Royal flush has officer scrambling

PRINCESS Alexandra's trip to the border last week caught one of her minders short.

As the Princess was admiring the Shenzhen skyline, Brett Free, editor of the police newspaper Off Beat, sloped away to answer a call of nature. He popped into a nearby toilet and as he performed the necessary, Free noticed how prettily decorated it was - stylish floor covers, lace-covered table and a flowerpot. By the time his eye lit upon the Perrier water someone had thoughtfully provided, the awful truth dawned.

Just then the door swung open and a royal bodyguard stared in disbelief. 'This is the Princess' toilet, and she's coming here RIGHT NOW !' Free rushed out of the toilet, then ducked back in, heart racing. In a flash he wiped the seat in case he had left any tell-tale signs and flushed. He escaped through the door just as a pair of royal feet clattered down the staircase.

WELL, possums, it seems that doing it nine nights on the run was a bit much for dear old Dame Edna Everage. By the seventh night, on Thursday, the audience in the Lyric Theatre was about as thin as the hairs on her silken legs - leaving the star of the first part of the show, Sir Les Patterson, no choice but to phone Hong Kong Today the next morning to plug the fact that plenty of seats were still available for the last two nights. Spooky, as you-know-who might say.

LAW graduate, racing driver and TVB's Eye On Hong Kong presenter Oliver Tan (picture) is set to concentrate on another field this month when he says farewell to Hong Kong to try for an acting career across the water.

Half Chinese and half Scandinavian, Tan is confident the current Hollywood craze for Eurasians (Keanu Reeves, Russell Wong, et al) will stand him in good stead with agents and producers. He has enrolled in acting classes in Vancouver and hopes to move south to Hollywood to find fame and fortune.

We trust Tan will have better luck in Tinseltown than he did with the Gerard Depardieu film being shot in the territory. Having sorted out dates and fees with the company, Tan found himself dropped from the cast days before the production started.

PERHAPS it was the cumulative effect of answering questions about political reform, but Governor Chris Patten was certainly in unusual form last week.

Patten was being interviewed on humour in politics by Far Eastern Economic Review writer Nury Vittachi for RTHK's Week In Politics programme.

To Vittachi's surprise Patten strode on to the verandah of Government House where the interview was set up and greeted him with a 'high five'. When a ruffled Vittachi asked how he should address the Governor, the reply was 'As Mrs Patten, please'.

A stunned Vittachi said he did not think he could - was there an alternative? 'I rather like being called Your Majesty. I visited an old folks' home recently and they all referred to me as Your Majesty,' Patten replied, which may be a clue as to where his ambitions lie after June 30, 1997.

ATV'S head of news and current affairs, Leung Yu-shing, has confirmed World channel is to move its main news bulletin forward by half an hour to 7.30 pm from January 1 in a bid to increase audience share.

His counterpart at TVB, Leung Ka-wing, said he was unaware of his rival's plans but added the Pearl channel had no intention of moving its bulletin back to compete.

However, given the stations' performance last spring when they both ran Judge Pao episodes at the same time, the 'monkey see, monkey do' practice might well prevail.