For 22 months Theresa May has argued that no deal is better than a bad deal. Today her argument is that a bad deal is better than no deal — Sunday Times political editor Tim Shipman last night


Tweet of the Year




FREEDOM: The smiles say it all as the Manchester staff of the Daily Star wave their redundancy cheques prior to the paper’s move to London in 1989.  



Express showbiz great Victor Davis dies at 89

Brian Freemantle & Victor Davis SW01

Tributes were paid last night to Victor Davis, former Showbusiness Editor of the Daily Express and the doyen of entertainment writers, who died at his home in Notting Hill, London on Monday. He was 89.

He had been living alone, with a carer, since his wife, Janice died fours years ago.

Victor is pictured above left with his friend and colleague, former Mailman and author Brian Freemantle.



Royals get to the point


We are always taught that it’s rude to point: it’s a taboo acknowledged all over the world. Yet no one seems to have told our Royal Family, writes our spotty intern Muldoon who glanced into the Drone offices as he was “just passing".

Even when their ages differ by more than 90 years, they all extend their index fingers all the time. Why is that? Behavioural scientists say it’s an indication of dominant to subordinate behaviour particularly among Germanic peoples.

That’s cleared that up then!

PS: Yesterday’s 70th birthday pic of Prince Charles, Camilla and grandchildren rather proves Muldoon’s point





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 retires from the Mail next month.

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

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Stan McMurtry with former Mail editor Paul Dacre at the launch last night of the paperback and Kindle ebook 50 Years of Mac. The book contains the best of Mac’s cartoons from the 1960s.

Buy it here 


Cock-up of the day



Expressman Mike Parry brings the house down


Reflections on Cummings, a great Express cartoonist




Dear Sir

For the past several months I have been working through some personal issues at a well-known rehabilitation facility in south-west London.

The individually structured rejuvenation and reassessment programme I was prescribed precluded my accessing the internet.

Although I am now a bit better I find that I am a little out of date with my favourite website, the Daily Drone.

Back in the summer I recall you had an intern called Meltdown, Millstone, Mildew or something like that who provided a series of witty and incisive items which, to my mind, greatly enhanced your website.

I always looked for, and liked, his Lookalikes and the History in Moments series also had its moments and was both historical and exceptionally informative. 

OK, maybe Last Train to Adlestrop was too subtle, sophisticated and intellectually nuanced for your, mainly downtable, readership but at least the boy was trying (he was certainly that — Ed).

But where is he now, this wonderfully wry writer, this winsome, witty wordsmith who won our hearts? 

Apart from a few shreds and patches of his oeuvre in the Drone archive, it is as if he has never been.

Will he return? Must the Drone drone on without his insightful incisiveness? 

As another famous writer once said: I think we should be told. 

But shall we?

Name and secure address supplied

Cleared by Security

EDITOR’S NOTE: I believe our correspondent is referring to Young Muldoon who turned up unexpectedly only to vanish again.


Sausage news




BBC, Guardian, Leveson and the judges get it in the ear from former Mail editor


FORMER Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre made a combative address to the Society of Editors in which he attacked the ex-editor of The Guardian Alan Rusbridger, the BBC, Lord Leveson and the judiciary.

Last night Rusbridger hit back, saying the Guardian was a “rather successful model” for public interest journalism and was not, as Dacre claimed, an “economic basket case” under his editorship. 

Press Gazette report

ONLY IN THE DRONE: The speech in full

Rusbridger hits back


Express writer’s movie that will have you in Fitz

Henry Fitzherbert, who began his career at Express Newspapers as a reporter on Ross Benson’s Diary and most recently was the Sunday Express film critic, is now the object of the reviewer’s steely gaze. 

He is the co-writer of Slaughterhouse Rulez which stars Simon Pegg and Michael Sheen (with a cameo from Margot Robbie). And so far Henry’s former colleagues have been fairly kind with Brian Viner in the Mail calling it ‘riotously gory and silly’.

