Zac prepares to turn the airwaves green (and blue)

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The Independent Online

* The Today programme has in the past - rightly or wrongly - often faced accusations from the Conservative Party of displaying a certain bias in favour of our present government.

But the party of opposition is unlikely to make much complaint over the BBC's latest ruse for the flagship Radio Four news show.

Zac Goldsmith, who acts as an ecological adviser to David Cameron as well being one of the Tories' so called "A-List" candidates for the next General Election, has recently accepted an offer to appear as a guest editor on the show sometime during December.

While the idea of inviting personalities on to edit Today has become a regular event around Christmas time - both Bono and the Duchess of York are among the names of those who have appeared previously - it's an interesting choice to invite someone like Goldsmith whose political ambitions are so firmly nailed to one party.

"Zac is not a man short of an opinion or two so I'm sure he'll make a decent fist of it," says a chum. "Obviously it's up to him as to what will go in the programme but I think it's probably fair to say the show will feature a lot of green, tinged with a little bit of blue."

Others likely to be following Goldsmith for a turn in the guest editor's chair, according to rumours, will be John Lennon's widow Yoko Ono, and the chairman of Royal Mail, Allan Leighton.

Unfortunately, when I called the BBC about the matter, a spokesman refused to offer any further details.

"The guest shows are still a long way down the line at the moment," I'm told. "It's really too far off to start commenting and it's of no value of us to do so.

"I don't know who keeps leaking these names but as far as I know, Yoko is the only person to have confirmed so far."

* I do hope that recent efforts to resurrect the Carry On movies aren't about to fall by the wayside.

Earlier this year, it was announced at the Cannes Film Festival to great fanfare that Carry On London would begin filming later in the summer with Vinnie Jones and Swedish model Victoria Silvstedt taking the starring roles.

But nearly six months on, apparently not a single frame has been shot. While one source has reported difficulties with the film's script, the situation recalls a previous attempt to make Carry On London back in 2003 which collapsed after the producers ran out of money.

"We are currently waiting for a new draft of the script to come through which will determine our new start dates," insists a spokesman when I call.

"And due to the lateness in the year, we will now not start filming until early 2007."

* Unlike much of today's lot, eighties pop crooner Phil Collins has always cast himself as one of the music industry's good guys.

Strange, then, that he has decided to lend both his acting and musical talents to the new edition of the ultra-violent video game Grand Theft Auto.

Collins features as himself in the game where players regularly indulge in various acts of criminality including car theft, armed robbery and pimping.

"[The creators] got it all spot-on: the five o'clock shadow, the suits, and all the other stuff that was so embarrassingly prevalent in my Eighties wardrobe," he tells this month's edition of Arena magazine.

There have been repeated calls from MPs for the game to be banned due its depictions of violence. Collins insists: "It's not like there's people's brains everywhere."

* The efforts of Labour's boyish Scottish Secretary Douglas Alexander to heighten security across Scotland's airports recently came back to haunt him.

The fresh-faced Scottish Secretary, who has been involved in implementing anti-terrorist measures across the country, recalls a recent trip to Glasgow Airport with his young son.

"When travelling with my four-year-old son a couple of weeks back, he had to take off his Wellington boots at the security comb," he explains. "He asked: "Why do I have to take off my wellies?'

"And the security guard replied to him: 'Because your dad is making everybody take off their Wellingtons.'"

* Strange as it may seem, Formula One daredevil Michael Schumacher finds himself the unlikely subject of a political row in Westminster. Earlier this week, Labour's well connected MP for Leicester, Keith Vaz, submitted an early day motion congratulating the retiring "Schuey" on his "outstanding career".

It's prompted a terse response from Tory backbencher Bob Spink who's posted his own motion criticising Schumacher for his "proclivity of gamesmanship".

"I don't think he should be a role model at all," says Spink. "People diving in football is one thing, but what he did is worse because when he was on the racetrack he would often put other drivers at risk."

pandora@independent.co.uk

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