Pandora: Winstone wins over troops in Afghanistan

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The Independent Online

First it was Ross Kemp, now another professional 'ard man has proven his bottle with a trip to Afghanistan.

He's not exactly the pneumatic beauty that troops tend to favour as a morale booster – though we're told that the visit was, indeed, instigated by the servicemen themselves, after they watched a selection of his films.

"We had no role in it actually," explains an MoD spokesman. "They just seemed to adopt him. They invited him to Iraq, and then he asked if he could go to Afghanistan too."

Happily, Pandora is assured the diamond geezer – not, it has to be said, renowned for his athletic prowess – was not subject to those MoD fitness criteria that had last year threatened some parliamentary visits.

"We didn't set any requirements – though I'm sure he would have been fine. He didn't go to high-risk areas and it isn't as hot as it used to be. Maximum temperatures are around 30 degrees at the moment."

Meanwhile, Ray had his own take on things. "It's like you would imagine Colchester was like in Roman times," he observed yesterday.

"One team running a small city in the desert, young British boys and girls, alongside the Yanks, building a future for the Afghans."

Bush's buddy now Obama's man

Even Andrew Roberts isn't immune to the charms of the American President. The conservative historian, an old chum and dining companion of George Bush, tells us he has – for all his initial reluctance – found himself cheering on Barack Obama in recent clashes with Republican senators. "I have to say I'm coming round to him," he told Pandora at the GQ Alfred Dunhill Debate on Wednesday. "But then I'm not an American taxpayer." Ideological epiphany, or just angling for another invite to the White House?

Frost swaps the stage for the screen

After her questionable return to the stage last year, Sadie Frost is trying another discipline: television presenting.

The former model, who is apparently growing weary of being known primarily as "Kate Moss's best friend", has filmed a one-off documentary for the French movie channel Cinemoi, chronicling the rise of the "femme fatale". It will be shown this Sunday.

Our source says: "She's only ever done one presenting job before. It was years ago, called What Sadie Did Next. It didn't last very long."

Let's hope things go better this time.

Gervais sets the record straight

Aha! An explanation, kindly offered, for Ricky Gervais's weight loss reported in Pandora yesterday. The normally touchy star, who has been known to call Pandora all sorts of names when it comes to the matter of his girth, discloses: "I haven't been on any diet but I have been working out more. With a gym in your house there's no excuse."

It's not all good news, though: "One paper that said I'd lost three stone also said I was now 'a svelte 13 stone'. That means they think I used to be 16 stone. Still, mustn't grumble."

Jade chooses Paris over London

Not for Jade Jagger the off-beat charms of London Fashion Week. The jewellery designer – whose "Queen of Teens" children's line met with a muted response when it launched last year – tells that us she won't be joining Burberry, Jonathan Saunders and the rest of the crowd in returning to the British capital to celebrate its 25th year of hosting the fash pack. "I'm afraid it's just not for me," Jade shrugged at a recent party. "I'll be showcasing in Paris. It's what I tend to do. I like it there."

pandora@independent.co.uk

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