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IRIS SAYS: It’s getting hotter again



Sheer genius from Randy Rainbow 

Front Page of the Day

Scroll down for the rest of today’s front and back pages



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                NO EXIT                                NO BREXIT

Now it becomes clear! David Davis never seemed to be on top of his brief as Brexit Secretary: well, would you if you had been holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for the past six years? To be fair, WikiLeaks fugitive Julian Assange did his best but he was no match for those wily negotiators in Brussels. Time for a reboot!




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1899: Carter’s Hair Cutting Saloon, at 17 Fleet Street, London, just opposite Chancery Lane. The facade above the gateway, which leads to Inner Temple, hid the original 17th Century half-timbered front which was subsequently restored. 

The first floor of the building comprises Prince Henry’s Room, named for the son of James I. It is one of the few surviving buildings in the City of London dating from before the Great Fire of London in 1666. It is a Grade II listed building.

BELOW: The same building today.

More on this

Hold the front stage! It’s Christiansen the film star


1961: Legendary Daily Express editor Arthur Christiansen demonstrates that as an actor he was a very fine journalist playing himself in the cult sci-fi movie The Day the Earth Caught Fire. 

Chris, pictured with Edward Judd who played a maverick reporter (aren’t they all? — Ed), spent most of the time spouting lines like: “Hold the front page!” and “Make it sing and make it a song I like,” (or was that another legendary Daily Express editor?) 

The film was based on the Express in its heyday and many shots were filmed in the office and Fleet Street. Behind the scenes there was also rumoured to have been a piquant play within a play starring an Express executive (still there in the seventies) and the luscious female lead Janet Munro, who, after a hard day’s filming, were encountered discussing bold intros and splash heads in the lane behind the Old Bell (mem to Night Lawyer Cocklecarrot: It’s OK: they’re both dead now)



One of Downing’s best

1981: Snarling at the camera, flashing a grimy-fingered V-sign and sporting a Made in London tattoo, this prime example of the teenage sub culture known as the skinhead is led away by police following Easter Monday mayhem in Southend on Sea. 

This wonderful picture was given the Kelvin MacKenzie/Tim Holder treatment in the Daily Express next day. And the photographer? The brilliant John Downing, proving that the World’s Greatest Newspaper also had the World’s Greatest Snappers. 

Sunday morning on the Champs Elysées, 1951 by Bert Hardy

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Jonathan Pie
on Brexit’s exit

History in Moments


1945: Some wiped away tears; others could not bear to watch; still more stared fixedly ahead. These were  captured German troops ordered to see newsreel footage of concentration camps at the end of the war.  

One liberating U.S. Officer found in Dachau “cruelties so enormous as to be incomprehensible to the normal mind” yet many Germans  claimed to be unaware of what was going on. But this was debunked by an authoritative 2001 study of wartime papers and magazines in Germany which revealed that they wrote openly about the camps. 

One chilling fact: as late as 1945 Hitler was receiving up to 1,000 letters a week, many of which denounced fugitive Jews and “internal enemies”.

Oh Lucky Jim — he gets special visit from Esther

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FUN IN THE SUN: Steve, Sheelagh. Seated left to right: Pat, Jim and Esther at the Nare Hotel, Cornwall

ESTHER HARROD travels down to Cornwall to visit old Daily Express colleague Jim Davies

Trotting down to Poldark Country from Cambridgeshire, my husband Steve and I set aside a day to spend with eternally-young Jim Davies and his wife Pat.   

They have been living the vida loca in the sleepy village of Tregony, near Truro, for the past 18 years. Just a few weeks before we rocked up, Peter and Sheila Mason from Down Under had visited Jim and Pat to celebrate Jim’s 84th birthday. Yes, really.

Unfortunately, in May, just before Jim and Pat were due to travel to Egypt to visit Pat’s daughter, Jim had a very frightening seizure in the night.  

As he already suffers from atrial fibrillation, the ambulance crew thought the seizure might have been caused by the AF, so he was rushed to Truro hospital. Jim had several tests and a scan and has been put on relevant medication.  

Much to his dismay, he has had his driving licence suspended for six months which is difficult as Pat doesn’t drive. So the lovely walks with the dog along the beach have had to cease for the moment unless a friend or neighbour can take them on an eight-to-10 mile round trip 

Jim and Pat took us (and Sheelagh, an old nursing friend of Pat’s who was also visiting), to an amazing restaurant at the Nare Hotel beside Carne Beach which is on the beautiful southern tip of the Roseland Heritage Coast, about 5 miles from where they live. 

The weather was gorgeous and the food, wine and conversation flowed while taking in some intoxicating Cornish scenery. Then its was back to theirs for more reminiscing and a bottle or two of red wine. 

So if your ears were burning at the end of June it’s because Jim and I exchanged many lovely memories of old friends and colleagues, some of whom are sadly no longer with us.  

