Drink the undrinkable. Eat the inedible.  
Dance all night. That's what Imodium is for. 
— Comedian Sue Perkins



Queen has brainwave

philip may







Express and Mail sales down 12% in December
Star and Scot titles show greatest losses 

An exciting new game, only in your non-stop, devil-may-care super soarway Daily Drone

Calm down, calm down, two decks would have done on this — Ed


DroneMart offer £1.39* a bag

* p&p £79.99




_____________________________________________________ THE DRONE, HOME OF SENSIBLE POLITICAL ANALYSIS
Jonathan Pie


Meltdown on Sunday

THINGS are going from bad to worse at the Mail On Sunday with editor Ted Verity under pressure following the axing of star columnist Tina Weaver.

Weaver's removal was ordered by Lord Rothermere following revelations that she masterminded phone hacking at the Sunday Mirror while she was editor.

Verity is already facing a costly lawsuit for referring to the couple wrongly arrested for the Gatwick drones chaos as morons in a splash headline.  

Our informant at Northcliffe House says morale at the MoS is at rock-bottom because staff had been accustomed to the gentlemanly ways of former editor Geordie Greig. Under Verity they now find themselves back to the bad old days of Paul Dacre.

Weaver’s reported involvement in the phone-hacking scandal was revealed exclusively by the news website Byline.

A source told Byline: 'This is already being seen as a humiliation for Ted Verity and leaves a big question mark on his judgment. The decision to get rid of Weaver was made by the paper's top executives last Saturday.

'When they hired her, they knew there were some skeletons left over from her years at Mirror Group Newspapers. But until Byline's stories came out, they did not know the full extent of Weaver's involvement in the phone-hacking scandal. 

'It was abundantly obvious they had scored a big own goal. Reluctantly, but inevitably, they had to let her go.'

Read the report here




Morten Morland, The Times _______________________________________________________


Luton Station in the rain




Who’s still in the Q?

Dear Lord Drone,

I wonder how many of your digital followers worked on the old broadsheet DX in the late 60s and early 70s, when Douglas Orgill was Chief Sub?

Dougie was very stout and never ventured far from his chair. He could just about reach Ralph Mineards & Co on the middle bench to hand out copy.

But we lower mortals, on the distant benches, had to be summoned to receive our LP, Brev and Min instructions. 

As an ex-tank commander, Dougie liked to keep up morale with a joke or two. So when he issued an order, he interposed the initial Q in our names.

When, for example, he called out: “Anthony Q. Boullemier, approach the base of the podium,” a hum of merriment would go round the desks.

But how many of those in the Q are still with us?

Clearly Kelvin Q MacKenzie is. As is David Q Laws, Ian Q Bain, Laing Q Leith, Chris Q Chalke and Rick Q McNeill, although I believe Rick sat near enough to Dougie to be handed his copy.

But listing those who have departed this earth is sobering. Lloyd Q Turner, William Q Reynolds, Leslie Q Diver, Robert Q Kilby and William Q Montgomery to name just a few. 

How many others are still out there today?

If they’re readers of this mighty organ, perhaps we could be told?

Yours as ever,

Anthony Q Boullemier.

PS:  Dougie never did tell us what the Q was meant to stand for.

IAIN Q MURRAY may have the explanation.

He writes: I suspect that Dougie, whom I fondly recall from my brief spell in DX features, was enjoying a mischievous private joke.
Q was the pen name of Sir Arthur Quiller Couch (1863-1944), editor of the Oxford Book of English Prose and a series of Cambridge lectures published as On the Art of Writing.

He coined the writers’ maxim ‘murder your darlings’. 

“If you here require a practical rule of me, I will present you with this: ‘Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it— whole-heartedly — and delete it before sending your manuscript to press. Murder your darlings.”

It would have amused Dougie to see the subs as discerning assassins hired to butcher purple prose.


