Pandora: Life Swap: Dorries does a Portillo

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The Independent Online

When Michael Portillo swapped the "reasonably rich" life of a former cabinet minister for the hard graft of a single mum as part of a BBC TV documentary, he won over viewers with a hitherto-unseen sensitive side.

Pandora very much hopes that the same fate awaits Nadine Dorries. We hear that the biscuit-loving Tory MP - recently embroiled in a legal battle with former Labour spinners Derek Draper and Damian McBride over emailed smear allegations - is soon to embark on a similar challenge for Channel 4, swapping her life in a genteel suburb in her Mid-Bedfordshire constituency for one alongside a struggling family in east London.

Quite why Ms Dorries, whose not inconsiderable expenses claims attracted widespread attention earlier this year, has agreed to put herself up for what could be a potentially rather humiliating task remains to be seen; Portillo waited until leaving office before he took the gamble.

Still, the result should prove entertaining. Dorries, as well as having her family interviewed, will sit a series of psychological assessments for the programme. No doubt the Labour backbenches are already prepping their punch lines.

Ding dong! Harman's festive treat

More on Ben Westwood's Christmas carolling plans. The photographer (son of Dame Vivienne), who has promised to pay Harriet Harman a festive visit, tells me he has chosen "Ding Dong Merrily on High" for the occasion. Westwood will croon the song while driving a lorry dressed as Father Christmas with four latex-clad models as backing singers. The move is to protest against plans to restrict the performance of burlesque dancing. "All oppressive regimes have been sexually puritanical," explains Westwood. Watch out!

Viva Africa: Nancy plays away

Hold the back page! Word reaches us of momentous changes afoot in the inner bunker of the England World Cup team.

Nancy Dell'Olio, vampish ex-squeeze of the former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson (not to mention Baden-Baden cheerleader-in-chief), tells us that, when it comes to next year's World Cup, she won't be cheering on the three lions.

Neither, for that matter, will she be supporting her native Italy. "I'm going to support one of the African teams," Dell'Olio, pictured, told us at the Score4Africa awards.

"I actually think Italy are one of the few teams who are in with a chance, but I am hoping for an African winner."

A treat for the bureaucrats

Pandora's first celebrity Christmas card of the season has arrived – in the thoroughly reliable (if not a little dull) form of an eCard. It comes from Sandie Shaw, presumably grateful for our dedicated coverage of her campaigns against the bureaucracy of the European Union (Shaw launched a name-and-shame service of the most unhelpful MEPs).

"What's in your stocking this season?" asks a teasing photo of Sandie pictured scantily clad circa 1964. How many, we wonder, winged their way over to Brussels?

£10 special? Ah, maybe not...

All together now: Ping! Pandora mentioned last week the harassment of Labour MPs and their staff at the hands of party organisers attempting to round up the herds for a, ahem, "voluntary" staff training day. At last count, they were on round-robin number six. Still, the tide has not stemmed. We're told that several more cajoling emails have been sent ahead of tomorrow's event. A day's worth of office-speak and a sandwich... all for the modest price of £10. How could anyone resist?