Her Majesty’s




Weather: Mainly sunny, max 5C, min -1C





Familiarity breeds contempt, and children — Mark Twain


Today’s Papers


Patrick Blower, Daily Telegraph


No Daphne, it’s not one of those, it’s actually a photo of a cave lit by sunshine




Order, order! We’ve gone over the border
(More like over the top — Ed)


OPTICAL DELUSION: Nicola Sturgeon last night



Calling all sub-editors! Kindly avert your eyes



Itinerant former Express hack Reggie Wilkins (I think I’ve got the name right: subs, plse check — SD) has made a pilgrimage to an iconic shrine to foreign journalism.

He is  pictured this week outside El Gallo Feliz, a four-star eaterie on the seafront at Las Palmas, Gran Canaria.

It was here that Fleet Street reprobates gathered 30 years ago this month to make up fibs about a rich fat bloke who fell off a boat and drowned (Surely you mean: ‘composed history-making splashes recording the death of Robert Maxwell’ — Ed).

The Express’s reporter was Ashley (for once, don’t take in PA) Walton who was well ahead of the pack due to an extraordinary piece of luck.

Ash, acting Foreign Editor that day in November 1991, got the gig because, true pro as he is, he was the only one in the office to have one of his passports on him. 

When he arrived at Las Palmas Airport, our version of William Boot approached a taxi driver and asked, in that incisive way of his: ‘Do you know where I can find Robert Maxwell?’ Whereupon the cabbie ferried him to the local mortuary where he was, somehow, ushered in to see the expired tycoon lying naked on a marble slab. The rest in peace, as they say, is history.

These days Ashley modestly recalls the award-winning grub at The Happy Cock, the flowing vino and ‘los blancos’ obtained to befuddle managing editor S.Coupar on his return to the office rather than his scoop.

LATEST: Juan-Jose, el jefe de comida Del Gallo Feliz escribe exclusivo para El Drono: Recuerdo Senor Ash? Si. Mucho despues triente anos . Un hombre numero uno. Jefe de Calle Fleet Press Pack. Mucho generoso especialmente con Los Expensivos (Gracias, Senor Struan y poco Miguel Deane entonces. Verdad?) Senor Ash puede que se llamas ‘Los Blancos’ desde el restaurante. Dice para me: ‘Muchos blancos, Juan-Jose, por favor, muchos blancos.’ Senor Ash trabaje? No mucho actuelmente. Tres o quatro paras de color local entonces escribe: ‘Llevar El PA!’ Senor Ash preferemente el sol, el mar y vino y cervesa marca sin error. Esos eran los buenos tiempos, mi amigo -  as pequena Maria Hopkin solia cantar. Buena suerte!

No, me neither — Ed



And while we’re on the subject of cocks...


Apostrophe catastrophe  is every sub’s nightmare


WHY no apostrophe on ‘repairs’ we wonder?

ROBIN McGIBBON is inspired by this pic to write: When former Fleet Street and TV journalist, and renowned skier, Arnold (“Arnie”) Wilson was editing Ski+board magazine, he wrote an advertorial about a popular ski resort in Vermont.

The resort was called Smugglers’ Notch and. before starting his piece, Arnie received an email telling him to make sure he put an apostrophe after Smugglers, “as there is more than one smuggler.”

Whoever sent the email then added: “We are very fussy about our apostrophe’s."

FOOTNOTE: Arnie and his then French girlfriend, Lucy Dicker, earned a place in the Guinness Book of Records after skiing every day of 1994, in 240 resorts throughout the world. Tragically, Lucy was killed while skiing in the Alps, a few months after that epic achievement.  


Can you name the guilty man?
Which journalist, who has written a fair amount about how modern men ought to conduct themselves, concluded a recent press trip by throwing a huge tantrum at the airport check-in desk after he turned up without the correct paperwork, and ended up crying in a heap on the floor yelling at his trip-mates: "I SUPPOSE YOU'LL TELL EVERYONE ABOUT THIS AND RUIN MY CAREER”

We do not know but we think we should be told. Anyone? Your secret is safe with the Drone. 




14. Bollocks to antiques!

Between you and me, I blame Tim Wonnacott (Bargain Hunt was Ted’s breakfast viewing at uni). Or it may have been the luminous Fiona Bruce, willowy doyenne of Antiques Roadshow (and everything fucking else it seems). Whatever, Himself fancies ‘going into antiques’. 

Actually, I suspect it’s the influence of the Young Master, Algy Smith-Smyth, from up at Frame Hampton Hall, aka the Big ‘Ouse. We received a sought-after invite to a Halloween party he and Olivia were throwing. It wasn’t that exclusive: most of the village was there, including the Major, who bummed a lift in the Yaris, and the Singhs even shut the shop early.  

Well, it’s either ‘Antiques Heaven’ (Ted) or ‘A Junk Shop’ (me) but the hall (1746, Grade II, limestone ashlar, slate roofs, ornate chimneys, raised gables with obelisk finials etc) is awash with them. Am I shallow? I find old things so boring (have a care — Ed)

Wiltshire, of course, is like an antiques emporium. Every small town seems to have a shop selling the over-priced shit (the editor says someone called Cocklecarrot insists I exclude Walton’s in Mere from this generalisation because it’s a real business). Anyway, we chugged over there and I must admit they’ve got some quite nice stuff gathering dust. ‘Are you looking for anything in particular?’ a chap in pink trousers asked Ted. ‘Not half, I’d really love a tallboy in the bedroom,’ he replied, quick as a flash. The bitch. I hate him when he does that. Well, I drew myself up to my full height of 5ft 8ins and stalked out. Bollocks to antiques!

One of the things we missed last year because of Covid was the village fireworks display on Hodgson’s Hump. Now most of us are triple jabbed, there was an impressive turnout this time including La Prune and her new ‘sexton’, a rather insipid waif called Lavinia, a former archivist, apparently. 

Apple-cheeked maidens and their swains from the VPA (Village Produce Association) had laid on a buffet (‘That must be why the sausage rolls are all squashed,’ quipped Ted, rarely capable of original thought). The beer tent (gazebo, actually) served some execrable French lager tasting like 2.5% APV virgin’s piss but me and Teddy majored on rough cider and some lethal elderflower wine: as far as I can recollect, a good time was had by all (well, us at any rate). 

You could tell the do was on the Frame Hampton Court Circular because even the YM and his lady put in an appearance. Now we’re looking forward to Christmas: ding dong merrily on high, eh! 

BTW, update on Farisha, delightful daughter of the Singhs at the village shop: she’s gone up to Oxford to study medicine. Her farewell party in the village hall served nice Indian snacks and fondants but no alcohol. ‘Who do I have to fuck to get some Malbec into this lemonade?’growled Ted in a raucous stage whisper. 

Manners? Absolutely none … you can just tell.






*SUBS! Who wrote this garbage? You write whatever comes into your head first just to get the page away then bugger off to the pub. If we can’t come up with a better headline than this it is preferable not to use one at all — Ed


Dacre, Verity or Clarke, it’s a question no one’s asking 


The mad game of musical chairs at the Daily Mail plays on. First Paul Dacre left the company after 42 years of service. Then his successor Geordie Greig unexpectedly 'stepped down' a fortnight later. Ted Verity was drafted in to edit both the daily and Sunday editions, only for Dacre to make a surprise return after three weeks away to become Editor-In-Chief.

It's all very confusing, but they'll need to get the pecking order sorted soon, if only because the commercial floor at Northcliffe House likes to decorate its Christmas tree with some custom-made decorations.

Baubles to have graced the branches previously have featured the faces of Mail royalty – including Lord Rothermere, Dacre, Greig and other senior execs. But the star who got placed at the top of the tree? MailOnline editor, Martin Clarke


It’s the only paper to increase circulation (mainly because it gave away 55,000 bulk copies)

THE only paper to put on circulation last month was the Financial Times — and that was mainly because it distributed  more free bulk copies.

The newspaper reported a circulation of 138,446 in October, which includes 55,222 free copies delivered to places like airports and hotels which have more than doubled since October 2020.

The FT’s newsstand sales have decreased by 29% from 20,357 to 14,490 in a year although paid subscriptions grew 191% from 3,697 to 10,764. The FT also reports sales in other countries of 57,970 within its total.

It is the FT’s highest circulation since the first three weeks of March 2020, when it was on 146,373, while the trend at most paid-for newspapers has been decline throughout 2021. (The i, which is up since January, is the only other national to put out bulks).

Metro has settled its free distribution on 1.05m which is up 35% compared to October 2020 when some workers had begun to return to work but at a slower pace than expected.

Its free rival in London, the Evening Standard, is down 10% compared to last year on 457,542.

The Saturday edition of the Daily Mail remains the most-read newspaper with a weekly circulation of 1.47m. The weekday edition sells 784,439. Both the daily and Sunday editions saw a 9% year-on-year decline.

The biggest year-on-year decline was once again at The Sunday People, which fell by 19% to 101,597. The Daily Star Sunday was down 18% to 118,260.

Source: Press Gazette


Mail bosses get drinks in as a wrinkly former editor returns to power 

New Editor-in-Chief Paul Dacre is 73


You really couldn’t make it up (although the Mail often does)


By KEN SINGTON-MOLE, Our man lurking under the desk at Northcliffe House

THE tough guys are back in control of the Daily Mail.

In an extraordinary turn of events former editor Paul Dacre returned to a senior position on the papers, three weeks after leaving the company.

The move gives credence to reports that Lord Rothermere wanted a "hands-on c*nt" in the mould of Dacre following the sacking of Daily Mail editor Geordie Greig.

Dacre, 73, has been appointed editor-in-chief of the parent company’s consumer media titles, in the latest upheaval at the publisher of the UK’s biggest-selling daily newspaper. 

He is assuming the position just days after he said he had pulled out of the running to chair media regulator Ofcom, amid claims that Boris Johnson had sought to manipulate the process to install him at the UK media regulator. 

While the job will not involve day-to-day editing, Dacre will take an “active role” providing counsel to both the Mail’s newly appointed editor and ally Ted Verity and the group’s executive chairman Jonathan Harmsworth, Viscount Rothermere. 

His appointment follows the abrupt departure last week of the Mail’s editor of three years Geordie Greig and other management changes that have elevated the status of Dacre acolytes. 

Taken together, the changes show Dacre will have enduring influence over the newspaper, which he edited for 26 years. He had stayed on in a largely honorary position after he stepped down in 2018. 

Rothermere said he was “delighted” to welcome Dacre back to the role, which will see him continuing to help shape the Mail titles, Metro and i.

DMG Media publisher Martin Clarke, who built his reputation leading Mail Online, said: “DMG Media is extremely lucky to be able to draw on such a legendary talent.”

The continued editorial shake-up comes as Lord Rothermere works towards taking DMGT private after nearly a century on the stock market. A takeover plan has been agreed and shareholders have until 16 December to approve the deal, which values the company at £850m.

LORD DRONE (Whom God preserve) said last night: 'Dacre’s 73 for heaven's sake. Why can’t the silly old fool retire like normal people?’

Lord Drone is 75 — Ed



 monk 1938.jpeg

Cutting from 1938



Headline of the Week



Dacre quits race for top media job with angry blast at Civil Servants 

Paul Dacre has pulled out of the race to become the next chairman of the media regulator Ofcom with a stinging attack on senior civil servants.

In a letter to The Times, Dacre said he had decided not to re-apply for the role despite Boris Johnson’s decision to run the appointment process again to give him a second chance.

He described his experience as an “infelicitous dalliance with the Blob” and claimed that senior Whitehall figures were determined to exclude anyone with right-of-centre “convictions” from being appointed to senior public sector roles. The term “the Blob’ is sometimes used to refer to the Whitehall establishment.

“To anyone from the private sector, who, God forbid, has convictions, and is thinking of applying for a public appointment, I say the following: the civil service will control (and leak) everything; the process could take a year in which your life will be put on hold; and if you are possessed of an independent mind and are unassociated with the liberal-left, you will have more chance of winning the lottery than getting the job.”

Dacre, 73, said that rather than re-apply for the Ofcom role he would be taking up an “exciting new job in the private sector”, despite being urged to try again “by many senior members of the government”.

Mail fat cat bosses trouser £33m then threaten job cuts


PAUL Dacre is to receive a payout of almost £2m, as  Mail executives share £33m in pay, bonuses and share awards this year – while staff brace for job cuts, The Guardian reported last night.

Dacre, who stood down as editor in 2018 and until earlier this month was chair and editor-in-chief of the paper’s parent company Associated Newspapers, is to receive the payout in December under one of Daily Mail and General Trust’s long-term incentive plans for senior management.

The vesting of the award of 168,851 shares, worth about £1.9m at DMGT’s current share price, relates to the hitting of performance targets in 2019. The award follows a payout of £1.5m given to Dacre last December.

Dacre’s payout is dwarfed by that of the top four directors at DMGT, which is in the process of being taken private by the Rothermere family after 90 years on the London Stock Exchange, who took home a combined £33m in salary and share awards in the year to the end of September.

Lord Rothermere, who chairs DMGT, pocketed £10.9m while Paul Zwillenberg, chief executive, took home £9.7m in salary, bonus and long-term incentive awards.

“The maximum long-term incentive payment reflects truly exceptional business performance and the executive directors’ significant contributions over the last three years,” said Rothermere, who is also chairman of DMGT’s remuneration committee.

The payouts come as the company conducts a “review of employee numbers” at its 2,400-strong consumer media division, with profitability being hit by rising energy and newsprint costs that are currently at a 25-year high. On Wednesday, Geordie Greig, the editor of the Daily Mail for the last three years since Dacre stood down, was ousted.

DMGT reported 3% year-on-year growth in revenues to £624m at its publishing business, which includes the Mail titles, MailOnline, the i and free sheet Metro as well as New Scientist magazine. Adjusted operating profits rose 7% to £60m.

