Pandora: Heston's Little Chef manager moves on

Heston Blumenthal is usually regarded as the most mild-mannered of our leading super chefs, so I do hope one of the subjects of his latest foray into television hasn't been left badly bruised.

This week, The Fat Duck's chef and owner, appeared in Channel 4's Big Chef Takes on Little Chef, a three-part programme in which he attempts to revamp the Popham Services branch of the unloved roadside diner chain near Winchester.

Naturally, Blumenthal arrived with a few radical ideas for the menu. And, as is the form with such shows, he ended up clashing with some of the staff, including its general manager – a man by the name of Michael – over the changes he wants to make. Interesting, then, to note that since Blumenthal and his team finished making the show, Michael appears to have moved on. Yesterday, the Little Chef's Popham branch placed a job advertisement, on the website caterer.com, seeking a new general manager.

According to the Little Chef, he wanted to return to the branch where he was working before.

"Michael won't be leaving the company, but he's decided he doesn't want to stay at the Popham branch any more," says a spokesman. "He joined the branch to oversee Heston's changes but it's a two-hour drive for him and he decided not to stay as he wants to go back to where he worked before."

Yet another Stone is a hit in art world

The former Stone Roses guitarist John Squire continues to make promising in-roads into the art world.

Tomorrow night, Squire is holding an exhibition of his paintings at the St Martin's Lane Hotel in London's West End. The show, called "Heavy Metal Semantics", is his fifth to date. With another three shows planned before the end of the year, it may well put to rest the recent rumours that his former bandmates, including Ian Brown, were planning to re-form during the summer.

"This is all John does really nowadays. The Stone Roses is very much a past life for him now," says a spokesman for the exhibition. "He has made a very good career out of painting. In past exhibitions, he has usually managed to sell about 80 per cent of the work on show."

It is unlikely to be just the art attracting inquisitive stares from the guests tomorrow night. Surprisingly, organisers are promising that the normally reclusive Squire will definitely show up.

Drogba has film star appeal

Brian Clough's name is to be immortalised on celluloid, when the film adaptation of David Peace's novel, The Damned United, hits cinema screens in March. But can Didier Drogba: The Movie be far behind?

The Booker Prize winner Roddy Doyle, whose novel The Commitments was turned into an award-winning movie, reckons the Chelsea and Ivory Coast footballer's life is tailor-made for the big screen.

"I'd say there's a spectacular movie in Didier Drogba," he tells the latest official Chelsea magazine. "He has an extraordinary face and, knowing a tiny bit about his history, it is a magnificent story. From a writing point of view, he has a story that is different to the norm."

Goldsmith bids a boar farewell

ON TOP of his battle against Heathrow's third runway, Zac Goldsmith is facing drama on the domestic front.

Goldsmith and his three young children are mourning the death of the family pig. "My boar, Enoch, who I had for the last 20 years, died yesterday," he tells Pandora. "My children loved him. They used to play with him all the time."

Ironically, Goldsmith was attending a screening of Channel 4's Pig Matters, which investigates porcine farming. "Pigs are lively and imaginative. This film is sad and shocking," he added.

Hain misses the US inauguration

Journalists at The Guardian were treated to a surprising sight yesterday afternoon. Just as Barack Obama's inauguration was kicking off on television, the perma-tanned Peter Hain was seen striding through the corridors on a tour of the paper's swanky new offices in King's Cross. "Very odd Hain didn't want to stay in to catch Obama, not least as he used to be an anti-apartheid activist," said one scribbler. "Maybe he was Sky Plussing it."

Scene change at 'Tatler' awards

To the annual Tatler Restaurant Awards at London's Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Moments before the magazine's well-connected editor, Geordie Greig, took to the stage to dish out the evening's prizes, a wooden advertising backdrop came crashing down on to the stage. The Evening Standard's editor, Veronica Wadley, was not reported to be near the scene.

pandora@independent.co.uk

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