Her Majesty’s



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The only mystery in life is why the kamikaze pilots wore helmets – Al McGuire


Today's papers


Brian Adcock, Independent


That’s not a headline you see very often these days but it was the view of Express boss Max Aitken in 1967

EXPRESS chairman Sir Max Aitken was full of optimism when he wrote about the future on the newspaper industry in 1967.

He was right about many things but wrong on the use of colour.

The following article was discovered by Vic Walters in a book published by the Press Club.

Today and Tomorrow: Newsboys all of us!

Can newspapers expand while faced with the competition of radio and television? Of course they can! This is the message of Lord Beaverbrook’s son, Sir Max Aitken, pictured, who was a pilot in the Battle of Britain and is now Chairman of the Board of Beaverbrook Newspapers, publishers of the Daily Express, Sunday Express and Evening Standard.

FLEET STREET Today and Tomorrow! You ask my views on that question. Why I think the present is fine and the future is glorious. Newspapers have their detractors. We must be aware of them and beware them. How to treat ‘em? Shoot ‘em down! They generally have no idea of our problems and the exertions we make to overcome them. 

A lofty Commission, reporting on questions of finance and manpower, has spread the impression that the newspaper industry is inefficient. Nonsense. The British newspapers are unparalleled in their speed of reaction to news and their flexibility in switching from point to point under the pressure of hourly events.

If the whole of British industry moved as fast off the mark under pressure in production as Fleet Street does we would be in a position, in the wartime phrase, to send bundles to America! 

In an era of inventiveness, in a period of bewildering variety of new means and of new methods of communication, the plain fact is that the newspapers hold and increase their hoId on the people’s heart. There is nothing like the British newspaper. No institution elsewhere in the world compares with it.

Reduced a little bit in numbers the Fleet Street newspapers today offer the public a complete range of opinion and expression totally free from outside direction in an age of growth of bureaucracy and central domination.

This is a wonderful achievement, and it is more expressive at times of the free institutions which have been the splendour of the country than even the House of Commons itself.

Our most subtle detractors are those who think we are overwhelmed by new media. The truth is the opposite. Radio, television and all the new networks have been proved not to menace us. They enhance us. This is because of human nature and of that very distinct form of it — British human nature — which Fleet Street understands so well. 

There is a superficial and flighty element in the new modes which compete with the newspapers. These weaknesses are exposed when the newspapers stick to their real functions of reporting, explaining and commenting in permanent form on the news of the day. 

When an individual sees an event himself or sees a picture version of it he is not content. He wants to read about it.  He is never satisfied with his own eyes: he wants to see with other people’s eyes as well and at greater leisure than the flashing screen permits. Nothing lasts with him like the printed word.

Most people have poor visual or eye memories. They have much stronger ear memories. Of course you use your eyes to read print. But good writing has the same quality as good speech. It is a voice not just a picture. The printed word sticks where the picture flickers. You see this in advertising where the television advertiser has no recourse except to repeat things until they nauseate but the printed advertisement respects the reader. It is there only when he wants it.

If he doesn’t take it in the first time he can look back over it as often as he is interested. It enters his personal computer. So I would say of all these new competitors: Be stimulated by them but never fear them. The future is with us.

Some people foretell the decline of newspapers on the ground that the future will see great national newspapers broken up into a thousand local editions produced by new processes or delivered through a screen or run off in pictures on your bedroom ceilings through a projector. Nonsense.

The great presses will continue to run.

“The future of colour? Not nearly as important as is predicted for it. Colour has its place in advertisements. But it would be wrong to bring it generally into news pictures and editorial content. There is nothing like black and white for clarity, for swift impression and dramatic effect. We have an old saying: When in doubt — put it in black and white.

I do not foresee any sudden changes in the general production of newspapers. My father often said to me: “Change yes, but change slowly.”

It is only when you look back at fifty-year-old cuttings that you see with shock great masses of type which need a magnifying glass to read or tiny news pictures which today would be blown-up to half a page. Not so many years ago a two-column headline was a sensation in one of the heavies, or we might call them the less popular newspapers. We have advanced greatly in vigour and clarity and that will continue.

I am sure that the future of our industry will be happy and secure. We must always fight off the encroachments on our free judgment by governments and bureaucrats. We must fight the continued growth of privilege and secrecy which often exists not for the security of the State but of the party or of the official.

There is another sanction we must never forget. Many of the great figures of Fleet Street began life as newsboys with packs on their backs, selling newspapers. From the humblest to the topmost in Fleet Street we are all newsboys. 

We have something to sell. Nobody is compelled to buy it. The public is the judge of value for its money. It is a high-spirited world in which the best wins the most.



In 1902 a French artist imagined what a reporter of the future would look like — this is the result 


WHAT-HO CHAPS: Maybe the artist didn't look far enough into the future




What happens when the bastards refuse to listen

… Says RICK McNEILL who sent us this cutting from the Johannesburg Star, 15 May


No matter how you dress it up, free insurance has to be biggest bargain ever

Daily Express promotion from the 1930s — it’s a pity they forgot to tell the girl to pull her socks up



Until a ‘suit’ in the Long Room raised a gnarled, valedictory finger, Gervase was a familiar sight, languidly leaning over the balcony at Lord’s or Trent Bridge. The surname of England’s Test selector, who has just lost his job, was rarely used when he haunted cricket grounds sniffing out new talent. He’s so well known that it’s not strictly necessary. G, as he’s also sometimes called, is always immaculately dressed in a bespoke dark suit and white shirt but rarely a tie, although Eton, MCC and the Mayfair Strollers hang in his Notting Hill wardrobe. An Oxford double blue (who also took a first, by the way), he has just been told his selectorial role has been ‘abolished’. Bad form, really as he and fellow selector, Gavin, were an intimidating sight wearing dark glasses and whispering conspiratorially before, Mafia-like, making uncapped players an offer they couldn’t refuse. Now Gervase shrugs, and, before he moves on, spares a few thoughts for the Drone:

Sapiens qui prospicit as my old beak used to say. I think we had quite a good run: the results speak for themselves. I like to see a fellow play his natural game. They’ve got to be honest, hearty and hardworking to catch my eye. Obviously, I would never consider them if they hadn’t got bundles of talent. I was happy to leave it to Silverwood and his coaching chaps to bring the best out of them: the technical stuff such as head movement, foot positioning and whatnot. The bowlers? Between you and me, they’re the grunts. The quicks we worked like drayhorses, until they tired and keeled over between the shafts (not literally, of course). Spinners? A work in progress, I confess. Ideally, I like my skippers to have been to a good cricketing school but, if not, I concede we often had to iron out their vowels before allowing them on the telly. Obviously, the new regime will have their own ideas. Play up and play the game, I say.  Shall I see you down at Hove, dear boy? Jolly place - and they do the most marvellous tea.



Miss Rook regrets ...

Family came first for Daily Express star columnist Jean Rook in 1982 when she refused this invitation from a reader. The letter is listed on eBay for £15.

 … And so does Giles

The great Express cartoonist Carl Giles also had to turn down an offer. This letter from 1975 is also listed on eBay but it will set you back £75


‘Sarcastic' note from Reach chief enrages hard-pressed staff 

STAFF at the Express and Mirror titles have voiced their anger at a 'sarcastic' email from Reach joint managing editor Andy Taylor.

Taylor, latterly of the Express, wrote: 

Dear All, there seems to be some confusion around the Cyber Security Training.  1262 of you seem to think you don't have to do it. This email is an incredibly polite nudge dispelling this confusion. PLEASE DO THIS TRAINING ASAP. It is mandatory not optional. 

Thanks ever so. Andy

Employees are upset at the 'dripping sarcasm' and the stretching of the definition of 'incredibly polite’. They noted that the preceding emails from management were alerts about Mental Health Week urging them to find a way of staying sane.

Some hope.

To the casual observer the email may not seem that offensive but it is indicative of the low morale at Reach that staff have taken the message so badly.


A great writer’s anguish over a missed deadline


ALL journalists have experienced the pain of looking at a blank piece of paper or an empty screen and wondering what the hell to write.

The great Dorothy Parker had a similar experience in 1945 when she missed a deadline and sent this anguished telegram to her editor.

Her apology was an art form in itself, using such phrases as ‘I can’t look you in the voice’ and ‘all I have is a pile of paper covered with wrong words’.

Parker was famous for her witty verses, such as 
I like to have a Martini,
Two at the very most.
After three I'm under the table,
After four I'm under my host.

Two other great quotes which have gone into the language are: 'I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy’ and ‘Don’t look at me in that tone of voice’.

Mere words cannot do  justice to Parker’s monumental talent. So we will leave it at that.


