Pandora

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The Independent Culture
PANDORA IS looking forward to Michael Cockerell's How To Be Home Secretary (Sunday, 24 January, BBC2), in which - for the first time - documentary television cameras are allowed inside the Home Office. Of special interest will be the segment in which the Home Secretary, Jack Straw, who is ultimately responsible for MI5, discusses the MI5 file that exists on him, initiated back in his so-called "subversive" days in the Seventies. Has Jack read it? Can we all have an on-air peek?

LAST THURSDAY, just a day after a group of ramblers, led by Andrew Bennett MP and accompanied by several policemen, marched down the controversial footpath in East Sussex belonging to Nicholas Van Hoogstraten, a new barbed- wire fence was erected. Although his spokesman had told the press that Van Hoogstraten had left the country to holiday in France, a ramblers spokesman yesterday assured Pandora that the landowner supervised the building of the fence. In the meantime, Van Hoogstraten - a multimillionaire who made his early fortune in Brighton property and was sentenced to Wormwood Scrubs back in the Sixties for a hand-grenade attack on the home of a business associate - has just found a new journalistic ally following years of savage press attacks. Auberon Waugh, in his column last Sunday, expressed his loathing for the ramblers and described Van Hoogstraten as "not the sort of person one would wish to ask to tea" but "ideal as a champion against the Ramblers Association".

SCOTTISH POWER was all set to launch its brand-new pounds 8m national advertising campaign, designed by the Bartle Bogle Hegarty agency to extol the benefits of signing up with the gas and electric firm. Then, new year storms blasted the North Country.

"We decided to postpone the campaign for a while," a Scottish Power spokesman told Pandora. "Instead we've been running advertisements advising the 20,000 people who are entitled to compensation - pounds 50 for 24 hours without power - to apply for it." Sounds like a perfect example of that old ad agency maxim: "Don't mix your messages."

IN THE latest issue of Loaded, Pandora was amused to read that the Arsenal midfielder, Ray Parlour, is dishing the dirt on his team mate Tony Adams, with whom he shares a room on away trips. Speaking of Tony, whose playing career reblossomed after giving up the booze a while back, Ray confides: "When he's not thinking about his piano, he's writing poems. I'll be lying there trying to get off to kip and he's in the bathroom with the light on and his notebook going: "'ere Ray, listen to this what I've written.'" Parlour confesses that he's not always an enthusiastic audience for Adams's late-night readings, but assures the lads that: "We're like a couple of old dears!"

THE SAGA of Sly Stallone's Miami house has been exhaustively covered by Pandora, including Rambo's desire to sell the waterfront property to the London-based Orient Express group and his neighbours' objections to having a luxury hotel built in their vicinity.

Now a new buyer for Sly's pad has appeared on the horizon. His name is Gunther IV, he's a frisky Alsatian dog and he inherited a fortune from his canine father, who was left a reported $65m (pounds 40m) by a German countess back in 1962. The animal now owns a company said to be worth $200m, and houses in the Caribbean and in Europe.

He has expressed his approval of the property in Miami by running around the garden with one of his handlers. Pandora suspects that Madonna, who lives nearby and was on the verge of selling her own house recently, might be far happier to welcome a guard dog into the neighbourhood than crowds of gawping tourists.

KENNETH BRANAGH, about to direct Love's Labour Lost as a film musical, has made a rather surprising casting decision. The Beverly Hills brat- next-door

star of Clueless, Alicia Silverstone (pictured), will play opposite Branagh. Nobody was more surprised than the 22-year-old Alicia.

"I can't do this," she told him. Branagh responded: "Of course you can." Filming starts in this country in February; Silverstone is working hard on her singing lessons.

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