Pandora: Wanted: a Conservative Catherine Tate-a-like

Red hair? Regional accent? Then you too could star in the Conservatives' next political campaign.

Already preparing their celluloid onslaught ahead of next year's General Election, the Conservative Party has begun advertising for actors to play the part of voters in their forthcoming television adverts.

Among the roles to be filled, are those of "the sort of girl who wears lots of rings and has chipped nail polish" – whatever will the Turnip Taliban say? – and the "honest, hardworking welder who has worked for the same company for 20 years... think Billy Elliot's dad" (immortalised on the big screen, of course, by Scottish actor Gary Lewis).

Ironically, Billy Elliot's father was one of those striking miners so vilified by the Conservatives in the 1980s.

Still, our personal favourite is the part of the "handsome, curvy" mum, described as being in her late 40s, and looking "similar to Catherine Tate".

Tate, curiously, was unavailable for the role herself. She's "busy with other projects," explained her agent yesterday. Who would have thought?

From Stamford Bridge to Eastlands

Marco Pierre White may need to prepare for a dip in takings at his swish Stamford Bridge eatery. The chef – hitherto aligned (business-wise, at least) with Chelsea FC – is soon to join forces with one of the team's chief rivals, that other big spender, Manchester City. But at least it's for a good cause. We're told White has been approached by Shaun Wright-Phillips to recreate a Hell's Kitchen scenario with City players. Proceeds go to the charity Education for the Children – at £225 per ticket (+VAT) we should hope so.

Tipped as a favourite

Indignation in Sherwood, where local Labour members are up in arms over directions from Westminster that a female candidate should take over from the sitting MP Paddy Tipping at the election. The move would make Emilie Oldknow the inevitable favourite. Curiously, Oldknow recently appeared at a recent party fundraiser (hosted by none other than Liz Blackman MP) with one Jonathan Ashworth, Downing Street advisor and trusted member of Gordon Brown's Kitchen Cabinet. Friends in high places, etc.

Masterful Mike, the new Hot Shot Shahid?

Congratulations to Mike Penning – hitherto known to Pandora only for his prowess on the rugby field – on his victory in last night's annual Commons pool competition at Annie's Bar.

The strapping shadow Health Minister (formerly a Grenadier Guardsman and fireman) pocketed the much-coveted title following Pandora regular Shahid "Hot Shot" Malik's decision not to enter this year's tournament.

Mr Penning beat lobby journalist and 2007 finalist Rob Merrick in the semis and then trounced fellow finalist, House of Commons lawyer Peter Brooksbank, in two straight games, becoming the first Conservative member to win the title.

Pot luck, eh?

We're all going on an office training day...

Ping! Ping! Ping! And, er, ping, ping ping! Staff of Labour MPs are suffering from particularly packed inboxes at the moment. A voluntary staff training day is scheduled for next week – if, that is, anyone actually volunteers for it. Organisers have just sent out their sixth emailed round-robin advertising the day, each one growing more desperate in tone. Attendees will be provided with a day's worth of office-speak and a sandwich... all for the modest price of £10. Any takers? Ah. Perhaps not.

pandora@independent.co.uk

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