Pandora: Esther wins her most important endorsement

Esther Rantzen may have the unyielding support of the 24-hour news brigade, but not everyone has been quite so easy to win over in her bid to stand as an independent MP.

Sceptic number one, apparently, is her daughter, fellow television presenter Rebecca Wilcox. "She's seen me work flat out in the past and she's seen my lifestyle now where I spend precious time with my family," explains Esther. "She's worried about that becoming much, much harder – which it will be, inevitably. My son's worried about that too."

Over the weekend, in a bid to convince her to the contrary, Rantzen took Rebecca on a tour of Luton South, the constituency where she's considering running. "It was very helpful. Rebecca knows me well. She knows what work I've done, and what I've enjoyed and what turns me on. At least now I think she understands why I might do this."

So can we expect any of her offspring to turn out on the campaign trail? Rantzen is coy. "Well that would be lovely wouldn't it? Though I wouldn't want them to not be able to live their own lives. Though I would like to say to Rebecca: 'Don't worry – I'll still be able to help plan your wedding.' I think she's a little worried about that."

Springer talks up his high notes

"They said that I could hit all the notes so I didn't need to get any singing lessons," declared a confident-as-ever Jerry Springer at the Cambridge Theatre's party to mark his first night playing Billy Flynn in Chicago. "Let's be honest: those songs don't really have difficult bits in them anyway." Brave words, indeed, from a man better known for the volatility of his talk show guests than the voluptuousness of his chorus. Still, Pandora's reserving judgement until after the first reviews come in.

Tony makes a right royal pact

Did Tony Blair make a secret pact with the Queen not to watch The Queen (the film, that is)? The film's star, Michael Sheen, certainly thinks so. "I heard through a fairly reliable source that there was an agreement she was not going to watch the film and Mr Blair wasn't going to watch the film either," he said with uncharacteristic opacity shortly after picking up an OBE for services to drama. "There were only two people in the room when that happened and one of them told me. I'm not going to say any more than that." Intriguing.

Gilliam hunts for Depp's female co-star

And... action! It is, it would seem, all systems go for Terry Gilliam when it comes to his second attempt at filming Don Quixote.

This time last year, the Monty Python star-turned-director told this column that he had started work on a script for the production's second attempt (back in 2000 Gilliam's efforts were put on hold by a series of freakish accidents). Now we hear he has found a suitable location for the project, and will be moving to Madrid to begin pre-production later this month.

Even better, it appears Johnny Depp – who had been due to star in the original production – will be joining Gilliam's second attempt. All that's needed, apparently, is an appropriately sultry female co-star: "[We'd like] Penelope Cruz 20 years younger, someone with fire in their eyes," says Gilliam.

Munn doles out more advice

Further services for MPs, now, courtesy of Meg Munn, MP for Sheffield Heeley (and wife of the Chancellor's "tax adviser"). The generous soul, we're told, is offering other members the chance to attend a meeting to discuss the Westminster Foundation for Democracy. Despite recent revelations, we are assured the Foundation has, in fact, been in existence since the early Nineties; it aims to promote democracy around the world. Next stop: the United Kingdom. (Perhaps.)

pandora@independent.co.uk

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