Total advertising revenues grew an underlying 1% to £284m. While MailOnline grew strongly with digital revenues up 16% year-on-year, this was offset by a 15% fall in print advertising mostly due to Metro, which relies on commuters and has struggled since the onset of the pandemic.

Within this, across the flagship Mail businesses total advertising grew by an underlying 9% to £249m, including 16% growth from MailOnline and 1% growth in print advertising revenues. Digital advertising now accounts for 67% of total advertising across the combined Mail businesses.

His fingerprints are all over this shock sacking

ALAN FRAME reports on the upheavals at the Mail following the dismissal of editor Geordie Greig

Paul Dacre ‘celebrated’ his last days as chairman of Associated Newspapers by taking a few favoured chums to Twickenham last weekend to see England beat Australia. He was, according to one of those guests, in excellent form as well he might be given the seismic upheavals at the group.

For Geordie Greig’s sudden and seemingly brutal removal as editor of the Daily Mail to be replaced by Ted Verity has Dacre’s fingerprints all over it. 

There had been a simmering, and sometimes very public, feud between Dacre and Greig in the three years since the uber-connected Greig got the plum Mail job (courtesy, it was said, of Lady Rothermere, a great admirer). Verity, who replaced Greig at the Sunday, is seen as Dacre’s creation; a ‘hard man’ in his master’s mould. Now this Oxford-educated Yorkshireman is in charge of both papers.

Rothermere – Jonathan Harmsworth as was – is moving towards taking his empire private after almost 90 years as a listed Stock Market company and is said to have wanted to make internal changes before the deadline of December 16, when shareholders must approve the deal. 

There is concern about circulation with both Mail titles hovering under the million mark. Neither has recovered to pre-Covid levels though compared with the rest of print media, they are way out front. But it is the success of MailOnline which appears to be at the forefront of Rothermere’s thinking and insiders say there will be greater integration between print and internet under the reorganisation.

Under Verity, the very able Leif Kalfayan becomes joint deputy editor with particular responsibility for the hugely successful features-led Saturday edition and David Dillon, a former Sunday Express deputy news editor, will oversee the MoS. Which leaves the question: whither the excellent Gerard Greaves, late of this parish, and until now Greig’s deputy who, I am told, did most of the day-to-day running of the Mail? 

Sources tell me he is staying despite the fact that he and Verity do not get on. We will see. Simon Walters, the paper’s political supremo, has already packed his bags and I expect other senior people to be doing the same soon. 

The Big Question is of course: Has the relentless prosecution of the Government in general and Boris in particular had any bearing on Greig’s departure? Let us hope not because once a proprietor goes down that track, disaster is sure to follow. The only one to succeed with that policy was Beaverbrook. And there was only one Beaver and he, for all his faults, was a genius.

A parting wish: The Daily and the Sunday must stay separate with their own identities. By all means share resources but please avoid turning the titles into just another seven-day paper. It hasn’t worked for the Express and Mirror stable and it’s doubtful it would work for Associated. If Paul Dacre really  does remain a major influence at the company’s Derry St headquarters then I am confident he will  avoid that mistake. As we say at times like this: Watch this space! 

THE ONLY paper not to report the Verity appointment was … the Daily Mail. This despite the fact that Associated had put out a press release announcing the changes. Maybe it was spiked!

OUR MOLE reports: Greaves has not left the Mail (apparently he was considering a flounce but thought better of it). Must take issue with Alan Frame's description of him as excellent, he really isn't (as anyone who subbed his copy in the early 1990s knows). 

WEEKDAY  sales of the Daily Mail now stand at 784,000, down 10 per cent year-on-year according to The Spectator.

POPBITCH reports: It was a good job the Mail's big moves were made after Paul Dacre left the building. We can't imagine what Britain's big Moraliser-In-Chief would have made of the fact that the Mail hired communications firm Teneo to manage the media release of Geordie's defenestration. 

Hiring a New York firm that boasts of the stratospheric retainers they insist on charging clients is an odd choice for something as seemingly mundane as a simple staff reshuffle.

Even odder, the firm is mired in disrepute these days after it lost two of its three founders in disgrace in the last year. 

First to go was former Bill Clinton aide, Doug Band, who resigned over his ties to Jeffrey Epstein. Then Declan Kelly had to walk the plank after getting shitfaced at a big Global Citizen event and getting handsy with a number of people in the audience. 


Ed set to join Boulton on Murdoch’s TV station

The rumour mill over at the mini-Shard is whirring regarding which top stars might be poached to front Murdoch’s upcoming TalkTV venture, launching in early 2022. 

After already nabbing Piers Morgan in September, we understand Adam Boulton is now also on the cusp of making a return to the Murdoch fold. Ed Balls is also said to be signing up with the new station.

Announcing his departure from Sky News a week ago, Boulton told The Times:  “I mean, to give up daily broadcasting is a wrench. Maybe there’ll be other broadcasting things.” 

His departure would also time well with the TalkTV launch; he’s expected to leave Sky at the end this year. 

Guido Fawkes reports that Ed Balls has also been spotted having conversations at the News UK headquarters, and is also strongly rumoured to be joining the venture. This is specially awkward for GMB – they lost Piers to TalkTV and have only just taken Balls on as a new presenter.


Legendary snapper Stoddart dies at 67

Acclaimed photographer Tom Stoddart has died of cancer aged 67.

He began his career as a trainee on the Berwick Advertiser in 1970 before moving to London in 1978 to work for the Daily Express and other national newspapers and magazines.

During the 1980s Stoddart worked extensively for The Sunday Times and was in Beirut in 1982 when Israeli forces bombed Yasser Arafat’s besieged PLO base.

He was seriously injured in 1992 covering fighting in Bosnia, and in 1997 he was given access to Tony Blair’s historic general election campaign. 

He told the Evening Standard in 2019: “I have seen many awful things, but I have also seen a lot of fantastic and beautiful things.Humans do terrible things to each other, but there is also courage and humanity. That helps me keep it all in perspective…

“I’ve been very lucky in my career, with a ringside seat to history.”

The announcement of his death was made on his official Twitter account: “It is with great sorrow that we announce the passing of Tom after a brave fight against cancer. He felt blessed that he had found true happiness with Ailsa. The family kindly ask that their privacy be respected at this time.

“Tom touched the lives of so many as a brilliant, compassionate, courageous photographer whose legacy of work will continue to open the eyes for generations. He gave voice to those who did not have one and shone a light where there had been darkness.”

SPIKE DIVER writes: Tom’s sad death prompts me to reflect on how many photographers who worked for the Express in the 70s and 80s were, like him, really decent blokes. This was despite working in a high stress, competitive, dog-eat-dog environment where you were just one missed shutter click away from a fuck-up. 

In no particular order, let’s recall: Barry Gomer, John Rogers, Richard Young, Larry (Specsavers) Ellis, Dougie Morrison, Jack Kay and the doyen of them all, John Downing. This is not to diminish others not on the list, of course. Abrasive foot-in-the-door snappers, such as the late Harry Dempster, were equally as valuable. Just not so nice.

KIM WILLSHER: Last man down. Heartbroken to report that photographer Tom Stoddart has died. He was 67 and, unknown to many of us, had cancer. Tom was a brilliant photographer and his pictures speak for themselves, but he was also a truly good man.

He encouraged and mentored young photographers and photo-journalists and he would use the money from highly paid corporate or advertising work to fund trips to take photographs for charities to highlight suffering, often of children, in war zones or disasters or famines.

I remember when Tom smashed his shoulder after throwing himself over a wall in Bosnia under fire and falling heavily due to the weight of his camera bag. Around the same time but in a much less glamorous accident, I came back from Bosnia and fell down the stairs at home fracturing my back.

Both of us were off work for weeks, laid up under orders not to move but desperate to get back to Bosnia. Tom took this far more stoically than I did, joking that he now had a bullet-proof titanium replacement shoulder and was looking forward to setting off all the airport security machines.

When the former Express photographer John Downing was diagnosed with terminal cancer, Tom spent a lot of his own time and energy successfully organising John's dream of publishing a book of photographs.

He had a great wit and sense of humour and was very much loved by friends and even other photographers! This picture is of Danny McGrory, who died in 2007, John Downing, who died in 2020, and Tom, taken at my wedding reception in 2001. RIP.


GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN: From left,Danny McGrory, John Downing and Tom Stoddart

Madcap news ace Mahonners of the Star dies aged 60


Picture: Cavendish Press

One of the great characters of Manchester journalism, John Mahoney, has died at the age of 60 after a short illness.

Mahoney, known as ‘Mahonners’, was a former Northern News Editor of the Daily Star. He was a hilarious bon viveur with a great nose for offbeat stories, according to colleagues.

Former Daily Star associate editor Ian Trueman told Press Gazette: 'Professionally he stood out from the best and often left his opposition in his wake with numerous soap exclusives and top draw splashes and page leads.

'I could write a book with hilarious anecdotes from our days on the ‘oooh aahh’ Daily Star and endless occasions we were out and about as Likely Lads. He was my Batman and I was his Robin.'

Mahoney leaves his wife Moya and two daughters Katherine and Lucy.



Is this the greatest paparazzi pic ever?*


BIN BAGGED: Mr Blobby actor Barry Killerby papped outside his home in around 1993 with his Blobby costume in a black sack on the step beside him

*No — Ed


IN THE PINK: Mr Killerby relaxing in his work clothes


Mail backbench headline that never made the paper

Here’s one from the Bumper Book of Backbench Boobs. (There But for the Grace of God Go I Department).

This spread-over headline written by a Daily Mail executive caused much tittering in the ranks until the powers that be realised it could be read two ways.

 Our insider reports: 'It didn't make it into the paper but it was on the planner long enough to cause much hilarity among the subs.’

While we’re on the subject, here is another gripe about the Mail

Sorry to go on about the Daily Mail’s lamentable editorial revise system, writes Drone chief sub LP BREVMIN, but once again here’s evidence of a lack of a prodnose willing to say: ‘Have another think, old son.’

The headline on Eddie Howe’s appointment as boss of struggling Newcastle United must baffle most young footie fans.

It is actually inaccurate anyway (the copy says Howe ‘stopped short of labelling himself Red Adair’) but who the fuck is Red Adair? 

I reckon you’d have to be about 50 to remember the legendary oil rig firefighter who retired nearly 30 years ago and died in 2004. Mail Sport, needless to say, neglects to give us a clue. 

May I say bollocks?

Certainly not Brevmin, this is a family online newspaper — Ed


Mail attacks Tories on sleaze as Dacre leaves the building 


THE big surpise of the week has been how the Daily Mail has gone in so hard on the Tories over sleaze accusations.

This change in editorial heart aligns weirdly closely (almost to the day, in fact) with Paul Dacre finally boxing up his belongings and leaving the building.

Can this be proof that Dacre never really left the job of editor, and has been pressing his thumb on the scales all this time?

Or could it be that his successor, Geordie Grieg, is mostly interested in drawing attention to government corruption specifically to try to torpedo Dacre's contentious second punt at the Ofcom job? 

We think we should be told.



It’s a punny old world



Lunchtime O'Boozers

CHAPS are limbering up for the drinking season and here’s six friends indulging in some early liver laundering.

And look, readers! They are seated in the World’s Greatest Lunch Club’s special corner with the WGLC brass plaque just discernible to the right of the glass partition. 

Craig Mackenzie, third left, put this pic on Facebook showing a get-together in Joe Allen’s recently reopened London restaurant. His caption reads:

Legends in their own lunchtime. From the left John Smyth (News of the World), Mike Ryder (Sunday Mirror), Father Christmas, Tim Miles (Daily Mail), Geri Hosier (News of the World) and super sub Pat Welland (Daily Mirror) — five and a half hours, four bloody marys and four bottles later.

We are not sure whether this referred to Craigs own booze consumption or the group’s.




            Les Patterson                         Boris Johnson

Bet you’ve never seen these two in the same room. One is a boozed-up woman botherer and the other is an incompetent dolt. Or is it the other way round? You decide.



If Paul Dacre does end up getting the job at Ofcom, you can be sure that one of his first orders of business will be downgrading the C-word from 'Most Offensive' to 'Punctuation'. 

Dacre's potty mouth is legendary on Fleet Street, but there's a particularly good anecdote about it in the Mail Men biography which sees Dacre picking up the phone to talk to one of his journalists, Jimmy Grylls, but actually ending up on the line with Tory MP Michael Grylls. 

Immediately, Dacre launches into one of his famous tirades, barking orders liberally peppered with Fs and Cs – until a horrified colleague points out that he isn't speaking to one of his lackeys, but a member of Parliament. 

Dacre realises an apology will be in order. So, barely missing a beat, the next words out of his mouth? "Oh, I'm a c**t! I really am a fucking c**t! What a stupid fucking c**t I am!”


Four First Tuesday Club regulars are back where they belong — in the pub

**November 2021.jpeg

AH, THAT’S BETTER: Daily Express First Tuesday Club members went back to The George in Fleet Street for their November meeting after an 18-month enforced absence due to Covid. Meetings had continued on Zoom but it wasn’t the same. Pictured from left: Tony Sapiano, John Burns, Cliff Seabridge and Bill Orchard


Who’s the redhead? The fans can’t Tel


After a gap of more than 30 years former Scottish Daily Express editor Terry Manners has started doing Saturday shifts again.

Here he is as Impy Pimpy, the mascot of EFL team Lincoln City (the Imps).

He is a popular figure wandering up and down the touchline before the match and at half time waving to the crowd and posing for photo ops.

Tel says: ‘I used to sit in the stands with a former colleague but his increasing cognitive fragility and constant dribbling made me decide to move on.

‘Now I have a chance to express myself and entertain. Besides which, I get all the Bovril I can drink and a free Ginster at half time.’