Steve and I also much enjoyed Jim’s tales of his journalistic  time in Africa, especially a humorous but serious story of when he was on an assignment with photographer Harry Dempster and his year-long investigation into the Jeremy Thorpe case.   

I asked him what he thought of the recent TV drama starring Hugh Grant and Jim thought the production was very good indeed. The only criticism he had was they made Norman Scott more camp than he actually was.  

Thanks for a very special day and get safely back behind that wheel again soon Jim.


Rees-Mogg and Davis meet to plan next cunning move

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miffed after sacking by Express

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          FIGHTBACK: Football writer Colin Mafham

Things did not go quite the way Express Newspapers expected over the sacking of veteran Sunday Express football writer Colin Mafham. 

He was dismissed for gross misconduct over what he had written in his website opinion column. His crime? He suggested that some of the Scousers who support Liverpool Football Club were less than perfect fans. 

Far from being contrite when invited to appear before a disciplinary hearing, the respected football story-chaser tore into Express Head of Sport Howard Wheatcroft, launching a 10-minute tirade on the integrity of journalism and how the Express's actions undermined Press freedom. 

His only "crime" was to write a robust and honestly-held opinion ... in an OPINION  column. Isn't that what columnists are supposed to do?

Mafham, a journalist with 44 years' Fleet Street experience including nearly 20 working for the Sunday Express, then  lectured Wheatcroft on the importance of Press freedom and called on him to resign.

Mafham sent this private email to pals: "Greetings friends, on the day journalistic freedom of speech was sacrificed for ever to appease a baying mob. Express Newspapers and I are parting company as a result, but rest assured the fight goes on. Injustice must never win, so watch this space. And thank you all so much for your support.

He has received messages backing him from around the world. He declined to talk to the Drone. 

Seconds out, Round 2. He is to appeal against the sacking.

Background to the story

History in Moments

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1957: Reviled, spat upon, defiant, Dorothy Counts, then 15, becomes the first black student to attend Harding High School in Charlotte, North Carolina. But, after four days of growing abuse, fears for her safety forced her to withdraw. Fifty one years later Harding awarded her an honorary diploma. 

In 2010, after Dorothy received a public apology from one of those who abused her, the school also named its library after her.

How Stumpy Mac got his bonzer Aussie baggy cap

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                                                               Picture: SUE REID

Former Express sub ROBIN McGIBBON has a heart-warming tale to tell about his baggy Australian cricket cap.

Robin, also known as Stumpy, writes: The medication I'm on, for various issues, means it's too dangerous for me to have another knee replacement, so the only way for me to get around is on crutches.

Two months ago, I came across the most idyllic country cricket ground — surrounded by horsefields and a swiftly-running stream — and was hobbling along the mid-wicket boundary when the groundsman, and former player, asked, very politely, who I was, and what was I doing, trespassing on private land.

We got talking and it turned that, like me, he'd played for Bromley Town FC, in the Isthmian League. Then, it further turned out that I'd played Athenian League football with one of his club's most celebrated players which elevated me immediately from uninvited interloper to someone who deserved a cuppa in the clubroom.

Over the next few weeks, the groundsman — Brett Walker's his name — and I got more and more friendly, and, for some reason, over another cup of club-house tea, I admitted secretly envying the two Australian Baggy caps given to former Daily Mail soccer and cricket writer Brian Scovell, a dear friend, who lives near me, in Bickley, Kent.

Why did I like the baggy green so much? Brett wanted to know. 

"I don't know,” I said. "It's just the shape, I guess."

"Stay right there," he said, getting up to go into the club's locker room.

He came back with a green baggy cap and put it on me, proudly, saying: "Have a Bromley Common CC baggy with my compliments."

I was touched by such a charming gesture. But, then, it's a charming club with jolly friendly people.

I now hobble there every day.


Tudor maps of Fleet St

Section of the Agas map of London from c1561. See more at

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The very private hell of Paul Dacre

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ALL IN A WEEK’S WORK: Sheer torment from the Daily Mail which seems to have lost its sense of humour, not that it ever had that much of one


Jonathan Pie on the poor





Friday, June 29: 1am 

Bewildered Traveller, in his late forties, emerges, blinking, from Shenfield station in Essex (19 miles from Liverpool Street) and asks Friendly Cabbie at head of rank: “Where am I?”

FC: “Shenfield in Essex.”

BT: “Oh, shit!”

FC: “Where do you want to be?”

BT: “West Drayton.” (13 miles from Paddington)

FC: “Oh, shit!”

BT: “How far away is it?”

FC: “Well, if you think of the M25 as a clock, West Drayton’s at 9 and Shenfield is at 3.”

BT: “Oh, shit!”

So an hour and twenty minutes later Bewildered Traveller, who wasn’t drunk, Friendly Cabbie (an experienced judge of these things), insists  he is dropped off at his home near the Park Hotel not far from Heathrow.

Even by then he still couldn’t explain why he went to the wrong station and caught a train heading in the wrong direction to a station he’d never heard of.

