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SUNDAY 24 FEBRUARY 2019

WEATHER: SUNNY, MAX 16C

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QUOTE OF THE DAY

It's better to be alone than in bad company — George Washington

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STEVE WOOD'S A PICTURE AFTER SNAPPING ANKLE

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FASHION stops for no man as former Express photographer Steve Wood has proved. 

Despite breaking an ankle, Steve grabbed a pair of crutches and struggled to the airport to catch his flight from London to Italy for Milan Fashion Week.

The rag trade brings Steve alive so it was no surprise that he looked a different man as he posed for a picture with Chinese supermodel Liu Wen, below.

He was philosophical about his broken ankle, telling the Drone: “It has stopped me going skiing so it has saved me £300 a day. I would rather have been skiing but I broke it the day before I was due to go."

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Work begins on the Irish backstop (whatever that is)

And Mrs May celebrates

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Meanwhile in India the subs are getting bored 

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PRIVATE EYE

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SUNDAY'S PAPERS

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TODAY’S FRONT AND BACK PAGES

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CARTOON OF THE DAY

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PETER BROOKES, The Times

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Lower Thames Street 1905

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As the Daily and Sunday Express news operation prepares to leave its Lower Thames Street offices in London for Canary Wharf here’s a pic of the road in 1905. 

Lower Thames Street is just as busy then as now as carts queue to collect fish from Billingsgate Market on the left. This scene looks west with the spire of St Magnus the Martyr Church, which still nestles next to London Bridge, visible in the distance.

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Lower Thames Street today with the old Billingsgate Market building on the left. The Express building is the grey structure further up

Victor Mizzi, champion of Chernobyl’s poor children

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DONOR: Victor Mizzi who has died aged 84

By ALAN FRAME

When writing here recently about Mohamed al-Fayed’s generosity towards the child victims of Chernobyl I omitted to mention the man who did more than anyone to help the poor kids who lost their childhoods in the worst disaster of the nuclear age. His name was Victor Mizzi and he has just died at the age of 84. 

Our first encounter was the day he rang me demanding money. Not exactly with menaces but certainly with great insistence. The Express had run several features by Kim Willsher and me on the appalling legacy of Chernobyl and that coverage attracted unsolicited and very welcome donations from readers.

Victor, who had made enough money to retire before he reached 50, was devoting his time to helping those victims. He had set up a charity, Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline, and he wanted some funds or coverage or preferably both. What Victor wanted, he usually got. And this was no exception.

In short, CCLL has brought more than 10,000 children from the contaminated areas of Belarus for two-month stays with host families in the UK, during which time they are checked over by volunteer doctors and dentists and given days out they never forget. The charity also supports an orphanage and children’s hospital in Belarus and is the largest Chernobyl-related charity in the world. 

I was a trustee for 15 years and know for sure that without the terrier-like tenacity of the Maltese-born Mizzi thousands of children would have had markedly different lives.

Hero of Chernobyl

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LUDGATE CIRCUS,1926

Hold tight to your hats chaps, there's a General Strike on

A BUS operated by an independent company passes through Ludgate Circus at the foot of Fleet Street, London, crammed with passengers during the General Strike on 4 May, 1926

The 15A bus route ran until 1987 when it was merged with the 15 which still runs down Fleet Street.

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January sales figures show more big losses

THE best thing that can be said about the national newspaper circulation figures for January is that Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday have slightly slowed their decline.

All the rest is gloom according to ABC figures which show all titles have lost sales. 

Greatest declines were at the Sunday People, down 18 per cent, and the Daily Star, which showed a 16 per cent loss. The Daily Express and Daily Mirror fared little better.

The Mail titles' print sales are shown for the first time with bulks stripped out.

In December, the Daily Mail had a print circulation of 1.2million, down 12 per cent year-on-year. The Mail on Sunday had a circulation of 1million, down 11 per cent year-on-year. But in January both titles posted a year-on-year circulation decline of seven per cent.


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THE WRITER’S WRIT

Author sues Telegraph in double legal trouble

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POPBITCH reports:

It's quite the hole that the Telegraph has dug itself into. Last week they had to retract a story on Melania Trump after the notorious US lawyer, Charles Harder (the guy who took down Gawker) sent them a letter demanding an apology and damages.

