The return of the Scud Stud causes rumbles at the BBC

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* Rageh Omaar has set housewives' hearts a-flutter again this week, presenting the BBC's American election coverage from Florida. Omaar has barely graced our screens since the Iraq war, and instead has written two books for Penguin Press. But, while the return of the "Scud Stud" has set some faces alight, others are covered in scowls.

* Rageh Omaar has set housewives' hearts a-flutter again this week, presenting the BBC's American election coverage from Florida. Omaar has barely graced our screens since the Iraq war, and instead has written two books for Penguin Press. But, while the return of the "Scud Stud" has set some faces alight, others are covered in scowls.

Following persistent whispering about sour grapes surrounding Omaar, a senior source in the BBC newsroom has now told Pandora that some there are most unhappy about his comeback.

"People were annoyed that he came back from Iraq covered in glory and was given lots of time off to write," I'm told. "Now he's back in this plum job and hackles are up."

Omaar didn't help his case during the tour to promote his book Revolution Day, during which he refused to mingle with journalists at one literary festival and began to be seen as a diva.

Since then, sales of 25,000 have prompted some commentators to call Omaar's £850,000 two-book deal "inflated" and some less than generous BBC hacks are murmuring that he has returned with his tail between his legs.

Naturally, his agent disagrees, and in the most vehement tones. "Why are you asking these questions?" she barks when I call. "He's never not been on the BBC!"

A BBC spokesman assures me that "we're working him as hard now as ever".

* JUST A year after publishing the huge, bells-and-whistles autobiography of Monty Python, John Cleese is to snub his publishers by releasing his own autobiography online.

Cleese and his remaining fellow Pythons all contributed to the £30-a-copy doorstop, which was described as "Holy Writ for Python fanatics" by reviewers. But, given its price, its publishers at Orion must have been hoping to recoup some of their advances with sales of the paperback, to be published next August.

Now Cleese has announced that, to celebrate his 65th birthday, he is launching a website, www.thejohncleese. com, where he will post his autobiography as he writes it.

There is one fly in the ointment, however: he was forced to add "the", as a Cleese impersonator has already bought the internet address www.johncleese.com.

"I don't think Mr Cleese will be getting that back off him," says a rueful spokeswoman. Perhaps that's one consolation for Orion.

* HAVING APPEARED on BBC1 attempting to solve the murder of the Victorian barrister Charles Bravo, Julian Fellowes has uncovered another mystery.

"We're going to dramatise the rather extraordinary case of the Goose Hall murder," he tells me. "It happened at the turn of the century and involves a man who knew he was going to be murdered, but whose murderer was never convicted."

The actor will doubtless be hoping his next project does not lead to the disquiet his programme on Bravo provoked between him and his wife, Emma Kitchener-Fellowes, a lady-in-waiting to Princess Michael of Kent.

"When they watched it, she and my son, Peregrine, both disagreed with me on the identity of the murderer" he says. "That's what makes it such a fascinating case."

* JENNIE ERDAL'S controversial autobiography, Ghosting , finally lifts the lid on her ghostwriting collaboration with the writer and publisher, Naim Attallah. Pandora reported recently that Attallah was eager for some "editorial input", but was politely declined. But will he show his face at Thursday's launch? "We invited him, but he hasn't replied," says the publisher, Canongate. "I can understand why he might not want to come."

* NEVER LET it be said our Prime Minister lacks a sense of humour. Having travelled all the way to Budapest recently, he arrived late for a speech by Peter Mandelson.

"Tony was told in no uncertain terms that he had to wait outside until Mandy had finished speaking," I'm told.

"At which Tony rolled his eyes and sighed, 'I could be here for ever, then'."

* That old anti-establishment icon Felix Dennis, who is on tour with his poetry collection, Lone Wolf, won over his Liverpool audience on Wednesday with a hastily-written tribute to the city's son, John Peel. Dennis became as celebrated a revolutionary as Peel in the Sixties, with the Oz magazine obscenity trial.

His poem "Did ye Ken John Peel", based on the 19th-century English hunting song, contains the stanza: "Did ye ken John Peel?/ (Oh he'd hate the fuss)/ Did ye ken John Peel/ On the magic bus/ Did ye ken John Peel/ He was one of us/ On the BBC/ In the evening."

pandora@independent.co.uk

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