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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 September 2007, 16:58 GMT 17:58 UK
Gordon the tease melts Mariella
By Nick Assinder
Political correspondent, BBC News website

Tony Blair may have flirted outrageously and Bill Clinton may have mesmerised with his louche charisma.

Gordon Brown
Mr Brown charmed more than his audience, it seemed
But when it comes to turning grown women into stammering jellies, Gordon Brown, it appears, is your man.

Mariella Frostrup, not normally known as a pushover, seemed to come over all unnecessary when she hosted a question-and-answer session with the prime minister at the Labour conference.

You might think she would have become immune to the PM's entirely unintentional charms by now - after all, she is a family friend.

But no. Her normally composed TV persona slipped as she introduced the prime minister with just one giggle too many and then, after around the third mention of his official title, gasped: "I shall lapse into 'Gordon' shortly, I am sure."

There then followed a chummy exchange over Burma and Darfur before Ms Frostrup called the first questioner - a man from Richmond, Yorkshire, who decided to take his 15 minutes of fame a bit too literally.

Deja vu

That was when she snapped out of it and, to the universal support of the audience, declared: "I am kind of eager for the question."

By then, she was the only one who was. Still, Mr Brown treated the question with precisely the same weight as he did all those which followed.

Mariella Frostrup
Ms Frostrup asked Mr Brown about the election date
He promised his answer would be shorter than the question - and quite dramatically failed to deliver.

He then led us into a sort of extended state of deja vu as we listened again to his favourite jokes (very good but not worth this amount of retelling) and some lengthy expositions of the policies we had already had explained from the conference floor over the past few days.

Mr Brown ruled out a referendum on the EU treaty and abolishing the remaining grammar schools, and he again said he wanted to "reach out" to supporters and even members of other parties to join his crusade for a better Britain.

By the way, all this reaching-out talk has sparked rumours there are some more Tories being lined up to defect to Labour - perhaps at the start of next week's Conservative party conference.

Election fever

Then, after a much longer time than anyone had expected, Ms Frostrup brought proceedings to a close with something along the lines of: "I know you could sit here and chat all day, but some of us have jobs to go to."

That was a bit more like it.

But then, as the sound of scores of chair legs scraping on the floor filled the centre as delegates prepared to exit, she landed a corker.

"So when will the general election be then?" Ms Frostrup asked.

Silence reigned.

"Charming as you are, Mariella, the first person I would have to talk to is the Queen," came the reply.

Oh Gordon, you are awful. And a terrible tease.

Mariella Frostrup challenging the PM about a snap election

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