The author of this piece has requested that I do not add one of my ‘smart-arse captions’ but there is no need as he has already written one. Shouldn’t Impy Pimpy have eaten a Wimpy rather than a Ginster? I think we should be told. Pass the sickbag, Alice — Ed


If you’re going to make a mistake you might as well make it a big one


Hon Winkle’s parrot and a light(ish) glass of lunch with Larry


The item from The Times Diary about Lord Matthews’ parrot brought back memories of lunch with Larry Lamb shortly after he took over as Editor of the Express in 1983. It was his first week and we all had great hopes for the new era.

We were bound for Larry’s favourite restaurant l’Ecu de France in Jermyn Street, now sadly long gone. But there was a problem with transport; the Editor’s new Jaguar had yet to be delivered so a pool car would have to do. Thus it was that we piled into a Sierra which had seen better days. Much better. Larry was in the front, and without a drink was rather short of conversation.

Then it started snowing. Inside the car.

The ‘snow’ turned out to be clumps of the stuffing of the headlining which, it transpired, had been pecked away by his lordship’s parrot while in the custody of Ian Matthews, Victor’s son and heir who had been, briefly, general manager of the SX magazine and whose office car this had been. The Hon Winkle presumably let the bird loose when driving home to Chateau Whelks.

By the time we got to Jermyn Street Larry and I had to brush ourselves down leaving two little piles of polyester in SW1.

The lunch itself was memorable; Larry was greeted enthusiastically by the maitre d’: ‘Nice to see you Mr Lamb,’ only to be corrected by the recently knighted editor. Oh dear. We had a pint each of black velvet, during which Larry got quite chatty. Once into the bottle of Montrachet followed by a very fine Bordeaux, there was no stopping him. And when the sommelier, having filled our brandy glasses, tried to leave with the bottle of marc de Bourgogne, Larry’s digestif of choice, the cry went out: ‘Excuse me, where do you think you are going with that bottle?’

We arrived back just in time for afternoon conference which Larry, wisely, declined to take. And I received a call from the lovely Claire, his secretary, bollocking me for leading her boss astray. Poor girl, she soon learned…

CLIVE GOOZEE reports: I recall a story told by our golf correspondent Martin Hardy about the time Sir Larry met fellow Yorkshireman, golf legend Tony Jacklin. Afterwards Jacklin reportedly said to Hardy:”Your editor’s an odd fellow. Do you think he’s had a personality bypass?”


Happy Haggis Day to my Scotch readers


Scotland the Bravo! From G20 to COP26 in one week. After hearing nothing but Italian and German and French in Rome though the Pope is, of course, a Latino, and a gracious one  —I’m heading for Mel Gibson’s ancestral home. Just kidding, Nicola. But for the long-haul flight I asked Jill to load up Braveheart on my laptop so I didn’t get bored. I also asked for, and got, the box set of I Love Lucy, by the way.

Whatever you say about the Scotch — and who doesn’t? — I’m thankful they speak my language. But Chuck Schumer (Chuck Schemer I call him) disagrees. Last week he dropped by unannounced at the Biden Beach Bunker in Delaware where we were brain-storming the trip. He claimed Scotch reporters are aggressive, they call everybody Jimmy and only pretend to speak English. I can’t see the problem. I went to Newfoundland once and they talk the same there.

I wonder about Chuck sometimes. On the subject of meeting the masses, he suggested we mount those invisible glass prompt monitors on a trolley pulled by CIA men and run it in front of me when I walk through the crowds. That way I have to stay on script. He even draws a picture of it on my blotter. I never heard such a whacky idea! Here’s the thing: I’ll only be greeting and glad-handing and elbow-bumping people and saying things like “Good to meet you” and “Happy Haggis Day” or whatever. I’m not announcing a new US Zero Calorie initiative right off, am I? Chuck wasn’t happy and flounced off.

Very disappointed Her Maj won’t make it to Glasscow. Lovely woman. Great shame. I order a Get Well card from Amazon -- it’s incredible what you can do from 37,000 feet. I’m now going to be the oldest person there. Charles is a good guy but he’s got a damp handshake.

Back to tonight and I was just writing up these notes in my BlogBook when Agent Orange (as I call him) one of the designated spooks on Air Force One comes over and says the Joint Chiefs are not happy with the blog and they want me to stop it. Apparently it’s being hacked by a popular UK media website and is being used to cast doubt on my ability to lead the world’s greatest democracy. I inform him I happen to outrank the Joint Chiefs, and continue writing.

But next thing there’s a Zoom from Kamala. She plays the national security card and says I’ve got to think of my image. So OK, OK, I get it, I’ll can it! There goes my Netflix deal “Joe Biden in His Own Words”, plus the Oprah gig. Fine. Put Mel back on again. What did Macbeth say ? The rest is silence. He was Scotch.

Exeunt, pursued by bear (again)

Hacker: Rick McNeill


Roof garden with views of City features in big redevelopment

THE lobby of the famous Daily Express building in London’s Fleet Street is to open to the public.

The art deco edifice, which is Grade II*, listed has been closed since the Express titles moved across the river the Blackfriars in 1989. The site was extensively redeveloped in 2000 when it was occupied by Goldman Sachs.

A new building will be built next door which has been designed to blend in with its neighbour. It is shown above in the middle of the picture which is taken from Ludgate Circus.

A small roof garden on top of the building will be made accessible to all, with views over the City of London, and a unique perspective of the St Bride's steeple across the way.


Staff of the Daily Express held a reunion in the famous Fleet Street foyer in July 2008, an event organised top reporter, the late Norman Luck.

Clive Goozee has unearthed a couple of pix from that day.


Express oldies.jpeg

Jeff Ives, Don Woodward and Norman Dixon

Express oldies 2.jpeg

Ian Cole, Tony Bodley, Don, Ken Lawrence and Dave Emery 

Here’s another from the dusty annals of the Drone: the late Dan McDonald, left, and Terry Manners



On the 10th anniversary of Christopher’s death their schoolmaster remembers teaching the two boys


TALENT: Christopher, left, and Express and Mailman Peter


THE creation of a rugged, independent character, totally impervious to any insults and brickbats hurled by the mob in his direction, plainly began in infancy for distinguished Express and Mail columnist Peter Hitchens, says a schoolmaster’s tender recollection in the current issue of The Oldie Magazine.

John Harding was a 21-year old assistant master in 1961 at the Mount House prep school, on the edge of Dartmoor, when brothers Christopher and Peter were coming to terms with what he describes as “a fairly Spartan regime, not unfamiliar to readers of Evelyn Waugh’s Decline and Fall — cold baths, poorly heated dorms and lousy food”.

On one winter evening, Harding and classic teacher CT Witherington heard a crash and discovered an escaped Dartmoor convict, “cold and snowbound” hiding within the school buildings. He was given tea and a sandwich before police were called, and the event was announced at assembly next morning.

Witherington reckoned Christopher, then 12, to be “the most intelligent and imaginative boy he had ever taught”.

Peter plainly had a much tougher time, but never let it show.  After an infancy spent on Dartmoor’s frozen wastes,  the Mail on Sunday must have been a doddle.

Says Harding: “Peter was a loner, mostly on his own in the school playground, nicknamed Bush Baby by his contemporaries. I taught him English. He was imaginative and gifted. I asked the class of nine year olds to use fitting adverbs to convey the flotsam and jetsam of a deserted beach at the end of a summer’s day.

“He wrote: ‘The Sunday Times floated serenely on the waves’ .”

Harding writes: “My most serendipitous moment as a teacher occurred in a school building, overlooking the main drive.

“The class, including Peter, took turns in reading Masefield’s narrative poem Reynard the Fox. Suddenly we heard the sound of the huntsman’s horn.

“The Dartmoor Hunt had been given permission by the headmaster to ride through the grounds in pursuit of the fox.  “Quick boys, outside,” I shouted, as the hunt in full crimson regalia passed by not 20 yards from our classroom.

“Did you arrange that, sir?” Peter asked.

“'Yes, of course’, I replied, grinning from ear to ear.”

Harding says: “In retrospect, to an outsider, like me, these extraordinarily talented schoolboy brothers were quite different in character and behaviour, as their subsequent career paths on either side of the Atlantic showed.

“But Christopher always admired his brother for ‘great steadiness under fire from the cheap crowd who chose to mock him for being odd'.

"Shortly after I left the school to go to university, the headmaster, Hugh Wortham, called Peter to his study for some misdemeanour. His mother recalled that he said to Wortham: ‘You may be in command now, but you will never quell the fire within me’.”

Interestingly, The Oldie article, reflecting on how the brothers supported each other through their school days, matches the sentiment and emotions in Peter’s superlative and rather moving tribute to his brother published in the Mail on Sunday within days after his death in 2011.


CHRISTOPHER WILSON writes: Your readers may recall, before his rise to international fame, Christopher Hitchens' brief but glorious spell as a Daily Express columnist in the early 80s.  

He was destined not to last long in the Lubianka but may best be remembered by the spectacular fist fight he had with political writer Ed Pearce. Pearce was about to depart for other employment, and Hitchens had been assigned his desk; Pearce came back to find the contents of his desk drawers neatly piled on the floor.  

That might have been OK, but Hitchens had left the ladies' underwear from Pearce's bottom drawer conspicuously on display, which so embarrassed and enraged the Shropshireman that fisticuffs erupted and their struggle spilled out into the newsroom. 

No word, unfortunately, on what became of the bra and knickers (or who they were intended for).




THE late, great Willie Rushton, one of the brains behind Private Eye, drew this poster to announce  the magazine’s launch on 25th October, 1961


Hear here! Supersonic device for deaf old gits


ARE you as deaf as a post? Getting on everyone's nerves by asking by asking them to repeat everything? Lord Drone, one of the deafest old fools* ever to walk this earth, knows how you feel.

He is pleased to offer you these super deaf aids which will turn the most grumpy old wrinkly into a cuddly funster! Be the first to break the ice at parties and invest in these special ‘Ear’ole Enhancers'. Only £150 a pair plus £3,500 p’n’p. Batteries extra.

Send cheques made out to Lord Drone Scams, Cell 32, Belmarsh Prison, London, SE.

*Are we happy with this description of His Lordship? — Cocklecarrot. Yes — Ed. You’re fired — Drone


Gallagher and Emma Tucker battle for the editor’s chair

Tony Gallagher.jpg

ALL EARS: Times deputy editor Tony Gallagher 

The Drone's sleuth in the tea-coloured mac

A BATTLE is brewing at the Baby Shard as to who will succeed John Witherow in the editor's chair at The Times. 

The fight is between deputy editor Tony Gallagher and Emma Tucker  who edits The Sunday Times. Witherow will be 70 in January.

If bosses want someone digitally-minded and well-liked, then Tucker is the obvious choice. The Sunday Times drives a lot of traffic and subscriptions, and her weekend stewardship of the website is something of which she's proud and fiercely protective.

If, on the other hand, they're after someone who isn't digitally-minded and well-liked, then Gallagher is filling that niche admirably.

After an online conference, he was overheard griping about Tucker's habit of jealously guarding the site and suggesting that something needed to be done about her.

Unfortunately, he was overheard by everyone as the Google Hangout was still running and he didn't realise they were all able to hear him.


Pub news from 1939


Alan Frame’s book reaches for the stars

Expressman Alan Frame’s book Toto and Coco is getting to the parts other writers fail to reach.

His latest fan is none other than Hollywood star Demi Moore who is pictured reading the best-seller on her sun terrace. 

Frame said of the picture, which Demi posted on Instagram: 'Maybe it’s Ms Moore’s way of bidding for a starring role…’

The book, which is being turned into a multi-episode TV series, tells the true story of Toto Koopman, beautiful cover girl in 1930s Paris and lover of Lord Beaverbrook and Coco Chanel, brilliant couturier and parfumier, and friend of Winston Churchill.

One chooses to relinquish everything to be a British spy; the other becomes a Nazi agent luxuriating in the Paris Ritz with her Gestapo lover. 



Daily Mirror’s helpful guide to hirsuteness from January 1909

mirror 22 jan 1909.jpg


in which Boris lends the President his box of tin soldiers

15joe bell.jpg


 OK this is my blog. Jill set it up but she says it should be about serious stuff. I said I should show my human side. She said bullshit. My support in the polls was tanking and I had to do something. So once more onto the beach, as Shakespear said.

What could be more serious than climate change? Boris is going to be host at the November COP-FEST. He comes on the line this morning to push it. I hear a Los Amigos CD playing in the background so he must be somewhere in Spain. He says Glasscow is a great little city, nice architecture. I’m all behind him on Zero Calorie targets but the trouble is Scotch people. Whenever I see Andy Murray I think: Where’s the funeral? Such grief. Or that Nicola Salmon woman in the red skirt and pointy red shoes. Pointy shoes, pointy mouth. It correlates, you know? Boris says not to worry he hasn’t invited her.

I suppose little Greta Garbage – don’t blame me, that’s what Kamala calls her — will be there. She also has a pointy mouth. Probably the shoes too. Just to be clear, I’m not bad-mouthing (joke!) Scandinavious people, especially women. They’ve contributed a lot to America. You know Doris Day’s real name was Kapelhoff? Swedish. I still play her 1959 song “Why O Why O Did I leave Ohio?” She had a really great mouth. Fine teeth too.

Back to business. Secretary Blinken reminds me to raise the Irish protocol again with Boris. He’s got to preserve the Good Tuesday peace deal.  I get more pushback from him, something about sausages, so I repeat: “Let me be clear, Boris – it means you don’t mess with the EU.” Boris says: “Stuff that for a box of tin soldiers!” and hangs up. Love those crazy Brit expressions!

Bernie Sanders drops by, grumbling as usual. He and Andy Murray should do FaceTime together. He says it was progressive Democrats who got me elected in the first place so I must push Congress to get going on a full socialist daydream enchilada.  No, I say, the American people got me elected. But he won’t let up, so finally I tell him: “Stuff that for a box of tin soldiers, Bernie!”

