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WEDNESDAY 20th SEPTEMBER 2017

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ONLY IN THE DRONE

Osbert Lancaster, proud NUJ man

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Dave Brown

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One in the Eye

 No 103

Volume 15: 1986

THE history of the Daily and Sunday Express as told 30 years ago through the columns of Private Eye (Lord Drone does not necessarily agree with the sentiments expressed although, from memory, they seem reasonably accurate.) 

New readers: The Eye referred to the Express as the Getsworse, the Getsmuchworse, or the Getsevenworse or sometimes even worse than that.

UPDATED 19th September, 2017

2nd May 1986

Street of Shame

DESPITE the pleadings of Roy Hattersley to replace Keith Waterhouse as the Mirror’s columnist, Robert Maxwell has personally selected someone else for this crucial position.

He is none other than George G Ale, Thatcher-lover extraordinaire, lifelong Tory and £100,000 redundee from the Daily Getsworse.

This is a return to pastures old for Ale. Prior to Waterhouse he was the Mirror’s columnist for a disastrous 12 months. After years of oblivion as a gravelly-voiced radio phone-in host, he was brought back to the Street of Shame by Lord Matthews as the Getsworse leader writer.

Ale subsequently resigned from this post after Fingers refused to print an editorial of his in adulation of Mrs Thatcher. Since then his task has been to fill a weekly page which has earned him the nickname of Attila the Columnist.

With a background like this Ale will have no trouble slotting into the Maxwell Mirror.

*****

EDDY Shah has demanded a high standard of technical competence from his staff on Today, though some of his appointments were as blurred as his colour printing.

He has continued to introduce some of the most advanced equipment known to modern science. The latest was a coffee percolator for use by the editorial staff.

On the first day of its installation it was carefully filled by brilliant chief sub-editor Simon Crookshank. Unfortunately, Crookshank’s skill was not sufficient to cope with this.

It blew the plant’s whole system and Shah lost an entire edition.

*****

30th May, 1986

Street of Shame

Our recent prediction that United Newspapers’ horrible sleaze-meister-in-chief Roger Boyes had downmarket designs on the stately, decent Sunday Express are likely to be confirmed soon. Editor Sir Jonah Junor has been persuaded to stand down next month, and Boyes is conducting the search for his successor. Jonah’s choices have included book critic Graham Lord and the ectomorphic Henry Macrory, whose chief qualification as a Sunday Expressman was that his diplomat father, Sir Patrick Macrory, was a Walton Heath member prepared to play golf with Auchtermuchty’s most irascible son.

Sir Jonah would be happy with either of the two, confident – perhaps wrongly in the case of Lord – that he could continue to exert power from his position as curmudgeon-columnist. But his biggest fear is that the ghastly, naff Boyes only interviewed Macrory and Lord for appearance's sake, and befriended while at the Daily Mirror someone in the mould of his Daily Express choice ‘Nick’ Lloyd.

Jonah has almost fulfilled the expectations of those colleagues closest to him over the years – that he would rather destroy the Sunday Express entirely than give up his power. Even after making an estimated £500,000 from buying Fleet Holdings shares when they were 20p, staying as editor well past retirement age, ensuring that his own column was the only sought-after one on the paper, Sir Jonah lingers on while Boyes and his half-witted chairman, David Stevens, plan to do for the Sunday Express what they have already done to the battered Daily Getsworse.

*Robin Esser eventually took over from Junor as Sunday Express editor in 1986. Macrory was appointed deputy editor and later became head of press to Prime Minister David Cameron – Ed

27th June 1986

Street of Shame

Peter McKay’s move to become editor of Eddy Shah’s Sunday Today has been welcomed cautiously by his old mentor, Sunday Express editor Sir John Junor.

Sir Jonah told McHackey on many occasions that he was just the man for the tiller of the Sunday Express. He would encourage the bibulous Scottish scribbler to write to the Express owners and apply for the job.

‘Should I mention your name, John?’ McHackey once asked Sir Jonah.

‘No, no laddie, that would be counter-productive at this stage,’ replied the cunning denizen of Auchtermuchty, who never had the slightest intention of yielding his throne to McHackey or anyone else.

The move to Shah Towers in Vauxhall Bridge Road comes at a sad time for McHackey. He has finally fallen out for the last time with his Street of Shame chum of nearly 20 years, Nigel Pratt-Dumpster.

It was Pratt-Dumpster who went to McHackey’s last editor, Mail On Sunday supremo Stewart Steven, and informed him that the cigar-chomping Lothario had helped to compose the Eye's Sir Jonah column in which Steven was advised to seek employment as chief rodent operative in the sewers of Tel Aviv.

11th July 1986

Street of Shame

Shuffling, cigar-chomping Ron ‘Badger’ Hall has emerged as favourite to edit the Sunday Express after interviews with two other no-hoper candidates – the Getsworse’s features editor Alan Frame and the Daily Mail’s Nick Gordon.

Jonah feels sympathy for the weary Badger, who has been labouring at the Sunday Express’s piss-poor colour magazine since the departure of Charles ‘Pasty-Face’ Wintour and his flame-haired moll Audrey Slaughter.