Daredevil snapper takes a crate pic of Fleet Street

1929: Another in the Drone’s intermittent series of pictures of Ye Olde Fleet Streete, especially pertinent now that the Editor has launched a global campaign to save certain iconic buildings threatened by planning madness (see petition above right and story lower down this page). 

This pic of the bustling Street with the threatened Chronicle House on the right and St Paul’s in the background was taken from the old Daily Telegraph building. It shows the intrepid Fox snapper R.J. Salmon dangling precariously from a crane in what looks like an old beer crate. 

Imagine the elf and safety kerfuffle today: high viz vest; crash helmet etc. For cool old  R.J. a trench coat and battered trilby sufficed. 

AN R.R (t)


Charlie lifts the lid on the civil war at Lord's

charlie book.jpg

ANOTHER great book by a former Express and Mailman is now available for pre-order.

The author is Charles Sale who worked on the Daily Express sports desk from 1983 to 2001 before joining the Daily Mail where he wrote a popular sports column.

Charlie told the Drone: "I have spent two years researching  the story of the railway tunnels under the Nursery End at Lord’s which have been the subject of  a 20-year Civil War inside the MCC — most of which has been played out without the knowledge of the majority of the 18,000-strong  membership.

"MCC  have turned down  numerous offers  — worth up to £150m to the club — from property developer Charles Rifkind to build residential flats over his tunnels. Rifkind bought the lease and later the development rights for the tunnels from under the noses of the MCC at an auction in 1999.

An added interest for Express readers is that Rifkind’s country house in the Oxfordshire village of Denchworth was once the family home of Lord Beaverbrook.

The Covers Are Off, by Charles Sale, is being published by Mensch Publishing on May 26. It is available now for pre-order on Amazon and


Who designed King Arthur’s round table? Sir Cumference.


7. Last train to Becontree

Hi. You’ll never guess the harebrained scheme occupying what the Tedmeister calls his mind just now. He only wants to get a dog! I’m going to have to box clever on this one. I hate dogs: nasty, arse-licking, excitable creatures. But Teddy calls them ‘fur babies’. I ask you. A sheepdog is mentioned. Is he mad? They’re the Poles of the canine world: aka absolutely barking bonkers. Then, a husky (talk about call of the wild, love). 

Doesn’t he realise they’re like wolves on an E-shift? I’m going to try to steer him towards one of the new, en pointe cross breeds, a Maltipoo, Cockapoo, Cavapoo, or Sprocker, perhaps. When I quip that I’m rather drawn to a Labradoodle, he doesn’t get it.  Some fell on stony ground, eh? ‘Twas ever thus. (I’ll update you on this anon).

By the way, when is Boris Johnson going to sort out his hair? I know he’s had it cut but it’s time Carrie took him in hand, proclaims Eduardo (never too subtle, he). He’s right, though. I was discussing it with mummy during our weekly phone call. She says a simple gel would do the trick. Apparently, L’Oreal has a nice one as long as you don’t go for the firm hold (as if I would!).

Back in the real world, we’re emerging from lockdown hibernation with a spring in the step and a gleam in the eye. The weather’s picking up and darling little Frame Hampton is blossoming no end. Even the Great Galloping Bladderwick, which we thought we’d lost during the frosts, is recovering well and is almost in leaf. We yomped over to Walton’s Spinney on Holder Hill. You may recall I was worried about the Pilton’s Crapwurt, which is all over the south facing slope. But all looks OK now. 

Also, we’ve discovered a dinky little farm shop (nice quality but spiteful prices) on the road to Benfield Beversbrook. Good! Buggalugs can afford it and I hate that fucking down-market Aldi in Chippenham. We’ve heard that the Fecund Ferret, a gastro pub on the way to Compton Magna, has been awarded a Michelin Plate, whatever that is. We really must get over there now the restrictions are easing.

But first, though, our patch — bijou and gardenette as it may be — will need some tidying as spring wears on. No prizes for guessing who our horny-handed son of toil will have to be but answers on the back of a BBC Gardeners’ World magazine if you must.

Dig you, babes!


More from the Country Boys


Maybe I’m just too vulgar says Steve Bell as his If  strip ends after 40 years


SAILING AWAY: The final If...

The penultimate strip

28BELL IF.jpeg

Wednesday’s cartoon

27IF STRIP.jpeg

Steve Bell’s popular If… strip ends today after a 40 year run in the Guardian. 

Bell, whose annual freelance contract was up for renewal this month, estimated he has drawn more than 8,300 If… strips for the Guardian (starting with six a week and ending with four) and 4,600 editorial cartoons.

He will continue providing large editorial cartoons for the leader page – two every other week and one on alternate weeks, down from his current three per week.

Bell told Press Gazette: “Cartoons are great things – you can do all sorts of things, you can go places other media can’t go and do things other media can’t do. That’s what I have always loved.

“The thing about the strip is you can do things at length and in more depth and you can be sillier and ruder and sneak stuff in, but things have changed. 

"The Guardian’s got more cautious about things and recently there’s been more strips bumped back for various reasons because somebody thinks it’s transgressing something or other, but I have been there a long time and have got used to it.”

He added: “Maybe I’m out of kilter with the zeitgeist. My stuff is probably too vulgar for the current regime. I will be interested to see what the response of the readers is.”

A Guardian News and Media spokesperson said: “We can confirm that Steve Bell’s If… column will be coming to an end, but he will continue drawing regularly for the Guardian’s comment section.”

Bell, who has fallen foul of cost cuts, has fearlessly lampooned politicians, depicting John Major wearing his underpants outside his trousers, Tony Blair with one mad-squinting eye and George Bush as a monkey – but he has faced some criticism both internally and externally.


YOUR DRONE, TOP FOR CURRENT AFFAIRS Who’s the phantom Shagger of the Arch?


By ROGER SMUTT, Our Man in the Tea-Coloured Mac

THERE'S already a pretty hefty amount of sleaze and suspicion sloshing around Westminster at the minute, and it seems as though Fleet Street may have a new story to toss into the trough too. 

Lobby hacks were asking some rather pointed questions about rumoured ministerial use of a grace-and-favour flat in Admiralty Arch at a briefing last week.

Although details were sparse, it's unlikely to relate to the Johnson/Arcuri affair, which is back in the news, because the shagging in that took place at their own homes. It's unlikely to be connected to any of David Cameron's recent lobbying efforts either as he's no longer a minister.

So who could it be? And could this have anything to do with the persistent Westminster rumour that there's been a rift in the once unshakeable Gove-Vine union?

Hope you can stand this up, Smutty — Ed


Outrage over decision to demolish EIGHT Fleet Street buildings AND the old Coach and Horses pub

PLANS to build a “justice quarter” in Fleet Street which will involve the demolition of eight buildings and a pub have been approved by City planners.

Heritage campaigners claim the move will ruin views of St Paul’s Cathedral.

The plan, passed by the City of London Corporation, involves the demolition of eight buildings in a conservation area on the opposite side of the road to the old Daily Express building.

The multi-million pound scheme for a new base for the City of London Police and an eight-storey magistrates, crown and county court, was hailed as a major step which "will enhance city’s reputation" and support 2,500 jobs — 400 new ones. 

The Corporation, which is both the applicant and decision-maker, is opposed by Historic England, the Government’s heritage advisers, plus SAVE Britain’s Heritage, the Twentieth Century Society and the Victorian Society.

The buildings facing demolition include Chronicle House, at Nos 72-78 Fleet Street, built in 1924 in a stripped-back classical style with art deco influences. It is one of the buildings that recall the street’s heyday as the centre of the British newspaper trade and once housed the now defunct News Chronicle. 

At Nos 80-81, the neo-baroque Barclays bank building, which dates from the same period, would also come down.

The Victorian Hack and Hop pub (formerly the Coach and Horses) in Whitefriars Street will also be demolished but will be replaced by a larger hostelry.

A Georgian house, now offices, at 1 Salisbury Square will also be knocked down.


In a letter to The Times, the historian Marcus Binney, executive president of SAVE Britain’s Heritage, said the loss of the “handsome” frontages would “desecrate” a view to St Paul’s Cathedral that the corporation was recently proposing to protect.

Fleet Street is on an ancient processional route from the Palace of Westminster to St Paul’s, to which Mr Binney said the 1920s buildings added “gravitas and quiet splendour”.

A report by the corporation’s planners said the proposal would result in “less than substantial” harm to the area.

Henrietta Billings, director of SAVE Britain’s Heritage, said: “Conservation areas like this one are designed to recognise and protect the special character, flair and heritage of our important streets and places.

