Pandora: Dragon Caan tackles Pakistan's big issues


Pandora is accustomed to thinking of James Caan as the more genial judge on the BBC's Dragons' Den, but it seems the business maestro is to demonstrate a whole new side.

Caan, who has worked at length in Pakistan's venture capital markets with his private equity firm Hamilton Bradshaw, is to lend his backing to the creation of a Pakistani version of street magazine The Big Issue.

Based in Lahore, the publication will offer assistance to the country's homeless in much the same way as it does in the UK, by offering them a product to sell as a means of supporting themselves.

"I'd been in talks for a while with various people before James expressed an interest in helping," explains John Bird, the founder of The Big Issue. "I've never worked with him before but I know plenty of people who have and I'm very much looking forward to it. Nowhere in the world needs The Big Issue like Pakistan right now."

Intriguingly, Bird also claims to be working on another, even bigger project closer to home, which he hopes will win backing from celebrities and politicians. "It's to do with charitable co-ordination," he says. "We are working on a film script and will be having a conference later this year."

Begging genius Burton hits US a-begging in US

Where was Tim Burton, madcap auteur and husband of Helena Bonham Carter, while his friend Stephen Webster celebrated the launch of his new shop on Wednesday night? Cap in hand, begging American investors for funding for his next project. "He has jetted off to New York to ask for £11m," said Webster. "Eleven million quid! He hasn't even got anything to show them – no stills – he's going empty-handed. It's bloody ludicrous if you think about it, but the man's a genius. Total genius."

And here's to you, Mr Robinson

Well done Nick Robinson, the most popular man in broadcasting (apparently). The BBC political editor has been named MPs' favourite broadcast journalist – topping the polls of the Lib Dems and Tories and coming second only to Andrew Marr in the Labour vote. But Tom Watson MP appears to be a lone dissenter, spending much of yesterday grumbling that Robinson's expenses weren't among those to be revealed by the BBC. The sourpuss.

Will Watson head off to New York to study?

Has Emma Watson finally made up her mind which university to attend? The serious-minded actress has kept reporters guessing by professing an interest in both British and American universities.

Now, however, New York's Columbia University claims that one Charlotte E Watson (Emma's middle name is Charlotte) has registered to begin classes next year, a development that has plunged gossips across the Atlantic into a frenzy of speculation.

For her part, Watson insists the development is pure coincidence – though she has previously been seen looking around the campus.

Bingo! Dhanda gets his chair

Some consolation, now, for Parmjit Dhanda, following his failed bid to become the next Commons Speaker, as he gets the chance to lord it over a parliamentary battle of another kind. Well, sort of.

Those passing by Parliament next Wednesday will be able to gawp at the oddball Labour MP for Gloucester as he calls the numbers at a public bingo match to be held at Old Palace Yard in support of the "I'm Backing Bingo" campaign. Let's hope it's a full house.

pandora@independent.co.uk

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