No fat Czech, or fat cheque, will persuade Hislop to see Captain Bob

The actor Philip York is currently enjoying another run of the acclaimed one-man show, Lies Have Been Told: An Evening With Robert Maxwell, in Edinburgh, but he is disappointed to have so far failed to entice one of the old crook's foremost bêtes noires to the show.

York, whose portrayal of "Captain Bob" received rapturous acclaim when it debuted on the Fringe in 2003, recently tried to persuade the Private Eye editor Ian Hislop, to come and see it for himself. But Hislop, who once famously quipped: "I've just given a fat cheque to a fat Czech", after losing one of the former Mirror proprietor's numerous legal battles with the satirical magazine, apparently wasn't interested.

"Hislop invited me to the regular Private Eye lunch at the Coach and Horses but refused to come to this," he told Pandora. "He said he just couldn't bear to think about Maxwell any more. Maxwell was always suing Private Eye, so he didn't want to think about him."

On another note, York says he is unhappy about the BBC's own drama about Maxwell, starring David Suchet, which was aired on BBC2 last year.

"Yes I was rather miffed when they did that," he added. "When the play was showing [at the Trafalgar Studios] in London, I spotted a group of Beeb executives sitting in the audience. I suspect that's when they decided to lift the idea."

Why Keira won't appear Knightley

Keira Knightley doesn't strike you as the sort of gal to duck a challenge. But the waifish actress is strangely reluctant to stray from the comfort of the studio and on to the West End stage.

"I can't quite handle the idea of 'Screen actress in big West End hit' and all that," she tells this month's Tatler.

"I would prefer to do something smaller, maybe at the Bush, which is one of my favourite theatres."

Knightley has finished filming The Duchess with that noted skirt chaser, Ralph Fiennes. Surely that was scarier?

Alarm bells at panto – what's it all about, Alfie?

Alfie Allen has joined the growing ranks of theatre stars who are fed up with the increasing interruptions of mobile telephones.

Allen, who appeared in the pantomime Somewhere Over The Westway in Edinburgh on Tuesday, was at one point forced to compete with a beeping phone midway through his performance. "Who the hell was that?" he complained to Pandora afterwards.

"And what was that ring tone? They need to sort that out too – it sounded like an alarm clock going off."

Interruptions not withstanding, Allen, 21, says he's hoping to enlist his sister Lily to appear in the production soon.

"Lily's a good actress. She's definitely up for it. She is so busy right now but if she came through Edinburgh she'd definitely do it. Maybe back in London – we'll have to wait and see."

Lembit talks a good game

Lembit Opik likens Westminster politics to the hustle and bustle of the Premier League.

"Politics and football have a lot in common. You need a cohesive team with a strong leader," he tells this month's FourFourTwo magazine.

"Another common element is that the managers have to inspire you to achieve. When Nick Clegg gives us a pep talk before Prime Minister's Questions, I feel like Martin O'Neill's sending me out at Wembley."

Stirring stuff, but O'Neill's side, Aston Villa, invariably end their season as mid-table underachievers. Surely the priapic Clegg sees himself more as a sultry José Mourinho?

Blair's newest friend

It seems only yesterday that Labour MP Tom Watson was falling on his sword in an attempt to force Tony Blair from office.

Watson, you might recall, was behind the infamous "go now" letter to the former PM which preceded his resignation as junior defence minister, and prompted Blair's promise to be out of Downing Street the following year. So it is with some surprise to see Watson blogging away on his website this week, offering a helpful link to his old boss's Faith Foundation.

"He'll be in China later in the week," he writes.

"And if you're a MySpace user, you can ask him about the globalchallenges we face."

Surely Watty's notalready lining up another job?

Naked Olympian wins a bronze

Much moustache-twitching among the blue blazers attending Cowes Week.

A bare-breasted bronze of a mermaid, modelled on the figure of Olympic medal-winning swimmer Sharron Davies, has been put up in full view of the Royal Yacht Club.

The statue, which was commissioned by the Commodore of Cowes' Royal Yacht Squadron, Lord Iliffe, was built by the renowned sculptor Jonathan Wylder.

"It is a real honour for me to be captured in this way," said Davies.

"I will welcome vessels ashore, but the public can't get close to my bust unless it is low tide.

"It is a shame it is not a bit more accessible."

Davies is about to head out to Beijing to fulfil commentary duties for the BBC. The Olympics being a family event, I'm assured she intends to keep her assets firmly under wraps.

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