"Fleet Street is famous for its rich newspaper history, as well as its largely well-preserved streets and alleyways and medieval street pattern. Large scale demolition-creep of this kind is crass and short-sighted in any location — let alone in a so-called conservation area. The whole approach needs a re-think." 


195 YEARS ON ...
The first picture

WE have seen a few grainy pictures in our time but this one must surely take first prize.

In fact you might not think that this blurry image is a photo at all, but it is considered to be the oldest surviving photograph in existence. 

It was made by French photography pioneer Joseph Nicéphore Niépce in 1826. It’s what you get when you remove the areas of a non-hardened asphalt from a pewter plate exposed to sunlight for eight hours. No wonder he didn't take selfies.


Crazy night Fleet Street's great rivals gatecrashed Prince Philip’s stag party


MADELINE CLARKE, the daughter of former Daily Mail journalist Harry Procter, has recounted the night her father and a group of other Fleet Street journalists managed to gatecrash Prince Philip’s stag night.

The cutting pictured above is from World’s Press News and  dated 27 November 1947.



Newspaper cuts are nothing new

dougie and co.jpeg

WHEN MONEY WAS NO OBJECT: A bearded Terry Manners, centre, chats to Dan McDonald in the Daily Express Fleet Street offices in the 1970s. In the foreground are, from left, Dougie Mann, a rear view of foreign sub Jack Atkinson and Chris Williams, who later became editor

Sir — Reading with some nostalgia the story about yet more new cost cutting on the incredible shrinking world of the Daily Express, takes me and others back with fondness to all those years of cost-slashing we grew up with in the Black Lubyanka.

An empire that once stretched from offices and apartments in Moscow and New York to the cellars of El Vino's was always the envy and irritation of proprietors and accountants who never understood the workings and soul of the Editorial and its bits and Bobs. 

They were always experimenting with some new wheeze to stop paying for the words that fill the spaces around the ads. Now Covid and Zoom have opened the Pandora's box of working from home, freeing more space for the accountants to rent out valuable accommodation, perhaps for more accountants to work out more valuable cost-cutting.

I remember with fondness, when running Scotland, I was summoned down to London as part of yet another new drive to cut the Express budgets. The wonderful Felicity Green (always her fan), was at a loose end in the Features Department and had been given the task of solving the money crisis on lineage for the titles North and South.

Preliminaries and chuckles out of the way we got down to business in her office.

 "Now Terry, how much is your Features Budget?


 "Thousand?" she replied and began to write £30,000 down.

 "No, thirty!" I said.

  "Thirty what?"

  "Thirty quid."

  "What? A feature?"

  "No, a week!"

Needless to say the talks were brought to a swift end and a shocked Felicity pledged to sort out "this ridiculous situation". She had no inkling of how things were. I never heard another word...

Until a few months later, when a new golden boy accountant came up to do a time and motion study of Glasgow. He admitted he knew nothing about how an editorial worked ... but everything about buying up old houses, doing them up and selling them on. Hours of interesting stuff. Learned a lot. 

Yours always,


An illustration of how newspaper graphics are much better now

I permit myself a wry smile when I see the intricate, sophisticated graphics that grace newspapers these days, writes Daily Drone Chief Sub LP BREVMIN

The Mail’s Prince Philip double page funeral illustration is a brilliant example. 

Imagine getting something like that produced on the old Daily Express, even if you could persuade Moreno to break off from churning out yet another Millionaires Club blurb.

You just know that, as deadline approached, two things would happen: you’d spot that the Duke’s coffin had been placed on the ‘cafatalque' and that Advertising had just ‘sold’ a 25x4 on the right hand page.


The Times Diary

Our exasperating newspapers: Prince Philip’s view in 1967

VIC WATERS has unearthed a fascinating piece written by the Duke of Edinburgh in a foreword to a book published by the Press Club in London in 1967.

Prince Philip always had a strained relationship with the Press during his long life — he famously called the Express ‘a bloody awful newspaper’ — but he takes a reasonably conciliatory view in this piece.



Lookalike (up to a point)


                   HILLS                                   DOWDEN

Heaven forfend that these two should appear in an interview situation on the telly. Which is which, puzzled viewers would wail. One is flaxen-haired, excitable Joel Hills, Business Editor at ITV News; the other is flaxen-haired, excitable Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. Both, it must be conceded, have a Pictish look.

Hills, a Business Administration grad, formerly worked at Sky and is known as a good, hardworking operator. He caused a Twitter flurry last year when he appeared on News at 10 wearing, ahem, grey nail varnish. Asked whether he was victim of bored kids at home, he replied: Rumbled! 

Dowden, a former David Cameron henchman, is a state-educated Cambridge law graduate. His career as ‘Minister of Fun’ received an early setback. Appointed in February, 2020, he has presided over a year of lockdowns and restrictions which haven’t been fun at all. 

Now, though, he is urging people to get out and enjoy ‘a great British summer of sport’. But with the R rate said to be nudging 1 again, we’ll see.

AN R.R. (t)
Picture research Reckless Rambleshanks, intern. (You’re fired — Ed)


After that sex survey Reach title helps you find a dogging spot (with a helpful illustration ...)

From Somerset Live
Meanwhile back at HQ

Barmy bosses want to know workers' sexual preferences

THE Daily Drone’s spies have unearthed an extraordinary document sent to staff by the management of Reach, publisher of the Express and Mirror titles.

The survey, which asks employees details of their sexual preferences, was sent to us by an informer who writes under a pseudonym …

 Sir — I now have categorical proof that the ludicrously named Reach — and the world in general — has finally gone mad. Oooh, I’ve come over all Alan Duncan ...

This is a survey sent by Reach to all (few remaining) employees earlier this year. Apart from the obvious question Why, who knows what all these definitions mean? 

Is biromantic really bi-romantic or does it signify an imaginative use of a Bic? Best of all is Other, what Other? Surely there are no further options. 

In our day on the Express you were either gagging for it or, to quote Bogbrush, ‘You fuckin shirt lifter.’

For the record, I am Dronosexual.

Little Todger,



Pip pip, Pip


THE GAFFER: Prince Philip, who has died aged 99

THE nation is in mourning following the death of  the man who once called the Daily Express a “bloody awful newspaper”.

The paper wore the badge with pride and put Prince Philip's 1962 quote on its front page the following day.

Former foreign editor DAVID RICHARDSON reports: Unless my memory fails me, the DX was the only national that did not carry the Duke of Edinburgh’s “slitty eyes” Chinese gaffe.

Royal reporter Ashley Walton, in Beijing, had filed the story along with every other member of the hack pack.

But ... Bernard Shrimsley was acting editor that day and said he didn’t believe a word of it even when I explained it had been overheard by many and others were using the story.

He refused to be swayed and our first edition certainly did not carry it while it was the splash in our rivals.

Ashley threatened to resign that day. I can’t remember if he did.

ASHLEY WALTON responds: Bernard Shrimsley did it to me again later over an incident during the annual Royal skiing jaunt to Klosters. The Duchess of York and the Princess of Wales playfully tried to push each other over in the snow as they posed for photos. 

It made nice copy, but again Bernard decided it wasn't true. He had to rapidly change his mind when he saw the incident on TV at 6 and Page One and Three had to be redesigned.  

Bernard apologised to me when I returned to the office the following week. I never considered resigning over either incident as it was Bernard who had looked foolish. I could never have threatened to resign from China where the only communication to the Foreign Desk was by Telex.  Phone calls were impossible from China in those days and I can't envisage me sending an angry "I quit!" tape through the Chinese post service.

God knows what went on in Bernard's mind if he thought that Royal reporters just simply made things up.


A trip to Turkey that changed Fleet Street  veteran George’s life

GEORGE DEARSLEY, veteran of the Parish of Fleet Street, was one of  three Oxford graduates who embarked on a trip round the world in 1972. 

Their tour took in Turkey and the experience changed his life. After a series of holidays there George and his wife Carolyn decided they liked it so much they moved there permanently.

The result is a very readable memoir which details the crazy incidents which kept drawing them back. They include being arrested as a spy, watching a man swallow a snake, judging a beauty contest, being given a front row seat at a circumcision and seeing Turkey’s most famous criminal crash his sea plane.

George has worked as a staff reporter for Daily Mail, Daily Star and Sunday Times and for all the others as a freelance.

His book Twelve Camels For Your Wife: An Englishman's Lifelong Love Affair With Turkey is availble on Amazon.



Low, the great wartime cartoonist whose work   enraged hated dictators

All Behind You, Winston

Evening Standard, 14 May 1940

Pen, ink & black crayon on board

This cartoon was drawn shortly after the resignation of Neville Chamberlain as Prime Minister when the war was going badly for the Allies. It shows newly appointed Prime Minister Winston Churchill leading the new War Cabinet, who have all taken off their jackets and rolled up their sleeves to get down to the job of winning the war.

