2018 archive


How the Express twigged 
it had found a supermodel
TERRY MANNERS has unearthed the fascinating story of how the Daily Express discovered Twiggy in 1966 and launched her on a stellar career as a supermodel. She is pictured here wearing herExpress headline dress.

Read it here


Izzard’s new book on failed VC heroes


Former Express sub-editor Brian Izzard, a prolific writer of military and naval histories, has a new book out. Glory and Dishonour tells the true story of Victoria Cross heroes whose lives ended in tragedy or disgrace.

The book is the first to explore the lives of those for whom the greatest accolade did not bring contentment, happiness or lasting fame. The book is available in hardback now on Amazon for £16.29. 

Details here


History in moments

Screen Shot 2018-04-30 at 21.16.14.jpg

1945: Five Australian former POWs catch up on the news with the Daily Express after their release from Japanese captivity in Singapore


Who’s this macho young biker?

biker steve.png

GUESSED IT? You could always buy the latest edition of Motor Cycle News to find out, but the Drone has a simpler way. Just click here


How Ray ‘Docker’ Mills ruled that pigs couldn’t fly

In a snortingly good tale from Manchester, photographer PETER WILCOCK relates how Daily Star editor Lloyd Turner instructed him and reporter Allan Hall to buy a piglet to ‘bring to life’ the paper’s back-page cartoon Orson the Pig. Much hilarity followed with the punchline ultimately being delivered by Ray ‘Docker’ Mills. Read it here


A wander down memory lane

1st tues.png

FIRST TUESDAY CLUB: Standing from left, Bill Orchard, Tony Sapiano, John Burns, Frank Thorne, Peter Shirley, and Brian Steel. Front: Cliff Seabridge, Cora Weston, David Eliades and Jim Watson. Picture by Bill Orchard who Photoshopped himself into it


On a grey day, I ventured out to London to meet up with Daily Express old boys and girls at the First Tuesday Club. 

But my disposition changed to sunny smiles when I finished up wandering down Fleet Street with old workmates Brian Steel and John ‘Bomber’ Burns to visit some of our old drinking haunts, including the Punch, now a ghastly and a shadow of its impressive former self. The old Snooker Club dive bar is now an exclusive downstairs gin palace called the London Distillery.

We enjoyed a few hours recalling our various exploits on the road and slagging off a few tossers we worked for along the way. We drank to absent friends. A grand day out!

The monthly First Tuesday get together takes place in a private room at the Old Bank of England pub at the top of Fleet Street next door to the Royal Courts of Justice from midday onwards. 

It is organised by David Eliades former Express night news editor. Also present were former photographer Peter Shirley, snapper Tony Sapiano, Bill Orchard, ex-reporter John Burns, Jim Watson, former Express sports secretary Cora Weston, and ex-reporter and newsdesk executive Brian Steel. 

Others who often make it are David Bealing, Cliff Seabridge, John Downing and Tom Smith. 

The meeting was founded by the late Jim Nicholl. Norman Luck later took over from Jim. Norman died in 2012.

I spent 18 months on the Express before I left to spend the next 12 years on the Sunday People.


The wonderful art of Michael Green: A coarse life well lived

                      LOVEABLE MENACE: Michael Green who has died aged 91

Once again the Drone is indebted to The Times for an hilarious obituary of the irrepressible Michael Green, journalist and author of The Art of Coarse Rugby and other great books in the Coarse series.

Expressman Richard Dismore was lucky enough to know Green. He said: "He was a legend when I went into journalism as the man who wrote Don’t Print My Name Upside Down. He was working at the time at the Northampton Chronicle and Echo, deadliest foe of my own paper, the Northamptonshire Evening Telegraph. 

"A wonderful, hilarious book. It contained the story of the young reporter sent to review a play who, for a reason I can’t remember but which probably involved licensed premises, didn’t attend the play but wrote a glowing review, only to find the following day that the theatre had burned down.  

"I learnt more about journalism from his Don’t Print My Name than from the entire Harold Evans canon. And he was a good bloke, to boot!"

Roger Watkins recalled a great quote from The Art of Coarse Rugby: “Never take a penalty with a cigarette in your mouth. Always hand it to the referee. These little courtesies distinguish the gentleman!

"Another magnificent Greenism is  'a coarse golfer is one who shouts fore when he putts’."

Read the obit here




A former top detective and undercover investigator for the Yard’s Drug and Regional Crime Squad — Britain's equivalent of the FBI — who published a successful book on his exploits in 2002, is hunting for a ghost writer to team up on a new project. Anyone interested?

The former SAS-trained officer has written a 120-page screenplay which Hollywood film production company McCoy Films has offered an option on. McCoy produced Fight Club and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, among other top movies.

But the script needs to be turned into a book first and the detective needs someone to write it up with colour and excitement with a target of 80,000 words. The story is based around a teenage boy dressed as a woman who deserts from the Foreign Legion but becomes the captive of a rich American widow who owns a vineyard in France. 

Called The Cruciverbalist, it is a mixture of Misery and the H.E.Bates book/film, The Triple Echo. 

I can vouch for the detective whom I know very well after working with him on another project — and also his agent, one of Britain’s best. 

If anyone would like to have a shot at this, I will put them in touch and arrange a meeting. They can take it from there. I would do it myself but I already have another project. 

Lord Drone will forward the names of anyone who is interested to me. Email: dailydrone@mail.com


The editors of the Daily Express and Daily Star have resigned just one day after Trinity Mirror completed its £200m takeover of Richard Desmond’s national newspapers.

