimism and vibrancy to the series." Optimism is the word.