Pandora: Plum feels the crunch

Plum Sykes's efforts to crack the potentially lucrative American TV market are in danger of falling victim to the credit crunch.

Earlier this year, I reported the transatlantic socialite had been enlisted by US network NBC to pen a Sex In the City-style sitcom called Mogulettes, a comedy about female tycoons.

Although Sykes is nearly ready to hand them a script for the pilot episode, she reckons it could be some time before her efforts bear fruit.

"I've almost finished writing it – but it's still early and these are very difficult times at the moment with the credit crunch," she tells me. "No one has any money for anything, so we'll just have to wait and see what happens. It's a really terrible time."

Intriguingly, Sykes has been looking at some of the leading female big hitters for inspiration.

"I wanted to see how, you know, Tamara Mellon or Ivanka Trump do it – running businesses and still being in the front row of Valentino," she says. "Though I couldn't possibly say if it's based on anyone in particular – I had to do lots and lots of interviews, all off the record. It's fiction, after all."

No festive cover for Gordon Brown

After yesterday's boast that he had "saved the world" from financial ruin, it appears Gordon Brown isn't comfortable handing over the reins of power during the Christmas break.

The Prime Minister was expected to take a few days off over the festive period, leaving one of his underlings in charge of the Government.

The most obvious candidate to fill in would be his loyal Scottish terrier, Alistair Darling, who took control in August while Brown visited the Suffolk seaside.

However, I am reliably informed that the Chancellor has yet to receive any orders from No 10 to cancel his Christmas leave. "If he plans for Alistair to take charge for a few days then he certainly hasn't told him yet," I'm informed. "As a result, most of his staff have already packed their bags and are planning to head back to Scotland next Thursday once the Commons gets up for Christmas."

Of course, it could be that Brown has earmarked Labour's haughty deputy leader (though conspicuously not the Government's Deputy Prime Minister) Harriet Harman for the responsibility.

She was placed in charge towards the end of July, and immediately insisted upon a wish list of demands which included late-night briefings on the next day's headlines.

Her diva-like demands reportedly prompted the Permanent Secretary at No 10, Jeremy Heywood, to tell his groaning staff: "I know guys, please do not shoot the messenger."

Blur reunion comes under party political pressure

Blur's much-vaunted return performance next July potentially threatens the political ambitions of the band's carrot-topped drummer, Dave Rowntree.

Rowntree has been selected to stand for the Labour Party for the Cities of London and Westminster parliamentary seat at the next general election.

This could prove awkward if, as has recently been mooted, Gordon Brown decides to call a snap election in the early part of next summer.

If that happens, Rowntree could be forced to make a painful choice between pursuing his budding political career and trousering the hefty financial windfall that will inevitably come his way with the group's reunion.

In any case, Rowntree is also currently studying to be a barrister. So I hope he keeps up with his homework between band practices.

Nixon fondly remembered

Who should Pandora bump into at a recent screening of Ron Howard's big screen adaptation of Peter Morgan's play Frost/Nixon, than the eternally bubbly socialite, Victoria Aitken.

Aitken, 28-year-old daughter of the colourful former Tory minister Jonathan, told me she had been particularly keen to catch the flick, which dramatises the series of televised interviews Richard Nixon granted to David Frost.

Apparently, she once shared a touching encounter with "Tricky Dicky" during her formative years.

"I actually remember him from when I was a little girl," she said. "He used to bounce me up and down on his knee."

George returns to Russian culture

After all the controversy surrounding his meetings with a Russian oligarch in Corfu over the summer, George Osborne's appearance at Tuesday's opening of the Victoria and Albert Museum's Magnificence of the Tsars exhibition seemed perhaps a just little close to the knuckle.

"I'm just a big supporter of the V&A, that's all," he told Pandora.

"There's nothing to be read into it at all. It's a very interesting exhibition."

Who bought all the pies?

Members of the Cabinet were greeted with a bulging tray of mince pies at Tuesday morning's Cabinet meeting.

"We weren't told who'd bought them," said one senior Cabinet member. "It certainly wasn't Gordon's idea. He was surprised as the rest of us."

Not that the PM was tucking in, mind. Mrs B has apparently had him on a strict diet since his pilates-filled summer hols.

pandora@independent.co.uk

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