When Dougie Orgill was brutally sacked as chief sub he found himself deposited in features where I lived.  I barely knew him but attempted to commiserate.  'Nonsense, dear boy,' he said.  ‘It's out of the kitchen and into the restaurant.'

That lovely piece of insouciance began a friendship which lasted for several memorable years until his early death at the age of 63.

Dougie was an expert in some pretty diverse fields from tank warfare to butterfly collecting, a constant source of entertaining stories and a joy to lunch with — especially in El Vino where he loved my embarrassment at being made to wear a tie, usually one of Geoffrey Van Hay's gravy-stained numbers.

During the advance through Italy in early 1944 Dougie's tank was knocked out by a German shell and his crew surrounded and told they would be shot.  Bravely, Dougie told the Panzers that they could shoot him as commander but that his men must be taken prisoner under the terms of the Geneva convention. 

Into this crisis charged  a German officer, ironically the same rank as Dougie, who ordered the German troops away and apologised saying his men had sustained days of aerial bombardment and were stressed out of their minds.

He explained that he had no facilities for taking prisoners and told Dougie and his men to stay by their stricken tank until the Allied advance caught up with them.  'This war will be over very soon,' he said by way of farewell.  

Dougie congratulated him on his perfect English and asked where he had learned it.  ‘Oxford,' said the German. 'Which college?" asked Dougie.  ‘Balliol,’ said Herr Maior. 'Me too,' said Dougie, upon which they exchanged names and addresses and promised to get in touch when the war was over.

Dougie fulfilled the promise only to find out that his generous combatant had been killed within days of their battlefield meeting.

I can't settle Tony Boullemier's query about Q any more than I could ever discover why he always called me Soulberry.

I am, though, proud to say that I was invited by his family to give the address at his funeral at St Bride's where, to his undoubted celestial amusement, I did not wear a tie!

Good to know there are still those of us around who remember this great man.  Best to everyone, Jim.

Muldoon’s Lookalike

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                 WAYNETTA                            KATHERINE

What a to-do! These well known faces are so alike that casting directors are in a tizzy. One’s an angelic singer who can’t act and the other is a gritty, tell it like it is actress who can’t sing.

But Waynetta (“l’m aaaving a fag!”) Slob is often called up to do Last Night of the Proms while Welsh songstress Katherine (“There’s lovely!”) Jenkins finds herself in some draughty church hall rehearsing with Harry Enfield. Isn’t showbiz wonderful? 

Actually, Waynetta was in a cab once when the driver said: 'You know, you look just like that actress Kathy Burke.' To which she replied: 'Lucky I do or otherwise you’d have got a punch in the mouth.'

Mem to M: Are you sure about this? To be honest, it’s not your best work but I’ll run it and see if there’s a reaction — Ed

Private Eye reports:

Veteran Daily Express hack John Chapman, who refers to himself as a “Fleet Street survivor” having stuck with the paper through its Desmond doldrums and on to the new Mirror-managed era, left last month with an old-school retirement party at El Vino.
He had an admirable valedictory message for his assembled colleagues: “I have witnessed the slow, sad decline of a once-great newspaper … but I was earning an old-style Fleet Street salary so I don’t give a fuck.”




Sunday Express editor Martin Townsend, left,  holds a riverside conference with deputy editor Dick Dismore, right, and Andy Hoban at the Lower Thames Street offices in London some time in the mid-Noughties.




Stamfords Wine Bar was the favoured watering hole for Daily Express journalists in the 1990s and early Noughties, mainly because it was but a short lurch from the Blackfriars offices. 

Pictured among an impressive array of empty beer and wine bottles are the usual suspects … picture editor Chris Djukanovic, editor Chris Williams, backbencher Nick Dalton and sub Sheila Molloy.



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STAMMIES again in a snap provided by MIKE HUGHES, who is on the far left. Also pictured are Chris Williams, John Twomey, personal finance writer Jessica Bown, and Luke Felton, who is sadly no longer with us.


WHO'S that woman with Expressman Ashley Walton? And why does he have that devilish look on his face? 