The Telegraph's piece was written by Nina Burleigh, right, the author of a book about Melania that has been published in the States – and is therefore protected under the First Amendment. 

But as the Telegraph is bound by UK law (where it's much easier to sue for libel) Harder saw a chance to pounce on them for a sizeable settlement for the same story; one he could never have dreamed of securing back home.

The Telegraph instantly shat themselves. Media wags have dubbed it the fastest retraction, apology and payout in newspaper history. 

But in their haste to make amends they ended up going so far over the top that they threw Burleigh under the bus, pretty much suggesting that she's a liar. In a British publication. Meaning that she can now try to sue them over here too.

Which – surprise, surprise – she is!

popbitch.com

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Meanwhile in Amphibian News

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Daily Mail

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News you may have missed

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Craig parties with Fleet Street royalty on his 70th

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Just a few of Craig's editor pals: From left, Eve Pollard, Sir Nicholas Lloyd, Wendy Henry, Craig MacKenzie, his brother Kelvin, Judy McGuire and Piers Morgan  

By TONY BOULLEMIER

Tabloid royalty turned out in force for Craig MacKenzie's 70th birthday bash last Saturday.

Ex-editors and many others from across the newspaper spectrum descended on the party in Weybridge, Surrey.

Craig started as a sub on the Daily Express and went on to become deputy editor of the Daily and Sunday Express. He also edited titles for the Murdoch and Mirror groups.

He thanked guests who had made him welcome when he first arrived in Fleet Street.

Presenting him with a spoof Sun Page One, Piers Morgan paid tribute to his incredible loyalty. 

He said whenever he had problems, Craig would be in the trenches alongside him. 

Piers described him as "mad funny" and said he loved Craig's passion for life and work.

He added: "All the MacKenzies are like that. Everything at 100mph." 

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Marie Louise, vivacious star of William Hickey desk dies aged just 65

Marie Louise in 2015, left, and in the 1971 Coca-Cola ad

We are sad to report the death of Marie Louise Windeler, star of a famous 1971 Coca-Cola TV advert and a former secretary on the Daily Express William Hickey desk. She was 65.

Marie Louise, who had been suffering from dementia, was known as O’lene on the Express and has been described as “a joyous presence”. After she left the Express in the 1970s she had a glittering career in public relations.

She leaves a husband Henry, children Holly and Alice, two sisters Victoria and Juliette and a brother Rupert.

The funeral service will be held at Sacred Heart Church, Edge Hill, Wimbledon, London SW19 4LU on Wednesday 13th February at 11.30am followed by burial in Epsom Cemetery at 1.30pm. The wake will be at the RAC Woodcote Park from 2.30pm. 

Donations to Race Against Dementia gratefully received at https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/MarieLouiseWindeler

*The television commercial in which Marie Louise appeared was the groundbreaking “Buy the World a Coke" ad which became so popular that the New Seekers re-recorded it as the pop song I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing (In Perfect Harmony) which became a big hit in the UK and the US.

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DAILY STAR MOVES TO CANARY WHARF

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FINAL EDITION: The staff of the Daily Star in London posed for a final picture as they prepared their last edition in Lower Thames Street. They have now moved to the Mirror building in Docklands.

Note the mouse held aloft top left, a reference to the rodent problem in the LTS building.

The Daily and Sunday Express news operation, currently on the ground floor at Lower Thames Street, is also moving to Canary Wharf soon.

Mirror sport and the magazines will be switching in the opposite direction from Canary Wharf to the Express offices.

The Star and Express titles have been based in Lower Thames Street since 2004.

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Spot the Expressman

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FOUND HIM YET? Look closely and you will see Terry Chinery hard at work on the Luton News back in the 1970s. Terry, first left, went on to greater things and became Night News Editor on the Daily Express. And yes, that dagger in the foreground is his, we are reliably informed.

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PALACE COMPLAINS TO REGULATOR 

NEW CRISIS HITS MoS

OVER SNATCH PICS OF

THE QUEEN’S SHOOT

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THE Mail on Sunday has run into more trouble under its new editor Ted Verity, the Daily Drone can reveal.

The paper rather naively ran pictures of the Queen out shooting with Jackie Stewart.

But the photographs were taken on private land which is not allowed without permission. This triggered a very rare complaint from Her Majesty. 

