Diary: No pain, no gain at auditions

The garrulous actor Hugh Bonneville has given a brief interview to Radio Times ahead of Sunday's Bafta Awards (where Downton Abbey is up for best drama series) in which he sheds some light on one of the darker corners of his profession: the audition process. The well-known performer compares auditioning to another familiar experience. You go in, he says, "knowing there'll be a degree of pain but, ultimately when you emerge, there will be relief, albeit temporary." It is, suggests Bonneville, pictured, "like ... going to the dentist". And we can all relate to that.

* Chris Huhne's Lib Dem colleagues are amusing themselves, I'm reliably informed, with news that the Australian slang word for "one who drives a car in a manner which is antisocial by the standards of contemporary society" is "a Hoon" (pronounced "Huhne"). The Energy Secretary is uncontactable at present, so it seems unlikely that anyone has run this joke past him personally – but given his famed sense of humour, I'm sure he'd see the funny side.



* Meanwhile, speculation is rife as to who will replace Chris "the Hoon" Huhne should he lose his place at the Cabinet table. The growing consensus is that ambitious Wayne Rooney-alike Ed Davey is angling for promotion. Davey was once excitably hailed as a leader-in-waiting, only to turn in an unremarkable performance as the Lib Dems' foreign affairs spokesman. Naturally, he was deflated to discover that he would not hold high office within the Coalition; these days he works under Vince Cable, with the name-badge-unfriendly title of Minister for Employment Relations, Consumer and Postal Affairs. "But if Chris goes," I am told, "Ed could finally get his shot at stardom."



* Parliamentary hacks will be delighted to learn that much-loved Westminster bar Annie's is to be resurrected following its closure in 2006. Buried in the report of the Commons Administration Committee on catering is a proposal to re-name the press gallery bar (currently Moncrieff's) as Annie's, in the hope of attracting more MPs' staff. Whether MPs will be keen on their staff fraternising so freely with the press is another matter. The original Annie's was a favourite haunt of Ken Clarke's, and frequently woven into such Westminster fictions as House Of Cards. In the Thatcher era, more experienced heads inform me, there would be frequent complaints from the Speaker about noise: James Naughtie supposedly played the jew's harp with aplomb, while Neil Kinnock would turn up to sing his favourite rugby songs.



* More from the Commons on "snotty Tory MP" Andrew Robathan and his antediluvian attitude to youngish members of the fairer sex. Defence Minister Robathan, who would doubtless rather discuss the military covenant, was last week exposed as the dastardly chap who ambushed Stella Creasy, the 33-year-old Labour MP for Walthamstow, in the members' lift, and accused her of being a mere civilian. It turns out he has form: two years ago, in his capacity as the Tories' deputy chief whip, he tackled Labour's Meg Hillier on a point of parliamentary etiquette. Having recently given birth, Hillier was allowed by whips to vote without going through the voting lobby (known as "nodding through"). But when Robathan was on duty, and Hillier turned up without her baby, he told her in no uncertain terms that she should vote in person. "I was postnatal and breastfeeding at the time," Hillier tells Sky News, "So I was gobsmacked to be challenged in this way – it was like stepping back in time." In his defence, Robathan says he regularly challenges "people who drop litter" as well.



* Finally, Alan Shearer is to unveil a waxwork replica of himself at Madame Tussauds in Blackpool today. How will we tell the difference? (etc.)

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