Exit, pursued by bear (also Shakespear -- one of my favourite lines by the way).

*Up to a point**

**Monitor: Rick McNeill


Nepotism is alive and well at NewsUK as Rupert’s boy steps up


ALL IN THE FAMILY: Rupert Murdoch’s stepson Gabriel Jagger with his father Mick                    Picture: Hello!

NewsUK's broadcasting ambitions continue apace as it debuts a new weekly YouTube series, The Sunday Times Culture Show. 

The promotional bumf mentions practically everybody involved in the show by name, from the hosts and contributors, right through to the Commissioning Executives and Editorial Directors. One name is conspicuously absent though.

While NewsUK, publisher of The Times and The Sun, makes no bones about the fact it has commissioned production house whynow to make this new show, they must have run out of space before they could namecheck the company's founder-director: Gabriel Jagger.

a.k.a. the son of Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall.

a.k.a. Rupert Murdoch's stepson!


Grauniad makes a hash of its recipes

But it’s OK, the cock-ups made exec editor chuckle

If you make a mistake, make light of it — that appears to be the attitude at the Guardian.

This cutting is from an email sent out last night by the paper’s Executive Editor Reader Revenues (only on the Graun) Mark Rice-Oxley.

He writes: 'One thing we’re pretty meticulous about at the Guardian is owning up to mistakes. We have an independent readers' editor who fields complaints and adjudicates on them, and a corrections operation that puts things right openly and honestly in print and on the web. 

'It’s actually a rather compelling column which can occasionally throw up amusing admissions, particularly when it comes to misprints in recipes. 

'See if this list makes you chuckle as it did me.

We wonder how much chuckling was done in the nation’s kitchens when this garbage was served up. 




OCTOBER 18, 2016                OCTOBER 11, 2021

Piers creates havoc over new TV dressing room

Piers Morgan has been making some demands at his new home, TalkTV. Milking his position as the channel's flagship talent, Piers has requested a big dressing room with an en suite shower. 

On paper, that doesn't seem unreasonable. The problem is that he wants it on the same floor as the expensive new studio, even though there's not really any room to spare. 

So, to accommodate Morgan – who refuses to have the dressing room of his dreams built on a floor where there's actually some space – an entire department is now being relocated elsewhere in the building to make room for it. All for the sake of a dozen or so steps.

Piers ought to be careful. Mariah Carey got her start not doing stairs. Before he knows it, he'll be doing his interviews with a wind machine.

Source: Popbitch



OLD Express and Star hands will barely recognise this view of their old stamping grounds in Blackfriars on London’s South Bank.

This picture, taken from Blackfriars Bridge looking south, on 5th October, 2021, shows that much has changed since the Express titles vacated Invicta Plaza in 2004.

The old building, built in the late 1980s, has been demolished and replaced with the structure on the left which is still under construction. It is part of the huge Bankside Yards development which has already been dubbed Skyscraper City.

The massive building on the right is One Blackfriars which dwarfs the Doggets Coat and Badge pub at its foot.

Bankside Yards will be mainly residential and will stretch as far as the Tate Modern. Railway arches which have been closed for 150 years will be reopened for shops and restaurants.

This view looks north towards Blackfriars Bridge with the site of the old Express building on the far right. There is more demolition behind the hoardings on the left which was once the site of the Paper Moon pub. 

The Mad Hatter pub and hotel, a favoured watering hole in its day, is still there but is closed for redevelopment and swathed in scaffolding. Owners Fullers have yet to announce a date for its reopening.

After vacating Invicta Plaza in 2004 the Express titles moved across the river to Lower Thames Street in the City. They are now based at Canary Wharf.


Fleet Street bids a sad farewell to the great Paul Callan


A LARGE congregation filled St Bride’s church in London’s Fleet Street yesterday to pay their last fond respects to the legend that was Paul Callan.

It is with some pride that we can report that the last people left standing after the reception in the Humble Grape were all from the old Daily Express. Lord Drone (who was one of them) wishes to pay tribute to the staying power of former editor Chris Williams, Alan Frame, Jeanette Bishop, Gill Martin, Jeremy Gates, John Roberts and John Ingham, who still writes for the paper.

Fortunately Expressman ASHLEY WALTON, professional as ever, left after a couple of glasses of wine and was suitably compos mentis to write a report of the service.





JAMES                               BARTLETT

OK, so she is ‘an absolute stunna’ (as Proddie says) but does actress Lily James really have to hog all the best parts? Not content with ubiquitous Virgin ads and acclaimed performances on the telly and the flicks, the limpid-eyed temptress has now landed the part of Mariette Larkin in a TV remake of H.E. Bates’s The Darling Buds of May, a role which launched Catherine Zeta-Jones to stardom.

 (Ahem, Rosalie, this is what I mean when you whinge on about still being a trainee: I think you’ll find that the actress playing Mariette in ITV’s forthcoming The Larkins is, in fact Sabrina Bartlett — Ed).

As I was saying, doesn’t the new thrusting star, of the small screen Sabrina Bartlett look awfully like yesterday’s been there, done that ingenue Lily James? Judge for yourself in these rather nice piccies and look out for darling Sabrina, who has had minor roles in Dr Who, Game of Thrones and Bridgerton, when The Larkins airs next week.

AN R.R. (t)

Picture research: Reckless Rambleshanks (intern)


Gender mender

Dear Aunt Marje

My BBF is pregnant and has asked me to organise her GR party. WTF?

Innocent Abroad

Dear IA,

I admit you had me nonplussed initially (forgive Aunt Marje’s little joke) but then I cracked the code: your bestest best friend has asked you lay on a gender reveal party and you’re not sure how to proceed.

Simps, really. You go along with your pregnant pal when she has the scan that determines whether she’s having a boy or girl. The radiographer will write the gender on a piece of paper and pop it in an envelope which you then snaffle.

All you’ve got to do is invite other vapid airheads who know the mum-to-be to a soirée (or maybe matinee) to witness The Revelation. Sometimes releasing blue or pink balloons will suffice but I understand cutting a cunningly disguised sponge cake and handing around blue or pink slices is very en pointe just now.

Other Me Me Me opportunities for achingly trendy expectant couples currently include a Babymoon, a Baby Shower and a Push Present (please don’t ask).

Fartleking like the wind

Dear Aunt Marje

The return of the  London Marathon has got me thinking. I must admit to allowing the old avoirdupois to run riot during lately and I really should do something about it. What think you to running?

Phil Pheidippides 

Dear PP,

Excellent exercise, of course, and an accepted way to lose those extra pounds. But there’s nothing more tedious than a self-righteous shaved matchstick droning [sic] on about aerobic development, muscle regeneration and satisfying fartleks.

And it can be a humiliating experience. My uncle Ronnie (aka ‘the Scapegrace of the Remove’ when he was at school) once ran the marathon to lose weight. As he started to feel the strain through Docklands, he was incensed when spectators shouted: ‘Come on, fat man!’  So much so, that he gritted his teeth, dug deep and increased his pace just to fucking show them. Alas, when people again clamoured: ‘Faster, fat man!’ on the Embankment, he had no reserves of energy left … and allowed someone dressed as Batman to overtake him.



Wayward wife who got James Bond banned from the Daily Mail

Ann Charteris was divorced from Lord Rothermere after having an affair with James Bond writer Ian Fleming 
Picture: The Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby

The MailOnline has been overflowing with James Bond content this week. The last few days have seen a constant churn of No Time To Die features – with red carpet coverage, reviews, interviews with the cast, speculation on the franchise's future, reminiscences of casts gone by. Every thrill, spill and busty display covered in minute detail.

It's a far cry from the early days of the Bond franchise. The Daily Mail used to make a point of not reviewing Ian Fleming's early novels. 

Not because they disapproved of the content, but because Fleming had had a long-standing, marriage-ending affair with Ann Charteris, wife of the paper's owner, Esmond Harmsworth, the 2nd Viscount Rothermere.

Ann, who later married Fleming, was born into the aristocracy and married wealthy men. Her first husband was Shane O’Neill, the 3rd Baron O’Neill. After his death in military action in 1944, she married Esmond Harmsworth.

Her affair with Fleming had sado-masochistic elements. “I long for you even if you whip me because I love being hurt by you and kissed afterwards,” Ann once wrote to the writer.

Fleming had numerous flings and affairs with other women and when the couple finally married in 1952 that was never likely to stop.

Ann once wrote to him: “You mention ‘bad old bachelor days’ – the only person you stopped sleeping with when they ceased was me!”


Editor Shrimsley holds court at  Mail on Sunday 


Editor Bernard Shrimsley discusses the edition with staff in the London newsroom of the Mail on Sunday in 1982.

Shrimsley had been hired by Associated Newspapers in 1980 to launch the paper, but Lord Rothermere, the chairman of Associated Newspapers, did not discuss the appointment with David English, editor of  the Daily Mail, who made Shrimsley's job difficult.

English refused permission for any Mail writer to work for the new stablemate. Following the launch in May 1982, the Mail on Sunday's initially projected circulation of 1.25 million, was not reached after ten issues, and Shrimsley was replaced. English succeeded him in July.

Shrimsley's former Murdoch colleague, Sir Larry Lamb, editor of the Daily Express, chose him as the title's assistant editor, a post he held between 1983–86. After Lamb left the Express, Shrimsley served as the associate editor until 1996. He advised Sir James Goldsmith's Referendum Party during the 1997 general election, and wrote editorials for Press Gazette from 1999 until 2002.

Shrimsley wrote three novels after his retirement: The Candidates, Lion Rampant and The Silly Season (2003). The Silly Season, wrote Roy Greenslade in The Guardian, is a "fine piece of satire" about tabloid journalism which contains "considerable wit and verve”. It contains "a thinly veiled portrait" of former Sun editor, Kelvin MacKenzie, combined with elements of the "self-publicising egoism" of Piers Morgan, then editor of the Mirror.

Shrimsley married Norma Porter in 1952. She died in 2009; their daughter Amanda was a feature writer for the News of the World. He died on 9 June 2016, aged 85.


GB News cruising for a bruising over the office minivan

The GB News minivan (artist’s impression)

The acrimonious fallout from GB News continues to amuse, and we very much enjoyed the detail that one of the crunch points was Andrew Neil pissily complaining that the plane the channel had put on for him to fly from his home in the South of France to London was "the smallest private jet in the world”. 

Andrew should count his blessings. Not everyone at GB News gets treated to such luxury. In-house legend has it that instead of arranging cabs for producers and crew who work the unsocial shifts, they've got a single minivan that winds its way through London dropping off and picking up workers like an airport shuttle. 

A service that staff refer to as the 'GB Cruise’.

Source: Popbitch



Biden wakes up and speaks to the super soaraway (etc, etc,) Drone


Wow! Another busy day in the Oval Office. At the press conference with Johnson I made my customary Yeltsin joke – “Oops, wrong guy!” Boris laughed but the hacks didn’t get it. The CNN woman’s face was blank. They’re not old enough.

Thank goodness my team hustled me out before questions to take another call from Paris. The fourth in four hours! I used to think Macron was a French cookie. Doesn’t macro mean big? He’s a midget. Comes up to my breast pocket. He kept shouting merde! merde! which is pretty rude if you stop and think about it.

My afternoon nap interrupted by Zoom from my new down-under pal. Scott Morrison. This time I remembered. With a name like that he must be Irish. I couldn’t make out a word through his heavy mask. These Aussies talk funny anyway. Whatever. I gave him a double thumbs-up.

Early to bed. A new nurse called Floella. Big girl. Lifted me up with one arm. She asked if she could sing me a lullaby. No kidding! She’s a light baritone so I suggested toora-loora-loora, the Bing Crosby hit. Got the Irish tone just right! Evidently she used to be called Ronald but Jill tells me I’m not allowed to say that.

Put in my usual check calls to Kamala and Nancy but they were both on voicemail. No problem.

Took my meds. All good. I’ll sleep well.


Up at the crack of sparrow. You won’t find me a-bed after 10. Joint Chiefs want an urgent meeting but they will have to wait until after my origami. I’ve already put Mrs Wu off twice and our table decoration “Birds of  Feather” is coming along just fine.

While I’m having my Graham crackers and milk the Haitian ambassador bursts in. He’s protesting about our return of refugees, but I tell him: If Papa Doc ran a half-decent country nobody would want to leave. Let me be clear about that. This really gets him going, shouting Papa Doc is dead! Papa Doc is dead! They can hear him down the hall. I’ll have to send condolences.

Kamala comes in with the news that Congress has approved the money for Israel’s Iron Dome. I didn’t know it was metal but you learn something every day, don’t you? I used to joke with Menachem Begin: Israel has the right to defend itself. Send me the invoice! I think he may have died a while back.

No Floella tonight. They’ve sent Bramwell. A petite kind of guy. I ask if he does lullabies. He says no, but he does a mean Aretha. I better not ask him his birth name.


Off to Texas on Air Force One! On the way Kamala briefs me on the big issue there: the state interfering with women’s right to be in charge of their bodies. It’s about Roe v Wade, which is not a tennis match. I suggest we use the slogan “Texas Should Get a Life!” She says this sounds like we’re anti-abortion. Oops. Point taken.

Dr Fauci messages me that some doctor has claimed I walk “in a simian way” on TV, which means I’m heading for dementia or some such affliction. Wasn’t Simian a biblical character? But Kamala says it means ape-like. So I walk like a chimp! I tell Fauci he should get on to CNN now to nail this crap. It’s all that Trump needs to dislodge another stool in my direction.

Going to have to stop writing. I’m defeated by physics. If I store my Mont Blanc nib upwards, the ink drains away and I can’t finish a sentence. Nib downwards means my coat pocket gets soaked. Maybe I should put the cap on. I’ll have to get a recording gadget like Prince Harry carried in his pants pocket while shmoozing New York with Princess Meghan.

