Pandora: Edmonds accused of hollow talk over TV licence row

Ding Ding! Noel Edmonds' row with the BBC over his apparent refusal to pay the licence fee is shaping up into one of the most engaging stand-offs in recent years.

On Saturday, Edmonds effectively declared war on his former employers when he announced he had torn up his existing TV licence and would not be buying another one.

"Auntie's putting boxing gloves on," he said. "I'm so incensed by the idea that I'm guilty of something that I actually cancelled my licence fee a few months ago."

The plot thickened dramatically yesterday, however, when the TV Licensing authorities claimed that Edmonds did in fact still possess a licence.

"We've checked our records and can confirm we have a valid current licence on record for his address," said a spokesman.

Edmonds claimed his one-man protest was against the corporation's "we know where you are" ad campaigns against those who didn't have a TV licence, which he argued were threatening. He also said he was prepared to face prosecution for his stand against the BBC.

But if what the TV licensing authorities say is correct, Edmonds' tough talk amounts to no more than macho bluster.

Last night, Edmonds' publicist, PR guru Mark Borkowski, claimed that TV licensing had got their facts wrong.

"They have completely not issued Noel Edmonds with a TV licence," he insisted yesterday. "He has not got one."

Pete Doherty loses his bottle over interviews

Pete Doherty was reunited on stage with his former band mate, Carl Barat, at a gig in Camden's Prince of Wales pub on Wednesday night.

The occasion was a bit of landmark event for a certain generation of musicfans, since there's often speculation that the duo's old band, The Libertines, will one day reform.

So understandably, journalists at the tiny north London venue were keen to catch a word with them after the show.

"We were originally told by the evening's organisers that there would be chance to speak to both Pete and Carl once their set was finished, but suddenly all interviews got cancelled," one disgruntled hack tells me.

"Apparently some pillock from the NME went and threw a beer bottle in Doherty's dressing room.

"He got chucked out and the rest of us were told that all bets were off."

Rose faces ire for IRA comment

After Rose McGowan's ill-judged comments about the IRA, the producers of her new film on the Troubles, Fifty Dead Men Walking, are ducking for cover.

A spokesman for HandMade Films has issued a withering statement to distance the company from the actress's assertion that she "would 100 per cent have been in the IRA".

"We were surprised and disappointed by the comments made by Ms McGowan," said producer Guy Collins. "Her opinions run entirely contrary to the stated aims of the film." Ouch.

Catwalk's no cakewalk

Cilla Black took to the catwalk at Wednesday evening's Fashion For Relief charity show at the Natural History Museum.

But behind that famous Liverpudlian grin there lurked a seasoned pro who was wracked with nerves.

"Cilla was absolutely bricking it beforehand," reports my backstage mole. "While everyone else was getting changed in the dressing room, she insisted on using one of the loos."

Still, Cilla wasn't exactly in her ninth circle. Apparently, she was being comforted by American beefcake, Tyson Beckford, who kept topping up her champagne glass and murmuring in her ear: "It's just like walking down the street."

Royles' annus hilarious

In the last Christmas special of The Royle Family, the creators decided to kill off Liz Smith's endearingly dotty character, Nana.

One of the BBC1 show's writers, Phil Mealey, has promised to jollify this year's offering.

"It'll just be funny this time," he explains to Pandora. "After all, we don't want to become the Dr Shipman of comedy."

Mealey says he and his co-writers Caroline Aherne and Craig Cash are deliberately delaying filming the episode for as long as they can to keep it as current as possible.

"It'll allow us to be topical about things like the banking crash," he adds with a grin.

You can almost hear Ricky Tomlinson as Jim Royle now: "Lehman Brothers, my arse!"

Why Andy oozes sex appeal

There is another accolade for Andrew Marr to add to his collection. The cerebral string bean broadcaster has been named Most Desired Brainy Celebrity by the gay dating website Gay-Parship.com, clocking up a dominant 34 per cent of the vote.

The unlikely stud-muffin will no doubt be thrilled with the news, especially given that he fought off stiff competition from his well-coiffed alpha male BBC colleague, Jeremy Paxman.

Explaining the choice, a spokesman for the site commented: "Raw intelligence has always been attractive. Cupid's dart has forever been torn between beauteous Aphrodite and the wisdom of Athena – rarely more so, it seem, than amongst gays."

pandora@independent.co.uk

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