Who's brave enough to tackle the PM's book on courage?

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The Independent Online

Gordon Brown's literary prowess may have worked wonders on his billionaire benefactor Lord Paul, but the rest of the country aren't biting.

Last month, it was revealed that Paul – who recently declared he would donate "as much as I can afford" to help bankroll Labour at the next general election – had purchased 6,000 copies of the Prime Minister's book Courage for secondary schools across the land. The book, which was released in June, is Brown's portrait of eight leading figures throughout history including Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela. Embarrassingly, however, it emerges Lord Paul's bulk purchase currently represents more than double the book's entire British sales. According to figures released by the UK book trade's independent sales monitoring services, the tome has barely sold 3,000 copies nationwide.

With on-line booksellers Amazon now offering customers 30 per cent off, industry experts suggest Gordon has a turkey on his hands.

Iain Dale, founder of the Westminster bookstore Politicos, insists when I call: "I'm sure his publishers would have expected a much higher figure than that. I believe he's got another book due out next year, so no doubt Lord Paul's services will be called upon again then."

The book's publishers Bloomsbury didn't return my call about the thousands of remaining copies. Chunters one Westminster wag: "Perhaps they could be used as alternative anaesthetics on the NHS."

Mrs Ross may have to stand on her own two feet

Jonathan Ross kicked off the latest series of Film 2007 on BBC1 last night, but the thorny issue of what to do about one forthcoming film review lurks on the horizon.

This autumn sees the release of the big-budget fantasy epic Stardust, featuring a host of Hollywood luminaries including Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer. It also happens to be written by Ross's glamorous wife, Jane Goldman.

This creates a problem for Ross who is obviously bound by the BBC's stringent rules on impartiality. In normal circumstances, not only would a review of such a star-studded movie get top billing on the show, but the initial "buzz" surrounding it suggests it's also very good.

For the time being, it seems Ross may have succeeded in ducking any potential accusations of bias. Yesterday, a spokesman insisted there are "currently no plans" for him to do a review of the film.

Jude's deal just not to be

The Donmar Theatre secured a boon after Jude Law took the gutsy decision to star in its production of Hamlet but it is another edgy London theatre that has missed out.

When Pandora first reported Law's ambitions to play the Dane three years ago, his intentions were to take the play to The Young Vic.

Only just last year he told me he was busily finalising the details with the theatre's creative director, David Lan. So what went wrong?

"David Lan and Jude are good friends and it's true they did talk about working together, but it was dependent on timing more than anything else," says a Young Vic spokesman. "Jude still wants to work at The Young Vic and they're now talking about other projects."

Team Twigg

The former minister Stephen Twigg is jostling for the seat of West Derby at the next general election, and already cries of a New Labour conspiracy are doing the rounds.

Suspicious local activists reckon Twigg has been given a generous leg-up in his leafleting from Tory-turncoat (now cabinet minister) Shaun Woodward.

Several witnesses claim to have spotted Twigg around the constituency accompanied by one of Woodward's colleagues, leading to accusations that he's been lent the use of his staff.

Twigg insists it's all above board. "One of Shaun Woodward's friends drove me around for a day, that's all, and he certainly wasn't paid," he assures me. "It's just that I can't drive."

Come friendly Widows...

Ricky Gervais's award-winning show The Office has probably done more damage to the reputation of Slough's architecture than John Betjeman could ever have dreamed of doing.

Gervais has not done enough, however, to discourage the investment company Scottish Widows, which has decided to redevelop the site where the hit comedy was supposedly based.

Its new building, The Octagon, is on the site made famous by Gervais's fictional paper company Wernham Hogg.

The designers, a company called Formation architects, have optimistically promised the good people of Slough that the sparkly new offices will be a "marker for the regeneration of the centre of Slough".

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