Born in New Zealand, David Low worked in his native country before migrating to Sydney in 1911, and ultimately to London (1919), where he made his career and earned fame for his Colonel Blimp depictions and his merciless satirising of the personalities and policies of German dictator Adolf Hitler, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, and other leaders of his times. 

His stinging depictions of Hitler and Mussolini led to his work being banned in Italy and Germany, and his being named in The Black Book.

Sir David Low died in 1963 aged 72.

Source: The Cartoon Museum




A young Katherine Whitehorn arrives at London’s Waterloo Station for her first day's work as a staff journalist in the capital.

Whitehorn would have been 28 when this classic picture by Bert Hardy was taken in around 1956. 

After graduation from Cambridge, she worked as a freelance in London, before moving to Finland to teach English and undertaking postgraduate studies at Cornell University.

Whitehorn’s first staff job was as a sub-editor on Woman’s Own magazine but she spent most of her career on The Observer where she found fame as a columnist.

She died aged 92 at a North London care home on 8 January 2021 after suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.


Memory of reporter Phil lives on — in a quilt of his bow ties

IF there is some part of a foreign bedroom that is for ever Philip Finn … then this is it.

Phil, for many years the doyen of the Daily Express bureau in New York, was instantly recognisable by his bow ties. And this quilt is made up of dozens of them.

Former Express foreign editor David Richardson, who supplied the quilt pic, reported from his bolthole in the south of France:  "Sadly, like many others, Phil, pictured, was discarded by the DX long before his sell by date.

"On retirement he and his wife Annemarie moved to Aiken in South Carolina where golf and their dogs was their passion.

"Their home also became a mecca for Fleet Street golf hacks attending The Masters, about 30 miles down the road in Augusta.

"Cancer caught up with Phil a few years ago and Annemarie was left with memories and a  stash of bow ties. A friend has turned them into his remarkable quilt.

"Miss you Phil Finn Junior as he always announced himself. I never met Phil Finn Senior.

Philip Finn died in 2015 aged 79.





Dear Aunt Marje 

(still a trainee and still in dentures)

agony aunt.jpg

Aunt Marje (with apologies to that weird cross-dressing potter whose name we forget)

You’ve been framed

Dear Aunt Marje

I hope you can help me because I’m in a bit of a panic to be honest. You see, I find I’m in agreement with Labour’s Baroness Chakrabarti over vaccination passports. Is there a cure? Will I be all right?

Single Jab

Dear SJ, 

Oh, that sounds nasty. So much so that I consulted the Daily Drone medic, Dr Frame. Apparently, this is more common than you’d think, especially in some parts of North London. Calm down, take a deep breath and put your head between your knees.You should feel better soon. Dr Frame says that, normally, he would prescribe a vigorous rub down with a moist barmaid but you’ll have to wait for a vaccine passport to have that, won’t you?



Poor Porky’s now a shadow of himself

FORMER Daily Express news editor Mike Parry is at a loose end these days. 

He once had a (semi) glittering career on the radio but he made enemies, principally his old chum Mike Graham who hosts the mid-morning show on TalkRADIO. He now makes occasional appearances on Channel 5’s Jeremy Vine show.

Consequently Porky has time on his hands and is reduced to publishing this on Twitter:

"OK FOLKS .. how about this .. an image of MOI .. Porkmeister .. relayed on to my Italian carpets made from the back-drop of the beautiful light of Stockbroker-Belt Surrey streaming into my working office at Porkmeister Towers .. 👍😁🍸"

Can no-one save poor Porky’s bacon?


Anyone speak Newt?
(It helps to be as pissed as one)


Look the business with your stylish Daily Drone


Escape lockdown looking swell! The Daily Drone has teamed up, by royal appointment, with H&M Fashions, of Montecito, California, to bring you their exclusive menswear range designed for the Alpha Male who combines style and panache. 

Embrace spring and summer as we leave COVID restrictions behind in these natty outfits for the office and the beach and check out these endorsements:

‘Wow! So stylish’ — T. Manners (Lincoln). ‘Just the thing for cathedral evensong’ — A. Walton (St. Albans). ‘Let me at ‘em’ —J. King (Chiswick).


History in Moments


Some stories don’t always fit the bill


THIS looks like sensational news on these bills from South Africa … but all is not what it seems.

RICK McNEILL uncovered these jolly posters from his time as tabloid guru on South Africa’s top-selling black newspaper the Daily Sun.

Rick said: ‘They were happy days spent tapping skills honed on the Daily Express. 

"The POPE referred to, you’ll be relieved to know, was not the prominent Vatican religious personage, but the rather better known local rap artist. 

"The MUM was denouncing evil spirits who had wronged her. What other possible wording? Great fun, of which there isn’t much around any more. You’re the last bastion of insouciance, m’lord.

Lord Drone commented last night: I once tried stopping my inbred insouciance but I really couldn’t be arsed.


Death of the newsroom

Actress Halle Berry visiting the Daily Express newsroom in 1986

CHRIS BLACKHURST, a former deputy editor of the Daily Express, has written a perceptive piece for the website Reaction on the demise of the newsroom.

Reach, publisher of the Express, Star and Mirror titles, has already announced that most staff will now work remotely from home and many newsrooms will close. This, says Blackhurst, marks another dip in the downward path of the newspaper.

And it marks the end of journalism as we know it.



What can the Express learn from Karl Marx, ask crazy consultants

THE lunatics really have taken over at the Daily Express madhouse.

As we have already reported, Reach, the renamed Trinity Mirror group which now owns the Express, is holding a “brand review” of the Express conducted by a consulting company. 

Now events have taken an even more bizarre turn.

The Guido Fawkes website reports that there has been a second round of consultations with a selected group including most of the senior staff of the Express.

The Exercise 7 consultancy company asked bemused Express hacks to evaluate a series of figures and brands with the questions:

What can we learn from these brands/leaders?

What is each one fighting for and against?

How can that apply to The Express?

One of the brands/leaders was Karl Marx. Perhaps they plan to replace the Crusader with Karl?

THE DRONE SAYS: Do these so-called experts know what the Express stands for? Answers on a postcard to the nearest wastepaper bin.



         BAMBER                 GRAINGER                CHURCHILL

So … It’s back by popular clamour, the Daily Drone Triplelike! This trio are separated by more than 70 years but are united by their fame and beauty. 

Holliday Grainger and Ellie Bamber seem never to be off our TV screens: Holliday made her name playing Lucrezia Borgia in Prime’s box set Popeathon, The Borgias and private eye Cormoran Strike’s girl friday. 

Ellie, most recently seen in the BBC1 Sunday night series The Serpent, starred as Cosette in the Beeb’s non musical version of Les Miserables and as Mandy Rice Davies (well she would, wouldn’t she?) in The Trial of Christine Keeler. Bonnie bints both, avers Proddie, inelegantly.

That’s as may be but neither, as yet, compares with the lustre of the third beauty. Pictured before the Second World War, she was known as Pamela Churchill (yes, them). Her stormy marriage to Winston’s dissolute son, Randolph, produced another Winston who, though an MP, spent most of his life trying to live up to the family name.

Our Pamela, who was born in Surrey, moved on and was always looking up. Indeed, she became, according to Max Hastings ‘a world expert on rich men’s bedroom ceilings’. She went to the States, took citizenship and became heavily involved with politics, marrying Democrat eminence grise, Averell Harriman. Not content with that, she made her own way in the party and eventually became Clinton’s ambassador to France. Formidable, indeed.

AN R.R. (t)

Picture research: Reckless Rambleshanks (intern)


Most Express and Mirror staff will now operate from home

LIFE as we knew it on the Express, Star and Mirror titles is well and truly over.

Bosses have told employees that 75 per cent of employees will work from home in the future.

The Times reported yesterday that the papers’ owner Reach is closing dozens of newspaper offices.

The company plans to reduce floor space at its headquarters in Canary Wharf, London, and shut newsrooms and offices throughout the country.

It has told staff they will not return to the office full time after Covid-19 restrictions are lifted. Only a quarter of its 4,000 employees will go to work every day. The remainder will split their time between home and the office or work remotely for good.

Reach, whose stable also includes the Daily Record, Manchester Evening News and OK! magazine, will retain 14 regional offices in cities such as Bristol, Leeds and Belfast.

A company spokesman said: “We carried out a survey of all colleagues that showed a majority found home working suited their needs.”


History in moments

1957: All aboard! Come on, now, move down inside please. And make sure you’re on the right bus because your eyes aren’t playing tricks: this is the London to Calcutta service. 

