Pandora: Duke likes to rattle royal pots and pans

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The Independent Online

Pandora has clearly underestimated the Duke of Edinburgh. First he surprises us with his wise-crackery during the Obamas' visit to London ("Can you tell the difference between them?" he asked, about the G20 leaders), and now he demonstrates his decidedly new-age interest in cookery.

The discovery was made, appropriately enough, by culinary scientist Heston Blumenthal after Prince Philip visited his restaurant, the Fat Duck, in Bray, Berkshire.

"We were amazed," says Bluementhal. "He has called the restaurant and asked us to send over the original recipe for my fish and chips so he could make it himself.

"He said he had watched my programme on the BBC, Fish And Chips: In Search Of Perfection, and said he wasa big fan."

Apparently, the encounter has brought out quite another side to the Duke. How wonderful! Almost as wonderful, that is, as the thought of Her Maj sitting down to a night of television cookery shows and the Prince's home-made fish supper.

It's all in a day's work for Blaize

"No one needs another Bridget Jones!" exclaims Immodesty Blaize, Hertfordshire's burlesque-dancer-turned-scribe, of her forthcoming novel, Tease. "My heroine is feisty and has a lot to say." She also has a penchant for stockings and suspenders, prompting Pandora to ponder the similarities between author and subject. "Actually, people keep asking me I if I got someone else to write it," rages Blaize. "I absolutely did not. Once I had the plot, I just stuck my head down and wrote the whole thing."

All quiet on Crowe's red carpet

Russell Crowe, Pandora's absolute favourite bit of Antipodean beefcake, cut a grumpy figure at Tuesday night's premiere of his new flick, State Of Play, refusing to pause for reporters' questions on the red carpet. Apparently he has had a tough time of it recently, following speculation that his widening girth might interfere with his film schedule. "He has spent all day at junkets being asked about his weight," says my mole. "He just says that his wife loves it when he's fat because it is like having two different boyfriends."

Brand's fans double as film extras

More news, now, from the rolling bundle of celebrity controversy that is Russell Brand. The belegginged comedian is in the middle of filming a follow up to his surprisingly successful movie debut, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, in which he played an egotistical, post-rehab rock star.

Given that Brand is packing out venues with his comedy tour, producers have hit on the cost-cutting idea of using his audience as extras.

"It was all a bit odd," says one gig-goer. "He changed into his rock-star gear and we cheered as they filmed. It seemed a bit much since we had paid to be there."

Boris hints at a Dickensian Games

Boris Johnson has a diary clash: London's 2012 Olympic Games coincides with the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Dickens. "It's a damn good idea to mark Dickens," the Mayor remarked when the fact was pointed out to him at the London Book Fair yesterday. "Perhaps l should arrange for the [Games] opening ceremony to have pilgrims in Dickensian dress? I'll look into it." From the sound of things, the opening ceremony might be almost as good as the handover.