The faux pas has resulted in the resignation of the Mail on Sunday’s picture editor Jack Culver.

An MoS insider told the Drone: “Royal hackles were already up following the Prince Philip crash debacle so naturally they were thrilled to be able to whack back.

“But the complaint was not made to Ted Verity direct from the Palace press office, but through IPSO [the Independent Press Standards Organisation], which Lord Rothermere will hate because it’s such a stupid mistake.

“Ted Verity bawled out the picture editor Jack Culver because the pics the MoS had of Prince Philip driving solo, after his car crash, were not exclusive.

“I believe the background to this is that they were taken by a freelancer, who warned at the point of sale he would be selling elsewhere and those were the terms on offer.

“As a result, Culver went in and resigned without waiting for a pay-off.

“How much longer will Verity last? But then they say that about The Donald.”

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EXCLUSIVE

We find former deputy editor’s secret hideout

CLUE: The hideaway costs ‘pots' of money

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Express mouse race 

Bosses do nothing to clean up vermin on the news floor

NIPPER: A mouse scurries around the desks in this footage captured by a member of the Express staff.
BELOW: There goes another one just like the other one

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THE Express offices are still infested with mice — despite the refurbishment being carried out by the building’s owner Richard Desmond.

The problem has existed for years and the Drone can confirm that it dates back to at least 2006 — but still the management has done nothing.

Staff are understandably fed up at conditions in the offices near London Bridge.

“It’s revolting,” one Express source told Buzzfeed News. “They are everywhere, and desks are covered in poo and pee each morning.

“They run around our feet constantly, mostly at night. And then when it’s quieter they’re up on the desks.

“There are fleas everywhere too.”

Journalists have even taken to setting up cameras to catch the mice. They’ve also repeatedly told management about the rodent problem.

“It’s unbearable to work in those conditions,” one reporter said. “The organisation demands an insane amount of work from its reporters, and gives zero fucks about making us work in inhumane conditions.”

Reach Plc, the new owners of the Express, has not replied to a request for comment.

Management has blamed staff for eating meals at their desks. “It’s a bloody intense newsroom,” an employee said. “There’s little time for breaks so we have no choice but to eat in the office.” 

There is respite for the Express news teams at least as they will shortly move to join their Mirror colleagues at Canary Wharf. 

The refurbishment is being carried out by the landlord Northern & Shell as it prepares for new tenants who would be reluctant to put up with conditions like this.

Scroll down the page for YOU DIRTY RATS!

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Nestling amid the sylvan folds of the rolling English countryside, the Grade 1 listed mansion now known as DroneHaven welcomes journalists, particularly sub-editors, from the Daily Express and other Fleet Street publications who are facing their “final edition” with ageless style and aplomb.

The 300-year-old mansion has been skilfully converted into one and two bedroom self-contained six-star cottages and apartments all lovingly finished to an enviably high specification. This iconic retirement village boasts lounges, a bar, dining room and library. There are lawns and lakes and ample parking. A  mini bus* is available to take guests into the nearby town where there are frequent trains to London.

The dedicated DroneCare staff have developed a series of residents’ activities aimed at Fleet Street’s finest. They include:

DroneDisco 

A former Night Editor and local radio disc jockey leads music aficionados in what he calls The Vinyl Edition, listening to, and discussing, the hits and stars of yesteryear. Legends such as Connie Francis, Bobby Vee, Conway Twitter and the Big O. Our host will reveal fascinating facts about the icons he discusses. For instance, did you know what Chuck Berry was referring to when he sang about his dingaling? All meetings will feature state-of-the-art sound systems* and will close with our popular SingalongaTel karaoke sessions.

DroneDeadline 

The group is given the chance to relive the glory days of Fleet Street sub-editors by helping to produce a genuine parish magazine (St Nicholas Church in the village) in real time against the clock. Guided by an experienced parish magazine editor, our “subs” will work on copy paper with a pen and use spikes, scissors and glue*. Crumpling up crap headlines, which have been rejected, and throwing them on the floor is encouraged as is randomly shouting “Stop the press!” “Hold the front page!” and “Cooking on gas!” These sessions traditionally end on “Press Day” with the “editor” shouting: “Make it sing!” and the “subs”replying in unison: “And make it a song I like!”