The Times: ‘Dishevelled but rather charming boarding-school horror. Good, if not exactly clean, fun.’ Another summarises it as ‘Tom Brown’s Schooldays meets Jurassic Park’ which is probably accurate enough because it is set in a rather grand public school (Henry was at Ampleforth and most of the filming was at Stowe) whose on-the-make headmaster allows an oil company to carry out fracking in the grounds. 

The inevitable result of course is the biggest sinkhole since, well, since sinks met holes. Directly down to Hell and an escape route to all the monsters who roast there.

Henry’s co-pilot in all this craziness is Crispian Mills, son of Hayley and grandson of Sir John and former frontman of the popular beat combo Kula Shaker (Crispian not his grandad.)

Great madness and more movies in the pipeline, one of which, Born a King, is an historical drama starring Lawrence Fox, Kenneth Cranham and James Fleet.



While on the subject of Express Old Boys and of schools, former Executive Editor Alan Frame, has a weighty tome out in December. No, not his no doubt racy memoirs or another Fleet Street Revisited nostalgia trip but the official history of his school, Methodist College, 150 years old this year (the school not the author.) 

Frambo, for it is he, tells Lord Drone from the Upper Sixth: ‘When I was approached by Methody, as it is known, it brought back instant memories of a caning by my house head prefect (a future British and Irish Lion no less) and the fear we all had, including the staff, of the Head, Dr Worrall. 

'But once I started delving through ancient school magazines and sepia photos I found out so much more. Such as when the girls’ dormitories were named Faith, Hope and Charity the senior resident master, obviously in possession of a decent sense of humour, christened the boys’ ones Dartmoor, Pentonville and the Scrubs.

'I also realised just how lucky I was to have gone there and that I now regret not taking my studies more seriously. As they say "Youth is wasted on the young”. Hey ho.’  

The book, Floreat Collegium, is published by Third Millennium price £40. ‘A reet riveting read’ — Daily Star.

STOP PRESS: There’s more! Rachel Trethewey, who joined the Daily as a feature writer straight from Oxford in 1989 until leaving for the Mail, has a much lauded new book out on the women (pre-Mrs Simpson) of that other pampered Prince of Wales, later the uncrowned Edward VIII. What a bunch they were; sycophants, social climbers — all the usual suspects. All fawning over a silly ass who wouldn’t have got a look in had he not been heir to the throne. 

Before Wallis: Edward VIII’s Other Women is published by The History Press £20. ‘Off with their fuckin’ empty heads’ —  Morning Star.


How to Reach out for a rival paper’s big exclusive story

The latest evidence that newspaper managements haven’t a clue about how journalism works is revealed  in Private Eye magazine.

Its Street of Shame column reports:

The copy-sharing arrangement between Express, Star and Mirror hacks — who are now supposed to be part of one big happy family in Reach plc — is not going well.

Two Fridays ago the Mirror was set to splash on an exclusive about a woman who claims a £108million lottery winner fathered her child. 

But the wily old rogues at the Daily Star took the word Reach rather to literally — pinching the story word for word, filing it online an hour before the Mirror website had it, and passing it off as their own scoop on Twitter. 

By putting their version up first they also sabotaged the Google search for the Mirror’s exclusive, costing the paper dearly in web hits.

Only a fortnight earlier, Reach had advised Mirror hacks that a good way of maintaining “positive well-being is to “do things for others”. It didn’t explain that this included giving them scoops.





             THE SCREAM                        YVETTE COOPER


The least lost cat in the world


Who remembers Muriel Bailey, doyenne of the

Express Foreign Desk?

Strolling arm in arm down Fleet Street with a youthful Jim Nicoll in 1969, this was Daily Express Foreign Desk copytaster Muriel Bailey on the day she retired.

Do you remember Muriel? If so her niece Laura Gregory would love to hear from you.

Laura told the Drone: "Do you know if anyone is still around who knew or worked with my favourite auntie Muriel Bailey, she was copytaster on the Daily Express Foreign Desk and retired on June 30th, 1969 after 35 years with Beaverbrook.

"She worked under Eric Raybould and Derek Marks and René MacColl.  

"Four of the seven foreign editors she worked under were  Stuart Steven, David English, Norman Smart, Sutton, Foley, Lulow.”