Frame is a bearded hack who presides over some of the worst features in Fleet Street at the Getsworse while the rodent-like Gordon is best known for filling the Daily Mail with undistinguished showbiz articles.

Jonah is saying he wants to retire from the column and the paper. He cannot stand Roger Boyes, the useless chief executive from the Daily Mirror whose dream is a sleazy, tabloid Sunday Express.

Bowes has power over United Newspapers chairman David Stevens because Stevens is a money man who knows nothing about newspapers. Together they are a downmarket version of another disastrous Getsworse partnership – that of Sir Max ‘Biggles’ Aitken and Jocelyn ‘Piranha Teeth’ Stevens. Even Piranha now sympathises with his old foe, Sir Jonah, and has offered to arrange a grand retirement banquet for Auchtermuchty’s most famous son.

TO BE CONTINUED

MORE FROM 1986

ONE IN THE EYE 1985

ONE IN THE EYE 1984

ONE IN THE EYE 1983

ONE IN THE EYE 1982

ONE IN THE EYE 1981

ONE IN THE EYE 1980

ONE IN THE EYE 1979

ONE IN THE EYE 1978

ONE IN THE EYE 1977

ONE IN THE EYE 1976

ONE IN THE EYE 1975

ONE IN THE EYE 1974

ONE IN THE EYE 1973

ONE IN THE EYE 1972

ONE IN THE EYE 1966-1971

SPOOF FRONT PAGE FROM 1965

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Osborne’s revenge

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DroneTube

Jonathan Pie’s pay-cap rant

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Hold Page 96! 

News you may have missed

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EXCLUSIVE

Trinity Mirror seals deal to buy Express and Star titles

Takeover will be the biggest shake-up in newspaper industry for more than 10 years

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A DEAL has been agreed in principle to sell Express Newspapers to Trinity Mirror, the Daily Drone understands.

Trustees of the Express pension scheme are involved in discussions about the sale, thought to be worth close to the £125million that Richard Desmond paid for the papers in 2000.

The agreement, which includes OK! and Northern & Shell’s other magazines New! and Star, is subject to the approval of Trinity Mirror shareholders and the Competition and Markets Authority. This is not expected to be a problem.

Trinity Mirror has made the move after a wider deal – led by former Mirror executive David Montgomery – to combine the back office and sales businesses of the two publishers failed after months of negotiations.

“Trinity Mirror notes that it is now in discussions to acquire 100 per cent of the publishing assets of Northern & Shell and that it has ceased discussions to acquire a minority stake in a new company comprising the publishing assets of Northern & Shell,” the company said.

The takeover will be the biggest deal to hit Fleet Street since the Barclay brothers bought the Daily Telegraph for £665million in 2004.

Trinity Mirror said the group had given undertakings there would be no editorial interference, although how this will go down with Mirror shareholders is anyone’s guess.

PENSIONS UPDATE Trustees of  the Express 1988 Pension Fund met Express management on 13th September, no decisions were made and discussions continue. There is however little cause for concern. Richard Desmond has been putting £10million a year into the scheme which is 90 per cent funded and in a strong position. If the payments continue at the current rate the deficit will be cleared by 2022.

Roy Greenslade has his doubts

Be careful what you wish for

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VIDEO OF THE WEEK

Hoss of Sky News loses it on air

OOPS! Jon Craig, who was known as Hoss to his colleagues on the Daily and Sunday Express, has a bad day at the office

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CARTOONS – NEW EVERY DAY

Giles

 © Carl Giles 1986

Osbert Lancaster

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‘I can’t remember his name but he’s been sitting
 on the Opposition Front Fence for years'

Lord Drone can vividly remember Sir Osbert Lancaster bringing his Pocket Cartoon into the Daily Express newsroom each night to show to the backbench. The night editor always guffawed at the cartoon whether it was funny or not. 

Examples of the Pocket Cartoon, a term invented by Sir Osbert himself, are becoming increasingly hard to find. They fetch huge prices at auction but the Drone expects a new supply within a few days.

The cartoons feature a series of memorable characters including Maudie, Countess of Littlehampton, Canon Fontwater and Father O’Bubblegum. Sir Osbert was awarded the CBE in 1953 and was knighted in 1975. He died in 1986.

Reader Roger Watkins writes: Your reminiscence about night editors routinely pissing themselves with laughter over that day's (often obscure) Osbert cartoon reminds me of Lloyd Turner's "repeat and guffaw" response to humour, especially if it emanated from further up the editorial chain of command!

Sir Osbert, proud NUJ member

More about Osbert

NEW SERIES

H M Bateman

Classic

Larry

Banx

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Latest

pencil (1)

You have to be a certain age to get this

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David Simmonds

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Dave Brown, Independent

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Martin Rowson, The Guardian

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Gorrell

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Patrick Blower

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Morten Morland, The Times

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Christian Adams, Evening Standard

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Perils of the job: A reader writes

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'More than a decade in journalism tells me I’m in for a treat' – Tom Whipple of The Times reports as he contemplates his morning post … and it turns out his suspicions were correct ...

