Pandora: Blumenthal's follow-up gets a run for its money

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The Independent Online

Time for the latest chapter in the rolling drama of Heston Blumenthal and his ill-fated dealings with Little Chef. Not long ago, the chemically-minded supercook undertook the considerable task of revamping the roadside restaurant's reputation, which had been battered from years of microwavable macaroni cheese.

Despite some inevitable boardroom reluctance, Blumenthal eventually came up with a menu that seemed to satisfy the chain's long-suffering customers. Relations began to sour last month, however, when Little Chef boss Ian Pegler said the menu would be rolled out nationwide without consulting the chef, thereby removing his quality control.

Now, it seems things are set to get worse, as both Blumenthal and Pegler return to the studio with rival television deals.

Blumenthal is due back in Popham to examine the original Little Chef branch he made over, as part of a follow-up for Channel 4. In the meantime, Pegler has been trying to push his own, business-oriented reality show, even suggesting the possibility of a guest appearance by Blumenthal as a selling point. "He has been approached by loads of production companies," says a source. "Heston might have a guest role, but it is all about Ian."

Blumenthal's people, however, claim to know nothing of Pegler's offer. One said: "We have no idea what he's talking about. Heston has not been asked to do anything with him. It sounds very odd."

A second chance for Mama Stone

At last! Joss Stone has found a willing audience. You may recall she faced complications in March when her mother's Somerset music venue, Mama Stone's, closed weeks after the bare-footed songstress performed there. The decision was said to be the result of disgruntled locals – who, for reasons beyond comprehension, were not fans of Stone's warbling – lodging a noise complaint. No such grumblings, however, in the family's home county of Devon. Joss's mother Wendy has secured a new location for Mama Stone's in Exeter, and Joss will be the first to play there.

Cabinet duties hold up Hain's tour

Pandora is seriously concerned about Peter Hain's work/life balance. First we hear that the well-sunned Welsh Secretary may delay the release of his Mandela biography owing to Cabinet commitments. Now it emerges that his speaking tour will also have to wait. Hain, who recently returned to the Cabinet after resigning last year, has only just joined Clive Conway's after-dinner speaking agency, but he has already asked it to postpone all of his planned appearances. "He just doesn't have the time now," explains our mole.

Home tweet home: Brydon brokers truce

Rob Brydon: actor, comedian... peacemaker? Possibly. The Welsh funnyman yesterday achieved what David Miliband could not, reclaiming his own identity on Twitter.

The micro-blogging website has fast become a minefield for celebrities, with lowly members of the public assuming their identity, and misleading "followers" as to their thoughts and actions.

Miliband fell victim to such Twitter-jacking last week, after an impostor misrepresented his views about Michael Jackson.

No such misadventures for Brydon. He has negotiated an identity hand-over with his cyber-double, and will now be posting his own tweets, under the logical moniker@robbrydon.

MPs roll up for a ride on Noah's ark

An occasion, surely, dreamed up specifically with Hazel Blears and her brooch collection in mind. Tomorrow, a few lucky MPs will get the chance to – wait for it, children – take a ride on Noah's Ark (well, sort of). Ed Miliband's Department of Energy and Climate Change has arranged a photo opportunity for honourable members to pose alongside "Noah" and his collection of children and animals. For those wanting to point and stare, they will congregate at 3.45pm at Victoria Tower Gardens in Westminster. Just don't rock the boat.

pandora@independent.co.uk

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