Pandora: Image gurus jostle over Sir Fred's comeback

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The Independent Online

Implausible as it may seem, former RBS boss Sir Fred Goodwin may not be doomed to quite the life of notoriety that Pandora had first assumed. Rather the opposite, in fact: it would seem that the PR industry is positively overflowing with big-wigs jostling for the chance to lend the country's least popular banker a hand.

One such volunteer is Mark Borkowski, author of The Fame Formula. He's taken to offering Sir Fred advice via his website. "I'd show him a documentary on [John] Profumo," he explains. "He was as despised as Fred the Shred is now. And look at his legacy of charity work by the time he died."

All well and good, but Borkowski's suggestions aren't going down too well with Sir Fred's current adviser, the renowned image man Richard Hillgrove, who was hired on the recommendation of MP Nigel Griffiths (himself no stranger to crisis-aversion; he was the chap caught cheating on his wife inside the House of Commons).

"Borkowski is merely a spectator of the image world," sniffs Hillgrove. "How can he write a book called The Fame Formula which analyses celebrity and then think they can talk with any authority about business and politics. It's not all one big soup.

"People desperately want to put a face on it by creating a scapegoat, using someone like Sir Fred Goodwin as a metaphor is lazy but convenient."

Caine joins the jobless

Have we really seen the last of Sir Michael Caine? Pandora certainly hopes not. The actor – who has repeatedly threatened to retire from show business – was decidedly down-beat at the premiere of his new flick Is Anybody There?

"I don't do much work anymore," he reflected. "I always say the movie business retires you, you don't retire the movie business. But I don't have a movie, and I'm not working with anyone, so I suppose I'm unemployed."

Duncan sidelined after gag

Scurrilous rumours continue to surround Alan Duncan's provocative appearance on Have I Got News for You.

For reasons unfathomable, some within the Tory party are suggesting that the shadow Leader of the House – who, a tad unwisely, joked of "killing" the anti-gay marriage Miss California – failed to seek party sanction before appearing on the programme. For his part, Duncan insists such tales hold no truth – though sceptics have pointed out that Duncan was seated furthest from his leader when the shadow Cabinet took to the stage for the party conference. A coincidence, surely?

Lembit proves a handful for Al

Harsh words from comedian Al Murray on Absolutle Radio yesterday afternoon. "If I don't ever have to interview Lembit Opik again it would be too soon," he raged to a startled Geoff Lloyd.

"He was a twit. He was going out with that Cheeky lady then... I chatted her up in Romanian to annoy him ."