We do not know … but we think we should be told.

This picture of Margaret Thatcher with the Drone’s chief reporter comes from the BBC TV programme Icons.   

Walton explained yesterday: 'The shot was taken somewhere in the UK during Mrs Thatcher's first election campaign in 1979 before she became Prime Minister. 

'I covered the whole three weeks of the campaign travelling the length of the UK and having a great time. It was certainly the most gruelling three weeks of my life. Where did all that hair come from? Mine not hers.'

He added: 'Now I know what it feels like to be a legend in my own lunchtime.’



Guess who trousered the redundo jackpot?

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All three of them! 

This charming study of Daily Express features subs Norman ‘Normal' Cox, Dave ‘Squiffy’ Searby and Mike ‘Trouser’ Snaith shows them at a lunch to celebrate their redundancy in the 1980s.

Yes folks, thanks to excellent contracts, journalists once rejoiced in getting the sack, as JEFF BOYLE explains in the …

The Great Golden Wheelbarrow lunch


Muldoon’s History in Moments

1916: One man and his dog at ease during a lull in the maelstrom of war. A cosy scene. But this man had a licence to kill. And kill he did. Meet Manfred Albrecht Freiherr Von Richthofen, aka the Red Baron, the ace-of-aces who was credited with 80 air combat victories. He was leader of fighter wing unit Jagdgeschwader 1, better known as the Flying Circus because of the bright colours of its aircraft.

Originally in the cavalry, he quickly applied to join the newly formed Luftwaffe when he realised horses were not going to win the war. Initially, he was a poor pilot and crashed during his first solo outing but quickly he demonstrated an almost supernatural appreciation of the intricacies of flight and tactics and introduced the lethal weapon of diving out of the sun on unsuspecting prey.

 Von Richthofen died after being shot down over the Somme river on April 21,1918. There has been some controversy over who fired the fatal shot, a .303 bullet. The RAF awarded the “kill” to Canadian Captain Arthur “Roy” Brown in a Sopwith Camel but subsequent investigation points to the air ace being downed, ironically, by a shot from the ground.  

Von Richthofen was barely clinging to life when rescuers reached his crashed triplane. He managed to say one word, “kaput” before he slipped the surly bonds of earth (wrong war- Ed).  He was 25.


The day Jean Rook came gunning for Express subs

THERE is no doubt that Jean Rook was a great columnist who well deserved her title of the First Lady of Fleet Street.

But it is no secret that her column in the Daily Express needed careful subbing. This would of course lead to a certain amount of friction between Jean and the Features Department.

GEOFF COMPTON was the man assigned by Features Editor Alan Frame to be a ‘human firewall’ between the First Lady and the hard-pressed features subs.

One famous day Compton received two scathing memos from Jean complaining about the editing of her column. 


We’re only here for the beer and one spritzer ... (no ice)


Well it wasn’t only the beer to be honest. These five Expressmen were also in the pub to chat about old times.

Enjoying a festive drink at the Royal Oak in Southwark are long-time former casual Terry Lloyd with subs Mike Carter, John Sebastian, Rod ‘Spritzer No Ice’ Jones and Jon Smith. 

The picture was taken by Rab Anderson. 


Her Majesty’s Daily Express

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The Royal Family just happened to be passing by the Express offices in Fleet Street in the 1980s, so ESTHER HARROD sneaked out to take this picture of Princes Andrew, Edward and Philip in an open carriage with the Queen. The party were returning to Buck House from a service at St Paul’s Cathedral.

Prince Philip, who once described the Express as “a bloody awful newspaper”, has not surprising averted his eyes from the Black Lubyanka.


Muldoon’s History in Moments

October 3, 1862: Brrr! You could cut the froideur between these two with a Model 1860 Light Cavalry Saber (sic), the weapon of choice for mounted Union troops in the American Civil War. 