Can you help with any reminiscences? Contact the editor at

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Puffing on a cigarette, Muriel taps away on her trusty typewriter on the Express Foreign Desk, sorting out the best stories from the world that day watched by an admiring Jim Thurman

Tribute to Muriel in the Express staff newspaper Crusader




How close are we to a deal Mrs May? 



Where’s Wally?
(Clue, look for the deckchair)








What you miss if you don't buy newspapers





Caricature of the week

John Wayne by Caric Adrian Teal


Headline of the week


MailOnline again



No1: Come on Arlene

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No2: Mad as a Thatcher 

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No3: Look to your Laurels

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No4: A quid short of 50

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No5: Paper tiger

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No6: Freddie’s readies

fifty quid freddie.jpeg




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GLOOM has descended on the Express and Star newsrooms as bosses seek more than 70 redundancies.

Not content with the sackings, the bosses have ensured that the decline in standards continues with the Express and Mirror newsdesks being ordered to share copy.

 One journalist described the cuts by new owners Reach as a “massive attack on the Express” in particular and have left “a lot of unhappy people”.

Reach, formerly Trinity Mirror, wants to cut the editorial team at the Sunday Express by more than half from 20 to eight in the pursuit of a seven-day operation.

The atmosphere in the Express newsroom was said to be “awful”. One staffer told Press Gazette: “There’s not enough staff to go around and it’s really tense.

“Everyone is very pessimistic about the future for the four titles because if the management are not going to invest in original content then the readers won’t bother buying the paper again.”

A Reach spokesman said: "Our priority is to strengthen the integrity of the Express and Star titles and the widely-held view is that the journalism has improved on the papers since the acquisition.”

The Mirror titles are not affected by the current round of cuts although they have suffered staff reductions in the past.




Picture that sums up fun of old Fleet Street

THREE OF THE BEST: Features subs Norman ‘Normal’ Cox, Dave ‘Squiffy’ Searby, and Mike ‘Trouser’ Snaith relax after a hardish day’s night at the Daily Express in Fleet Street


SLIGHTLY MORE SENSIBLE: But not very, production editor Bob Smith, left, and artist Fred Boyce inspect the first edition of the Daily Express at the Blackfriars offices in the 1990s

Both pictures courtesy of Geoff Compton




Beautiful day.jpg

The church was full of happy smiling people when photographer Steve Wood’s daughter Natalie married Gordon Ferguson.

Steve is pictured on the right with his wife Sally at the church in Compton, Surrey

Not surprisingly there were some great pictures taken, which can be viewed HERE


It’s the Duke, caught on camera back in the 70s

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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


Picture that Andrew Neil lived to regret 


Broadcaster Andrew Neil rarely makes mistakes but he made a big one when he posed for a picture in his vest with a luscious lovely. Private Eye magazine has used the photo dozens of times and had a lot of fun with it, much to the chagrin of Mr Neil. 

Just remember that the mischief started in 1995 with this piece by the late lamented Daily Express diarist Ross Benson.


Fleet Street remembered


  September circulations



The Sun front page 14.11.18 THE GRINS OF WALES






Christian Adams


Steve Bell


Patrick Blower


Peter Brookes


Dave Brown


David Rowe


Graeme Keyes


Stan McMurtry


Bob Moran


Kipper Williams


Bob Moran


Harry Burton


Nicola Jennings


Tony Husband


Morten Morland


Rob Murray


Christian Adams


Steve Bright


David Rowe


Punch Classic


Classic Giles (1963)


Latest Eye

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Classic Eye (1973)




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

Why my trip to interview  George was not exactly what the doctor ordered


There were red faces and profuse apologies when TERRY MANNERS visited his friend George Layton, star of Doctor in the House, with photographer John Downing

Crash, bang, wallop what a picture


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

fleet st barber.jpg

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

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 


Letter to the Editor of the Daily Express

Dear Sir,

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

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

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

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

God save the King.

I remain etc,

A Loyal Briton (rtd)

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



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!


Latest Beano



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. 


© 2005-2018 Alastair McIntyre