Cost of his adventure? £150. Even then, this being Essex, he got a deal: the metered fare would have been £187.60.

Of all the joints in all the world, Terry has a forest knees-up with our Wonky

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SHERWOOD FOREST, Thursday, June 28, 2018: After an exhausting manhunt I can successfully report that Portland Bill, alias Wonky (Bill) Wheeler has been found alive and well following his ordeal under the knife at a Nottingham hospital. 

The former Daily Express Regional Chief Sub emerged from his forest hideaway at 1pm today and hobbled down the steps of Log Cabin 51 into the dense undergrowth of the discreet Sherwood Pines Holiday Village where he is peacefully recuperating with his nurse — new partner Lola.

Proudly sporting a body-hugging pair of Lincoln Green surgical stockings that wrapped their way tantalisingly to the top of his dark blue summer shorts, he waved his adjustable, aluminium, arm-supporting hospital walking stick and uttered the familiar Fleet Street greeting: “Fancy a beer then Tel?”

His four-hour ordeal having his knee replaced was successful, he revealed but the alluring stockings were to prevent any thrombosis during his journey back to gardening health. The asparagus plot awaited in the front garden of his recently-purchased listed cottage in Portland, Dorset, where he was headed by train the next day.

At the local hostelry in the nearby upmarket village of Edwinstowe, Bill and Lola joined me for refreshment and told me of their plans. When health allows they will take the high road to Scotland with their newly-purchased little caravan. “Nothing special,” said Bill, “the tow bar cost more than the mobile living quarters.” But he does tow it in his pride and joy — his precious Jag, paid for courtesy of Richard Desmond. 

“Then I might get little boat and go fishing around Portland Harbour,” he added. “I’ll also be joining clubs and societies, there’s so much to do and Portland is such a pretty place.”

Dropping Bill back at his little wooden home and hot tub in the Sherwood greenery, I headed for Lincoln thinking how pleased I was that I had caught up with the old Fleet Street mate I had known for over 40 years. To me, he hadn’t changed at all — except he didn’t wear stockings in those days … I don’t think.  

Bill’s wonky knee is fixed



We think this may be a pic of the Express subs

but could it be the Mail?

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This fascinating pic of sub-editors in, at a guess, the 1950s has been taken from the website of Hugh Dawson, who was chief sub and production editor of the Daily Mail for more than 40 years. Hugh, pictured right, died on 24 June after a long fight against motor neurone disease. He was 73. He started in journalism on the sports desk of The Journal, Newcastle, in 1962 and left the Daily Mail in 2010. He also worked on the Hemel Hempstead Post and Echo.

Hugh identified the picture as of the Daily Express. That being the case, we think the man on the far right of the pic is Dan McDonald.

But Rick McNeill, who joined the DX news subs in the 1960s, thinks the picture may be of the Daily Mail newsroom. He said: "Inspecting your fascinating DX subs picture with my Sherlock Holmes © Magnifying Glass, I think the man you ID as Dan McDonald is cutting a copy of the Daily Mail. See masthead. Which leads me to suppose that (a) it is not Dan McDonald but a lookalike, and (b) this is a pic of Daily Mail subs. Did Dan ever work for the Mail?

"Also the room, windows, ceiling lights and clock on the pillar are wrong the Black Lubyanka subs’ room I joined in the mid-1960s looked nothing like this and was unchanged since at least before the war.

"Maybe the real mystery is why Hugh Dawson mistakenly identified the picture on his website? He was after all Mail chief sub for yonks.

"I’m happy to be proved wrong, however.

Chris Chalke, an Express news sub in the 1970s, wondered if the picture is in fact of the Daily Express in Manchester. Dan McDonald was a Scot so he could well have worked there before moving down to London.

Chris added: “The skull on the left opposite Dan McDonald reminded me of Ted Hodgson.”

Roger Watkins has his doubts too. "I don’t think that’s the Daily Express. When I moved to Fleet Street from Manchester in the seventies the back bench was parallel to Fleet Street facing north (it later turned 180 degrees when it moved to be closer to the news desk).

"In Hugh’s picture there are windows behind the back bench. For that to be the Express they would have to be on the Shoe Lane wall (where the art desk and reporters were situated when we left the Lubyanka)

"Unlikely, especially when you consider there was a huge supporting pillar (by which the Manchester Desk sat) which would have been in the middle of the subs desk.

"I don’t know much about lookalikes but I think Rick’s right about Dan.”

Last night further forensic examination of the photo throws up more doubts. Could the pic date from the 1930s?

Rick said: "Since when did subs (Mail or Express) ever look so respectfully buttoned up with suits and ties and Ernest Bevin specs? Pre-war I reckon."

What do you think?

Tribute to a true gentleman

Hugh Dawson’s website

History in Moments


1972: Comedian and muddled magician Tommy Cooper sits in a pub in uncharacteristicly reflective mood. Perhaps he is thinking up pithy one-liners (“There was a tap on the door: my plumber really should get his eyes tested” or “I got up the other night and made a cup of tea in my pyjamas. It was no good — I should have used a teapot.”) 