That’s President Abraham Lincoln, of course, his stovepipe hat upended on a table draped with the Star-Spangled Banner. His frosty stare in this “inquest without coffee” is reserved for Major General George B. McClellan, leader of the Northern forces at the Battle of Antietam near Sharpsburg, Maryland two weeks earlier. It was the bloodiest day in U.S history with a total of 22,717 dead, wounded or missing. 

McClellan, whose army outnumbered Confederate Robert E. Lee’s by two to one, was far too cautious to achieve what would have been a decisive victory so early in the war. Two corps he held back in reserve and refused to commit to the battle were later discovered to have been twice the number of Lee’s entire force. This and his failure to pursue the Southern army, which was retreating back to Virginia, led to his dismissal by Lincoln. 

Their enmity continued: McClennan unsuccessfully challenged the President in the 1864 election and for the rest of his life vigorously defended his army record. He said: “History will, I trust, do me justice.” It never did.


Hector Breeze dies at 90


CARTOONIST Hector Breeze has died at the age of 90,  the Drone has learned.

Breeze was appointed Pocket Cartoonist by the Express in 1982 and was best known for his drawings featuring impoverished gentry with characteristic chinless faces and tiny dot eyes. 

Fellow cartoonist Ralph Steadman wrote in 1996 that Breeze's "clumsy bewildered characters restore my faith in the seriously daft”.

In 2004 Breeze was voted Pocket Cartoonist of the Year in the Cartoon Art Trust awards, but six months later he was sacked by the Daily Express.

Deep in thought, the late, great Paul Carter

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IF there was one man the Daily Express should never have let go it was Paul Carter. He was the finest journalist many of us have ever worked with — and not only that he was a delightful person.

Here he is meticulously checking the first edition proofs at the Express offices in Blackfriars, London, in 1999 or 2000.

Paul, who went on to be a brilliant deputy editor of the Daily Mail, was forced out by editor Rosie Boycott  mainly because she failed to understand the culture of a middle market tabloid.

Paul died in 2017 aged 54 after a long battle with cancer.

Also in this pic is the back of production editor Bob Smith’s head and Nick Dalton.


In his own words: Paul bids us farewell


The Roaring Eighties

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IF ever there was a decade for partying on the Daily Express it must have been the 1980s — and here is the proof. 

Pictured at a Roaring Twenties evening are, from left, the late and much lamented Ross ‘Crommers’ Tayne, Robin McGibbon and his wife Sue, and Jan Barden who hosted the party at her home in Penge, South-East London.




ONE of the great features of the old Daily and Sunday Express was the people. And one of the most cheerful was Peter ‘Pinky’ Floyd of the Picture Desk. A truly lovely man, here he is in 1998, lighting up the SX picture desk in Fleet Street with his radiant good humour.



A quiet Saturday night on the Sunday Express

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Here’s another snap from the Compton Collection, this time at the Sunday Express offices in Lower Thames Street, London, circa 2005.

On the far left is Tessa Evans, then Roy Povey arriving in his overcoat. In the distance, trying to mind his own business, is Alastair McIntyre, then from left on the middle bench is Mark Hoey, Rod Jones, Brian Izzard and on the backbench, Andy Hoban.


I had that Tim Shipman in the back of the cab ...


You know the feeling, you’ve had an enjoyably heavy lunch and then, in the cab back to the office, the news desk calls, jolting you back to reality.

This was Sunday Express politico Tim Shipman back in the day, trying to sound lucid after a liquid lunch at the Prospect of Whitby in Wapping, London. An amused Andy Hoban looks on.




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IT WAS THE BEST OF TIMES: Daily Express features subs having fun in their break some time in the 1990s are Elaine Canham, Norman ‘Normal’ Cox and Jeff ‘Mine’s a Toby Light’ Boyle. The blonde in the foreground is features desk secretary-cum-nurse Alison Greenacre, who, according to Geoff Compton who provided this pic, 'dispensed our morning hangover cures’. 


Mrs Stumpy’s dog car(t)


A message arrives in a forked stick from ROBIN McGIBBON.