Hugh Whittow, who has edited the Daily Express since 2011, and Daily Star editor Dawn Neesom, the longest serving female national newspaper editor, have announced they are leaving.

Whittow, 65, is retiring and Neesom, 53, plans to pursue a career in freelance writing and broadcasting.

Gary Jones, 53, editor of the Sunday Mirror and Sunday People, has been appointed editor-in-chief of the Daily Express.

Daily Mirror editor Peter Willis takes on the editorship of the Sunday Mirror and Sunday People.

Alison Phillips, editor of the short-lived New Day newspaper has been appointed editor of the Daily Mirror.

Daily Mirror associate editor Jon Clark is the new editor-in-chief of the Daily Star.

Martin Townsend remains as Sunday Express editor and Stuart James continues as editor of the Daily Star Sunday.

In other senior editorial changes Sunday Mirror and Sunday People deputy editor Caroline Waterston has been appointed deputy editor-in-chief across the Express and Star titles.

Michael Booker remains in his role of deputy editor of the Daily Express while Bill Izzard continues as Daily Star deputy editor.

New Express editor-in-chief Gary Jones has had surgery for testicular cancer. Read his story here.

The Competition and Markets Authority has announced that it intends to probe the takeover, which could raise issues of competition and market share issues.

It issued an initial enforcement order requiring that the two businesses operate as standalone entities for an extended period of time before allowing the takeover to happen.

Porky Parry’s scratchings, enjoy them with a snort

Sometimes the truth can be stranger than fiction. Former Daily Express news editor Mike Parry, now a star of TalkSPORT radio, has lent his name to a toothsome snack, the ideal accompaniment to a snorterino deluxe.

You can buy this delicious salty treat, 10 bags for a tenner while stocks, last HERE. Don’t all rush.

A £127million Mirror deal to buy Richard Desmond’s Express publishing empire has at last been sealed.

Trinity Mirror, publisher of the Labour-supporting Daily and Sunday Mirror as well as the Sunday People, had been in talks to buy Mr Desmond’s Brexit-supporting Express and Star titles since autumn last year.

The bad news is there will be job cuts, particularly as back office operations are merged but editorial will also be hit. 

The good news is that £71.4million will eventually be paid into the Express pension schemes. 

Trinity Mirror shares ended up nearly 10 per cent on Friday.

The deal will be put to TM shareholders on February 28 with the agreement sealed the following day.

It is thought Alison Phillips, former editor of Trinity Mirror’s short-lived new national newspaper, New Day, could take over as editor of the Daily Express. She is currently editor-in-chief of the Mirror titles.

Hopefully a new editor will result in the Daily Express splashing on real news stories rather than the weather forecast or the latest crank cure for Alzheimer’s disease.

The deal to buy Mr Desmond’s Northern & Shell company includes the Daily and Sunday Express, Daily Star and Daily Star Sunday, magazines OK!, New! and Star and a 50 per cent share in the Irish Daily Star.

The deal was sealed after an agreement was struck over the pension issue. Trinity Mirror shares stood at 76.50 at 4.35pm yesterday, up 6.70 (9.60 per cent).

Simon Fox, chief executive of Trinity Mirror, said: "Northern & Shell's titles have a large and loyal readership, a growing digital presence and a stable revenue mix and offer an excellent fit with Trinity Mirror."

He told BBC's Today programme: "It's a very wise investment. We've had plenty of time to think about this carefully."

The deal would lead to cost savings, as the titles could pool their resources. "For example, [instead of] sending two reporters to a football game, we can send one.” 

Trinity Mirror expects the deal to lead to savings of £20m a year.

Mr Fox pledged that the publications would retain their identities: "The Daily Express is not going to become left-wing and the Mirror is not going to become right-wing."

Two major Mirror shareholders warned last month against the takeover after suggesting that Trinity Mirror could be paying too much.

Mr Desmond, chairman of Northern & Shell, said: "The Express Newspapers and our celebrity magazine titles have been a key part of the Northern & Shell portfolio for many years, and I am immensely proud of building them into one of the largest newspaper and magazine groups in the UK.

"Today's transformational transaction is a logical and natural next step in the evolution and consolidation of the media sector and will create a larger and stronger platform serving all stakeholders.

"In Trinity Mirror we have a great partner, who will be an excellent steward of the business going forward and I am delighted to be able to retain an ongoing interest in the combined group."

Under the new terms Mr Desmond is in line to get a cash payment of £42million, plus £20million in Trinity Mirror shares, £60 million in deferred payments between now and 2023, and £5million related to approvals by Irish regulators.

A further £41.2million will go into the Express pension schemes followed by extra payments of £29.2million as part of the scheme’s recovery plan.

The Express is currently edited by High Whittow, 64, who succeeded Peter Hill in 2011.The paper’s first woman editor was Rosie Boycott who resigned shortly after Richard Desmond bought Express Newspapers for £125million in 2000.


Find out more here


Christiansen’s biggest mistake: His 'peace in our time' front page

dx-peace med hr

Legendary Daily Express editor Arthur Christiansen was very proud of this page when he drew it in 1938. The splash headline was more than two inches deep, the biggest type ever used in a newspaper at the time.

The report praised Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain for his ‘peace in our time’ agreement with Adolf Hitler at the notorious Munich conference. It turned out to be Christiansen’s — and Chamberlain’s — biggest mistake. 

Back in 2007 Tim Walker wrote an excellent review of Christiansen’s autobiography Headlines All My Life. 
Read the review here

© 2005-2018 Alastair McIntyre