The inaugural trip started on April 15 and the bus rolled into Calcutta 50 days and 20,300 miles later after travelling through Belgium, West Germany, Austria, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, and West Pakistan. Topically, it was delayed a couple of days when a border was closed because of the Asian Flu pandemic that year.

The service, also known as the Hippie Trail, wasn’t cheap at £85, seven times the average weekly wage. Mind you, all meals, bunks, fan heaters and music (presumably Ravi Shankar’s greatest hits) were provided. 

And it wasn’t all breakneck dashing between countries: shopping trips were scheduled in places such as Vienna, Istanbul and (yikes!) Kabul. Passengers overnighted in hotels, where there were any, or slept on the bus. Twenty people booked on the first trip and seven made the return journey at £65. Such fun, no?

AN RR (t)

Rosalie, dear, are you sure you haven’t made this up and stunted a photograph on PiccieFake? I’ll run it, though, and see if we get any letters — Ed


You couldn’t make it up! Woke fools want to ditch the Crusader

CALL for the men in white coats! The new woke owners of the Daily and Sunday Express want to #cancel the Crusader.

Reach, the renamed Trinity Mirror group which owns the Express, is holding a “brand review” of the title conducted by a consulting company. 

Express employees have been interviewed in pairs about their views on the paper and website. On a few occasions the interviewer announced himself as a North London Guardian reader, according to the Guido Fawkes website.

In a lot of the consultations employees were asked about the famous Crusader symbol and whether it should go. 

It’s not been a secret that the woke management of Reach hate the symbol almost as much as they hate the politics of the Express. It is an old management trick to get consultants in to blame for recommending a change you wanted to make anyway. It appears the Crusader could be axed from the title piece after 92 years.

This is part of a culture war in Reach and a war of attrition on the Express internally since it was bought up after the then Trinity Mirror assured then Culture Secretary Matt Hancock that they would not interfere in the politics of the Express.

So far they have launched a Guardian style green editorial campaign, quite a change in tone from the paper that started the mainstreaming of Brexit. According to an internal source they “initially stopped us from attacking BLM protests and statues being pulled down. Although after about a month we were allowed to”.

A senior figure tried to stop an online poll being published which showed about 80 per cent of Express readers supported Trump. The papers has softened its line on immigration and apologised to Muslim campaign groups for some headlines. Then there was the campaign to raise income tax by one penny.

A disgruntled source said: “The chief executive Jim Mullen sends round a weekly newsletter telling us how we need to support issues like BLM. He always praises the Mirror and Star but always ignores the Express unless we have done something very woke.

Mullen wrote during the BLM protests: “I’m hugely proud of the part our publications (and every single one of you) play in not only highlighting injustice and holding those in power to account, but also in celebrating our differences as well as our common humanity. Thank you to our teams for serving our communities by bringing them the news they want and need to hear about, and making it known that we stand with those speaking up and fighting injustice. Black lives matter and saying it matters.”

After this message the Express changed its editorial line on BLM to be nearly the same as the Mirror’s. 

History of the Crusader
The symbol was introduced to the Express by Lord Beaverbrook
. When he bought the paper in 1916, the titlepiece included the royal coat of arms. It remained until 1929 when Beaverbrook launched a campaign for free trade within the British Empire.

On 11 July 1929 Beaverbrook wrote the Express splash himself. "I have combined with the Daily Express," he declared, "to launch the Imperial Crusade.”

His motive was partly a wish to protect his native Canada from being annexed, in trade terms, by the United States and partly to push Stanley Baldwin out of the Tory leadership. The Crusader followed shortly afterwards.

In 1951, when Churchill had returned to power but given up on the Empire, Beaverbrook put the Crusader in chains.

Bob Edwards, Express editor from 1961, said he thought the Crusader was put in chains again when Britain was invited to join the Common Market.

*The Crusader was depicted holding a sword for decades. That changed when Richard Addis was appointed editor of the Express in the 1990s. Addis, a former monk, never liked the Crusader and considered changing it back to the coat of arms. In the end he changed the Crusader’s trusty sword to a spear apparently because it looked less aggressive. Not a lot of people know that — Ed.


Partner’s shock over Do Not Resuscitate order on Daily Express sub Nigel Griffiths


ORDEAL: Sue Reid with Nigel Griffiths

Sue Reid has written a moving account in the Daily Mail about the death of her partner Nigel Griffiths.

A former feature writer on the Daily Express, Sue tells of her shock when she discovered that the man she loved had been the subject of a Do Not Resucitate without her knowledge.

Nigel, a lovely man, spent much of his career on the Evening Standard where he rose to be assistant editor. He took early retirement in 2004 and later joined the Express. He died in May 2020 four months after being diagnosed with cancer. He was 68.

The Mail has the story (the picture caption wrongly names Nigel as ‘Richard’)

Press Gazette tribute to Nigel


Old Express hands will recognise the words in this headline. They were uttered nightly by middle-bencher par excellence David Laws when he was dishing out stories to recalcitrant subs. 

And guess who sent this in? Why no other but David himself who now writes novels rather than disturbing subs from the night time reveries.



Who’s the girl? Who’s the chap hiding behind the pile of paper? For that matter, who’s the artist?



Lord Drone cheered as he arrives at Cup Final, 1936

Er … Picture Desk, sorry chaps, but I’m not sure you've cropped this pic correctly — Ed



Is this the best pic we can find to illustrate this story? — Ed


Oprah Winfrey has been turned down for the role of history’s most feared and cruel inquisitor … because she is too tough.

The American TV legend, whose forensic and brutal questioning of Meghan and Harry has been viewed by more than 500 million worldwide, was in line to play Tomasina Torquemada in the all-female film Inquisition.

But producers feared the blockbuster would attract an 18 certificate hitting box office takings.

A studio spokesmen said: ‘The trouble with Oprah is that she’s just too scary. We’re hoping for a PG rating and she would frighten the kids.’

It is understood that the role is now between Allan Carr and Julian Clary.


Piers got ITV bullet after telling boss to fuck off


There's been speculation this week that Piers Morgan's big flounce on Good Morning Britain was actually a staged publicity stunt. 

While it's true that he's been telling friends for months he's had an offer from GB News (albeit one he's apparently reluctant to accept, as he's in talks to do a show he'd prefer elsewhere) his implosion was off-the-cuff enough to have caught quite a few people at ITV on the hop. 

Some of the channel's other flagship shows received instructions this week to remove Morgan from any upcoming VT packages he features in – including one that had been lined up for the weekend. 

Sources at ITV tell us that the unusually swift decision to let him go might have been slightly influenced by one of his bosses at ITV being told to fuck off.

*One person who'll be hoping Piers steers clear of GB News is Dan Wootton, former executive editor of The Sun. Dan was already known as "Poundland Piers" at NewsUK; a nickname he'll never shake off if Piers also ends up splitting his time between GB News and MailOnline.


Media Hits & Myths

An occasional series by SPIKE DIVER

Q. The late Sunday Express editor Sir John Junor regularly used the phrase ‘Pass the sickbag, Alice’ in his columns. What is its derivation? 

A. You don’t know but I think you should be told. Hah! Hah! Seriously, there are many fanciful theories such as it was the nasty disease Christopher Robin went down with. But, according to a note in the Grauniad in the mid 90s, written by someone called Roger Watkins, Alice was a real person, whom many at the Fleet Street Express will remember.

She was a small, bird-like grandmother with unconvincing blonde tresses who worked in what was laughingly called The Grill Room of the canteen. On Saturdays the Sunday Express hacks moved down to the Daily newsroom and had their one night living on the journalistic edge (Deadline Midnight, Hold the Front Page etc).

Naturally, they considered themselves far too important and vital cogs in the machine to be able to leave the office for such luxuries as lunch. So Alice was summoned to serve them Grill Room fare at their desks. Junor, who knew he really was an important and vital cog, suffered no such constraints, of course, and habitually sloped off to the Savoy or the Salieri in The Strand. 

But on seeing the eggs and chips or gurgleburgers on toasted buns being delivered to his staff he would oft utter the immortal phrase: ‘Och. Pass the sickbag, Alice.’

Watkins, ever the gentleman, sometimes used to take Alice home in the office ‘limo’ to her semi in Hutton, Essex, near where he lived, to save her a train journey in the early hours.

I woke him up so he could recall: “I’d be waiting with John, the office driver, in the Front Hall and Alice would burst out of the lift laden down with heavy carrier bags which she never let me help her with. Except on one occasion when I grabbed one which was so laden with contraband (allegedly) that I could hardly lift it.”