He writes: A girl, aged no more than four, was walking by our bungalow, with her mother, when she spotted blankets in the back of the pictured Perodua Kenari, which my wife, Sue, uses to take friends' dogs for walks.

"Look, mummy," the girl said, pointing at the odd-looking vehicle, "A caravan for little people."

As one of the shortest subs ever to work for the Express, I'm wondering if I should seek your permission to start driving it!

Lord Drone replies: On yer bike, Stumpy!


Muldoon’s History in Moments

1960s: Martin Luther King, watched by one of his sons, removes the charred remains of a fiery cross which had been planted in his front garden. Yep, the good ol’ boys with the white conical hats have been at it again. Not that the Ku Klux Klan worried MLK too much. After all, this Nobel peace laureate was a true icon of our time, the inspirational leader of the civil rights movement in America and with, arguably, Churchill and Hitler, one of the great orators of the 20th century. 

Many, rightly, laud his 1963 I Have a Dream address as his finest. Others, though, point to a poignant and prophetic, spine-tingling speech he made in Memphis in 1968 in which he told of going “to the mountaintop.”

He added: “And I have looked over. And I have seen the promised land. I may not get there with you but I want you to know that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!

“And so I’m happy tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man.

“Mine eyes have seen the coming of the Lord!”

The next day King was assassinated. He was just 39.



Muldoon’s Lookalike


                     ESSEX                                     McINTYRE

Can it be? Surely not. How is it that the world has only just noticed that the acting-singing heart-throb David Essex and our very own Drone clan chief Lord Bingo McIntyre of that Ilk bear more than a superficial passing resemblance? They’re not related of course: one’s quite high born, actually and the other is, at best, of artisan stock. 

Essex, OBE, a man of undistinguished looks, has made good through his showbiz talent. He almost became a professional footballer, though and was on West Ham’s books as a lad. He famously refused to answer a single question in his 11-plus so that he could attend a local secondary modern renowned for its footie prowess.

Lord B, the better looking of the two, comes from an ancient Highland clan (war cry: Flodden the bar!). The name McIntyre is from the Gaelic Mac an t-Saoir meaning son of the carpenter. The clan’s historic seat may have been Glen Noe in Argyll and Bute but it is now Walton-on-Thames, Surrey. The chief is in pretty good form considering he has been on a slippery slope (geddit?) for years.

I’ll get you for this, Muldoon — Ed 




WHERE’S HE GONE? Jon Zackon tears his hair out as a thirsty Kipper Keeling slips out to the pub again

ONE of the great legends of the old Fleet Street Daily Express in the 1970s and 80s was Ted ‘Kipper’ Keeling who, although an excellent news sub-editor, was mostly noted for his ability to slope off to the pub in a cloud of cannabis fumes without the Chief Sub noticing.

Reading on the Drone of Kipper’s exploits, former sub Nick Pigott climbed into his loft to retrieve this sketch he drew at the time of Assistant Chief Sub Jon Zackon tearing his hair out as his nemesis slipped out to the pub.

The original story is here:

The Grey Ghost, Forgotten Hero of the Lopés Cup




Charlie Sale, former Daily Express sports sub and latterly sports columnist on the Daily Mail has announced his retirement on Twitter.

His decision to quit follows the exodus of several star names following the appointment of Geordie Greig as editor to replace Paul Dacre. It is not thought that Charlie’s retirement is connected with this.

Last night after more that 200 Twitter tributes to Charlie, he tweeted: "Absolutely overwhelmed by all the kind messages today re retirement. Even the trolls were nice. Thanks so much.”

One fan tweeted: "Charlie, many congratulations on your recovery. Yet another foe bested, though I’m sorry you’re leaving the circuit; you’ll leave a gap that’s impossible to fill. An absolute doyen of journalism and cantankerous harrumphery. Retiring now, maybe, but you’ll never be ‘irrelevant’.”

