By George, we salute you for your indefatigability

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The Independent Online

* It's the mother of all chart bashings! Celebrity Big Brother viewers might currently be missing George Galloway and his feline escapades, but they can console themselves that another fresh dollop of humiliation is about to be tipped on the Respect MP's head.

Last month, Pandora reported that Galloway would be fronting a pop video featuring a cover version of Edwin Starr's "War" (what is it good for etc). In it, he appears as a policeman who comes to arrest Tony Blair for war crimes while the Prime Minister jams away in his student rock band Ugly Rumours.

At the time, Galloway released a statement claiming he planned to "take the song to the top of the singles chart in the first week of January entirely through downloads".

Unfortunately, his plans may have proved a little ambitious. Following the record's release on Monday, industry insiders have discreetly informed Pandora that it was boasting a paltry midweek position of 128.

"Barring something pretty bloody special between now and then, personally I really can't see this one troubling the Top 40 come Sunday, never mind the Top 10, I'm afraid," says a chart source.

Galloway isn't the only one with reason to be red-faced. The accompanying video for the track, which features lead vocals by the Drifters' singer Patrick Alan, also includes an appearance by Tony Blair's publicity-friendly sister-in-law Lauren Booth.

* Ricky Gervais's reputation as our finest comic export is, for many, beyond dispute. But it appears the same cannot be said about his oh-so-brief career as an interviewer.

Gervais recently filmed a series of interviews with his comic heroes, including the Spinal Tap writer Christopher Guest, and Garry Shandling, creator of the fictional chatshow host Larry Sanders.

While critics condemned the Guest interview as fawning, they were even less kind about the encounter with Shandling, who proved a more than awkward subject. At one point, Shandling told Gervais he didn't think the Extras star "was happy casting Jews" in his shows.

Unsurprisingly, a spokesman confirms that "there are no plans" for Gervais to return to the interviewer's seat in the forseeable future. One source claims: "The Shandling experience put him off for good."

* In a move that will no doubt cement his distinguished status as an honorary Englishman, the chucklesome travel scribe Bill Bryson has raised an upturned digit to the animal rights lobby.

Bryson who was born and raised in Iowa, has just taken delivery of a stuffed fully-grown grizzly bear at his family pile in Norfolk.

The beast was apparently a gift from his wife to celebrate the couple's 25th wedding anniversary.

"My wife is a delightful but highly eccentric woman," he explained to an audience in Cheltenham recently.

Bryson has been fascinated by the dangerous creatures since childhood. I'm told that he has decided to keep the terrifying new addition to the family in the kitchen.

* The sniping over the caddish Tory MP James Gray's North Wiltshire seat is about to turn ugly.

Local Conservatives, led by their former constituency chairman Frank Soden, are trying to ditch Gray after he dumped his cancer-stricken wife for a married woman.

Now Gray has hit back, and things are getting a tack personal.

"I do not know why Frank is doing this. He probably finds it exciting because he does not lead a very exciting life," he says.

"I think it might have something to do with the fact that his wife Carole was up against me for the seat 10 years ago."

Locals can make up their own mind: A ballot is being held next week that will decide Gray's fate.

* More from House of Commons lounge lizard Lembit Opik and his recent "rebranding".

Last month it was revealed Opik had traded in his long-term fiancée, the weather girl Sian Lloyd, for a younger model, former Cheeky Girl Gabriela Irimia.

Now friends of the randy Lib Dem MP have noticed he's been hitting the town with his Romanian squeeze sporting a spanking new pair of snazzy glasses. Apparently, he's traded in his trademark wire-framed specs for some of those narrow, black-rimmed ones favoured by trendy media types such as Jarvis Cocker.

"We're not sure if Gaby chose the frames, but Lembit seems pretty chuffed with them," says a chum.

pandora@independent.co.uk

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