Pandora: Another uphill struggle for David

Having previously succeeded Alastair Campbell at the helm of an increasingly troubled Downing Street spin machine, it's safe to say David Hill is a man well-accustomed to a political challenge.

Hill whose more low-key approach to the role proved to be in stark contrast to the testosterone-filled theatricals of Big Al after the latter bolted in 2003, is these days plying his trade as a director at the Bell Pottinger Group.

This week, however, it seemed Hill's seasoned skills were about to be pushed to the limit once more when it emerged he was also suddenly working as an unpaid adviser to the embattled former Cabinet minister Patricia Hewitt – you might recall the silly old girl found herself in a bit of a pickle this week courtesy of being embroiled in the "cash for access" scandal. Colleagues were quick to detect Hill's steadying hand when Hewitt's planned appearance at an event for the International Corporate Governance Network – where she was unwisely due to discuss the "moral compass" – was swiftly cancelled.

Hill was keen to downplay his role, yesterday, insisting to Pandora his advice was restricted to "the statement she wanted to put out and general media handling" following this week's furore. It's also unlikely he'd have been able to put a positive slant on the unhelpful news Hewitt is taking another directorship at Eurotunnel.

Sophie's show a sham, says Giles

*Merely hours after Pandora reported Sophie Dahl was anxiously fending off claims she's bidding to seize Nigella Lawson's culinary crown, the poor lass found herself the subject of a fresh verbal assault. Food scribe Giles Coren calmly suggests that Dahl's new cookery show is, among other things, "a sickening sham" and adds for good measure that the BBC should be "ashamed of itself". Insiders now claim Sophie's pocket-sized husband Jamie Cullum will "punch Coren's lights out". (Alright, I made up that last bit).

Cameron baldly borrows an old gag

That David Cameron chap showed us all just what a damn funny bloke he really is when he dubbed Labour's Liam Byrne "Baldemort" during this week's Budget debate. (You see, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, is – wait for this one – bald!) Disappointingly, evidence has since come to light suggesting that our Dave and his crack team of backroom satirists are little more than comedy magpies in disguise.

"So Cameron quotes Malcolm Tucker's 'Baldemort' insult in Commons speech," declares Armando Iannucci. The creator of The Thick Of It is, I'm reliably assured, almost as funny as Dave when he puts his mind to it. "Anyone got his email so I can bill him £5?" he adds.

Knees-up proves a pain for Bradshaw

*Pandora wishes the speediest of recoveries to the Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw, who announces he's currently recovering from a knee operation. Bradshaw proudly informs us he sustained the said injury while "dancing vigorously at the Big Chill" (that's a musical festival for pop pickers of a certain age). The politician has "form" in this regard. A man said to fit his description was also allegedly spied "gyrating wildly" and "shedding layers of clothing" during an outdoor performance by Grace Jones last year.

Lindsay proves the sceptics wrong

*Earlier this week Pandora was duty-bound to highlight certain cynical noises surrounding Lindsay Lohan's admirable new role highlighting the problems of child slavery in a BBC documentary. Some frankly misguided individuals were even muttering it was little more than a cynical spot of media re-branding for America's most misunderstood actress. Clearly at pains to put paid to talk she's had a calculated image change, a tired and emotional-looking Lindsay took matters into her own hands and duly fell over in front of the cameras outside a Hollywood house party.

pandora@independent.co.uk

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