Maybe he really had just heard the punchline to one of his best jokes: “I went into a pub which had a poster ‘A pie, a pint and a friendly word’. After I’d had the pie and pint I said to the landlord: ‘What’s the friendly word?’ ‘Don’t eat the pie’.”

 It’s the way I tell ‘em. Or is that someone else?

History in Moments

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Lieut George Armstrong Custer, a US Army officer, poses with a hound. He was the youngest man to become a General and was a lover of dogs. His favourite dog was Blucher, named after the general of the Prussian Army.

This photograph was taken on May 20, 1862 during the Peninsular Campaign of the American Civil War. Custer died at the age of 37 in 1876 during the Battle of Little Bighorn, also known as Custer’s Last Stand.

The amazing life of Bain,
a fantastic story well told

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The idea of launching a public relations company in a desert country where they’d never heard of PR, especially when you couldn’t speak the language and had no experience in that business, might  seem more like insanity than entrepreneurial vision. But that’s exactly what former Express sub IAN BAIN did in the United Arab Emirates.

After an understandably shaky start, he built it into one of the biggest consultancies of its kind in the Middle East with clients that included General Motors, Airbus, Intel, Samsung, Emirates Airline and many others. 

At the time, Ian was well used to risk-taking, having been a reporter, a merchant seaman, a big-time booze smuggler in India, and Buenos Aires correspondent of the Express and The Economist — all before the age of 24. 

How he achieved success without the benefit of an education (he attended nine schools in 10 years and was thrown out at the age of 15 without a single exam pass) is beautifully described in his memoirs, Singing in the Lifeboat, available on Amazon.

Amid a multitude of other adventures, the book relates how Ian battled alcoholism, checking himself into a psychiatric clinic in Dubai where he was shocked to find patients handcuffed to the water pipes, and guards with batons. “It wasn’t the kind of rehab I’d had in mind,” he said.

"I'm grateful to a few of my old Express colleagues who read the manuscript and produced some lovely words for the covers," he added. 

"Right now I'm trying to figure out how Amazon's sales charts work. With pre-orders alone, the book hit No 1 in UAE history and No 1 in motor rallying when these subjects are only loosely connected. Of course, that's only on one particular day but not everyone knows that.

Singing in the Lifeboat is available on Amazon for £8.99 



What a contrast between the ubiquity of that high profile, hard working cheeky prankster Sascha Baron Cohen and the anonymity of low key, understated part time waistcoat model Gareth Southgate. They couldn’t possibly be related. Could they?

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Could it be that award-winning actors David Hyde Pierce and Kelsey Grammer, who played brothers Niles and Frazier Crane in the long-running US TV comedy series Frazier, were actually related in real life?

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            Robin Williams                                  Bono             
Is global pop superstar Paul Hewson, aka Bono (a much pithier nickname than 
Steinhegvanhuysenolegbangbangbang, which his schoolmates originally gave him) by chance related to the late lamented actor and comedian Robin Williams? Or is he just a tribute act?

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                Mr Pastry                             John Bolton

Now here’s an uncanny resemblance. John Bolton, national security adviser to the Donald, bears more than a passing similarity to much-loved children’s favourite Richard Hearne, better known as Mr Pastry. We don’t know about pastry but they do look like a pair of doughnuts.

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          Exotic waltzer                            Fish lover

Strictly entre nous, but what could exotic, nimble-footed  waltzer Anton du Beke possibly have in common with actor Rob Brydon, also known as fishing-trip enthusiast Uncle Bryn (it means “hill” in Welsh) West? It’s a guess but perhaps they are related?

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             Sir Richard                                 Yasser

Genealogists are agreed that, despite being born miles apart (Cairo and Liverpool), Palestinian freedom fighter/terrorist Mohammad Yasser Abdel Rahman Abdel Raouf Arafat al-Qudwa and musician, songwriter, actor and narrator Sir Richard Starkey, MBE are related. Here the two celebrate their familial link, between takes, at a recording of the Beatles’ international hit Yasser, That’s My Baby.


             Bette Midler                           Eve Pollard

Despite one being a superstar singer, songwriter, actress, comedian and film producer and the other a well-nourished celebrity mother and former newspaper editor who lives 5,437 miles away, are the Divine Miss Bette Midler and “Lady” Eve Pollard by chance related?

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              Jimmy Carr                            Roger Federer

Heard the one about loquacious stand-up comedian and ubiquitous game show hack Jimmy Carr and urbane, cool King of the Centre Court Roger (great name, Rog!) Federer? Well, geneticists aren’t laughing. They think they could be related

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             Lord Reid                              Deceased Pope 

Don’t look now but have you noticed that former Labour bruiser and Cabinet Minister Lord (John) Reid bears more than a passing resemblance to Karol Jozef Wojtlya better known as Pope John Paul II? Geneticists might hazard a guess that they’re related.