I made a joke: Meghan is the only member of the British royal family named after a small French automobile. Kamala didn’t laugh.

Fasten seat belts America!

As monitored by Rick McNeill




By EVE STROPPER, she’s got her ear to the ground

NOW that the ink is dry on Piers Morgan's big new contract with NewsCorp, it might interest you to know how it all came about. 

Murdoch has been trying to nab Piers for a number of years now and has made him some serious offers. Piers only ever really used these offers as leverage to angle himself a pay rise at his existing jobs, as he never had much intention of leaving his high-profile, headline-generating gig at ITV’s Good Morning Britain — one which kept him in the centre of the national conversation practically every morning. 

When he drove that job into the dust though, Murdoch saw a chance to pounce. From this position of weakness, Piers could easily have been strong-armed into taking a much worse deal in order to spare him the indignity of total irrelevance (or worse, GB News). But Piers ended up coming to the table with a rather well-chosen negotiator acting on his behalf. 

Who? Elisabeth Murdoch: Rupert's once-favoured daughter, who was elbowed aside in favour of her dimwit brothers; now repping the star that the family firm was keen to hire – and taking a great deal of pleasure in using the deal to screw an especially huge sum out of her dad.



Papers in their heyday!  It’s proof that lying in The Sun is nothing new



Sales hold steady

The Guardian and Observer have joined The Sun, The Times and Telegraph in keeping circulation figures secret

Source: Press Gazette


Gentle, witty and whimsical, Roger Bryan, who set the Mail on Sunday on road to success 

roger bryan.jpg

Roger Bryan, one of the founding journalists of The Mail on Sunday, has died aged 73 after a short illness.

His friend and colleague Expressman RICHARD DISMORE said in tribute: 'I was saddened to hear of the death of my old friend, colleague and flatmate, Roger Bryan.

'We met on the Yorkshire Post in about 1973 and our career paths ran pretty much parallel ever after.

'We shared a flat in Crossgates, Leeds, and Roger, a gentle, whimsical guy, would strum his guitar until the small hours. He was the only man I ever knew to turn up late for a 6pm subbing shift, pleading that he slept in.

'A clever man, he had a disarming habit of staring at you, owlish and perplexed, as though he had no idea of what was going on, then pushing his glasses up on to the bridge of his nose just like Eric Morecambe. He was just as funny, too.

'When I got a job on the Daily Express in Manchester, Roger rang a couple of friends who shared a house just off the Bury New Road and got them to take me in. We became great friends and I stayed for months.

'Roger became night editor and assistant editor on the Mail on Sunday and was one of the paper's founding journalists. I became night editor of the Sunday Express and later deputy editor. It was the friendliest of rivalries.

'I last saw him at St Bride's Church where we were both attending a memorial service. He later sent me a copy of his book, It'll Come In Useful One Day, a book of tips to help you remember things.

'I'll certainly remember him.'





By Awards Nominee ROSALIE RAMBLESHANKS (trainee)

Emma Raducanu, new A-list darling of the tennis world, may be invited to a lunch with former Expressmen.

The 18-year-old, who sensationally became the first qualifier to win the US Open, could be star guest at the World’s Greatest Lunch Club’s next meeting at Joe Allen in Covent Garden.

A tanned, hunky club spokesman said: ‘We would love to have Emma for lunch. It would not only celebrate her stunning victory but also the first time the WGLC has been to Joe’s since February, 2020 because of Covid.’

The spokesman brushed back his ash blond hair and added: ‘I admit that some members, alarmed at Joe Allen’s post lockdown menu price rise, wondered if we could afford it (lemonade mixers are now £4) but we decided to push the boat out.’

It is understood that an invitation to the club’s October meeting has not actually been sent but the spokesman said: ‘We’re working on it.’

A representative of Emma Raducanu could not be contacted.


Morgan to join Murdoch’s new NewsUK TV channel
as predicted by the Drone

START OF THE PIERS SHOW: Morgan and Murdoch


NewsUK boss Rupert Murdoch has signed up Piers Morgan and will launch a new TV network to challenge the BBC and GB News — as  predicted by the Daily Drone last week.

The company said talkTV would offer hourly news bulletins on current affairs, sports and entertainment from its journalists as well as "exceptional new talent". The company already has several radio stations including talkRADIO, Times Radio and Virgin Radio. 

Morgan, 56, has signed a global deal with Murdoch's News Corp and will present a weeknight show from early next year. It will be broadcast on the new British channel as well as on Fox News in the US and Sky News Australia.

He will also become a columnist for The Sun and the New York Post, which Murdoch owns. 

Morgan said: “I’m thrilled to be returning to News Corp. which is where I began my media career more than 30 years ago. Rupert Murdoch has been a constant and fearless champion of free speech and we are going to be building something new and very exciting together. 

Murdoch, executive chairman of News Corp, said: “Piers is the broadcaster every channel wants but is too afraid to hire. Piers is a brilliant presenter, a talented journalist and says what people are thinking and feeling. 

"He has many passionate fans around the world and we look forward to expanding his audience.” 





They say you can't keep a good man down. Nor, it seems, a roaring dickhead. 

Word around NewsUK is that Piers Morgan is contemplating a return to the Murdoch fold, ready for them to dust off their stalled attempt at breaking the TV market (which might square with the recent Private Eye story about Morgan having registered a new company with Companies House called 'Wake Up Productions'). 

A publicity machine like Piers won't come cheap, of course – and his salary won't be the only expense such a hire will involve. 

If he does climb aboard, and any of the fees that are currently being floated become more widely known, it'll only be a matter of time before the rest of the company's flagship talent (the Chris Evanses, the Graham Nortons, et al) will be wanting a pay rise.


Champagne at the Standard


Another picture from Jeremy Deedes, taken at the Evening Standard office in Shoe Lane, London, just before the move to the Daily Express building in Fleet Street.

Pictured left to right are: Peter Atkinson (who later became an later an MP); Stephen Clackson; Bob Carvel, who we think might have been retiring as political editor, hence the champagne; Philip Evans, picture editor; Richard Littlejohn; Charles Wintour, editor; Roger Bryan;  a man we can’t identify; and Jeremy who was then managing editor. 

PETER ‘STEWPOT’ STEWARD said: 'Roger Bryan died a few weeks ago aged 73. He was chief sub before leaving to become part of the launch team at the Mail on Sunday in 1982. The Standard moved from Shoe Lane into the Black Lubyanka in 1980 ( I think).'


Daily Express execs gather on back bench in late 197os


LLOYD SORTS IT OUT: It looks like an important story has just broken in this picture of the Daily Express back bench taken in, at a guess, 1976.

Lloyd Turner picks up the phone, maybe to talk to the Printer, with Ted Dickinson to his right. Looking on behind are deputy editor Jeremy Deedes, who supplied this pic, Rick McNeill, Tony Fowler and Ted Hodgson. On the far left is Chris Roycroft-Davis, who later became chief leader writer of The Sun.


Andrew Neil explains his reasons for quitting GB News on BBC TV’s Question Time


Guess who’s Baled out of News channel

Have you guessed? Answers on a postcard to Brillo’s pad, South of France


History in Moments 

1968: Who is this raven-haired temptress ‘flaunting her stunning, finely sculpted abs’ (in Mail Onlinespeak) in a daring designer frock? A Love Island floozie? An influencer who rules the lives of pre-pubescent girls on Instatokchat? Not a bit of it. This is an uncut diamond before she became a national treasure. Peer closer and it’s Dame Judi Dench, without doubt one of the finest actresses of her time. 

Here she is as Sally Bowles in Cabaret, an early example of her amazing versatility, switching, effortlessly, from musicals to Shakespeare, big budget Hollywood blockbusters and sweet, charming TV sitcoms. She made her debut at the Old Vic in 1957 and the raddled old hack and Greggs sausage roll habitué, with the sauce-stained cravat, who hangs around the Drone newsroom, recalls seeing her play Juliet opposite John Stride at the New Theatre, Cardiff, a few years later.

Since then, of course, the world has been her proverbial langoustine: awards from the Queen, an Oscar (six other nominations), BAFTAs, honorary university degrees (11 at the last count). 

Now 86, she’s still going strong and there are those who can’t forgive Ralph Fiennes for supplanting her as M, who not only regularly saved the nation but kept that cheeky Danny Craig in order.

AN R.R. (t)


Express NUJ journalists stage mandatory chapel meeting in the late 1980s


AH, THOSE WERE THE DAYS: Journalists from the Daily Express hold a mandatory NUJ chapel meeting in the old Fleet Street builing in, at a guess, 1987.

The meetings were regularly held in the features room and frequently delayed the paper but never actually stopped it coming out.

There are many familar faces. Bernard Workman, far left, is addressing the meeting with Jim Davies and Colin Bell by his side. Sitting facing them is Hickey sub Angela Brown who supplied this picture.

Further down the line is leader writer Derek Hill, and news sub Robin McGibbon. Seated next to him is the late Colin Margerison.

Also in the pic are Ted Daly, Bob Haylett, Frank Robson, Michael Brown, Clare Dover, Denis Brierley, Les Diver, Norman Luck, Steve Wood (art desk), Maurice Hibberd, Bruce Turner, Chris Williams and Mike Cowton, who is seated centre.

Angela says the picture was taken at the last chapel meeting in the Fleet Street building but Les Diver, who is pictured, died in 1987. The Express moved to Blackfriars in April 1989.

Roger Watkins said: 'I can identify: Mike Steemson, David Llewellyn, Bill Lovelace, James Murray, Danny McGrory, James Mossop, Peter Hitchens and I think it’s Uncle Tom Cobley half obscured by a pillar.’

Leon Symons spotted himself in the pic: ‘I am standing behind Ted Daly and next to Danny McGrory, with only a small part of my face visible to the left of Ted's face. To the left of Maurice Hibberd in the centre is Len Trievnor with his head bowed and Leslie Lee on the other side.

‘On the far right is Jeff Ives, a sports sub. I think the chap at the front, tall, small bald patch, light-coloured jumper, is another sports sub, a scouse whose name i can't recall.

‘This must have been either in early 1987 or before, because I was tapped on the shoulder in the middle of '87 and departed. So many in this pic have also departed, only with much greater finality.

Peter Steward added: 'Right, next to the Freddie Starr ate my hamster headline on the pillar, is Henry Macrory (striped tie) Sunday Express news editor at the time I would think, and Michael Toner, SX leader writer, political mastermind, and one-time NUJ chapel agitator. 

'The person half concealed by the post to the right could be Robbie Addison, who was probably on the SX mag at the time but I'm not certain of that one.’

Clive Goozee: More names — sports subs Lloyd Butler, head bowed, standing by the pillar to Jeff Ives’s right, the familiar profile of David Llewellyn and Colin Bateman just behind him. Colin became the DX cricket writer. The “Scouser” Leon mentions is David Clare, a Liverpool fan from Warrington. 

Rick McNeill: 'Is that George Lochhead next to Denis Brierley? And David Ross next to George? Could be.'


FRANK THORNE 1949-2021
The last picture

Former Daily Express reporter Frank Thorne was full of hope when he posted this picture on Facebook from his hospital bed.

One day later he was dead.

Frank, who was 72, had been in the Royal London Hospital for a procedure following a kidney transplant in July.

This was his final upbeat message to his friends on Facebook on Tuesday (7 September 2021):
Buster Bloodvessel - back in my second home,  the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel today, Tuesday, for what I hope will be a minor operation to expand a narrow blood vessel, which is not supplying enough blood to Sydney the kidney. My new kidney is working well, so the expert transplant surgeons are hoping this is just another small bump in the road. Nil by mouth overnight, awaiting scans & depending on what they find, I’ll be whisked off to theatre. Centre stage again, so you can tell me to “break a leg” (errr , not literally)! I’m feeling robust, fit & well, so BRING IT ON!

Frank also worked on the Daily Mirror, Sunday People and Today. Later he freelanced for most national newspapers for several years in Australia and also worked on TV’s The Cook Report.

BILL HAGERTY said in tribute: 'God bless you, Frank. Memories are made of people like you.’

SYLVIA JONES: 'Although it was a close run thing, I think Frank loved life even more than he loved a good story. He died trying to keep on living. If only he had made it to see his book published.

'I remember him in his prime, acting as my “ imp” when we went undercover to expose hookers working in Harrods perfumery department to pick up rich foreign clients. He was in his element wearing an eye catching shiny mohair suit — with a touch of lurex running through the fabric — flooding the Knightsbridge pick up bars with pink champagne using a generous advance from the Bank in the Sky.

'We can all entertain each other with his legendary and well remembered exploits. He was one of a dying journalistic breed who could always manage to write the splash — in Frank’s case probably in between his karaoke rendering of Roy Orbison hits and getting in the next round!

'But beyond all that booze and reporting razzmatazz, Frank was a kind, generous and loyal friend to a lot of people. He’ll be missed, not least by me.'

MARTIN PHILLIPS: 'Such a terrible loss. Memories of Frank belting out Three Steps To Heaven on the Vagabonds karaoke seem especially poignant right now.

NICHOLA MACKAY: 'Bless you Frank, you welcomed me when Don Mackay adopted me into Fleet Street. I hope he's in the Slug and Seraphim with threat of the heavenly host.



King of showbiz Donald Zec takes a final bow at 102

THE legendary Donald Zec, one of Fleet Street’s finest showbusiness reporters, has died at the grand old age of 102.

Zec, who worked for the Daily Mirror for 40 years, had extraordinary access to the world’s greatest stars in the 1950s and 1960s. This picture of him sharing a bed with John Lennon and Yoko Ono illustrates this point perfectly.

Thanks to his outgoing personality and sense of fun, Zec is regarded as perhaps the greatest showbusiness writer of all time.

His older brother Philip Zec, who died in 1983, was one of the foremost political cartoonists of his day. When his drawing of a shipwrecked sailor clinging to a wooden plank in an oil-saturated sea and captioned “The price of petrol has been increased by one penny” appeared, the government threatened to shut down the Daily Mirror for sedition.