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Top Tip

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Er, just the haircut please

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Latest Eye

Classic Eye

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PORTRAIT OF THE WEEK
It's David ‘Showbiz’ Wigg in oils!

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A chance meeting in a London cafe resulted in this painting of former Daily Express showbusiness reporter David Wigg appearing at the National Portrait Gallery in London.

David’s appearance fascinated the artist Sopio Chkhikvadze. She asked him to pose for a portrait which is now hanging in the BP Portrait Award 2017 exhibition at the gallery.

Ms Chkhikvadze studied at Tbilisi Nicoladze Art College, Georgia and Tbilisi State Academy of Art.

Buy a print

Picture by ROGER WATKINS

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New Joe Allen open for business

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AT YOUR SERVICE: The new Joe Allen restaurant in London’s Burleigh Street, opened on September 1 after its move from round the corner in Exeter Street. The Daily Drone crowd has already had two lunches there … and we thought the new place was rather good.

More pictures here 

Alan Frame’s lament

Roger Watkins’ lunchtime legends

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DroneTube

Jonathan Pie on Rees-Mogg

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The Beaver’s 75th birthday beano

Express1 (1)

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DroneTube

Jonathan Pie on Brexit

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DroneTube

Dan and Dan

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DroneTube

Jonathan Pie at Reading

DroneTube Bec Hill translates Piaf

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61dHPqdr-WL

An important new book about Daily and Sunday Express cartoonist Carl Giles was launched on Tuesday at the Political Cartoon Gallery in Putney, south-west London. The gathering was addressed by former Daily Express executive editor ALAN FRAME – and the Drone was there too.

Read all about it here

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All hail the 10-year lunch

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LUNCHES, especially long ones, were one of the best-loved features of old Fleet Street.

And when one retires there is only one important thing to do – have lunch with erstwhile colleagues. That is just what a group of former Daily Express senior journalists have been doing for the past 10 years.

The venue, as regular readers of the Drone may have noticed, has been Joe Allen in Exeter Street, Covent Garden, London. But now an era is at an end and Joe’s has moved round the corner to Burleigh Street, just off The Strand. The move coincides with the 10th anniversary of the World’s Greatest Lunch Club.

ROGER WATKINS chronicles the history of the club and reflects on the valued colleagues we have lost

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Towering changes at Blackfriars

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There have been huge changes on the south side of Blackfriars Bridge in London since Express Newspapers vacated Ludgate House in 2004. In this view, seen from Blackfriars Road looking north towards the bridge on 9th June 2017, Ludgate House can be seen behind the bus stop. 

Opposite Ludgate House is the 170-metre high One Blackfriars skyscraper, still under construction and in the right foreground is the new headquarters of United Business Media, former owners of Express Newspapers.

Ludgate House is now boarded up ready for demolition in preparation for the huge Bankside Quarter redevelopment between the old Express HQ and the Tate Modern.

MORE PICTURES

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Joe Allen’s new home revealed

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NOW: The Joe Allen’s new premises on 15 June

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THEN: The new premises before work on the conversion began

The Drone’s favourite restaurant Joe Allen has moved brick by brick to a new venue 40 yards down the road from its current site in London’s Covent Garden. The new site is in Burleigh Street on the corner of The Strand in premises formerly occupied by Daawat Indian restaurant, pictured above.

Joe Allen reopened on 1st September.

ALAN FRAME laments its demise.

 Read the details here

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Who put the lights out?

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NOTHING stopped the Daily Express in 1972, not even the miners’ strike. It was the year of constant power cuts instigated by Prime Minister Edward Heath to cope with the lack of coal to fuel the power stations. And as the clock hit 4.14 on a winter's afternoon the Express news sub-editors slaved away by gaslight. Lord Drone recalls that the gas lamps on the ceiling were still there when the Fleet Street office was vacated in 1989. 
Who’s in the picture? We put a few names to faces HERE

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DroneTube
Farewell to Fleet Street

Fleet Street was full of journalists for the first time in many years when the London Press Club held a long lunch to mark the departure of the last newspaper from the Street of Broken Dreams. Watch the YouTube video of the event above and read the Guardian report

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Only on DroneTube

Life After The Front Page

This rare and previously largely unseen film, unearthed in the annals of Lord Drone, recalls the grand old days of Fleet Street. It includes interviews with Ann Buchanan, of The Sun and Daily Mirror; Clem Jones, from the Wolverhampton Express; Eric Todd of the Manchester Evening Chronicle and The Guardian; and George Bell and Ted Townshend of the Daily Telegraph. 

The film, which was made by students of Goldsmiths College, University of London, in 1999, also includes someone called Alastair McIntyre (who he – Ed?) who addresses the public from the Daily Express offices in Blackfriars. 

Runtime is 16 minutes.

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ONLY on DroneTube

The Crusader Years 1900-1990

Only in the Drone: This video was supplied to Express staff in 1990 and is now published on the web for the first time. 

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© 2005-2017 Alastair McIntyre