RICK McNEILL remembers: One afternoon in the Fleet Street newsroom, Managing Editor Eric Raybould, in his customary shirt sleeves and braces — and as usual, sucking on an unlit cigar — was sitting alone on the Back Bench reading the paper. Unnoticed by him, a wide-eyed group of members of the public appeared on one of the guided tours that were popular at the time. In hushed, almost reverential, tones, the management guide told them: “This, ladies and gentlemen, is the beating heart of the world’s greatest newspaper!”

At that moment Raybould spied Alice on the other side of the room and barked: “Alice! Where’s my fucking chips?”


Hickey reporter Geddes’ death is a tragedy none of us will forget but one of our own, Roy Greenslade, now says he supported the killings

philip-geddes-1981 1 med hr.jpeg

VICTIM: Philip Geddes pictured at St Edmund Hall in 1981

ONE of Fleet Street’s big names, Roy Greenslade, has caused outrage by confessing that he supported Irish Republican killings.

Those murders hit home at the Daily Express on December 17 1983 when the IRA detonated a bomb at Harrods in London killing six including William Hickey diary reporter Philip Geddes. He was just 24.

Now Chris Blackhurst, a former deputy editor of the Daily Express, has written a moving tribute to his old schoolfriend in the Daily Telegraph.

My friend was murdered by my boss’s mates in the IRA

The legacy of Philip Geddes, by Alan Frame


Press awards? I’ve never heard of 'em storms Lord Drone


Lord Drone was late last night forced to deny that any of his online newspaper journalists had been nominated for prestigious Society of Editors awards.

A spokesman roared: ‘This is nothing but outrageous rumour, scuttlebut and the ultimate in fake news emanating from drink-fuelled Fleet Street keyboard warriors and Back Bar WhatsApp gossip mongers.'

He was forced to deny that the Daily Drone’s Editor had to scrap a special edition celebrating the nominations of chief sub LP Brevmin, chief reporter Spike Diver, fashion team Pearl Nonpareil and Reynard Rambleshanks plus star columnist Rosalie Rambleshanks.

The spokesman said: ‘I woke him up and he confirmed that no special edition had been planned for the simple reason that no one on the staff had been up for any awards.

‘Our professional team now just wants to get on producing the World’s Greatest Online Newspaper in peace.’

BLOB* Last autumn Ms Rambleshanks was nominated for two Press Gazette awards but failed to win either. 

(Memo to CS: Can you start the final par with a blob: I’ve forgotten how to do it. - IRO)

*Will this do? — CS


Bob Satchwell dies at 73

His many friends in the newspaper industry will be saddened to hear of  the death of Bob Satchwell, founding executive director of the Society of Editors. He was 73.

Bob died in a hospice after spending a few weeks in hospital suffering from pneumonia and Covid-19.

He served as assistant editor of the News of the World before returning to regional newspapers as editor of the Cambridge Evening News in 1984.

Society of Editors tribute




"Hi Ashley, come in. Max Clifford wants me to fire you!" Sir Nicholas Lloyd in his Express office overlooking Fleet Street was laughing! "You certainly seem to have upset him."

The odious Max Clifford, a PR who was one of the most influential men in  Britain, and holding more sway than most politicians and the celebrities he represented, was livid about what I had written.

Clifford said that my page three piece on O.J. Simpson's arrival in the UK was a pack of lies. Ironic coming from the man who made up "Freddie ate my hamster" and "Mellor in a Chelsea shirt".

 Clifford was masterminding O.J. Simpson's brief visit to the UK to talk to the Oxford Union. 

The previous day he had invited the Express and the Mirror to meet Simpson on a Surrey golf course believing he had total control over the May 1996 PR stunt. 

I was representing the Express and the late, legendary Don Mackay was there for the Mirror.

 Don, never a man to mince his words, beat me to the obvious question that the US media had failed to ask: "How does it feel to get away with murder Mr. Simpson?"

Simpson, stunned,  failed to answer, but the day made great copy. Clifford's reaction was to bring the so called exclusive to a sudden halt.

Clifford made the same sacking demand about Don to his editor and when both  failed he told Sir Nicholas that he was withdrawing Express accreditation for the Oxford Union talk.

"I'm sure that won't bother you," said Sir Nicholas. 

So I went to Oxford minus the suit and in a pullover and scarf and walked straight in.

I made sure Clifford saw me and I had the satisfaction of giving him a merry wave. 

The first class Channel 4 documentary, the Fall of a Tabloid King, this week showed what power Clifford had in the tabloids.

 Editors would always answer his call.  Don and I kept our jobs, there was never any danger of losing them, but Clifford did phone us both, using some very colourful threats and a promise that we would never be allowed to work with him again. I laughed which seemed to annoy him even more while Don told Clifford his fortune.

As far as I know neither of us did work with Clifford again.

In  2014 Clifford was found guilty of eight counts of sexual assault and jailed for eight years.  He died in prison in December 2017.



Art Attack

by ROSALIE WHATSERNAM etc, etc (t)

Mrs Cassatt Reading: Mary Cassatt

‘Oh, no! We’ll have to slip this. Who the fuck subbed the Page 7 lead?’




                    BLUNT                                     HEWSON

So … here are two identikit thesps at the top of their game. Memphis Eve Sunny Day Hewson understandably took the stage name Eve Hewson when she launched her career. 

Award-winning Emily Blunt, slightly older, is already the go-to girl for many casting directors on both sides of the pond. Her latest movie, Disney’s Jungle Cruise, is set for a summer release. Hewson is currently starring in the Netflix psychological thriller series Behind Her Eyes.

Both have interesting fathers. Memphis etc is the daughter of Bono, lead singer of the iconic group U2. He once started a set by slowly clapping his hands together. ‘Each time I do this,’ he told the audience ‘a child dies in Africa’, to which a bloke in the front row replied: ‘Well, stop fucking clapping.’ 

Emily’s papa is the legal superstar Oliver Simon Peter Blunt, QC. He’s a tour de force in the Temple and the Central Criminal Court. One of his recent high profile cases was the defence of journalists caught up in the Operation Elvedon cash for info witch-hunt initiated by the then DPP Sir Keir (There really is less to me than meets the eye) Starmer. On acquittal, at least one journo was charmed to receive a congratulatory phone call from the lovely Emily.

AN R.R. (t)




          PIERCE                  SCHMIDT                   OWEN

So … today the Daily Drone breaks new ground by presenting … the Triplelike! 

Two of our three doppelgängers are well known in the world of journalism and television. The stranger is currently ‘starring’ at the Grenfell Tower inquiry: he is Claude Schmidt, boss of the French cladding company Arconic, who has bowed to pressure to give evidence to the virtual hearings. 

Doesn’t he look like TV presenter Nick Owen and the Daily Mail’s consultant editor, Andrew Pierce? 

Avuncular Nick, a breakfast TV pioneer, currently presents Midlands Today. A classics scholar and print journalist, he is a former chairman of Luton Town FC and president of Derbyshire CCC. 

Openly gay Pierce, acknowledged as a good Fleet Street operator, brings authority and wit to his paper. He is well known for his late night Sky TV jousting with the Mirror’s Kevin Maguire who, some would argue, doesn’t.

AN RR (t)



express sport .jpeg

It looks as if it has been taken in a London fog but if you squint carefully at this picture you may be able to discern a few familiar faces.

Yes chums, it’s the serried ranks of Express Sport taken in the early 1990s in the Blackfriars Lubyanka. 

Lined up are, foreground from left: Mike Sinclair, Charlie Sale, Jeff Ives, Chris Gill, Richard Lewis, Peter Tozer, Clive Goozee. In the background are: David Harrison, Peter Boyle, Martin Booth, Cora Weston, casual sub Pat Mooney, Barry Flatman, David Prole and John Phillips. 



Grieving widow speaks out after hospital A&E tragedy


Former Daily Express photographer Barry Gomer has died of a blood clot while waiting for treatment in a hospital A&E. He was 71.

Now his grieving wife Marthe has accused doctors of failing to save his life by failing to give him the drug he desperately needed.

Barry waited for nine hours without food before dying. And Marthe wants questions answered.



Specs and drugs and sausage rolls


Night Bunny Laws was all ears for Lloyd Turner

Here’s a blast from the past, a scene from the Daily Express newsroom in the late 1970s. On the left late chief sub David ‘Bunny’ Laws is discussing third edition changes with night editor Lloyd Turner.

Lloyd had a habit of ripping the first edition to pieces and David had a reputation for calling people back from the pub to assist him in his earnest endeavours.

David, a superb and professional operator, now writes novels. He worked for the Sunday Express for decades until being furloughed in the Covid crisis. He finally got his redundancy cheque last October. His service on Express Newspapers spanned 54 years which must be a record.