Novelist and Expressman ROBIN McGIBBON has shared with Drone the following email exchange he had with Donald Zec in 2017.


Sent: 01 April 2017 18:15


Subject: Belated birthday greetings

Hi, Donald,

You probably don't remember me, because it's 40 years since we met (!), but I certainly remember you.

I've decided to email after speaking with my good friend, Don Black, who tells me you celebrated your 98th birthday last month.

Many, many belated happy returns, Donald.

Don says your memory is exceedingly, you might, just possibly, remember me as the managing director of Everest Books: we had a most convivial lunch in the Press Club when you were looking for a publisher for a novel - The Colonel - you'd written.

At that lunch, you gave me some advice I followed every time I went to Los Angeles. You said: "Never try to do any work for 24 hours - no matter how much you feel up to it." 

Don says you're in great shape, mentally, Donald: long may you continue to be so.

Warmest regards,

Robin McGibbon



Sent: 01/04/2017 19:07:08 GMT Daylight Time

Subj: RE: Belated birthday greetings

Dear Robin.

It’s a delight to receive your birthday greetings.  In my 99th year a convivial lunch forty years ago is, I regret to say, a shade beyond recall. But I remember the Press Club when journalists were not happy to call themselves hacks but preferred the title, Gentlemen of the Press ...before Murdoch and Maxwell pulverised Fleet Street and tossed the ashes over Canary Wharf. In brief; The Colonel did get published and occasionally I get 5p because someone in the village of Champing-at-the Bit, picked it up in a car boot sale. I’ve published a dozen books since then; and in my 90th year learned to play a Bach sonata’ took up drawing and due to an obvious aberration by the judges had a sketch of my grandfather selected for the 2013 summer exhibition. Since then I’ve enjoyed bad health, become a widower, look out of my window and wince at the name Donald Trump.

Forgive the nostalgia. You caught me in an agreeable moment before I retire to be enfolded in the arms of insomnia.

Best regards

Donald Zec

The Times has published an entertaining obituary of the great Donald Zec


How a crack Express team went on a wild goose chase to find round-world sailor 


The Express in its prime had a fine tradition of foreign cock-ups, but one has been swept under the carpet — until now, as IAN BAIN explains

AS EXPRESS fiascos go, it was far from the worst but something of an embarrassment nonetheless. Hence it appears to have remained buried in the let’s-just-forget-about-it-and-move-on file for the past 50 years and more.

When Sir Francis Chichester tackled Cape Horn in Gipsy Moth IV on his way to becoming the first sailor to circumnavigate the globe single-handedly, the British Press descended en masse on Patagonia.

It was March of 1967 and the Express sent a team of three led by David English, then head of the New York bureau. Setting up camp in Punta Arenas in Chile, they hired planes and boats as they prepared to brave the notorious storms of the southern seas in search of the intrepid sailor. They were determined to beat The Times which had signed up the 65-year-old Chichester. 

What they accomplished isn’t exactly known but in terms of column inches it amounted to absolutely zero. For the entire communications network in that part of Chile suddenly blacked out and remained dead for days.

I was night editor of the Buenos Aires Herald and stringer for the Express and the first I knew of this was a frantic cable from the foreign desk asking if I could make contact and relay copy. Sadly, all attempts to reach them failed. 

So I cobbled together a story from various sources, including the Argentine Coastguard, and whacked it off to London. In response came a cable from David Ross of the foreign desk saying: “MANY THANKS YOUR SPLENDID EFFORTS WHICH GETTING YOU MAJOR PAGE ONE STORY STOP IF YOU CAN CONTACT OTHERS COMMA TELL THEM GO HOME COMMA THE PARTYS OVER.” 

A year or so later when I was being interviewed for a sub’s job on the Express, I related this story to Eric Raybould, the managing editor, who called for English, recently promoted foreign editor, to join us and mercilessly took the piss out of him. I don’t think English ever spoke to me again. But it possibly got me the job.

I may not have left much of a mark in my five years on the Express but I've sometimes wondered if I might be one of the few subs – if not the only one – to have had a front page byline. 


Fleet St pays tribute to Jack the Snap as he loses fight for life

Former Daily Express photographer Jack Kay, a giant of the old Fleet Street, has died at the age of 79.

He passed away on Friday, 3 September at his home in Porlock, Somerset, which he shared with his wife Mij. He had been suffering from cancer.

Jack was an award-winning photographer for the Daily Express and covered major sporting events around the world, including several Olympic Games.

From the early 1990s, Jack ‘The Snap’ was a proud and active member of the Blackheath Rugby Club, in south-east London, volunteering to photograph 1st XV matches and provide match reports and club-related news stories to the match programme as well as to national and local media. 

He retired from his club media role at the last home game of the 2008-09 season.

A spokesman for the club said: 'Jack said that, for a great scoop or story, one had to make sure to be in the right place at the right time. He had the knack of doing just that. He was a great character and a fine raconteur, full of wonderfully interesting tales from his journalistic journeys. He will be remembered with huge fondness.

Colleagues paid tribute to Jack last night.

Former Daily Express writer JIM DAVIES said: ‘Jack was a reporter's dream on assignment. Always cheerful, imaginative — quirkily so at times — and ego-free. 

'Of the many jobs I did with him the 1980 Moscow Olympics stands out. With many countries boycotting the event and our athletes defying a prime ministerial decree from Mrs Thatcher not to attend, tension was high.

'Thousands of hacks  from around the world were closeted in the 3000-bed Hotel Rossiya where, in addition to sinister levels of surveillance, Soviet inefficiency meant our laundry was constantly being mislaid.  

'Each morning a hatchet-faced lady from the Politbureau would arrive in the breakfast room with some nugget of propaganda for us to consume with our black bread. One  morning she was almost exhilarated. ‘Gentlemen," she announced. "The Shah of Persia is dead.'

Silence ensued until a strong Blackburn accent enquired:  'Does this mean we get our underpants back?

DICK DISMORE said: 'How sad, Jack was one of our finest. I remember being on the backbench one afternoon when a story and picture came in of a boxing match at which Jack was taking photographs. One of the boxers was knocked out and fell into the ropes around the ring spark out and at risk of serious harm. 

'Jack supported his head until the doctor arrived to treat him. Roger Watkins was summoned to afternoon conference just as he was writing the headline. He had got as far as “Our Kay’s OK” and chucked it to me as he left. “Finish that off, mate,” he said. I wrote, “in a KO crisis”. What a team. And what a photographer.'

Former Daily Express secretary, ESTHER HARROD, who worked with Jack when on the Picture Desk said:  'Sometimes my late husband and I would have a drink with Jack in our mutual local near Blackheath. One evening in 1978, Barry and I had been to view our first house and although we loved it, we couldn't  really afford to buy it

'We didn't know what to do. Jack expansively waved his pint around and said: "If you want it, just buy it".  So we took his  advice and bought the house the very next morning. We lived there joyfully until 2002 when Barry died.  

'Cheers Jack for the support and encouragement to a couple of property greenies.

Former DX picture editor MICK LIDBURY said: 'Sad news indeed. Jack was part of the fabric of Fleet Street. He was part of the Express picture team when in its "world's greatest" prime, when Express Picture Power reigned in Fleet Street.'

TOM SMITH: 'Jack was the last of the old crew of rascal snappers I ran with on the Express. I feel like an orphan!’

GILL MARTIN: 'Another great photographer bites the dust of Fleet Street. He was a marvellous colleague to work with, always buzzing with positivity and quirky ideas to give stories a twist.  

'One of my favourite jobs was a lavish BBC pop fest (Bryan Ferry, Kate Bush and ABBA landing by helicopter to ski to the stage.)

'Jack and Gill fell down the hill, or into a snowy ditch. Drink might have been involved…

'Condolences to his family.'

There will be a private family funeral.


No hiding place



Sir — It’s nice to see old folk taking an interest, isn’t it? And what an apt photo!


I suppose you think that’s funny — Ed


Former Daily Telegraph Fleet Street building set for huge £90m refurb

Members of Qatar’s royal family are to spend £90 million on a refurbishment of the former Daily Telegraph headquarters in Fleet Street in what is being seen as a big vote of confidence in the post-pandemic London office market, according to The Times.

The Qatari investors have submitted plans for a redevelopment of Peterborough Court. The art deco building dates back to 1927 and was the newspaper’s home for 60 years. More recently it was rented out to Goldman Sachs, the investment banking giant, whose lease expired this year.

According to the plans, first reported by CoStar News, the Qataris want to remodel the building to create 300,000 sq ft of grade A office space, with shops on the bottom floor. There will be charging points for electric vehicles and room to store 600 bicycles.

JLL and CBRE, the property agents, have been brought in to lease the space once the redevelopment is complete. Subject to planning approval, construction is due to get under way at the end of this year, CoStar reported, with the first tenants set to move in during the second quarter of 2023.

The refurbishment is what is known as a speculative redevelopment, meaning that there are currently no tenants lined up.

WeWork, the serviced offices provider, was reported to have been in talks to take on Peterborough Court, but that came to nothing as it opted to rein in its expansion plans after its failed stock market listing nearly two years ago.



The words that you could and couldn’t say on TV in the 1980s

Many thanks to comedian Arthur Smith for this thoughtful guide to profanities issued by an unnamed broadcaster in the 1980s.

The addition of 'Jesus Christ' to the No Way column is a surprise as is the inclusion of ‘shit' in the OK list.

As our regular readers know, the Daily Drone has no guide to swearing in its stylebook and has been known to use the odd salty word here and there. 

Times change, of course, but it seems to us that not much has altered in the way of acceptability in the intervening 40-odd years.

One thing is for sure; none of the words listed above would have been acceptable in the Daily Express in the 1980s, or in 2021 for that matter.


Argy-bargy Marjie is largely cleared by Press watchdog  

POTTY: An artist’s impression of Marje


Aunt Marje, the Daily Drone’s controversial and outspoken columnist, has been cleared by an industry watchdog after a rigorous probe into her controversial and outspoken views.

The Independent Press Standards Organisation launched the inquiry following three complaints about remarks in two columns earlier this year.

They concerned criticism of the then Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer Anneliese Dodds and Labour leader ‘Sir’ Keir Starmer. 

Aunt Marje wrote: ‘If Anneliese Dodds is the answer, what the fuck was the question?’ She also described ‘Sir’ Keir as a man who rose without trace.

The complaints, believed to be from Ms Dodds, ‘Sir’ Keir and a Labour press spokesman, were robustly rejected by IPSO.

It said that ruling against the columnist would be ‘an unwarranted and chilling restriction on freedom of expression.’

Awards nominee Rosalie Rambleshanks (trainee), who writes the Aunt Marje column, said: ‘So. This hasn’t like sunk in yet but it’s a resounding victory for freedom of speech.’

A spokesman for Lord Drone said: ‘We have always had the utmost faith in, er, Rosemary Rumplesheets and praise her outspoken and controversial views.’



Ye famous pigeon pie, anyone? The Cheese is pleased to serve you

August 21, 1914: Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, nestling up a back alley off Fleet Street, has always been famous for its plain and simple food: maybe the original pub grub. Here is an example dating from the early days of World War 1 and hearty fare is definitely on the menu. Fast forward to the 21st century and not much has changed. Savoury pies, bangers and mash and ‘humongous fish and chips’ are still popular.

The Cheese is often thought to be the oldest pub in London. Not true, of course: it was built after the great fire of 1666 destroyed the original premises. The Tipperary, which escaped the blaze, is older.

Journalists and writers, including Dickens, Twain, Wodehouse and McIntyre, were regulars. The Cheese was also the ‘go to’ venue for Express Christmas piss-ups where running battles between subs and reporters, involving much sprout and bread roll throwing, often broke out. 

One Night Editor used to recommend turning jackets inside out to avoid culinary missiles ruining bespoke Savile Row whistles. Once the fighting died, weary troops filed back to work to slumber under desks until the first edition had gone. What larks! 

AN R.R. (t)


Old snappers never die, they simply star
in Specsavers adverts

After years of taking great pictures for the Daily Express, photographer Larry Ellis now finds himself on the other side of the lens — in a Specsavers ad.

Thanks to Jeremy Gates for spotting this in yesterday’s Mail On Sunday. It's further proof that the spirit of the old Express lives on in its greatest competitor, Lord Rothermere’s fine stable of newspapers.


Sad farewell to my hero Don Everly 
(But I did get an interview with his little brother Phil)

CLIVE GOOZEE pays tribute to Don Everly, who has died aged 84.

Bye bye Don. Momma Everly outlives her boys (she’s 100-plus).

 When I was a very green, rookie reporter on a South London newspaper group, where I worked for a while with Paul Callan, I managed to get an interview with Don Everly’s younger brother Phil, courtesy of the Lew Grade organisation. 

I was told he would be available at the Strand Palace Hotel where I was directed to the ballroom. I stepped nervously inside. Phil was practising with his backing band. Don had gone home after having  a breakdown, leaving “Baby Boy Phil” to finish the 1962 tour.

The Express ran a page lead with a picture of a tearful Don and his wife in the back of a limousine and the headline: “The tearful exit of the brother Everly.” Phil was very polite if a bit put out by me interrupting the session. 

I was starstruck as he puffed away on a menthol cigarette and strummed his big Gibson guitar. He said he was six when he started playing and I said something like: "I wish I could play like that.” We spoke for about ten minutes and Phil apologised he couldn’t spare more time.

I learned a valuable lesson from that experience — a fan with a notebook shouldn’t interview his heroes. Chatting to the Fab Four at the Tooting Granada was easier.


John Downing’s 1967 pic of actress Diana Rigg


Daily Express Chief Photographer John Downing certainly knew how to take a great picture — and this study of a
29-year-old  Diana Rigg, taken in 1967, is no exception. Downing and Diana are no longer with us, but their work remains.


