Chat-show Charlie makes a big impression on Rory Bremner

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It is an unwritten rule of broadcasting that the household names who hold public figures to account should never reveal their own political allegiances.

It is an unwritten rule of broadcasting that the household names who hold public figures to account should never reveal their own political allegiances.

Interesting, then, to discover that Rory Bremner has "come out" in support of the Liberal Democrats, by way of a protest against the Labour Party's policies on Iraq and tuition fees.

The impressionist revealed his hand on the latest edition of Andrew Neil's BBC show, This Week. His endorsement may be seen as a blunder, since it will lead to accusations that he goes soft on Charles Kennedy.

After initially insisting "I don't ever reveal whom I'm going to vote for", Bremner let slip: "There's a lot to say for Lib-Dem policies on Iraq and tuition fees."

Under further questioning, the impressionist added: "I'm going to have a look at the other candidates, but at the moment that's where my vote is."

Charles Kennedy's office was eager to capitalise on the affair yesterday, issuing a statement to say: "Mr Bremner is just the latest of thousands of people up and down the country who are turning to us."

Meanwhile, Bremner - somewhat surprisingly - agreed to elaborate on his political "outing".

"I've voted for all three parties in the last 20 years, as I vote on the issues at the time," he told me.

"The party closest to my own concerns right now are the Lib Dems. And, as a high earner, I can afford to pay the tax."

When Brooke Shields arrived in London to star in the musical Chicago, Pandora noted she would have just nine days to rehearse her West End debut.

I thought this might be cutting things a bit fine, and so it has proved. For her debut performance in the show - due to take place last night - was cancelled, at just 24 hours' notice.

Instead, the Hollywood star is now hoping that her nine-week run at the Adelphi Theatre can get under way tonight.

According to the producers, the delay follows Shields' decision to nip to the US to plug her autobiography on Oprah. She failed to return in time to polish Chicago to the required standard.

"The slight re-scheduling of her first performance is due to extended filming commitments in America," reads a statement issued yesterday.

Ms Shields - an experienced hand on Broadway - is nothing if not prescient. She recently commented that the allotted rehearsal time for Chicago was "borderline criminal".

Rejoice! After just one year, Pandora's campaign to give Nicholas Parsons a chance as guest presenter of Have I got News For You has ended in victory.

The likeable quiz-show host will spend today at the South Bank, polishing topical jokes with the HIGNFY team. His fellow guests will be the political journalist Julia Hartley-Brewer and the comic actor Chris Langham.

Ever modest, Parsons wasn't avaliable to gloat yesterday, but a friend tells me: "It's about time, too, after they've had rank amateurs like Charlotte Church hosting the show. Nick is delighted, and couldn't have done it without your help."

Paul Merton will also be celebrating. He told me recently: "I have two contenders for the job, who represent the best possible choices. One would be Nicholas Parsons. The other would be Bagpuss."

Stand by for claret-spitting in the stalls. The Royal Shakespeare Company has decided not to stage a single Shakespeare play at Stratford this winter.

In defence, the RSC - who admit that "as far as we know" this is a first - say they are planning to stage every single one of the Bard's plays, starting in 2006.

"It therefore makes sense, even for the RSC, that our winter season contains no Shakespeare," says artistic director Michael Boyd.

Not everyone is so comfortable with the move. "What is the RSC for, if not Shakespeare?" asks one critic.

Either way, one wonders if this would have been allowed to happen on Adrian Noble's watch.

On Tuesday, Greenpeace held a turret-top protest at John Prescott's home. "I feel very strongly about my wife being terrorised," he declared. "Wives shouldn't be there for terrorising."

The Deputy Prime Minister isn't always so po-faced, though. Just ask Lorna Wadsworth, the artist in residence at the Labour conference, who currently has an exhibition at the Mall Gallery.

"I've painted loads of MPs, including Gordon Brown, Tony Benn and David Blunkett," she tells me. "I was very worried about John Prescott, though. I didn't paint the most flattering portrait of him, and I thought he might be upset when he saw it. He looked double-chinned and very stocky."

Fortunately, Prezza loved it. "He's even had the picture framed and hung in his house," she adds. "It just goes to show he doesn't take himself too seriously." Neither do we!

pandora@independent.co.uk

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