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         Cute and cuddly                       Tedious remoaner

What can this cute and cuddly native of Madagascar, content to remain on the island of her birth, possibly have in common with an embittered sacked Cabinet Minister who is now a tediously strident Remoaner? Perhaps they are related.

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          Old man Steptoe                      Jeremy Corbyn

Might it not be that this well-respected professional, lauded for his incisive wit and attainment, and the other, a figure of fun famous for being a grumpy old man, are in some way related?

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       Lascivious toe-sucker               Ashley Walton

Could it be that the lascivious toe-sucking vicar, the Rev Osbourne Whitworth in Poldark, and lascivious toe-sucking honey salesman, Drone stringer and former Daily Express Royal Correspondent Ashley Walton are one and the same man? Or are they merely related?

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   Red-arsed non-hominoid              Andy Murray

Is avuncular Andy Murray, the genial giant of the international tennis circuit, by any chance related to an aggressive, snarling non-hominoid primate known to like showing its bright red arse in public?

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               Poldark                                        Salah

Another reader asks: Is nimble-footed, free-scoring Pharoah of the Kop Mohammad Salah by any chance related to bodice-ripping, free-scoring scythe symbol Captain Ross Poldark, MP?

(No — Ed)


History in Moments

1909: The rapt expressions are themselves eloquent testimony as one of the world’s greatest storytellers holds two of his grandchildren spellbound. Proof that Leo Tolstoy, then 81 and in the last year of his life, has still got it.


Alan Bennett Diaries

2,400-year-old Daily Express reader unearthed in peat bog

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Mail Online captions?

You couldn’t make it up

(Actually they do)


The Drone’s team of special investigators has been monitoring the Mail Online website to see how the hard-pressed caption writers try to outdo each other to describe Z-list “celebrities" from reality shows.

This investigation, conducted purely in the interest of research, has unearthed the following examples of creative writing:

Turns up the heat as she exhibits her busty assets and taut abs

Flaunts her beach body

Showcases her slender pins

Sends temperatures soaring in a burnt orange bralet

Exudes glamour in a perilously low-cut monochrome jumpsuit

Embodies pure elegance in chic floral gown

Flashes taut midriff

Flashes her toned tummy

Exhibits her sensational figure

Flaunts her ample assets

Looks daring in double denim

Sets pulses racing in sizzling lace lingerie 

Sizzles in plunging orange bikini as she puts on a giddy display with beau

Exudes elegance in a thigh-skimming polka dot dress

Flashes her flat abs and a hint of under boob

Dons day and night ensembles as she hits the town

Dons eyepopping leather and leopard look

Stuns in colourful geometric gown

Goes TOPLESS in risqué snap

Looks incredible in flirty frock

Displays fit figure in little red floral print dress

Strips down into lacy G-string as she flaunts her pert derrière 

Exhibits her stellar style

Flaunts her ample cleavage

Hides burgeoning baby bump

Shows off her jaw-dropping curves in a gingham bikini

Smoulders as she flaunts her incredible bikini body

Playfully recreates Charlie’s Angels pose

Flaunts her perky posterior in semi-sheer lace lingerie

Parades her gym-honed frame 

Nails airport chic in a trendy sportswear inspired ensemble


Turmoil at the Mail

Quentin Letts set to quit

Sacked Dacre in state of shock

Vine smarting at slur on Gove
Rachel Johnson to take Vine slot


                LETTS: I’ll retire to Herefordshire
STAFF on the Daily Mail are in turmoil over the imminent change of editorship as star columnist Quentin Letts considered his position on the paper.

Our mole at Northcliffe House told the Drone: “I spoke to Quentin this morning and he is not minded to stay when Geordie Greig takes over, saying "I’ll retire to Herefordshire," adding "I always liked Daily Telegraph readers."

"Unlike most in Kensington, Letts can probably go where he likes. There is a real sense of shock in the corridors. Most journalists here have never known any other boss.

“Paul Dacre [the outgoing editor] seems himself in a state of shock after being effectively sacked. Have a look at his Diary in this week’s Spectator where he throws down the gauntlet to Rothermere and Grieg to remain, as it were, Brexiteers.

"And he is savage about Rachel Johnson who is tipped to take the Sarah Vine slot when she follows her mentor Ted Verity  to the Mail on Sunday. She is still smarting after the MoS suggested her husband Michael Gove had flirted with friends of Dorothy.

"Only Tom Utley has received a reassuring call from the new editor. Leaf [Kalfayan, features supremo] and the rest of features are in a state of shock as the engine of the paper. What is going to happen, they wonder?  

"The money is on Dacre leaving much earlier than October and the title of Editor in Chief and Chairman are feeble. 

"The statement on the change points out that Geordie will retain control of the MoS as well as the Daily Mail and report directly to Rothermere while he will now be on the board of DMGT. 