They seem like nice boys, but can you spot the three Expressmen, 55 years on?


WHO are these nice fresh-faced chaps pictured at a leaving do on the Folkestone Herald and Gazette in1966?

Three of them went on to make their names on the Daily Express. Recognise anyone? We can help...





The Sunday Telegraph has carried a distressing story about the death of former Daily Express star photographer Barry Gomer.

His widow Marthe has been unable to collect his body for eight months while the NHS “strings out” an investigation into his death.

Barry died of a pulmonary embolism last February while searching the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital for food, having allegedly been given nothing to eat or drink all day. He was 71 and had recently retired.

Read an extended version of the Telegraph report here

Original Daily Drone report


Fleet Street was once the site of London's biggest rail terminus
(Not a lot of people know that)


How to make a prat of yourself in one easy photo session



Face to face: King and Cudlipp two giants of the Press


Head to head: Hugh Cudlipp, left, confronts Cecil King at an IPC shareholders’ meeting in 1968 after King was controversially sacked

THERE was never a dull moment on the Mirror titles in the 1960s when two of the greatest names in Fleet Street enjoyed their heyday.

In the left corner was Hugh Cudlipp and in the right was Cecil King.

Hubert "Hugh" Kinsman Cudlipp, Baron Cudlipp, OBE, was editor of the Sunday Pictorial from 1937 to 1940 and 1946 to 1949. Between these two periods, he saw war service with the Royal Sussex Regiment, and was involved in the First Battle of El Alamein. 

On returning from war service he went back to the Mirror until 1949 when owing to disagreements with his then boss, Harry Guy Bartholomew, he left to take the post of managing editor of the Sunday Express for a two-year stint. 

By 1951, Bartholomew had left, replaced by Cecil King, who reappointed Cudlipp, and with whom Cudlipp enjoyed a good working relationship for many years.

In 1952, Cudlipp was made Editorial Director of the Sunday Pictorial and the Daily Mirror. Roy Greenslade identifies Cudlipp as the mastermind of the paper's editorial formula, responsible for design, choice of campaigns, gimmicks, stunts, and author of iconic headlines.

Cudlipp was Chairman of the Mirror Group of newspapers from 1963 to 1967, where he oversaw the 1964 launch, as a broadsheet, of the Sun to replace the failing Daily Herald. The paper was not successful and, in 1969, it was sold to Rupert Murdoch.

King was involved in, and may have instigated, a 1968 meeting with Louis Mountbatten, among others, in which he proposed that Harold Wilson's government be overthrown and replaced with a temporary administration headed by Mountbatten. 

He decided to override the editorial independence of the Mirror and wrote and instructed to be published a front-page article calling on Wilson to be removed by some sort of extra-parliamentary action. The board of IPC demanded his resignation. He refused, and was dismissed by the board.

Expressman JIM DAVIES remembers: Your picture of Hugh Cudlipp and Cecil King sparring at a Mirror board meeting revived a very vivid memory for me.  When King died in 1987 I was sent to try and interview Cudlipp for his recollections of the man and particularly about the long-held Fleet Street  rumour that he had tried to have the Labour government of Harold Wilson overthrown by military coup.

I set off to Sonning and the house near the Thames to which Cudlipp had retired with precious little expectation of a friendly welcome.

Imagine then my surprise to be greeted at the door by the great man himself and told that the family was just about to have Sunday lunch and would I like to join them.

During a very pleasant and well lubricated couple of hours Cudlipp not only confirmed the story but said that King had also approached the Queen Mother to see if she would graciously lend her support  to the plotters. “Personally," said Cudlipp in that strong South Walian brogue which he never lost, "I think he had gone mad".

Of course the Queen Mother had told King where to go but the subsequent Express obituary made no mention of it. Twas ever thus!

And here’s three more
Two other great men of Fleet Street are pictured below. William Rees-Mogg was editor of The Times from 1967 to 1981. He is seen below with other great editor, Harold Evans, who was at the helm of The Sunday Times, also from 1967 to 1981.

Hamilton became editor of The Sunday Times in 1959. He later became editor-in-chief and chairman of Times Newspapers and introduced the colour magazine to weekly national newspapers.

 All three men were knighted and Rees-Mogg was ennobled.


Men of their Times: William Rees-Mogg, editor of The Times, Harold Evans, editor of the Sunday Times, and Denis Hamilton, editor-in-chief of both titles, pictured in 1967


Oh lucky Jim!

LOOKING happy and healthy in the Cornish sun — this is former Expressman Jim Davies and his author wife Patricia Oliver.

Former Daily Express editorial secretary, Esther Harrod, who took this picture, has just returned from a visit to the veteran writer.

She said: “Jim is now 87 – it’s inevitable that we swopped stories of hospitals, medical conditions and our tablet regimes.   But we still enjoyed a lot of Fleet Street reminiscing – Jim always has such wonderful anecdotes which we never get tired of hearing.

“This year we were able to celebrate Pat’s first book – a huge 729-page paperback – a memoir of her extraordinary, ordinary life entitled Darling, There’s An Iguana In The Bath." The book  available from Amazon. 

TERRY WILLOWS writes from Aiken, South Carolina: Seeing the happy snap of Jim  Davies and his wife reminds me of the great times we had together both in Doncaster and on the Daily Express in Manchester and London, 60's and 70's.

Good friends like the late Phil Finn (a one time neighbour) the late Ivor Key, Mike Parkinson and Mary, George Gordon of the Daily Mail, reminds me that there are still those who are battling in the eighties (I am 86).

The charming lady with me in the picture above is widow Sharon Monette who took me under her wing five years ago after my wife, Eleanor, died seven years ago following 50 years of marriage.

 I get so much enjoyment following your news and seeing old faces.

Those were the days my friend.   



Trainee reporter Jameson, Reuters newsroom, 1946

Reuters newsroom in Fleet Street in 1946. The fresh-faced trainee reporter (front right) is Derek Jameson who went on to edit four national newspapers, including the Daily Express, and to host a long-running show on Radio 2. (Illustration from Jameson's entertaining autobiography Touched By Angels, Ebury Press, still available on Amazon HERE

Picture research: AN R.R.(t)


Are these the guys who ate all the pies?


By SWT JOCKSTRAP-SHANKS and the rest of the not inconsiderable Drone sports team

WHO are these two sporty chaps, all decked out in warm scarves in the middle of August?

Have you guessed yet readers? Why they are none other than Expressmen Terry Manners and Roger Watkins, who for reasons best known to themselves now reside in leafy Lincolnshire.

Apparently it is fashionable for adherents of Association Football to wear colourful scarves to games. And here are our two chums on the terraces at Lincoln City’s LNER Stadium where they are both season ticket holders.

We are reliably informed that it is customary to eat pies before, during and after matches (subs pse check). But it is not recorded how many Messrs Manners and Watkins consumed.

Lincoln City, who beat Fleetwood 2-1, are known as the Imps but the editor is struggling to find a joke about that. To be brutally honest he really can’t be arsed — but our chums do look in excellent elf after goblin all the pies.

Will this do? No, it's shite, you’re fired — Ed


History in Moments

1902: She may appear to be a typical Edwardian grandmother but Margaret Ann Neve is unique: she is believed to be the only person in recorded history to have lived in three different centuries (perhaps this is why she looks a trifle smug!).  

Margaret was born in Guernsey in 1792 and died a year after this picture was taken in 1903, aged 110. A long life looked remote when she was a small child: she fell into a coma after falling down stairs. She recovered though and claimed not to have been ill ever again, apart from a touch of flu when she was 105. Attagirl! 

AN R.R. (t)





The Daily Mail is a fine paper. Of course it is. But sometimes one wonders if anyone actually revises its content, writes Drone chief sub LP BREVMIN. 

You know: a second thought, an alternative view.

 Boris Becker may have captured the nation’s attention well before the Prime Minister when he won Wimbledon at 17. But there is only one Boris now! A simple adjustment to this headline and it would read ‘Becker serves up romantic … etc’. It could even be argued that the word Becker is actually more instantly recognisable in this case.

Likewise, Harry Styles should never be referred to as just Harry. And Cliff is Cliff, Clint is Clint, Kate is Kate and Esmerelda is Esmerelda (Eh? — Ed).

Pity poor, old Elvis Costello: he’s never been been simply Elvis all his professional career.



Put that fag out! Don’t you know there’s a war on? 
Daily Mail subs at work, 1944

THE world was still at war when this picture of the Daily Mail subs room was taken in 1944.

But as battle raged outside, including the Normandy landings,  all was peaceful in the London newsroom. The mess of papers, tea mugs and cigarettes were a common sight then and continued to be so for at least four decades.

We can’t identify anyone in this pic and we doubt if there is anyone alive who can do so.

Picture research: AN R.R.(t) allegedly


Lord of all he surveys, Sunday Express editor Sir John Junor with his team of loyal colleagues

DON’T they look happy? Well they might because these men produced one of the most successful Sunday papers of its times.

In its heyday the Sunday Express was hugely popular and the man responsible for this was its editor John Junor.

Junor, seen here in the centre with picture editor Philip Snowdon and other cohorts in 1963, took over as editor in 1954 and was so successful that the paper was selling 4,457,000 by 1961 but this had halved to around 2 million by the time he retired 32 years later in 1986. 

Sales had taken a huge hit when Lord Rothermere launched the Mail On Sunday in 1982. Sunday Express circulation slowly declined and now stands at 213,000.

Junor's Sunday Express column was noted for recurrent catchphrases, two of them being "pass the sick-bag, Alice" and "I do not know, but I think we should be told". He frequently mentioned the small town of Auchtermuchty in Fife.

Junor could be brutally forthright in his column. He once wrote: "With compatriots like these [the IRA Brighton bombers] wouldn't you rather admit to being a pig than be Irish?" Following complaints that the comment was racist, Junor was censured by the Press Council in May 1985.

Critics saw Sir John, who died in 1997 aged 78, as unpleasantly dictatorial and morally hypocritical, reflected in a tempestuous personal life characterised by often cruel infidelity.

Supporters regarded him as a natural leader who could inspire remarkable loyalty.

"I had never known such a dominating presence," said one of his journalists. 

Knighted in 1980, Junor was often lampooned in Private Eye where he was known as 'Sir Jonah Junor’.

We do not why he earned this soubriquet … but we think we should be told.


Neat and tidy, tidy and neat, not a drop of litter at their feet — the Daily Express newsroom 90-odd years ago

How times change. This, believe it or not is a snap of the Daily Express newsroom, dated at a guess in the 1920s.

Lovely shiny floor, elegant wooden furniture and chaps in collars and ties (with just the one woman) hard at work. There is even a man who appears to be giving his typewriter a severe talking to. Madness was always a feature of the Daily Express which made it such a delightful place to work.

A couple of nearly empty waste paper baskets would suggest this was early in the day.

Things were just as bonkers 50 years or so later, typewriters were often insulted and the waste paper baskets were half empty then too, because most of the litter was on the floor.

Plus ça change!



Mail Backbench, 1980s

We will take a wild guess that these Daily Mail executives were watching news unfold on the television in this snap from the 1980s.

It ill behoves an Expressman to identify the chaps in the pic but we can find a few.

On the far left with his chin on his hand is former Daily Express editor Arthur Firth who scuttled off to Northcliffe House after he was unseated by Daily Mirror columnist Christopher Ward (we lived in strange days).

Behind Arthur is, of course, the mighty Paul Dacre and in the centre of the pic in a short-sleeved shirt is Mail editor David English.

ALAN FRAME has stepped in to fill in the gaps. He writes: The chap on David E’s left is Peter Grover, the Dep Ed. Behind them is a youthful Harvey Mann from the pic desk and further back is the bearded Garth Burden, brother of Peter, the Mail’s excellent crime reporter. I remember the chap in the foreground on Grover’s left but not his name. I think he was prodnose.

Peter Grover was a delight and hired me in 1969 as a news sub on the Sketch, of blessed memory, after I left the DX in Manchester. He was Night Ed. When this pic was taken Peter was English’s deputy.

Fashion note: Grover told me on returning from a short holiday in Moscow that it was so cold he kept warm by wearing a pair of his wife’s tights under his trousers. Ooh comrade!

MARARET ASHWORTH has the definitive caption: Left to right, Firth, Dacre, leader writer Chris Nicholson (in bow tie),  news desk operative, Duchess of Argyll's headless man, English, Grover, Harvey Mann and Ken Brown (revise editor).


The chaps in the office are up to mischief while The Times editor is on holiday


TAKING IT EASY: Times editor John Witherow is 69

By ARTHUR CAKES, Our Half-baked  Doughnut

THE Times featured a prominent Op-Ed piece on Saturday entitled: The Times View On Knowing When To Quit. 

Ostensibly it was about Delia Smith, who revealed in an interview elsewhere in the paper that she had given up cooking completely, even at home. But Times staffers had a completely different reading of it.

The Times' long-in-the-tooth editor John Witherow (he’s 69) is currently on holiday – so putting this particular piece together were deputy editor Tony Gallagher,who edits on Saturday, and the paper's chief leader writer. 

Whatever could they have been trying to say? 

AT the start of the year, we told you that The Sun threw an illicit Christmas drinks party in breach of the very same Covid rules they so staunchly monitored whenever it was celebs like Rita Ora or Kay Burley stepping out of line.

The party might never have been placed on our radar had it not been for one spicy little incident, where a married senior executive took an assistant 30 years his junior into his office for a drunken fingering – seemingly forgetting that the rest of the party would be able to see it happening on account of his office being glass-fronted.

The incident has caused all manner of professional and personal fallout for him, with his marriage, his dignity and any respect that he once commanded over staff. But we're pleased to report there's a happy ending to it all.

Six months after the fumbling, word around the watercooler is that the couple are now official. Bless.




Daily Drone trainee Rosalie Rambleshanks has again been nominated for a prestigious award.

