Pandora: McIntyre gives the bankers some credit

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The Independent Online

With bankers less popular than traffic wardens, you'd be forgiven for thinking that approval-hungry celebrities would be giving them a wide berth these days.

Not Michael McIntyre. The plummy comedian has agreed to host this year's annual Credit Today Awards at Park Lane's Grosvenor House Hotel. The ceremony, which will take place in May, promises to "honour the high achievers within the credit industry".

Some might question the wisdom of hosting a night of corporate back-slapping in the current economic climate. After all, several of last year's winners have since been forced to apply for hefty bailouts. The organisers insist, however, that they don't feel the need to bow to conventions of austerity.

"It will just be business as usual," a spokesman tells me. "It's a night to celebrate those that have done well. Because of the economic downturn, it's more important than ever to reward those professionals going that extra mile."

McIntyre's appearance is not without precedent. In the past, the bash has been hosted by such high-profile humorists as Lenny Henry, Graham Norton and Jimmy Carr.

Alex counts his pennies

Alex Kapranos, lead singer of Glaswegian mod-rock outfit Franz Ferdinand, is doing little to shed his adopted country's image as a land of mean-spirited tightfists.

"We get [our suits] from charity and vintage stores and get them altered so they actually fit," Kapranos tells this month's Q magazine.

"I've got to say I really lament the passing of the charity shop. I was in Oxfam the other day and I saw an ordinary polyester suit and it was £75.

"There's a recession on – where's the charity?"

Carter comes over all bashful

The Minister for Communications, Stephen Carter, is strangely coy about his brief stint as Gordon Brown's highest-ranking "spad".

An impressive CV for Carter, now Baron Carter of Barnes, appears on the Department of Culture, Media and Sport's website which lists his illustrious posts, including chief executive of the City PR firm Brunswick and founding head of media watchdog Ofcom.

There is no mention, however, of his time in the grandly-titled role of chief of strategy and principal adviser to Downing Street. He lasted eight months in the post, by the end of which one Labour insider claimed: "Gordon can hardly bear to look at him any more."

Buerk caught in a fight with Survival

Michael Buerk has rarely been afraid of putting noses out of joint. Only a few years ago, he witheringly referred to some of his fellow newsreaders as "lame brains".

Buerk has now been accused of causing offence to the people of Papua New Guinea, after he recently described some of their tribes as "primitive" societies.

"Whenever they come across a stranger they kill them," he told listeners to Radio 4's The Moral Maze. The use of the word "primitive" to describe remote populations is a strict no-no with pressure group Survival International, which strives to protect tribes, and the organisation has now written an indignant letter to Buerk to complain.

"Mr Buerk is simply, but dangerously, wrong," says Survival Director Stephen Corry. "Little-contacted peoples have very good reason to fear outsiders who bring death and destruction in their wake."

Buerk isn't the first to attract New Guinea's ire. Three years ago, Boris Johnson was forced to apologise after linking them to "cannabalism and chief-killing".

No finals for Wallace

Humpty Dumpty MasterChef presenter Gregg Wallace recently spewed forth on his prowess in the pulling department. "I'm the cooking woman's crumpet," he claimed. "The girls are getting younger too – I'm seeing one who's 29, but they have been as young as 21." Alas voters for this year's Kitchen Crumpet online awards don't agree. Wallace has failed to make the shortlist, which includes Nigella Lawson and grimly, Gordon Ramsay. The current front runner is Cook Yourself Thin cutie Gizzi Erskine.

pandora@independent.co.uk

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