The atmospheric photo that landed Katherine Whitehorn her first job 


(and why she couldn’t bin her husband’s underpants)
This great Bert Hardy picture of Katharine Whitehorn resulted in the celebrated columnist getting hired as a journalist.

A Times obituary of Whitehorn, who has died at the age 0f 92, describes how she landed a job in 1956 as a reporter on Picture Post, off Fleet Street, under the editor Lionel “Bobby” Birch, in whose office she quickly made friends and, in her words, “attracted a good deal of male attention”. 

The job (“which I wanted more than heaven,” she telegraphed her parents) was hers after the great photographer Bert Hardy pictured her in an iconic pose: sitting in a circular skirt on the floor by a gas fire, surrounded by milk bottles and laundry, for a feature entitled “Lonely in London”.

The obituary adds that she once told how she had tried to bin a pair of her husband Gavin Lyall’s faded, ragged underpants, whereupon he snatched them back, protesting: “But they were my father’s!”

Whitehorn spent most of her career on The Observer where she was associate editor from 1980 to 1988. Lyall, a noted thriller writer, died in 2003 aged 70.


History in Moments

(Our awards-nominated trainee)

1920s. So...a different view of bustling Fleet Street. We’re all accustomed to the shot taken from roughly opposite the Tip looking up to St Paul’s with the Telegraph, the King and Keys and the Black Lubyanka on the left. And if there’s a London, Chatham and Dover train chugging out of Ludgate Hill Station across the viaduct, before it was demolished in 1990 to make way for what is now City Thameslink station, then so much the better.

Here we’re looking West, though. In the distance on the right is the clock outside the gothic Royal Courts of Justice. The church tower of St Dunstan-in-the-West is closer, almost next door to the offices of the Bristol Times and Mirror. This newspaper, now long gone, was once part of a thriving press in the West Country port city whose merchant venturers were always anxious for any news that might affect their businesses. 

Now the city is home to just two newspapers, both owned by what Proddie describes as ‘fucking Retch: they really make me sick’. The Bristol Post (né Evening Post), known as ‘the newspaper all Bristol asked for and helped to create’, limps on. The morning, the Western Daily Press has also seen better days, notably when sometime Express subs Eric Price and Terry Manners worked there as Editor and Roger Watkins as Night Editor. Let’s not forget two other Bristol staffers, Sir Terry Pratchett and Sir Tom Stoppard. They didn’t do too badly, either.

AN RR (t)


Legends in their lunchtime


ANOTHER day, another booze-up — we did rather a lot of that back in the day.

 This 1990 line-up was snapped at a Daily Express lunch for the new England football manager Graham Taylor and his assistant, Lawrie McMenemy, in the Blackfriars Lubyanka.

Pictured from left: Clive Goozee (who provided this pic),  chief football writer Steve Curry, Lawrie, deputy editor Paul Potts, Graham, and head of sport David Emery. 

Taylor, the son of a provincial sports editor, succeeded Bobby Robson who had steered England to a World Cup third-place play-off at Italia '90. He is remembered for the expression “Do I not like that,” featured in a TV documentary about his time as England boss.



Reg Lancaster, one of the star photographers from the great days of the Daily Express, died on Sunday.

Reg photographed everything from sport and news to celebrity and film sets. He was on the staff of the paper for 44 years, joining in 1951. He spent time in London, Scotland and Paris. Reg was also a talented filmmaker and writer.




WHO’S this fresh-faced young man looking mightily pleased to meet Miss World?

Yes chums, it’s Expressman Clive Goozee pictured with Ann Sidney in 1964 when he was a reporter on the Marylebone and Paddington Mercury in London.  

Clive told the Drone; "We are in a branch of Sketchley the dry cleaners in Marylebone High Street. I was sent to interview Ann by the Mercury boss, Maurice Krais, whom I later encountered on Saturdays at The People where he was a news editor. 

"Ann was on a whistle-stop tour to thank the various people who looked after her during the contest. She comes from Bournemouth but I haven’t seen her since we moved here! 

"I think she’s the same age as me, 76. There’s a picture of her on a wall of celebrities at Chez Fred, our incredibly popular fish and chip restaurant in Westbourne. 

"I’ll take my photo with me the next time we go for a fish supper. Sonny’s Fish Bar, my childhood chippie in Lisson Grove, Marylebone, became the Sea Shell in the 60s. 

"It's around the corner from the street where I lived. It’s a favourite for showbiz people. We’ve seen a few, including the Drone’s jokester Barry Cryer.”

Ann’s still looking good, Clive. Here she is, pictured in 2017.

ann sidney2017.jpg


Legend Pattinson sums up his great Fleet Street life in 297 brilliant pages

ONE of old Fleet Street’s great characters Terry Pattinson has written a terrific autobiography.

Terry, pictured, spent much of his career on the Mirror and the Express and has received rave reviews for Scoop, A Life In Fleet Street.

The synopsis on Amazon reads: "Journalists live for exclusive stories, or ‘scoops’ as they are better known. Terry Pattinson is one of those reporters from the ‘golden era’ of Fleet Street. 

"Former Daily Mirror editor Mike Molloy called him a ‘great story finder.’ He was an industrial correspondent for 21 years – the final seven as Daily Mirror Industrial Editor. He was Reporter of the Year in the 1990 British Press Awards for his coverage of what became known as The Arthur Scargill Affair. He also won the London Press Club’s Scoop of the Year.

"Former Labour Cabinet Minister Alan Johnson described Terry as a 'Fleet Street legend' while former Labour MP Fiona Mactaggart said, 'Terry was my favourite journalist.'

"Terry’s coverage of the Russian spacecraft taking photographs of the moon’s surface led to a world exclusive for the Daily Express. One rival newspaper called it ‘The Scoop of the Century.’

"He was on the inside track of many major news events and relates hilarious background material that you couldn’t make up. Mirror Publisher Robert Maxwell, MC, admitted to Terry that he was wanted for war crimes and was an ‘agent of influence’ for Israel."

Terry’s book is available on Amazon in paperback or Kindle and is warmly recommended. 




The editor of the Daily Drone, Mr Alastair McIntyre, normally hides his light under a bushel (whatever that is) and prefers anonymity but today he is the subject of our fascinating quiz.

Mr McIntyre, who prefers to masquerade under an aristocratic soubriquet, has been cunningly hidden in this photograph of him at a family celebration.

Can you spot him readers? Where is the Wally? Answers on a postcard to the nearest wagger pagger bagger (waste paper basket) as the old fool would put it.

Must go, he’s just staggering back from an extended slope.

I want the person who wrote this bilge to report to my office first thing in the afternoon — Ed
PS: The hat lights up, wiggles about and plays a tune.


Another great Daily Drone competition. Today it’s ...


lil dicky.jpg

Here’s a special Daily Drone picture puzzle to help you while away those long winter nights. We have cunningly hidden not one but two pictures of hunky Expressman Richard Dismore.

Can you spot them, readers? Answers on a postcard to the usual dustbin.

Picture research by T. MANNERS, who prefers to remain anonymous.

A reader writes: Dear Ed, I am another avid Drone reader not wishing to add to your ever-increasing photo gallery of Dick Dismore pictures because there is only so much handsomeness a fellow hack can take. 

But it struck me that following the exposé of Mr Dismore adopting the look of his idol — actor Peter Wyngarde in the 1970s — the similarity he shared with actor Omar Sharif in the next decade is amazing as the picture you featured with arm-punching and chip-sharing Kiwi Les Diver shows in the 1980s. 

Off now to look at my 90s photo file ...

Memory Lane
Dollis Hill.

Well done for omitting a snap of Saddam Hussein, but there’s always tomorrow — Ed



The American magazine Town and Country has revisited the great Daily Express scoop revealing Michael Fagan’s break-in at Buckingham Palace in 1982. 

The story was written by Norman Luck, who is sadly no longer with us, but Express royal correspondent Ashley Walton, who was also involved in the story, tells how his pulse was racing as he picked up the phone to talk to the Queen’s Press secretary.

Read the fascinating tale here


My fabulous night with the Fab Four

Beatles cover.jpeg

Mention of The Beatles on the Daily Drone website inspired CLIVE GOOZEE to remember interviewing the group in 1963 and getting them to sign an album for his brother Steve.

A pleasing night with The Beatles




Life has never been easy producing the Daily Express at night so just imagine what it was like during the Second World War when the Germans were busy bombing London just outside the doors to the Fleet Street offices. 

The backbench was prepared for the onslaught as this picture, taken from editor Arthur Christiansen’s autobiography Headlines All My Life, shows.

