Pandora: Thirsty hacks seeking solace by the Thames

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The Independent Online

With his first Prime Minister's Questions under his belt, new Speaker John Bercow, finds himself with an early opportunity to win over even the most hard-bitten of Westminster correspondents.

We're told he is being petitioned to reverse the long-standing (not to mention long-resented) decision by his predecessor, Michael Martin, to ban all journalists from the Commons Terrace - a favoured drinking spot amongst MPs and Commons staff - unless in the presence of an Honourable Member.

Pressing ahead with the reform would be a sure-fire way for Bercow to minimise the antagonism with which many regarded Martin, who imposed the rule more than a decade ago as chairman of the Commons catering committee. The ban, a response to Tory MPs' outrage at a Sunday Express cartoon which depicted them sitting on the terrace as they plotted to bring down John Major, means that not only are lobby journalists barred while Parliament is in session, but they are also unable to enjoy their lunch outdoors during the summer recess once MPs have jetted off on holiday.

Complains one former chairman of the press gallery: "We used to be allowed on to the terrace without any problems. It seems petty to keep the ban in place after so many years."

Rickman rates Law's 'Hamlet'

Naturally, Pandora couldn't resist the chance to see Jude Law in the Wyndham Theatre's Hamlet. Neither, it seems, could Alan Rickman, who we spotted just a few seats away. But what did he make of Law's performance? "They all did well," Rickman said. "I've done it myself, so it is impossible to watch objectively, but I enjoyed it."

Vaizey's briefing with Chantelle

Congratulations to Ed Vaizey, who made a surprise appearance on last night's Don't Call Me Stupid alongside Celebrity Big Brother winner Chantelle Houghton. The shadow Culture Secretary was tasked with sitting an exam on "fluffy dog grooming", earning himself a personalised dog collar as a prize. But are relations with Chantelle still sweet? "Sadly, because of diary pressures on both sides, we have been unable to keep in touch," says Ed. Such a pity!

Morgan's not so special relationship?

Intrigue surrounds Peter Morgan's decision to resign as director of the forthcoming flick The Special Relationship.

Morgan, who has already written the screenplay, caused much excitement by announcing it as his directorial debut a few months ago.

Yesterday, however, he pulled out, leaving Richard Loncraine to take his place. Curiously, the news comes just a week after he was asked to pen the next Bond film. For his part, Morgan is resisting specifics. "It was just a mutual decision, the sort of thing that happens in the creative process," insisted his spokesman.

Stop chewing, says Campbell

Food served in cinemas is the latest item to join Alastair Campbell's hefty list of bugbears. "Too many films have had key moments ruined by slurping, burping, crunching, munching, Malteser-spilling neighbours," complains Blair's former spinner. The country's cinema-owners beg to differ. "We rely on food revenue," retorts Phil Clapp of the Cinema Exhibitors' Association. "And people like it. Cinema without food is inconceivable." Time to invest in a DVD player, perhaps?