The 'red-socked fop' returns to the fray

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* When Sir Christopher Meyer sticks his impeccably-groomed head above the parapet, important people get hurt.

Six months ago, our former Ambassador to Washington published memoirs detailing bitchery in the international court of Tony Blair. An outraged John Prescott accorded him the sobriquet "red-socked fop".

Now Sir Christopher is returning to poke the hornets' nest that is the Blair regime's conduct over the war in Iraq. He's agreed to appear before the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, which is conducting a investigation into "foreign policy aspects" of the "war on terror".

The hour-long interview, scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, will mark the first time that Sir Christopher has been cross-examined by MPs over the Iraq war.

They expect fireworks, since his book DC Confidential was highly critical of Blair's failure to blunt George Bush's enthusiasm for conflict.

"It's a long and ongoing inquiry," says a spokesman for the committee. "This will be the first time his views are examined outside the context of this rather notorious memoir."

Although the committee has the power to compel people to give evidence, I understand that Meyer will appear of his own accord. It'll be his second such appearance in recent months. Before Christmas, the Culture Select Committee gave him something of a dressing down when he was required to give evidence defending his decision to publish a memoir in the first place.

* It was always going to be a stretch, but Alan Partridge has been forced to shelve his ambitions to conquer Hollywood.

A year after Steve Coogan revealed that he and Patrick Marber were writing Alan Partridge: the Movie, the project has stalled.

The actress Amelia Bullmore, who plays Partridge's Ukrainian girlfriend Sonja, tells me: "I'm not sure it's going ahead now.

"There was a lot of talk about it last year, but then the London bombings happened and it got put to one side," said Bullmore, at the launch of her new TV show, Suburban Shootout.

"I'm sure Steve will write an Alan Partridge film eventually. But for the moment I don't think it's happening."

The problem, I gather, is that Coogan's script, involving an al Qa'ida siege, had to be canned for reasons of taste, following the 7/7 attack.

"Steve's been preoccupied with a new comedy for BBC2," says his production company, Baby Cow. "The movie will happen, but as there's no script yet, it won't be any time soon."

* Oh, to be a fly on the tin wall of Demi Moore's Winnebago when she meets the co-stars of her new film, Flawless.

It was announced this week that Moore Sir Michael Caine and Joss Ackland will be filming the flick in the UK and Luxembourg later this year.

Sir Michael will no doubt be politeness personified, but Moore's relations with Ackland may prove tricky.

Last time they worked together, in 2000, Ackland told the Radio Times that his co-star possessed all the intelligence of two short planks.

"Then there was Passion of Mind last year with Demi Moore," he said. "Terrible script. Awful, actually, but I needed the money.

"She's all right; not very bright or talented. I imagine she and Bruce Willis together were a joy to behold."

That final quote caused an almighty stink. "As far as we know, Joss has never said sorry," says a source close to the project.

* Patricia "don't panic" Hewitt isn't going to let the NHS crisis detract from routine point-scoring.

Every Labour MP has been invited to join the Health Secretary at a special photo-shoot in Westminster on Tuesday.

The invitation says they'll be celebrating the 50th anniversary of "Nye Bevan giving the NHS Bill its second reading on the floor of the House of Commons."

For critics, this sort of grandstanding couldn't have come at a worse time. But Hewitt isn't bothered: she's going to be brandishing "a themed prop."

A Labour spokesman tells me that, assuming they don't decide to call the whole thing off, this will consist of a giant sponge cake.

* After bar staff, Australia's biggest cultural export to these shores has been inexplicably popular TV shows.

Sometimes we get our own back, though. For Torvill and Dean are about to film an Aussie version of Dancing on Ice.

They accepted the job for pragmatic reasons. "There was interest from places like Italy, Russia and Germany, but we chose Australia because they speak English," said Torvill, at the first night of Mack & Mabel. "It's also the first place we visited after we won the Olympics in 1984."

Several famous Antipodeans (Shane Warne is widely tipped) will now model a sequin jump-suit, but they'll be hard-pushed to rival David Seaman.

He jollified the British version of the show by dropping partner Pam O'Connor on her teeth.