On the Express, Charlie rose from sub to No 3 and was a candidate for sports editor when David Emery was short-listed for deputy editor on the Sunday Express, but SX editor Eve Pollard opted for Craig Mackenzie.

LATEST gossip from Northcliffe House reveals that a memo from the Mail’s managing editor informing all staff of the details for Victor Davis’s funeral was sent to everyone — including Victor Davis! Well, he WAS there…

Our informant had a long chat with a Mail insider who said the troops were very distressed at the way the Daily Mail has lost its edge under Greig. Our mole compared it to the emasculation of the Express.

THE DRONE is indebted to Popbitch for the following titbit in its review of the year:

After nearly three decades of steering the ship, Paul Dacre stepped down as the Daily Mail's editor. 

Once in a morning conference Dacre interrupted a journalist talking about the female fighter pilots who were going into Libya to ask: "What? Actually flying the planes? And shooting? Not just navigating? Or giving directions?" 

The reporter informed him that, yes, the women would be flying fighter jets. 

Dacre mulled this over for a hot second, before asking: "Won't their tits get in the way of the steering?




These two images are taken from from a style book entitled The Express Way issued to staff in Manchester and Glasgow in the 1950s, writes BOB CUMMINGS.

The pamphlet contains such gems as:


Advice to the critics: They should not assume too much knowledge on the part of the reader. It is their job to give information to the reader in such a way as not to offend the erudite and not patronise the ignorant. (April 1, 1953).

Whenever possible print a woman's age. That's a fine paragraph in today's Diary about Lady Helena Hilton-Green who flies to the hunt — but I wanted to know how old she was (March 31, 1953).





Here, in glorious black and white, is another trip down memory lane. This pic of Sport and General Press Agency staff was taken at the retirement in 1980 of John Macnee, centre standing. Back row, fourth from left, is Tony Sapiano.

Stuart Clarke, editor of The Moorlander in Devon fills in some of the gaps: Middle row, Dave Ofield, Scoby Riggs, printer, Alistair Loos, Dennis Jones, Hugh Routledge. 

Front row: Neville Mariner,  Stuart Clarke, Roy Chaplin,  Julian Parker and Dave Benett.


Daily Express news subs 1960s


This snap, provided by David Eliades, shows the Express newsroom in London some time in the early 1960s. 

In the foreground is foreign sub Jack Atkinson and next to him in his customary white shirt is splash sub Peter Hedley. The man to Hedley’s left on the middle bench is Ted Hodgson who later became night editor.

Opposite Jack is Ken Macaulay and next to him is Ralph Mineards. 

The man seated under the pillar in the white shirt and dark tie, is Eric Price. This would date the pic as before 1962 as Price left the Express that year to join the Western Daily Press in Bristol.

The backbench is the long desk on the left, second left is Bob Edwards, (the only man to be made editor of the Express twice) next to him is Eric Raybould and Morris Benett.

Thanks to TONY BOULLEMIER  and ROGER WATKINS for help with this caption.

RICK McNEILL reports:  I would date the picture pre-1965, before I joined. I recognise those you mention but others are unknown to me. 

I think the man in the far right background, on the telephone, is picture supremo Frank Spooner and the man seated looking up at him Jim Nicholl. I seem to recall the picture desk and foreign desk shared the same space around then. 

Facing Ted Hodgson is Welshman Harold Jones wearing his signature cardigan, look you. Apart from Morris and Raybould the Backbench is populated by strangers. I’d love to know who they are!

ALAN HILL, Chief City Sub from 1968 to 1996, who identified Bob Edwards, recalls: Bob gave me my job on the Express City staff. When I arrived, six weeks later, he had gone … again!

I believe he sacked Frank Spooner in the morning. Frank’s staff took him for a long lunch and when he returned to clear his desk … Bobbity had been sacked himself.  Frank continued as Picture Editor for years.

Click pic to enlarge


SIR — How nice to see a photograph of my late father, Ralph Mineards, deputy father of the Daily Express chapel, in your illustrious organ.