DroneGoss 

Remember those Fleet Street days of salacious, scurillous scuttlebut? Whispers behind the hands? Secrets guaranteed to shock? These popular sessions are dedicated to the legendary Les Diver, the one-man rumour mill who coined the slogan “Goss is King; Goss is Power”. Your host is the Daily Drone’s resident royal expert, our very own PopBitch. He will pass on the very latest rumours from the Palace and Parliament. Be prepared to be teased and tormented.

The House of Drone wishes to thank the Press Association for its assistance in delivering this programme.

DroneDrink

In the evenings it’s time to slope down to the Bertie Brooks Memorial Bar for an attitude adjuster or two. Whatever the weather, gentlemen are expected to be in shirt sleeves as if they had just “gone to the library” or “popped to the loo”. Offering toasts is very much de rigeur in Bertie’s. Apart from the popular “To Wives And Girlfriends - May They Never Meet”, Drones often utter the memorable “Lagers Till We Lurch”, “Swans Till We Swoon”, and “Pils Till We Puke”. 

Members of DroneDram*, our amateur dramatic and re-enactment team, will be on hand to assume the roles of famous Fleet Street characters. Mrs Moon will humiliate you by banning you from “Falstaff’s Dive Bar” and a sinister black-cloaked character will sweep in shouting: “Flood the bar!” Highlight, for some, is the florid, irascible Scotsman who pins you against the bar, invades your personal space and demands why the fuck he hasn’t been made Chief Sub.

More to come

Other programmes we are working on include DroneDown! in which “subs” compete for the Jack Atko trophy by being judged the best at asking for their copy to be delivered to the printer. A DroneDram* team member will act as Messenger Roger. DroneDrone enables residents to start their own beehives aided by apple-cheeked Mrs W* from the village. We have high hopes for DroneEscape in which the fitter members of our community form a Colditz-style Escape Committee and start to dig a tunnel, nicknamed Larry, under the West Wing bin store. 

*Extra charge.

Your retirement dream

Find out more about DroneHaven by sending for our information pack containing detailed specifications, plans and photographs of our apartments and cottages as well as comprehensive costings. Write to: Drone Enterprises, House of Drone, Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, KT12 1AD or visit our website www.dailydrone.co.uk


A Drone from Home with the House of Drone 

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Help cheer up John Downing

CHUMS: Downing, centre, with the late Danny McGrory, left, and Tom Stoddart celebrate England’s 5-1 win over Germany while attending Kim Willsher’s wedding in 2001

THE many friends and colleagues of star photographer John Downing are being urged to rally round him today.

John has been diagnosed with incurable lung cancer, according to his wife, the pianist Anita D'Attellis.

She said John was ill over Christmas, culminating in an 

operation to remove liquid from his lung.

Anita added: "At the same time they took a biopsy, which sadly turned out rather bad news.  He has a particularly virulent cancer, which is incurable. He’s in good spirits considering, and full of gallows humour. 

"He's happy for you to mention it to any of his old colleagues, but would appreciate emails only, because he’s not up to taking phone calls at the moment."

John's great friend, Tom Smith, reported that the surgery John underwent last week at London Bridge Hospital will, in John’s own words, only "delay the inevitable a short time”.

He added: "Most of old-time Fleet Street and all of the London Welsh Choir have our fingers crossed. Please pass this on to all who knew him and worked with the 'best snapper of his time'.”

Understandably, John is not up to phone calls at the moment but Anita said you may contact him by email at jd@johndowning.co.uk

IS THERE MUCH MORE OF THIS? John Downing waits for reporter Kim Willsher to finish filing her story 

BELOW: Downing documentary, 34:15 runtime

Downing's study of a young Sue McGibbon

FORMER Daily Express news sub Robin McGibbon is justly proud of this Downing photograph of his wife Sue taken when she was aged 17.

Robin told the Drone : "In the early 70s, my wife, Sue, worked at the Daily Express, selling classified advertising. Her boss was John's wife, Jeanette, who felt it would make the girls' regular sales calls more personal if clients knew what they they looked like. 

"She primed John on each girls' personality and he chatted with each one — to relax them — before taking their photograph, which was stuck on compliments slips sent to prospective advertisers.

"The attached pic of Sue, aged 17, is displayed in our study, assuring that, for her, John will never be forgotten.

