Pandora: A star is born

The cosmologist and Stringfellows aficionado Stephen Hawking is to add to his CV of cameos in the world of animated television.

The Cambridge professor has "played" himself in The Simpsons and Futurama, and also featured on Family Guy. The Discovery Channel is said to be negotiating with Hawking over a series about his theories on our universe, as first expounded in A Brief History of Time. "He would be animated whilst the rest of it is in normal footage," says a source. "It would appeal to kids." Hawking drank with Homer Simpson in Moe's Tavern and declared: "Your theory of a doughnut-shaped universe is interesting. I may have to steal it." He added after the episode aired: "I only wish my real wheelchair had the rocket motors they gave me."

Blair prepares to put faith in (prep?) school for Leo

It can be one of the toughest decisions parents make: to which school should their cherished offspring be dispatched, rucksack on back?

That judgement is loaded for politicians, particularly so for former prime ministers who declared "Education, education, education" upon taking office and subsequently oversaw a decade of controversial classroom shake-ups.

Tony Blair, a Roman Catholic convert, acknowledges that sending his three older children to the prestigious London Oratory, a selective Roman Catholic comprehensive, left him open to charges of hypocrisy. "Whenever I look at education, in a sense I speak as a parent first and a politician second," he said.

Intriguing rumours circulate that the Blairs , above, have scouted Westminster Cathedral Choir School, a leading Catholic prep school for boys aged eight to 13, for their youngest son Leo, who will be eight in May. "Blair is considering sending the boy there," claims a fortuitously positioned source. Pupils are fed classical academia, Catholicism, singing, sport and hearty food; nourished to win a place at a top public school. "They are extremely self-motivated," says one teacher. Fees are £4,335 a term and there are 25 places a year, decided by testing.

A school source denies the story. If the rumour is realised – and a source close to Blair insists it is a private matter and Westminster is not the frontrunner – it would infuriate lefty opponents, who criticised his decision to snub a Catholic state school in Islington.

From the ironing board up: Weller's steamy rider

Celebrity "riders" are legend. Mariah Carey was said to have demanded "Cristal champagne, one box of bendy straws, one attendant to dispose of used chewing gum." Barbra Streisand? Rose petals in the toilet. As for Marilyn Manson: Haribo gummi bears and "a bald hooker with no teeth".

Paul Weller is more modest. At yesterday's Consequences gig for the homelessness charity Crisis, his rider stipulated only: "Six bottles of red wine (quality), 3x24 cans of lager, and an iron and ironing board." Not sure about the standard of his ironing after all the plonk, but still... The concert, featuring Graham Coxon, Dirty Pretty Things, Supergrass and The Enemy, began at 1pm and was sponsored by Drinkaware, to highlight the role alcohol abuse plays in homelessness. Punters seemed very drink aware and got stuck in at the various bars, many stocking up on two pints at a time to avoid lengthy queues.

Salami slammer

Aldo Zilli's decision to spill the borlotti and tap out an autobiography left celebrity friends choking. George Michael went pale. Chris Evans knew he must again chew over his sacking by Virgin Radio for going on a drinking bender with the Italian restaurateur and Mussolini lookalike, 52.

At least the author of Being Zilli is unspared. Zilli reveals he was imprisoned in Rome for avoiding national service. "That cell... was like every nightmare I had ever had," writes Zilli. "It stank. No fresh air had got in for generations and the remains of every bodily function seemed to be visible on the floors, walls, doors and even the ceilings... I was poked by prison doctors in a way that made my spell at the Munich clap clinic seem like a spa weekend." Enjoy your spaghetti lobster!

Hair today

Spotted in John Frieda's Mayfair salon: Margaret Hodge, the hectoring minister for culture, who describes Labour's senior females thus: "We're women of a certain age who are worried about our weight, who have forgotten what colour our natural hair is. But we're voluptuous." At Frieda's, a glamourpuss drying beneath the neighbouring Martian's helmet says: "They were discussing highlights. Hodge looked a bit worried."

* Who was this rumoured to be mashing faces with Pixie Geldof, 17, backstage at the NME Awards? Could it be the Xfm DJ Alex Zane, 29 today, who spent so much time gazing into young Pixie's eyes at last summer's Wireless Festival? Yes, the very same. Perhaps Sir Bob should be told.

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