As she tried to outline the Government's plans for an early-years curriculum, she was greeted by heckles, grumbles and widespread muttering from normally-genteel playgroup leaders and their supporters.
But who was that particularly vocal participant seated next to a Diary colleague, laughing loudest and clapping vigorously at every criticism hurled at the hapless Ms Hodge?
That grey hair, the friendly smile, twinkling specs - didn't he used to be ... Bob Holness?
It was indeed the great Bob, presenter of the favourite teens' game show Blockbusters and apparently a member of the alliance's star-studded cast of B-list celeb supporters. (Others include an ex-Bucks Fizzer, Chris Tarrant and Sally Thomsett, the blonde with, er, learning difficulties from un-PC 70s sitcom Man About the House.)