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Legendary sports writer McIlvanney dies at 84

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THE greatest sports writer of his generation, Hugh McIlvanney, has died at the age of 84.

McIlvanney spent most of his 60-year career with The Observer and The Sunday Times and worked briefly for the Daily Express.

He leaves a wife, Caroline, son Conn and daughter Elizabeth.

In 1996, McIlvanney was awarded the OBE, was given the Lifetime Achievement Award 2004 by The Scottish Press Awards, and is the only sports writer to be voted Journalist of the Year. 

McIlvanney was great friends with fellow Scotsman Bill Montgomery, a Daily Express news sub who was never reluctant to give someone a thump whether they deserved it or not. 

An Expressman who prefers to remain anonymous, recalls:

"I am reminded of the night I was chief sub and, for no reason, didn’t give Bill Monty a story. He thought he was getting the freeze. Later in the Press Club, Bill told me there was a call for me. Remember those phone booths in that dimly-lit hall?

"I went out and picked up the phone which was hanging off its hook. The line was dead. It was a set-up. 

"I felt the grip of  death on my throat. It was paranoid Monty, demanding to know who’d instructed me to give him the freeze. I couldn’t plead my innocence owing to asphyxiation.

"Just then Hugh McIlvanney appeared through the gloom. 'Need a hand there, Billy?' he said. 

"You don’t forget moments like that.”

PATRICK COLLINS, sports writer and friend of McIlvanney’s summed up the man, saying: "When his countless admirers speak of Hugh’s writing, they recall the rolling phrases, the astute insights, the dramatic sense of occasion. 

"But those who worked with him — and especially the heroic subs who placed paragraph marks on his copy — will tell of the tireless perfectionist, the man whose Sunday would be spoiled by a misplaced comma or a wayward colon.”

ALAN HILL, former Express Chief City Sub, writes: One of my former bosses, Roy Mackie, City Editor of the Daily Express for some years, was a good friend of Hugh McIlvanney’s. I spent many a convivial night in their company, usually in The Old Bell.

My friend Iain Murray, formerly of Daily Express features and The Observer, told a Hughie story some years ago. 

Hugh was becoming a wee bit stressed by someone in the pub. Seeing what was coming our good friend Bill Montgomery placed his hand on the back of Hugh’s neck. 

The squeeze on the McIlvanney neck was said to be tighter than a Scotsman’s grip on a tenner. And it was accompanied by Bill, saying in his warmest Glaswegian tones: “Now Hugh, we’ll nae be havin any of your nonsense tonight.”

Iain claims Hugh’s feet came off the floor.

Calm was restored. And as Roy Mackie said: “Strong drink was taken, and we all went home good friends.”

ROGER WATKINS: I was a features sub in Manchester in 1972 when a newly-appointed McIlvanney came into the office to write up a featuremin time for the first edition.  He was taciturn and uncommunicative and I recall thinking at the time that he did not seem happy to be on the World’s Greatest Newspaper and, especially, not to be camping in a branch office wrestling with a battered Olympia.

When his copy came I’d  like to say I subbed it with all the attention of a Cliff Barr or a Roy Povey but, to be honest, I didn’t sub it at all.

JIM DAVIES: The fully-deserved paeans of praise for the work of Hugh Mcilvanney prompted some fond memories of our time together.  When he — I thought inadvisably — came back to the Express in the early Seventies (he had been on the Scottish Daily Express earlier in his career), we were having a jar or six in The Old Bell.

I said the Express was a tightly-subbed paper which might fit ill with the lengths he had been accustomed to at The Observer.  "I decide what a piece is worth," he said with what, in anyone else would have sounded like rank pomposity.

I teased him.  "I doubt they have a type face small enough so what do they do?”  'They hang it in a strip below the page,' he said with a look that almost challenged anyone to disagree.

His return to the Beaverbrook fold was not a match made in heaven and did not last.  But happily it did not derail an illustrious career the like of which I doubt we will see again.

Hughie and I were both among the class of '34 who arrived in Fleet Street in the late 50s and early 60s and, sadly, we are a rapidly dwindling bunch.  But boy, did we have the best of it! 