When he retired in 1979, getting the honor of being "banged out" by the printers, he estimated he had travelled more than a million miles commuting from his Northampton home to London Euston, whiling away his hour-long ride doing the Times crossword.

I always remember him telling me that when he sat on the committee that helped launch the Daily Star, its audience was considered "the Millwall supporter who rolls his own cigarettes”.

An extremely capable journalist and wonderful father.

I followed in his footsteps as an Express trainee on the Falmouth Packet, where my colleagues included Nick Coleridge, now the head of Conde Nast UK, before joining Paul Callan's Inside World on the Mirror and then moving to Nigel Dempster's Diary on the Mail, leaving for the U.S. as an editor on New York Magazine, eventually becoming an anchor for CBS and a commentator on ABC News.

I have now lived in Santa Barbara for 11 years, where I write a weekly column for the Montecito Journal.


Seven in pub heaven

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Seven of the best — that’s this group of erstwhile Daily Express sub-editors who met at their old haunt of the King’s Arms in Roupell Street, London on December 5. 

Pictured are, back row, from left: Brian Izzard, Tony Boullemier, Alan Livermore (Daily Mirror) and Ray King.
Front row: David Laws, Ray Williams and Nick Pigott.

Lunchers meet at the court of 

King David and Queen Lamar


The World’s Greatest Lunch Club moved from its customary festive perch at Joe Allen to the World’s Greatest Luxury Apartment Overlooking the Thames yesterday.

We were guests of David Eliades and his wife Lamar who invited the former Daily Express journalists and their wives to their home beside the river at Richmond.

Pictured above from left are Lamar Eliades, Alan Frame, Dick Dismore and Carol Watkins. Behind Carol is Ashley Walton, Chris McIntyre and David Eliades.



Twiggy’s Express dress




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They look glum but these Daily Express women were in fact putting on an act. They were actually having fun, mourning the death of the paper’s William Hickey gossip column. 

Back in 1987, the Express decided to replace the long-dead diarist with a real person in the shape of Ross Benson. Fleet Street gossip columnists led by the Daily Mail’s Nigel Dempster held a mock funeral for Hickey whose  name was revived following Benson’s death. 

This picture is supplied by Kim Willsher, second left, with Louise Court on her right.

The day they buried Hickey


SIR — On a flying visit to London recently I took my family for dinner at the new Joe Allen, fondly expecting to wallow nostalgically in its uniquely cool and quietly clubbable atmosphere.

Imagine my surprise (as they say) to find myself in a overcrowded characterless bistro full of shouting tourists off the street and an expensive menu with little to remind me of its bygone Exeter Street heyday. Even the signature cheesecake tasted like Tesco’s!

Perhaps you chaps have a different perspective at your regular get-togethers there. Probably it’s the company not the place? Maybe also night times are a no-no. Too close to the Strand.

You know what they say . . . never go back.

Greetings to all Express Persons of Good Standing!


Tweet of the Year




Stan McMurtry, better known as Mac of the Daily Mail, has now surpassed Carl Giles of the Daily and Sunday Express as the longest-serving cartoonist on a national newspaper, serving from 1968 to 2018, reports Tim Benson of the Political Cartoon Gallery in Putney. 

Mac has now retired from the Mail and has been replaced by Paul Thomas.

Giles, who died in 1995, drew his last cartoon for the Express in 1989.


Reflections on Cummings, a great Express cartoonist




Alan Bennett Diaries

Caricature of the week

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Theresa May by Seamus Jennings


They way we were


Production editor Bob Smith, left, and artist Fred Boyce inspect the first edition of the Daily Express at the Blackfriars offices in the 1990s



It’s the Duke, caught on camera in the 1970s

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There’s a few familiar faces in this pic of the London Evening Standard backbench in, at a guess, the 1970s. In the background gazing into the middle distance is Chris ‘Duke’ Djukanovic, later to become picture editor of the Daily Express. 

