Pandora: Noel takes time out from theatreland

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The Independent Online

Noel Clarke's theatre career has been hit by an unexpected setback. The award-winning writer and director of gritty London films Adulthood and Kidulthood was due to premier his first play at last month's Louder Than Words Festival at the Tristan Bates Theatre in London.

Shortly before opening, however, Clarke changed his mind.

"Once it got out that I was going to be there, there was a lot of interest," he tells me. "The showcase is supposed to be about promoting younger, more up-and-coming writers and that buzz started to detract from them. I didn't want to take away the credit."

Instead, Clarke, who also featured as Billie Piper's love interest in Doctor Who, has been forced to put his theatre career on hold temporarily and pursue film commitments.

"At the moment, I've got the script just sitting on my laptop, along with another one that I've done since. It's definitely something I'm going to do in future. I'm just not sure when."

A Parisian entente

Has a truce broken out between Anna Wintour, the chicer-than-thou editor of US Vogue, and Dan Mathews, vice-president of animal rights group Peta?

Reports from Paris Fashion Week claim the pair have been seen – of all things – shaking hands. It's a surprising development since over the years Wintour has suffered more than her fair share of Peta paint-splatterings. Perhaps the entente is an attempt to sweeten Mathews up ahead his forthcoming memoirs which, say publishers, will "lift the lid" on America's fashion industry.

Gurinda's Wonderful Afterlife

Last time Pandora heard from Gurinder Chadha, she had just given up hope that her big-screen adaptation of the TV series Dallas would ever reach the light of day.

So it's good to hear that her latest project, the Bollywood-inspired It's a Wonderful Afterlife, is coming along so smoothly.

After securing funding from The Indian Film Company last week, the director – best known for her work on Bend It Like Beckham – has announced the casting of Shabana Azmi, one of Bollywood's most revered actresses.

"She is one classy lady," says Chadha.

"I've been looking forward to working for her for a long time."

Mamma Mia! This sounds familiar...

Dawn French will be belting out the Abba tunes tomorrow, as part of a Comic Relief spoof of the film Mamma Mia! It won't, however, be her first encounter with the top notes of "Waterloo".

Yesterday the comic surprised Absolute Radio listeners by calling up Christian O'Connell for an impromptu interview.

Asked whether she was a fan of the big-screen version, she responded with a terse "pass". Pressed to explain, she claimed that she had auditioned for the film, only to be turned down.

"I thought I was singing but it was really a very bad noise that came out of me," she explained. "I sang "Chiquitita" or Chicken Tikka, whatever it's called, so badly, with a man playing very loudly and with a lot of verve. Not The Verve, that would have been easier."

"As I left the audition I turned my phone on and my agent was on the phone saying it's not going to work. I hadn't even left the building! You can imagine the bitterness so now I've written by own Mamma Mia. Not revenge exactly, just justice."

Humphrey's hair how-to

Formula One anchor Jake Humphrey treated fans to a typically metrosexual insight into his morning beauty routine, after one viewer sent a query to the Beeb's website. Among the first questions received by the spanking-new F1 homepage was the probing enquiry: "Are you planning on tailoring your hairstyle to be as resilient to the buffeting wind as Steve Rider used to on ITV?" Humphrey's reply? "I'm strictly a wax man. No Elnette [hairspray] near me, thanks." Vain? Moi?