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“Dragons’ Den” star Bannatyne says it’s hard to raise funds


Duncan Bannatyne, the straight-talking Scottish entrepreneur and star of TV’s “Dragons’ Den” has been talking about how his business has been affected by the credit crunch.

“My businesses are up from last year, so we’re doing well and most small businesses I speak to are still actually doing quite well,” he told Digital Spy in an interview ahead of the launch of his new BBC2 show “Beat the Bank” on Thursday.

“But I have wanted to borrow more money to invest in more health clubs and it’s proving very difficult. Banks want huge amounts of interest, personal commitments and guarantees. I’m in the middle of a deal at the moment, which I’m just weighing up whether to go in or pull out.”

His advice for people struggling in the current economic climate: “I think there’s two options. All those people who can pay their bills should make sure they’re up to date, get rid of as much debt as they can and reduce their spending where they can. However, anyone with a bit of spare cash who’s willing to invest, it’s bargain basement time. You should get out there now and make some investments.”

Has “Auntie” got it right?


After a week of media frenzy, the BBC hopes it has taken action to end the crisis caused by the crude prank call made by Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand on the latter’s Radio 2 show.

Brand has quit and Jonathan Ross has been suspended after the presenters left lewd comments on the answerphone of 78-year-old “Fawlty Towers” actor Andrew Sachs. The head of Radio 2 Lesley Douglas has also resigned.

BBC row highlights “bad-mannered Britain”


The furore over offensive phone calls made by Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand to actor Andrew Sachs shows how society has forgotten how to behave itself, the Independent said in an editorial.

“Exactly what has happened to good manners and basic courtesy,” it asked on its leader page. “And isn’t it time they made a return?

Has the media made the crisis worse?


bbc.jpgSince banks and world financial markets started collapsing over a month ago, politicians, commentators and people in the street have pointed the finger of blame in a variety of directions: at bankers, regulators, hedge fund managers, mortgage lenders, short-sellers and speculators, among others.

Now, it appears, the BBC is also in the firing line.

The broadcaster’s economics correspondent, Robert Peston, has broken several major elements of the unfolding story, from which banks were on the brink of collapse to the details of how the government was going to set about bailing them out. BBC radio interviewer John Humphrys has also been at the forefront of the story, grilling government leaders, especially Chancellor Alistair Darling, about the crisis and how the country, and the rest of the world, ended up in it.

You know things are bad when..

    You know exactly what the population of Iceland is and can also pronounce the name of its prime minister. Even the word ‘crisis’ seems to have lost its currency. Countries pop up for sale on eBay for 99p and get few offers. Posters on BBC messageboards stop discussing the undulating pitch of Robert Peston’s voice and listen to what he’s actually saying. The speech bubble on Page 3 of the Sun is given over to discussing the credit crisis. Financial market updates displace stories about Jade Goody on the tabloid front pages. Bad news stories from government departments are rushed out day after day and not even the Opposition seems to notice. Estate agents finally admit house prices have fallen but tell you now is a really great time to buy because the market is stabilising. People marketing get-rich-quick property seminars don’t get taken seriously any more. The Chancellor, writing in the Financial Times, says that “now, more than ever, we need new ideas”. Your primary school-aged children know that credit crunch is not a type of biscuit and that IMF isn’t just a fictional organisation in Mission Impossible. You go for a while without noticing one estate agent’s mini and then you see a whole bunch of them on the back of a car transporter. A pensioner on the evening tube train from Canary Wharf gives up her seat to a banker because she reckons he might need it. The Ivy rings to ask if you’d like a table tonight or any night. There are no spare trolleys when you turn up at Aldi to do your weekly shop.

Do you have any better suggestions? All contributions welcome – please send in your selection.

Are the BBC’s stars worth their millions?


bbc.jpgWhen it was disclosed two years ago that TV and radio presenter Jonathan Ross was on an 18 million pound three-year contract, many both inside and outside the BBC reacted with dismay.

After all, wasn’t the BBC pleading for more money from the government and higher licence fees from the viewer at the time?