DRONE EXCLUSIVE: My last meeting with Hugh

Guardian obituary 

 3 Donald Trelford’s terrific tribute in the Sunday Times

Hugh’s tribute to Pele last year

Hugh McIlvanney’s address to the Football Writers’ Association at The Savoy, London on 21 January, 2018 

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YOU DIRTY RATS!

Express vermin-infested offices get a clean up, but it’s not for the staff

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Express and Daily Star staff can’t shake off the influence of their old boss Richard Desmond, as Private Eye reports:

Uncharacteristic scenes at the offices of the Express and Daily Star, where interior decorators have arrived to spruce the notoriously shabby and vermin-ridden place up. 

“Redone lifts, shiny corridors and lots of concept art on walls showing us how nice it will all look,” marvelled one of the inmates to the Eye recently.

Then came the memo to all staff explaining everything: Staff will be moving out of the building to join their new Retch stablemates, the Mirror titles, in a staged exodus between February and May.

Their former owner and current landlord Richard Desmond is just doing the place up so he can let the place out for more money to tenants who wouldn’t put up with the squalor the hacks had to!

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Sunday Express staff is halved to fewer than 10 News teams to quit Lower Thames Street and move to Canary Wharf

ANOTHER body blow has been dealt to Express staff  after plans were announced to halve jobs on the Sunday paper.

The move, which reduces staff numbers to less than 10 follows cuts under Mirror publisher Reach, which bought the Express and Star titles last year as part of a £128m deal.

Sunday Express Martin Townsend, who was sacked last year after 17 years, has not been replaced.

In another development, Reach has confirmed the Daily and Sunday Express news teams will move to join the Mirror at Canary Wharf while the Mirror sport desk and magazine and supplement teams will be based at the Express offices at Lower Thames Street.

Several senior journalists have left the Sunday Express, including arts editor Clair Woodward, picture editor Jim Selby and a news reporter, according to Press Gazette.

The paper’s assistant editor James Murray and diarist Adam Helliker have both moved over to the Daily Express, while travel editor Jane Memmler has been appointed deputy travel editor for the whole group.

Following the departure of  Martin Townsend, who left to join a PR firm last August, the paper has been edited by Michael Booker in his role as weekend editor and deputy editor.

One source said: “The paper is run by a sort of communist committee of [Express editor] Gary [Jones] at the top, deputy [editor] Caroline Waterston and under them is Michael Booker.”

There are rumours of another wave of redundancies in April, with the Sunday Express potentially to be further affected.

The source predicted  the “virtual amalgamation” of the Daily and Sunday Express and said Mirror journalists would also increasingly be writing for the Express when news teams occupy the same building.

The atmosphere in the newsroom is still toxic. “Express staff very much feel second best to Mirror and People employees.”

The source added: “No-one can quite work out what the game  plan is. It’s very odd to have bought the whole thing and shave all the talent off. It makes for a homogenous group of papers with no real character.”

Another source said: “The old Mirror people come first. There aren’t many Express people left who have an executive role – they have got rid of them now.

“The Sunday Express is losing its identity and that’s a bit of a shame. The new management are trying to keep their readership, but they don’t understand what it is. How many more interviews with Joan Collins can you have?

“Sunday papers need a particular identity and when all the teams merge as one we lose that.

“Although I didn’t love the Sunday Express’ politics, it did have an arm around the shoulder flavour. It’s now going for these fear stories. Older readers want something a bit nicer than that.”
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ONLY IN THE DRONE

Mail on Sunday ‘stole’ Mirror’s royal exclusive

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SENIOR journalists at the Mail on Sunday are in despair after alleged blatant plagiarism at the paper.

The entire Page 3 of this week's edition of the MoS was apparently a straight lift of the Sunday Mirror’s splash about the woman who broke her wrist when her car was in collision with Prince Philip’s Land Rover.  

Our mole at Northcliffe House said staff had their heads in the hands over the incident and that the Sunday Mirror plans to bill MoS editor Ted Verity for the story.

An unconfirmed report claims that the woman who sold the tale to the Sunday Mirror went first to the Daily Mail and asked how much they would pay.

They gave a price which she agreed before being told: 'We'll call back you in the morning’. Exasperated, she took her story to  the Mirror who snapped her up.

Our informant told the Drone: ‘I seem to remember that in the old days it was always a case of 'grab the body and get it away.

'How times change.’