She has been shortlisted in the Rising Star category in the Press Gazette British Journalism Awards. Last year Rosalie was nominated for two ‘gongs’.

Media guru Terry Manners commented: ‘It’s most unusual for a trainee to be nominated and unprecedented for one to be short listed twice because they have usually graduated to a more senior position.’

Rosalie is a former head girl of Hampton School where she was also a sergeant in the Combined Cadet Force under Gunner Phyllis Fortescue-Pirbright, BEM.

She contributes to the Drone across a broad spectrum, particularly as the prescient and perceptive advice columnist Aunt Marje.

Rosalie said: ‘So, it still hasn’t, like, sunk in. I’m over the moon.’

A spokesperson for Lord Drone said: ‘We wish, er, Rosemary Rumplesheets every success in her new career.’

The awards will be presented at a star-studded ceremony on December 8.



Facts the papers dare not print
(because they’re fake)

By VENUS MERCURY, She’s on another planet

YOU couldn’t make it up — but actually we have!

Here is what we discovered:

Scottish nationalist MP Ian Blackford has won “Most Promising Tosser” at the annual Highland Games caber-hurling event of 2007.

The Hancock Handshake — the Single-Handed Arse Grab (SHAG) pioneered on CCTV  by the former Health Secretary — has been adopted as the preferred gesture of greeting by members of the Orpington & District Over-60s Sex Club.

Boris Johnson models his bluff-and-bluster PMQ tactics on his Eton house master JGM Lanyard, who suffered frequent bouts of Tourette’s Syndrome.

Labour’s Shadow Everything, Angela Rayner, a self-taught brush artist, is looking for an gallery to display her 2ft triptych of Wonder Woman in oils.

A young Lord Drone (then Viscount Hackwood) bet a chum he could kick a policeman’s helmet from El Vino to St Paul’s. Unfortunately he stopped for refreshment at the Punch Tavern, where the angry copper found him several hours later. Bow Street magistrates gave him a conditional discharge.

At prep school a young Jacob Rees-Mogg once had to write out 50 times “I must not interrupt the head master during prayers”.

An original drawing of Desperate Dan eating a cow pie by legendary Dandy cartoonist Dudley D Watkins hangs in the foutoir* of rock icon Rod Stewart’s Burgundy bolt-hole.

*Colloq: A room where French people go for a spot of rogering.

 © Fake News International




STAR ON THE STONE: Humphrey Bogart played an editor in the 1952 film Deadline USA

The Guardian has an interesting piece on how subbing was done in the old paste-and-paper days. The headline on the story should make it clear that it was the comp who had to read the type upside down, not the stone sub.



Bunk! What a load of rowlocks in the Mail

What a piss-poor set of headlines on the row surrounding Team GB’s worst performance in Olympic rowing for 50 years, writes Drone Chief Sub LP BREVMIN.

How could the Mail use 26 words but fail to pick the key one? And what the fuck is a ‘boat team’?

Surely, by changing the strap to read ‘result in 50 years’ and dropping the totally redundant ellipses, one might have replaced ‘boat’ with ‘rowing’.

And if didn’t fit, just drop a size: it could do with some air around it, anyway.

Is there one L or two in bollocks?


You snob! Our old pal Parry in new jam after TV rant about  ‘eyesore’ caravans

By AUSTIN MORRIS, Our man on the A30 at the back of a queue of slow-moving traffic

SAY what you like about Mike Parry, and plenty do, he is nothing if not controversial.

Parry, a former Daily Express news editor, is no stranger to putting people’s backs up — and now he has done it live on national television.

Ranting on the airways has become his stock in trade and resulted in his being labelled  a snob by ITV presenter Alex Beresford .

Parry courted controversy, quite deliberately in the Drone’s view, in a fiery rant about caravans on Good Morning Britain.

Speaking to Beresford and 80s pop star Sonia, Parry, a radio broadcaster, described all caravans as eyesores.

He said: “When we all got out of the second world war and my parents didn’t have any money to take us anywhere on holiday except Butlins, they took us to a caravan in Anglesey.

“I’ve never had a more miserable existence in my life I don’t understand how a human being can exist in a little tin can”.

Parry noted that they make you feel like “hamsters in a sandwich bin” and claimed that “it’s a situation you wouldn’t even welcome if you were in jail”.

He interrupted fellow pundit, 80s pop star Sonia, who was trying to have her say on the matter, and complained that he is often left stuck in his “£70,000 Jaguar behind a caravan trying to go up a hill, trying to go down a hill, they only go at 40mph”.

Sonia retorted: “You stay in your Jaguar, just have a bit of patience.”

Beresford then said: "Mike you’re sounding like a bit of a snob now. £70,000 Jaguar? Come on mate."

Parry responded: "I’m not a snob. I’m not a snob. I'm not a snob. I regard three-star hotels as camping, but I’m not a snob I just like to be comfortable when I go somewhere on holiday.”


Plus ça change…
an exciting new series in the Drone, the online newspaper that spans every generation

FLU DO YOU DO? A couple mask up during the 1918 influenza pandemic

How Hollywood sees us ...


… and the knackering reality


Above and below: Exhausted staff asleep at their desks


Ann Morrow, writer and doyenne of Beaverbrook Express years, dies at 86

FORMER Expresswoman Ann Morrow, who wrote for the paper in the Beaverbrook era before moving to The Times and The Daily Telegraph has died aged 86.

Her beat included royal tours, travel, beauty, interviews and briefly, for the Telegraph, Jimmy Carter’s America, where as a correspondent she enjoyed “surf and turf” with the President on board Air Force One.

Former BBC TV and Sky News correspondent KEITH GRAVES told the Drone: 

I was saddened to read of Anne Morrow’s death. My first day in The Daily Express London newsroom in 1963 I found myself sitting between Anne and Rita Marshall, a pretty nerve-racking introduction for a 22-year-old doing holiday relief from Manchester.

They were two very hard-nosed reporters but a delight to work with and learn from.

We young male reporters lived in fear of our brilliant news editor Keith Howard. Far worse though was a tongue lashing from Kenny (as was) and/or Marshall. A visit to Poppins usually put things right.

In later years it was my pleasure to cover a few HMQ overseas tours with Ann. It was always a pleasure to watch her put overbearing and pompous courtiers firmly in their places.




Daily Mail subs 1960s


ALL WHITE ON THE NIGHT: Daiy Mail subs hard at work in the mid-1960s. Women are noticeable by their absence, it’s all pipes, paste bottles and spikes. We can’t identify anyone but maybe you can. Let us know!

CHRISTOPHER WILSON reports: Some familiar faces there but the one guarantee is the legendary Leslie Sellers, makeup czar on the broadsheet Daily Mail, next to the two men in suits at the back of the picture. 

Leslie was not only a lovely man but author of the Simple Subs Book and Doing It In Style, two essential reference books for us mid-60s trainees. He was still there when I got to the Mail in 1969, and I think one of the suits in the pic is Arthur Brittenden, Mail editor before David English. 

RICK McNEILL writes: I think Christopher Wilson has nailed Leslie Sellers among some very blurry faces in the Daily Mail picture. I doubt if I’m there (and I wouldn’t recognise me if I was) but before joining the Daily Express in 1965 I did a stint as a lowly “summer relief” sub on the Mail, and Leslie was the consummate layout man on the back bench.

I got to know him well much later on South Africa’s Sunday Times, who snapped him up after he fell victim to David English’s Night of the Long Envelopes.

We were assistant editors together, and I kind of understudied him, trying to match his brilliant front pages. Leslie was also a witty columnist, food enthusiast and author. His Simple Subs Book should be on every sub-editors’ desk in the English-speaking world.

A great character — he couldn’t drive or use a typewriter (so he said) never mind a computer. His devoted wife Doreen did all his driving and typing for him.

CLIVE GOOZEE: I did a stint at the Mail in the late 60s when spikes had vanished from the subs’ desk. Unwanted material was placed in baskets. 

I was invited to do some shifts after sending examples of Surrey Comet pages I designed. Alan Howell, the chief sub, interviewed me and I recall him saying of my offerings:”We like them very much.” 

Bill Nutting was chief subbing on my first shift and I recall  Hugh Dawson, who was a rising young star of the department, and a very tolerant revise sub, Ken Brown, who politely advised me on anything I’d got wrong. 

Leslie Sellers came over for a chat. He was very friendly, giving me some “keep up the good work” encouragement. I was offered a summer relief job at £33 a week but was lured to a £40 a week permanent post on the Post Office staff tabloid. We were expecting our first baby and the salary made up for the loss of my wife’s wage. 

Ken Lawrence rescued me thanks to former Comet colleague David Emery’s recommendation.



Sir – I don’t mean to show off but I just had to share this with someone. When you walk the right path, work hard, avoid temptation, banish drink, drugs and fast women you deserve a little reward. OK, so white was the only colour available but I think these garden chairs will look great parked outside my house, don’t you?

Much Boasting



We couldn’t have put it better ourselves: Good sense from The Times Letters to the Editor


It’s actually a brilliant spoof drawn by Ralph Steadman in tribute to the greatest cartoonist ever employed by the Daily and Sunday Express, Carl Giles. 

The caption reads: Poor old Grandma. She’s got to do something seeing as how Mr Giles hasn’t come up with a good joke since 1952

The cartoon is signed ‘Steadman after Giles'



A jumbo bottle of pop from that nice Mr White can take the edge off a grand cru Vino Collapso

An expert view from the Drone’s resident sommelier MALCOLM BECK-SHANKS

Hello! I’m often asked at this time of year to recommend a mixer that can take the ‘edge’ off a big-hearted Bordeaux. I always go for R.White’s, le grand cru of lemonades. For more than 170 years since Robert White and his wife, Mary, started selling their home-made version from a hand cart in Camberwell, it has been the go-to mixer for the discerning.

And after the company was made an offer it could not refuse by Corleone&Co, it has benefited from the finest lemons grown on the southern slopes of Mount Etna warmed by the gentle Mediterranean sun.  A combination of luscious fruit, crystal-clear water from the Shadwell Basin and a subtle alchemy of saccharin, acesulfame K and aspartame produces a nectar of which the gods would be proud.

Drone reader T. Manners says: From the time I knew that Elvis Costello was a backing singer on R. White’s iconic Secret Lemonade Drinker advert, I’ve been hooked. I love the taste and, experts have found, mixing it with stronger drink stops you falling over too soon.

Next: Why Dandelion and Burdock makes nuns blush


Giancarlo Esposito

The last time we met the genial Italian he’d just been kicked into touch at a struggling Premier League club by the ubiquitous Big Sam. And that didn’t end well either. To be fair, it wasn’t just that Giancarlo’s team weren’t scoring enough but the fact that he’d been scoring too often...with the Chairman’s daughter. Now, after half a season on the coaching staff of his old mate, Luciano Cremenola at Cagliari, he’s back in England as boss of a newly promoted northern team in the Championship. The new season is about to start in less than a month but has he learned from his ups and downs (and not just with the Chairman’s daughter)? Let’s see...

Ey oop! See, I now speak-a da Engleesh well good, no? So ever happy to be back. My muckers (ees how you say?), Salvatore and Gianfranco, come from Serie B to be up your back staff. We cash in on Mancini Mania, as club’s nice little PR girl she say to me. Great bunch lads at club: this season we moon aiming, silverware hunting. Chairman, he say keep tackle to myself: big balls my falldown at Prem club (Mamma Mia! Not old boss’s bellissima bambina again!) He advise cut out long kicks, go for high press; plenty tikka takka flowing free; use false 9 off shoulder. He say sometime we park-a da bus; he like-a clean sheets. I speak ladies in wash room. Training already began. Lads full putting shift in. We working free kicks in dead ball situation. Now see fixtures in list. First up, Fulham. Away. Chairman he shake-a da head. Squeaky bum already. He say make-a sure parrot keep well. Porca miseria!




Daily Express, a great window on the world  in rainy London, 1935

Picture: London Express/Getty Images

There were few news sources available for public consumption in 1935 compared with today.

A popular attraction in Fleet Street was the front window of the Daily Express which then displayed news items, photographs, cartoons and such like.

Here a crowd looks at a map of Abyssinia around the time of the Italian invasion in October of that year.

Tell that to the kids of today and they wouldn’t believe you.


TalkRADIO staff are pinged off


By CHUCK HAMMER (He’s ever so sporty)

It's not just staff at Rupert Murdoch's papers who have been having a tricky time with self-isolation recently. The radio stations at the Baby Shard are having a bit of difficulty too, especially the talkSPORT set. 

Juggling their work commitments (attending Euros fixtures in London and Rome) with all the various quarantine restrictions currently in place was always going to be hard. A number of senior management got pinged after England v Germany, requiring 10 days of self-isolation (which would have seen them out of action for the quarter- and semi-finals). 

When another reporter tested positive after England v Ukraine (which could have put other staff in jeopardy of missing the big final) it was decided they needed to take some better precautions. 

Specifically: deleting the NHS app, so they wouldn't get pinged any more. 



Pipes, wing collars and bushy moustaches, meet the chaps in the Daily Express tape room, 1903

Picture: Print Collector/Getty Images

The Daily Express had only been existence for three years when this picture of the tape and telegraph room was taken in 1903.

The Express was founded in 1900 by Sir Arthur Pearson, with the first issue appearing on 24 April 1900. Pearson, who had lost his sight to glaucoma in 1913, sold the title to the future Lord Beaverbrook in 1916. Two years later the Sunday Express was born.

It was one of the first papers to place news instead of advertisements on its front page and carried gossip, sport, and women's features. It was also the first in Britain to have a crossword puzzle.

The Daily and Sunday Express moved into their new Fleet Street offices in 1932 and remained there until moving to Blackfriars in 1989. The titles are now based in Canary Wharf although most staff still work at home. 


Messenger! Take your pick sir, we have quite a few