"Dacre will be merely chairman of the Daily Mail. Apart from that Mrs Lincoln…” 

MORE clues as to the state of Dacre’s mind on the day of his, er, promotion comes from Popbitch, which reports: 

Soon-to-be-ex Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre took to the Spectator this week to warn his successor against reversing the paper's support for Brexit. 

Dacre had assumed he'd have a bit of a say in who was picked to follow in his footsteps, so was a little blindsided when it was announced that his Mail on Sunday Remoaner nemesis Geordie Grieg had got the gig. 

Colleagues at the Mail say the most obvious sign of Dacre's fury was that, on the day of the announcement last week, he stormed off home at 5pm. And he almost never leaves his desk before 9.30. 

Paul Dacre’s Spectator Diary

Just in case you missed the last one, here’s yet another pic of eight elderly gents enjoying a nosebag
at the World’s Greatest Lunch Club


This time the WGLC was delighted to welcome former reporter Peter Mason to their lunch at Joe Allen. Peter, seated at the back, third from right, now lives back in his native Australia. He is in Blighty until the end of July.

Pictured, from left, are Dick Dismore, Terry Manners, Roger Watkins, Alan Frame, Peter, David Eliades, Pat Pilton and Alastair McIntyre.

Here’s another pic to delight you all ...



History in Moments 

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1914: William S Harley and Arthur Davidson on two of their early Harley-Davidson motorbikes

Letter to the Editor of the Daily Express

Dear Sir,

I cannot be the first to express my disapproval of the "new" Daily Express under your editorship. But may I join what I am sure is a swelling chorus of outrage? 

I am in the early stages of Alzheimer's and have suffered for years from arthritis and diabetes. Additional to my interest in these disagreeable conditions are my daily concerns about pensions, house prices, statins, extreme weather conditions and the imminent threat of millions of dusky migrants swamping this once sceptred isle. 

Thus, I would like to place on record how profoundly unsettled I am at the unwelcome replacement of these topics by real news on the front page of my favourite newspaper, which I have been reading since young Max Aitken (with whom I went to school) acquired the title in 1916.

I fear you may have parted company from the integrity of your mind. Let it not be too long before the link is restored so that your most prominent Page One story — known by you print wallahs, I believe, as the "splash" — can resume normal service.

God save the King.

I remain etc,

A Loyal Briton (rtd)

This letter was written anonymously in green ink by PAT WELLAND and sent to Gary Jones, new editor of the Express.


Geordie Greig named new Daily Mail editor

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GEORDIE GREIG, editor of the Mail on Sunday, has been appointed editor of the Daily Mail.

Greig, pictured left, a staunch Remainer, replaces Brexiteer Paul Dacre who is stepping down ahead of his 70th birthday in November. 

Ted Verity, joint deputy editor of the Daily Mail, will take control of the Mail on Sunday.

Lord Rothermere, who controls the two papers, said: “Geordie has been an outstanding editor of the Mail on Sunday, and I am delighted that he will continue the high-quality journalism that Paul has made a hallmark of the Daily Mail for more than 25 years.”

The champagne may not be popping at Northcliffe House just yet as Dacre is to remain as chairman and editor-in-chief of Associated Newspapers.

Favourites to succeed Dacre, who has been Daily Mail editor for 26 years, had been Gerard Greaves, joint deputy editor of the Daily Mail; Chris Evans, editor of the Daily Telegraph and Tony Gallagher, The Sun’s editor.

The Guardian reported: Any change to the Daily Mail’s editorial line on Brexit could have substantial implications for the government. Under Dacre’s leadership, the paper has launched ferocious front-page attacks on public figures who it deems to have challenged the decision to leave the EU. 

One labelled high court judges “enemies of the people”, another urged Theresa May to “crush the saboteurs” with an early election, and a recent attack on the House of Lords described them as “dinosaurs in ermine”.

The paper is regularly the focus of morning news meetings in Downing Street, while Dacre was an early and consistent backer of Theresa May’s policies.

Greig, however, has repeatedly clashed with Dacre during his stint at the Mail on Sunday. Staff at both papers expressed surprise at the idea the two editors would be able to work together during the transition period, saying there was no love lost between them.

The sister news outlets repeatedly clashed during the Brexit campaign, and Greig’s Mail on Sunday has often gone out of its way to rubbish the daily paper’s scoops.

Greig has been in his current job since 2012, having previously edited the London Evening Standard and Tatler magazine. 

Polly Toynbee’s demolition of Dacre

The Poke’s favourite farewells
The damage is done, says Roy Greenslade

Dacre the genius, by Roger Alton


In remembrance of Bob

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Bob McGowan was one of the great reporters on the Daily Express. Now, exclusively on the Drone, his widow Pauline has issued some pictures of our esteemed colleague, who died in 2011 aged just 67.

