Pandora: Tough guy Tony books in to serenade Tories at their conference

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The Independent Online

David Cameron likes to swagger on to the stage at Tory conferences accompanied by music by The Killers, but his party's core membership tends to prefer its music a little more old school.

The organisers of next month's get-together in Birmingham have booked in a live performance by the former Spandau Ballet singer, Tony Hadley.

Hadley has agreed to take to the stage at the party's gala dinner, the biggest social event of the week, following a talk by the shadow Defence Minister Liam Fox. For £75, guests will get to hear Hadley sing, along with "a five-course meal and half a bottle of wine".

As a long-term supporter of the Conservatives, Hadley is a regular at Tory fund-raising bashes in London and is often rumoured to be sniffing around for a safe seat to contest.

However, I do hope he stays on-message at this year's gathering. When Pandora ran into Hadley at the conference in Blackpool last year, he launched into an aggressive rant about British youth.

"The fabric of society is torn," he said. "I walked through Blackpool and there were gangs walking the back streets and 16-year-old pregnant women everywhere. What we need is for David Cameron to be like Thatcher, to say, 'Enough is enough, things have gone too far'.

"Five-year mandatory sentences for carrying a knife and 10 years for carrying a gun. We will build however many prisons we need."

Olivia has West End ambitions

Following in the hallowed footsteps of Nicole Kidman and Gwyneth Paltrow, Olivia Thirlby is the latest Hollywood beauty keen to tread the boards of the London stage.

"It is my ultimate dream but I don't know if they let Americans on there," she tells me. "I am going to do it though – I want to play Beatrice from Much Ado About Nothing."

Thirlby, the 21-year-old Juno actress, was speaking at the premiere of The Wackness. There was no sign of co-star Mary Kate Olsen, who has kept a low profile since the death of her friend Heath Ledger.

Potter star pirouettes back to the big screen

Another feather in the cap for dainty young actress Emma Watson. Her first non-Harry Potter appearance, in a BBC adaptation of Noel Streatfeild's children's classic, Ballet Shoes, is to be distributed in cinemas across the US.

It is a surprising development, since the film was originally made for BBC television. When it was screened here last Christmas, it was also met with largely unkind reviews, despite a stellar cast which included such theatrical luminaries as Emilia Fox, Victoria Wood and Richard Griffiths.

It is the latest bit of good news for Watson, 18, who last month signed a £3m contract to become the face of Chanel. More recently, she was awarded straight A grades at A-level which friends say she hopes will secure her a place at Cambridge to read philosophy.

World champions?

David Beckham and his chums cut a sorry sight at Wembley Stadium on Wednesday evening, but it is not all doom and gloom on the football front.

This Sunday marks the opening of the gay football world cup, which is being held in Regent's Park, London, all next week. Unlike our hopeless national side, the gay British team Stonewall FC are actually expected to walk off with the trophy.

"Unlike mainstream football, in the gay championships the British teams are world-beaters," says their cheerleader-in-chief, Peter Tatchell. "We have just won the European Gay Football Championship and are on course to pull off the world title next week."

Nigel's paper rounds

The hard work appears to have finally paid off for actor Nigel Pivaro. Last month, I reported that the former Coronation Street regular – he played Jack and Vera Duckworth's wrong 'un son Terry – had been spotted attending a three-day course at the Centre for Investigative Journalism in London.

Since then, I hear, Pivaro has been seen around Richard Desmond's shiny Northern & Shell offices in east London. Apparently, Pivaro has been doing a few shifts on The Daily Star Sunday.

Although he popped up at Vera's funeral earlier this year, Pivaro gave up acting two years ago to become a journalist. He has previously worked for the Reporter and Chronicle Newspaper Group based in Manchester.

Is Ricky counting the calories?

All that time in Hollywood appears to have got Ricky Gervais flustered about his weight. On Tuesday evening, a mole spotted the star of The Office dining in The Ivy restaurant in central London, where he seemed to be adhering to a strict new dieting regime.

"Ricky was with his partner and a couple of friends and kept making these noises and telling them how jealous he was whenever their food arrived," I'm told.

"Meanwhile, he just picked away at a bit of salad. Then he had a fruit salad for pudding. I can only assume that he ordered involuntarily, as he spent most of his time eating it while gawping at my frozen berries in chocolate sauce."