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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

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DroneMart offer £1.39* a bag

* p&p £79.99

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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

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LETTER TO THE EDITOR

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.

This from RICK Q McNEILL:

I recall Dougie Orgill also used occasionally to address lowly subs as Shufflebottom and Aloysius — as in “Anthony Aloysius Armstrong, your past has caught up with you!”

DOUGIE THE WAR HERO
By JIM Q DAVIES

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.
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CHAPMANS PARTING SHOT AS HE QUITS THE EXPRESS
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.”

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MARTIN HOLDS COURT

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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.

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TYPICAL SCENE AT STAMMIES

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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.

…. AND HERE’S ANOTHER

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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.

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ONLY HERE FOR THE LEER

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.’

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YOUR STARTER FOR 10 PINTS

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

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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.

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

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

READ ALL ABOUT IT HERE

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

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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. 

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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.

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Hector Breeze dies at 90

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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.

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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

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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.

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HOORAY FOR PINKY!

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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.

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A quiet Saturday night on the Sunday Express

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Here’s another snap from the old days, 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.

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

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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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MORE FLEET STREET FUN

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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 one member of staff, 'dispensed our morning hangover cures’. 

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Mrs Stumpy’s dog car(t)

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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!

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Muldoon’s Lookalike

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                     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 

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THE SLIPPERY SLOPER

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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

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GLOOM AT MAIL AS ONE MORE STAR NAME QUITS Now Charlie throws in towel

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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?

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HOW THE EXPRESS DID IT IN STYLE IN THE EARLY 1950s

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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:

THE CRITICS

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).

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SNAPPERS SNAPPED

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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.

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Daily Express news subs 1960s

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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

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

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.

RICHARD MINEARDS
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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.
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Lunchers meet at the court of 

King David and Queen Lamar

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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.

MORE PICTURES 
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FLASHBACK TO 1965

Twiggy’s Express dress

MORE TWIGGY

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GOOD MOURNING AND GOOD NIGHT, WILLIAM HICKEY

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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
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LETTER TO THE EDITOR

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!

 RICK McNEILL
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Tweet of the Year

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MAC’S 50-YEAR REIGN BEATS GILES

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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.

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Reflections on Cummings, a great Express cartoonist

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Alan Bennett Diaries
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Caricature of the week

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STAN LAUREL by Mark Bickley

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They way we were

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

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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

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Punch Classic 

Albert Rusling 1991

Classic Cummings (1971) 

.

Classic Giles (1986)

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Latest Eye

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Classic Eye (1987)

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When we were very young

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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

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Day the long Fleet Street lunch died

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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!'   

READ COLIN DUNNE’S PIECE HERE

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Alan Bennett Diaries

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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

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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)

MULDOON

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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

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The amazing life of Bain, a fantastic story well told

Book cover.jpeg

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 

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DRONE PHOTONEWS

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

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Drone Mart

DEHYDRATED WATER.jpg

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DRONETUBE
Nick Lloyd’s tribute to Jean Rook in 1991

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DRONETUBE

Our man Ashley on ITV news

Ashley Walton out on the Fergie story, early 1990s 

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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. 

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

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One in the Eye

eye title

No 103

Volume 15: 1986

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

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

UPDATED 27 JANUARY

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

Bloodless…

Sir,

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, 
HENRY MACRORY

Assistant Editor,
Sunday Express 

121 Fleet Street, London


Coo

Sir,

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.

MICHAEL DOVE

Senior Reporter

Sunday Express

121 Fleet Street, London

THAT’S IT FOR 1986

MORE FROM 1986

ONE IN THE EYE 1985

ONE IN THE EYE 1984

ONE IN THE EYE 1983

ONE IN THE EYE 1982

ONE IN THE EYE 1981

ONE IN THE EYE 1980

ONE IN THE EYE 1979

ONE IN THE EYE 1978

ONE IN THE EYE 1977

ONE IN THE EYE 1976

ONE IN THE EYE 1975

ONE IN THE EYE 1974

ONE IN THE EYE 1973

ONE IN THE EYE 1972

ONE IN THE EYE 1966-1971

SPOOF FRONT PAGE FROM 1965

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Who put the lights out?

Dxblackout

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

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DroneTube
Farewell to Fleet Street

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

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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.
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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. 

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© 2005-2019 Alastair McIntyre