See the pics and read TERRY MANNERS’ tribute here





History in moments


1956: Two of the greatest beauties of their day, Audrey Hepburn, left, and Grace Kelly at the Academy Awards




Phone hacking is nothing new,

State spooks did it in 1963

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When solicitor Freddie Baldwin, pictured right, defended Christine Keeler, left, during the notorious Profumo sex scandal in 1963 he found that his phone was making strange noises whenever he picked it up.

The truth was that he was being hacked by government spooks. In the light of Leveson, was this a case of pot calling the kettle black? 

Freddie’s son FRANK BALDWIN thinks so. Read his fascinating piece here.

May circulations

And what they once sold

Click to enlarge
Hancock's Haha


History in moments

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1840: Hannah Stilley, born in 1746, is believed to be the earliest-born human ever to be photographed


The Express must not be offensive to anyone, and that includes immigrants






View of Thames from top of St Bride’s, 1920s


Nick Lloyd’s tribute to Jean Rook in 1991

Hancock’s Haha




Our man Ashley on ITV news

Ashley Walton out on the Fergie story, early 1990s 


Hold Page 96

News you may have missed

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Daily Star Sports Desk 1980

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Former Daily Star sub Jeff Connor, pictured front right, sent this snap of the paper’s Sports Desk in Manchester circa 1980 before they moved to new offices. 

Pictured, second left, is sports editor Arthur Lamb, to his left is deputy sports editor Gordon ‘Geordie’ Burnett (long departed), the secretary was named Sue. In the background between Gordon and Jeff is the backbench with deputy night editor Chris Davis, later Royston Davis, who went to The Sun, and leaning over him is copy editor Mike Hughes. 

Next to Chris is night editor Andy (mine’s a Bell’s and a light ale) Carson, then Ian Pollock. On the extreme left is Jack Ronnie (probably). Also on the backbench is Robbie Addison.

To the left of Chris Davis is Ian Pollack and standing is a guy called Robbie who we think was deputy to editor Peter Grimsditch. Behind secretary Sue is the DS newsdesk. Thanks to Mike Hughes and John Edgley for help in identifications. 

Jeff Connor is working on a potted history of Ancoats from 1976 to 1988. Read it here soon ONLY ON THE DRONE!


Express sub-editors, Fleet Street 1970s

Daily Express sub-editors hard at work in the Fleet Street newsroom in the 1970s. From left, Doug Mann, Jack Atkinson, Dan McDonald, Terry Manners and Chris Williams. Lurking in the background could be Alastair McIntyre


Who’s this having a fling?

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Can you Tel who it is? Find out here


London, 1912

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History in moments

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1974: The exact moment of shock and wonder when five-year-old Harold Whittles, who was born deaf, hears for the first time after the fitting of an aid in Peoria, Arizona. 


Piccadilly 1953
by Bert Hardy


Wednesday papers





Back Pages


Cartoons of the day


Christian Adams

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Steve Bell, If

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Steve Bell, If (after Gillray)


Patrick Blower

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Dave Brown


David Horsey


David Rowe

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Chris Riddell


Rod Emmerson

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Michael de Adder


Stan McMurtry


M Rifai


Peter Schrank

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Michael de Adder 


David Rowe

Punch Classic (1895) 


The term “curate’s egg”, meaning something that is partly good but also partly bad, is said to originate from this cartoon by George du Maurier

Latest Beano

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Latest Eye

Classic Eye (1964)

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Editor Hislop oversees the next edition of Private Eye


One in the Eye

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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.


25 July 1986

Street of Shame

When an Englishman was sentenced to hang in Malaysia for drug-running, the Getsmuchworse swiftly dispatched ace newshound Norman Luck to cover the pleas for clemency, death-cell agony and grisly end. Unfortunately the grisly end took rather a long time coming.

Worried about the cost of this jaunt, the Getsmuchstingier’s news desk ordered the luckless Luck to return home. While he was in midair, though, it became clear that the editor, “Nick” Lloyd — who had not been told of Luck’s imminent return — wanted him to remain in Kuala Lumpur.

In panic, the news desk decided to keep the return of the prodigal wordsmith secret. As soon as he touched down on home soil he was whisked off to a hideaway and continued filing stories as if he was still in Malaysia.

Thus it was that a series of graphic eyewitness accounts of the days leading up to the hanging which appeared in the Express under the byline “from Norman Luck in Kuala Lumpur” actually came from no further afield than Tunbridge Wells where Luck was holed up in a luxurious flat while involved in discussions of a Malaysian nature.

19 September 1986

Street of Shame

Just as United boss David Stevens removes one source of sleaziness, Roger Boyes, so another pops up. Fleet Street's most repulsive yob Ray Mills, now has a column in the Star. 

Eye readers will remember Mills from issue 635, in which his habit of peeing in office wastepaper baskets, to the distress of cleaners, was disclosed. Mills’s new column is the journalistic equivalent of peeing in public.

At the Star he is known to one and all as BIFFO — Big Ignorant Fucker From Oldham.

