Pandora: Time to give our MPs a break, says Iannucci

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The Independent Online

Quick! Call Malcolm Tucker – we've got someone going seriously off-message.

As creator of the cult Westminster-based satirical comedy The Thick Of It, Armando Iannucci has spent the past few years making the lives of our Honourable Members uncomfortable. Now, however, he appears to be having a change of heart.

The Scottish screenwriter, who won the best screenplay gong at Sunday's British Independent Film Awards, claims he has started to feel a little sorry for MPs, who are top of everyone's hitlists following the summer's expenses revelations.

"We expect them to work 24 hours a day," Iannucci pleads. "They should run the country from nine until five, five days a week. There should be a half-day closing on a Saturday and all day Sunday.

"The problem is that they can't function any more because they haven't had time to think. It's the Government advisers and the Treasury that run the country now."

Still, his newfound remorse isn't enough to deter him from further mischief. "Oh, I'd like to do some more [of The Thick Of It]," he insists. "I've got thoughts about where it could go next year."

No sighs of relief from the Westminster village just yet, then.

Obama reveals an iPod favourite

*Perhaps Barack Obama isn't quite the pop-culture savvy young hipster we had him down to be.

The Beyoncé-loving commander-in-chief appears to have an unlikely soft spot for middle-of-the road dad rocker Sting. The pair met earlier this year, when the former Police frontman played at Obama's inauguration ball. "He said to me, 'You're on my iPod'," gushes Sting in this month's Mojo magazine. "I said, 'I bet you say that to everybody!' He said, 'No, really – you are'." Oh, say it isn't so!

Caine's World Cup mutiny

Possibly the only football fan in Britain not to celebrate England's place in the World Cup draw is Sir Michael Caine. "They're playing a match up in the mountains where there's no air," the veteran actor grumbles. "They've all got to sleep in a oxygen tent so they can go out on the field. I mean, we thought we had a great thing – but suddenly they're up a mountain playing football."

Not that he will be in attendance. "Actually I went to the final in Berlin and everybody said to me afterwards, 'What did you think about that thing with Zidane?' We never knew anything about it because he hit the guy up the other end. So I'm staying at home with the television in the future."

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice...

*Congratulations to Vic Matcham, Ukip's new election candidate for Dover. Matcham, an ex-boxer who once fought Frank Bruno, is sure to keep local wags amused. As a Dover town councillor, he once had the dubious honour of being duped by a fake Francis Rossi. Matcham was persuaded to lay on a lavish display of hospitality for a conman imitating the Status Quo star, who explained his lack of trademark ponytail by saying "a fake one is stuck on three hours before a gig". Just the sort of safe hands we need to run the country.

Silverton's got the X Factor

*The festive season is upon us, and it is time for Pandora's very own Christmas appeal – namely, to get Kate Silverton a record deal. The well-groomed BBC newsreader stunned us with her tuneful renditions at Children In Need (we thought only Fiona Bruce could sing).

"I always love singing," Silverton tells us. "That performance was the product of many years' singing into a hairbrush. I was constantly trying to prove to my sisters that I could do it." Hottest unsigned act in Britain, we say.