Pandora: Plymouth, the new Beverly Hills?

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The Independent Online

First the Jacksons, and now their most famous hanger-on: Devon, it seems, has earned itself another high-profile admirer.

We're told that David Gest – music producer, infamous former lover of Liza Minnelli and unlikely I'm A Celebrity contestant – has been seen in recent weeks visiting the modest town of Plymouth, Devon. What's more, he appears to be on the verge of buying a hotel there.

The St Elizabeth's House Luxury Hotel had been on the market for several weeks before Gest expressed his interest. And, from the sound of things, it appears a hasty sale could be in order.

"If the price is right – and not outrageous – I plan to buy it," he has told local reporters. "I'm thinking of turning it into a whole different kind of hotel with more nightlife and atmosphere. My people are in touch."

Most intriguingly, Gest claims that if the sale goes according to plan he's like to create a museum of Michael Jackson memorabilia. The pair were famously close, becoming friends in childhood.

Curiously, Devon was also the location chosen by the Jacksons as a summer retreat last year.

"I've always loved Plymouth," explains Gest. "I want to bring a little bit of showbiz to the city." Naturally, we couldn't agree more.

Heston prepares to don his lab coat

Pass that bunsen burner. We hear that Heston Blumenthal has been invited to become guest director of next year's Cheltenham Science Festival. It's a rather surprising appointment, seeing as the chemically minded chef doesn't appear to have any actual scientific qualifications. Still, organisers appear thrilled at the appointment (not to say the publicity it'll bring). "He's taken part in four of the eight festivals we've held since we started," says the director, Kathy Sykes. "He's one of the most creative people I've ever met."

Time to change the Status Quo, Jools

Congratulations to Status Quo, who've been named the "hardest working band" by the Performing Rights Society after playing to 250,000 people this year. Not long ago the denim-clad rockers complained to Pandora that they had been given the cold shoulder by Later ... with Jools Holland. Time to get them on for the Hootenanny?

Labour play it coy with Cheryl

*News that Cheryl Cole maintains her allegiance to the Labour Party has been met with bashful gratitude within party ranks. The prime-time princess recently batted off signs of David Cameron's affection with accusations of his "slippery" nature. But does the party plan to wheel her out come election time? "Cheryl is an incredibly talented and hardworking woman," agrees a spokesman. "Any party would be glad of her support." Watch this space!

Hollywood not beckoning, Ossie?

Ossie Ardiles made his big screen debut opposite Michael Caine in Escape to Victory, though it seems it wasn't everything the former Tottenham player had hoped for. "Obviously I was disappointed that Hollywood didn't come calling for me again," he reflects in this month's Football Punk magazine. "It's a bit like if one of the big clubs didn't come for you. But c'est la vie!" C'est la vie indeed.