The most recent Mills story involves his teenage son who, trying to please the elderly delinquent, baked him a birthday cake. Mills threw the cake at the lad’s head, shouting: “Are you a queer or something?”

3 October 1986

Street of Shame

When word was brought to dynamic Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie that Pat Phoenix was dead, his reaction was swift. “Get Doris Stokes [a clairvoyant] on the phone,” he screamed at a subordinate. “I want the first interview from the other side.”

A few minutes later the trembling subordinate reported back. La Stokes said that it took some time for for the spirit to move from earthly form. Even with her talents she could not yet make contact with the departed star.

“Well tell her to make it up,” shrieked MacFrenzie.

14 November 1986

“Hindley Freedom Move” screamed the Daily Getsmuchworse on Monday, labelling the story as “exclusive”. Its gullible readers were informed that Myra Hindley was to be sent to an open prison, and there were assorted quotes expressing the appropriate shock horror.

The Home Office denied the story as being untrue, for a very good reason — it was.

Step forward yet again Mr Michael Rocco Ryan who, posing as a prison nurse on escort duty, conned the gullible hacks. They can, however, almost be forgiven — for Rocky has become more sophisticated in the last twelve months. He has a fun-loving female accomplice who leads the hacks into his traps.

28 November 1986

Blood is running in the gutters at the Sunday Express, following the takeover by new Editor Robin Esser and his personally-appointed deputy Brian Hitchen.

Assistant Editor James Kinlay, once touted as the next editor, finishes at the end of the month. Photo editor John Dove has been given his cards and finishes up at the same time. Foreign editor Terry Foley returned from sick leave to be told he was no longer needed and has moved out of his office.

The latest office notice board announcement is the demotion of News Editor Michael Dove to reporter, apparently for his remark in the Poppinjay pub: “Brian Hitchen wouldn’t know a news story if it was shoved up his nose. He’s a beer-bellied idiot.”

“Inspector” Michael Watts has been axed after 27 years on the paper after telling Esser: “You can’t change the character of my column, old boy. I won’t stand for it.”

Travel editor Lewis de Fries has been chopped and now the Esser/Hitchen Punch and Judy act have turned their sights on Features Editor Max “Fuhrer” Davidson because of his continual complaining within the office: “All I get are inane features from Esser’s talentless Yuppie friends and Hitchen’s old drunken American-based cohorts.”

Assistant editor Ted Dickinson has been told to leave because when Esser tried to get back on the Daily Express after the closure of the Evening News he wrote a memo, still on file, reading: “On no account should Esser be given a job. He’s a total incompetent.”

Assistant editor Henry Macrory has been demoted to News Editor and one of his deputies, Ted Gartell, leaves at the end of November after being axed. Political editor Keith Renshaw has volunteered for early retirement at Christmas.

So of all departmental heads, that leaves just Diary Editor Lady Olga Maitland. The terrible duo backed off at the last minute when she befriended and started lunching with Lady Stevens, wife of Express supremo Sir David Stevens. Now she’s organising a counter-plot, jabbing her poison pen into the backs of her would-be executioners.

But that has not stopped Punch and Judy from targeting their next victim: the great Sir John Junor himself, who keeps bad-mouthing Esser and Hitchen to his spies still on the Sunday Express.


The Daily Express, it seems, is still under the impression that its rightful owners are the Beaverbrooks. Lady Beaver has recently taken to ringing the paper’s executives to complain of items she finds “offensive” or “anti-Tory”, to wit one poor hack’s reference to “booze and fags”.

The hack was summoned to Deputy Editor Leith McGrumble’s office and told to empty his desk and collect his cards. As stunned as were his building society and family, the minion duly complied, but first informed the Father of the Chapel. A ruckus ensued between various heads of department and, 24 hours later, the hack was reinstated. Later he was told that he had also been guilty of anti-Tory sentiments and had better keep his nose clean (ie brown) in the future.

Lady Beaverbrook is 94.

Christmas issue

Letters to the Editor



Less blood has flowed on the Sunday Express than you claim. Only one member of the News Desk is leaving the paper, entirely of his own volition. The only change in my own position is that my duties have been expanded.

Yours unanaemically, 

Assistant Editor,
Sunday Express 

121 Fleet Street, London



Your piece about me (Eye 651) is wrong in every detail.

I was not demoted from News Editor. I came off the desk in order to write for the new lively Sunday Express. It was entirely my idea and the move was approved by the editor.

Neither have I ever criticised Brian Hitchen in the Poppinjay or anywhere else. The remarks you attributed to me are a complete fabrication.

Your article was untrue and highly defamatory. I thought you had learned your lesson about checking facts after your recent High Court experience. 

Kindly publish this letter. I know better than to expect an apology from you.


Senior Reporter

Sunday Express

121 Fleet Street, London

















ONE IN THE EYE 1966-1971



Who put the lights out?


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


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


DroneTube Exclusive

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.

DroneTube Exclusive

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. 


Dave Brown

© 2005-2018 Alastair McIntyre