Pandora: Cherie Blair wades in to a right Royle row with actor Ricky Tomlinson

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The Independent Online

The row over the Labour Party's selection of the London-born Luciana Berger as their candidate for Liverpool Wavertree looks set to escalate.

The decision has already prompted sharp criticism from veteran Labour backbencher Peter Kilfoyle, and left The Royle Family's Ricky Tomlinson to threaten to run for election on behalf of the Socialist Labour Party.

Now we hear that Cherie Blair has waded into the dispute, arguing that party officials were right to select Berger, a friend of her son Euan, since candidates should be chosen on the basis of their "star quality" rather than local loyalties.

"It does not really matter where you come from, what matters is what you are going to give to your constituency and your country," she told an audience at a party fundraiser for West Derby candidate Stephen Twigg. No doubt Berger will be grateful for Mrs Blair's support – though it doesn't appear to be winning Kilfoyle over. "We can do without such superficiality," he retorts. "Anyway, what is the 'star quality' of someone whose only claim to fame is to resign from the National Union of Students?" Over to you, Ricky.

Will Hoult stay in Vogue?

*Having starred in the debut film from fashion designer Tom Ford, the photogenic Nicholas Hoult can now be found staring out of glossy magazines advertising Ford's new fashion line. Alas, the young actor, hitherto best known for his hemp-hatted debut alongside Hugh Grant in About A Boy, claims he has no plans to continue the glamorous sideline. "It's acting all the way for me," he tells us. "It was just cool because it was related to the film. I don't know enough about fashion I don't think." Surely Tom could give him some tips?

Bananas for Brown? No comment

*Yesterday's red-top reports that the Prime Minister has developed a new-found fondness for bananas (a healthy alternative, apparently, to his long-term snack of choice, the Kit Kat) were the subject of stony silences from No 10. Gordon Brown's spokesman brushed off claims his boss consumed a good nine bananas a day as "speculation", claiming that regular fruit intake could only make the PM "radiant". The Downing Street press office, meanwhile, declined Pandora's invitation to name Brown's preferred brand. Decisions, etc.

Lumley's film appeal to Cameron

First Phil Woolas, now James Cameron.

The Avatar director has become the latest target of a Joanna Lumley-backed human rights campaign, after the organisation Survival International took out a full-page advertisement in film industry bible Variety, entreating him to watch their new documentary. The short film, which is narrated by Joanna Lumley, draws attention to the damage the mining industry is doing to the land of India's Dongria Kondh tribe.

"Avatar is fantasy ... and real," says the ad's headline. "We've watched your film – now watch ours." No word yet on whether he has obliged.

Hall's a happy Hammer no more

*Alas, bad news at Upton Park. West Ham FC has announced that it will no longer be represented by PR supremo Phil Hall. The cash-strapped club has terminated the former News of the World editor's contract prematurely – nothing at all, of course, to do with the fact that Hall, a long-term Hammer, has agreed to represent the beleaguered Chelsea star John Terry while he navigates his way through the sea of allegations regarding his off-pitch activities. West Ham simply cannot afford to keep Hall on. Sacrifices!

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