Seated on the right is Charles Wintour, famed editor of the Standard, and next to him in the striped shirt is Roy Wright, who later became the editor of the Daily Express before disappearing without trace.

PETER STEWARD has filled in the gaps. He writes:

I believe the picture was taken before I joined the Standard (in the long hot summer of 1976) and for some reason I think it was a pre-Budget meeting. At that time the Evening Standard was part of the Beaverbrook empire and housed in Shoe Lane.

As you say, to the left of Charles Wintour is Roy Wright who returned to the Standard while I was there. I think he was deputy editor when Simon Jenkins was fired and Wintour returned for a short time before Lou Kirby arrived and Associated took half a share in the paper.

Seated centre is Bill Sharp, the splash sub.The chap back left in beard and specs is Cyril Raper, who enjoyed a White Shield Worthington. I think he was once chief sub, but during my time there he was like an executive revise sub. 

In those days subs sent copy direct to the printers below via a conveyor belt down the middle of the desk and a hole in the floor. The first opportunity to get it revised was when galley proofs arrived upstairs or when the stone sub got a chance to read it.

On the left is the legendary political editor Bob Carvel (with pipe) and Michael King.

Perhaps the person furthest right could be David Henshall.

I left the Standard on December 29 1983 after being kidnapped in the Poppinjay by the sweet-talking Terry Manners. I was working a five-day week as the Standard's chief sub at the time but Terry held out the prospect of a four-night week for more money. 

Six months later Mr Manners showed me the way to the escape tunnel (or perhaps he regretted tempting me in the first place) and I left to join the Sunday Express under that dynamic liberal editor Sir John Junor.

Click pic for larger image


Punch Classic Frank R Gray


Classic Cummings (1967) 



Classic Giles (1970)


Latest Eye

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Classic Eye (1972)



When we were very young


The faces look familiar to anyone who was on the Daily Express in the 1970s and 80s. But who are these two youngsters? The answers are here


Day the long Fleet Street lunch died


COLIN DUNNE, a former feature writer for The Sun and Daily Mirror, has written a superbly nostalgic piece in Press Gazette about the death of the Fleet Street long lunch. It will ring a distinct bell for many readers of the Daily Drone.

Dunne’s story inevitably involves Kelvin (no surname needed) storming around the office trying to get his staff out of licensed premises. 

The Drone’s own ASHLEY WALTON has a similar recollection. He reports: Shortly after Kelvin left the Express to edit The Sun I was taking a lunchtime glass in the Wine Press and joined four Sun reporters who were all sitting at the bar with one eye on the window and Bouverie Street.  

In the middle of some convivial chat the foursome suddenly fled from their stools and disappeared into the back of the bar. Kelvin came through the door and joined me at the bar.

After about half an hour of picking my brains about life on the Express he stood up to leave. At the door he turned round ... 'Oh by the way can you tell those cunts in the bog to come back to the office.’

I went to the gents, there was no sign of them but four closed doors. Looking underneath the doors, nothing to see, so I shouted: 'He  knows you are here!

The foursome got down from the toilet bowls and fled to the office — but not without finishing their drinks still on the bar.

There was a good deal of late evening merriment going on, too, at around that time, not least at the Mirror.

On one famous occasion chief sub Vic Mayhew rolled back from Barney's about 20 minutes after the last bell to be confronted angrily by night editor Mark Kahn.

'Pissed again,’ said Kahn to Vic.

'Yeh Mark,' said Vic. 'So am I!'   



Alan Bennett Diaries


Fleet Street then and now

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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)



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 aged 73 on 24 June after a long fight against motor neurone disease. 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


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 



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


Drone Mart



Nick Lloyd’s tribute to Jean Rook in 1991



Our man Ashley on ITV news

Ashley Walton out on the Fergie story, early 1990s 


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. 

Read Jeff Connor’s potted history of Ancoats from 1976 to 1988. ONLY ON THE DRONE!


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. 


© 2005-2019 Alastair McIntyre