Pandora: Time for something completely different

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The Independent Online

AS his latest surreal offering reaches the big screen, the maverick director Terry Gilliam has taken a timely swipe at industry rivals.

The former Monty Python star, whose new lavish effort, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, premiered in London last night, claims he's dis-illusioned by the efforts of today's major film-makers.

"They look at all their favourite movies, steal all the bits that are good, and change them a little to fool the public," insists the London-based American. "Movies, I guess, more and more leave me unsurprised. I saw too many movies when I was younger."

Gilliam, who worked with the late Heath Ledger on Parnassus, offers the following tongue-in-cheek insight into his own approach to relations on the film set. "It's people that count, deep friendships," he declares.

"You hire people you'll be with a long time, and then just take advantage of them in the end!"

What's Brillo's blond bombshell?

The flamboyant political anchor Andrew Neil's curious barnet has long been an easy target for detractors. While Neil – or "Brillo Pad", as he is affectionately known – rightly rises above such schoolboy mockery, his current hair colour is the cause of understandable speculation. The BBC stalwart has been turning heads at the Tory conference this week, thanks to his unusually blond locks. Conspiracy theories range from a dollop of Just For Men, to Neil's scalp merely enjoying the effects of the famed Manchester sunshine.

Running man vanishes from view

While efforts to organise a joint early morning canter through Manchester for David Cameron and Boris Johnson proved unsuccessful this week, the finger of suspicion is now being firmly pointed at the Tory leader's official running partner Desmond Swayne.

Observers note that Swayne – Dave's parliamentary private secretary – makes a habit of trailing his boss when they pound the streets, despite being a well-known fitness fanatic in his own right.

"There are mutterings that Desmond actually just lets David win," whispers a colleague.

I attempted to put this scurrilous charge to Mr Swayne yesterday, but am still awaiting a reply.

Opik misses out on Estonian promotion

News of an alarming snub to Estonia's foremost emigré space cadet, the Lib Dem MP Lembit Opik. Today sees the launch of an ambitious initiative to promote the Baltic country's merits to British youngsters. Pandora, for one, naturally presumed that our favourite Estonian would front this worthy cause, but tourism bosses in Tallinn have opted instead for a native pop star, Hannah Ild. What with Mr Opik's well-documented penchant for Euro pop princesses, perhaps there's a twist in the tale yet?

Mortimer's son starts to drawl

She has deservedly established herself as one of Britain's more prolific acting exports across the Atlantic, but Emily Mortimer confesses that raising her child as an American comes at a price.

Mortimer, who has a son, Samuel, with her fellow actor Alessandro Nivola, tells Psychologies magazine: "My five-year-old mocks me every time I open my mouth. He talks with an American accent, which I don't mind, but I do resent him taking the piss out of mine."