The tin hats were not worn for long as Chris, seen here on the left, explained: “We were issued with steel helmets at the outbreak of war. Managing editor Herbert Gunn, Brian Chapman and myself posed for this picture — but feeling foolish, had them stored away.”

Forty years later, far sillier hats were worn at times in the Express newsroom as the editor of this publication can confirm.


Fleet St mourns another great talent as Paul Callan dies at 81

The world of journalism was in mourning last night for Paul Callan, who died on Saturday morning after a fall at his Wimbledon home aged 81.

Callan, a larger than life character in his bow tie and pinstripes, was a hugely gifted Fleet Street writer who made his name on the Daily Mirror and later on the Daily Express and LBC radio.

His wife Steffi wrote on Facebook: So sad to say my husband of over 40 years, Paul Callan passed away suddenly yesterday after a fall. 

"He had an incredible life and career and loved being the father of Jessica Callan Olsen and James Callan and the doting grandfather of Scarlett and Gabriel. You always knew when he was around — follow the laughter.’

His daughter Jessica wrote on Facebook: “I’m heartbroken to have to say that my father Paul Callan died today.

“He had been unwell for some time and was recently diagnosed with cancer which he wanted to keep quiet.

"So unlike him to want to keep anything quiet!

“But he had a fall in the early hours of today and passed away very quickly.

“He wanted a huge, great send-off at St Bride’s so we will arrange a memorial next year when we can all see each other.

“Raise a toast to him in the meantime, if you can.

"He would have loved that.”

Farewell to a Fleet Street great, by ALAN FRAME

Daily Telegraph obituary


From yesterday’s Daily Express, most of which has been lifted from the Daily Drone, which we take as a compliment


How top crime reporter Allison of the Express nabbed a naughty vicar


Picture taken from Scoops and Swindles, Memoirs of a Fleet Street Journalist by Alfred Draper, former Daily Express crime reporter

The Daily Express always prided itself in getting its man, think Ronnie Biggs ... but not perhaps Martin Bormann.

The story of the Rev Philip St John Ross, the Naughty Vicar of Woodford, Cheshire, was a classic tabloid tale in 1955.

Former Daily Express crime reporter Alfred Draper writes in his book Scoops and Swindles: "The story occupied the attention of Fleet Street for 18 months before it was brought to a conclusion by the brilliant work of Bill Allison, one of the Express’s most talented and tenacious reporters.

"Bill, a burly Scot with the build of a lock forward, employed tactics that were, to say the least, unorthodox. They may have met with the disapproval of the ‘quality’ papers but they made him the envy of the ‘populars’.

"It began in 1955 when the 52-year-old vicar was presumed dead after faking his own drowning whilst on holiday with his wife at Hell’s Mouth, Caernarvonshire.

“It was soon discovered, however, that he had gone away with Mrs Kathleen Ryall, a wealthy widow, and teams of reporters took up the hunt which led them to the South of France, the Italian Riviera, Switzerland and other holiday resorts of the well-to-do.

“Bill got the equivalent of the non-eating end of the pantomime horse … he became part of the furniture in the Red Lion in Bledow, Oxfordshire [which] had been the local of the runaway couple who had a love-nest cottage in a secluded wood nearby.”

He assiduously befriended the suspicious locals and eventually his  tenacity paid off and it led to Bill cornering the vicar in the Buckinghamshire Hills after a classic Fleet Street car chase also involving  Stanley Bonnet of the Daily Mail.

After giving Bonnet the slip with a swift U-turn, Allison and another Express car stopped the Rev Mr Ross’s car and got a key to the boot.

Draper adds: “But it would not open and in frustration he kicked it, knocking off the handle and leaving a hole. A reporter promptly started blowing cigarette smoke through it in the vain hope of smoking the vicar out.

“Guessing that he had been handed the wrong key, Bill demanded the right one and this time the boot opened to reveal the vicar lying down with his head on a briefcase.

“Bill had one regret, which was the way he pulled a fast one on Stanley Bonnet, an old friend.”

A few secondhand copies of Scoops and Swindles, written in 1988, are still available on Amazon for £3.28.


Your sparkling Daily Drone, the No1 choice for grainy old pictures


NOSES TO THE GRINDSTONE: This pic of the Daily Express London newsroom is so blurry that it’s a job to identify anyone. But the man holding up his hands is Jon Zackon who is probably trying to tell the Backbench that the short he is subbing should be the splash.

The chap on the Newsdesk on the left is Jim Watson. At the back of the pic are Wonky Wheeler, Terry Manners and Bob Haylett. 

The photo, from the 1980s, was taken from the Picture Desk which, a reader suggests, explains why it is fuzzy. The editor couldn’t possibly comment!

NOSES TO THE PINT POT: Terry Manners enjoys yet another lager in the Press Club during a well-earned break from the chief sub’s seat … and then goes back to the office, below, to join Brian ‘Clint’ Izzard


Deux amis sur Le Continong

(Gay Paree actuellement)


ENGLISHMEN ABROAD: Well, one is a Kiwi, but you get the idea. On the left, clutching his copy of The Sunday Times, is a youthful Daily Express backbencher Dick Dismore.  

His compagnon in the crumpled sports jacket is the late, lamented New Zealander Les Diver, copy taster par excellence and an expert on painful rabbit punches to the upper arm.

The picture was taken on the banks of the River Seine in Paris some time in the 1980s. Sleeping arrangements have not been recorded. Not publicly anyway.

Also on the jolly was M Roger de Watkins who, rummaging in his drawers, selected the photograph from his private collection exclusively for the Drone.


Sir — How odd to see one’s other self on the pages of the Daily Drone, the one from a different century, who didn’t creak or drink too much — no, strike that last part, Janet.

On the other hand, how nice to see my dear old friend Les Diver, an invaluable companion on the Backbench and a great bloke on a rugby jolly.

Les and I, along with M. de Watkins, somehow (don’t ask) got hold of tickets for an England match in Paris at the old Parc des Princes stadium. A lovely place to watch rugby — if you can find your seat.

Ours were at the top of a steeply-raked stand. But which one of the sheer staircases should we take? The tickets held few clues.

We puffed our way to the top of the first one where a steward examined our tickets and said: “Non!” And waved airily towards another staircase.

We raced back down and climbed that one too, got to the top again and found our path blocked by another jobsworth who insisted we were still in the wrong place.

I won’t lie, the third staircase was testing for three blokes who’d lunched well. We got to the summit and when the steward there started his teeth-sucking routine as a prelude to the bums’ rush, we formed a ruck and cleared him out as the jargon of the game goes these days.

Not having seats, or at least any we could find, we plonked ourselves down on the concrete steps and watched from there.

Can’t remember who won but it didn’t matter. Springtime in Paris, food, wine, rugby and great company — who could ask for more?

A word to the wise, Sir. If M. de Watkins has any more grainy snaps from that trip, I should show them to that chap Cocklecarrot before putting them in your organ.

As ever,


Funny you should say that Dick ...

Former Mirror and Expressman John Clarke writes:

Without having to burden your immense readership with yet another picture of Dick Dismore I feel obliged to append the following from the February 1971 edition of Splash, the East Midland Allied Press staff newspaper. It shows Mr Dismore during his Peter Wyngarde-lookalike phase when he was working on the Northamptonshire Evening Telegraph at Kettering.

Modesty almost forbids me to say that immediately above it is a portrait of myself leaving the Bury Free Press en route to the Spalding Guardian with a young Peter Caney in the background.

Peter and I eventually ended up working alongside Dick at the Northamptonshire Evening Telegraph. I later worked with Peter at the Mirror and Dick at the Express.

More grainy pix have fallen into my hands and will be published in due course. Bribes to prevent publication will be gratefully received — Ed



Two pics from the 80s
to jog a few memories

HAIR RAISING: Our man Williams, left, forges ahead

PUFFY BUFFY: Roger Watkins

Rare pictures of Express athletes in action have been unearthed by the Daily Drone.

They show future editor Chris Williams and backbencher Roger Watkins taking part in a race around Battersea Park in the 80s.

The pair were members of the Daily Express Athletics Club (motto: You can run but you cannot hide) competing in a charity race involving City of London companies.

Watkins recalls: ‘People shouldn’t really be surprised: you don’t get bodies like ours without honing them. Our team was captained by Bill Wheeler who, between puffs on his pipe, was a decent athlete back then.

‘I knew things wouldn’t go well when I couldn’t keep up with him in the warm-up. During the race I still had a lap to go when I heard the winner cheered across the finishing line.

ALAN HILL writes: I turned up for the great Battersea race with Roger Watkins. Suitably attired, superbly honed and physically tuned, we approached the starting line. With confidence.

Then we saw the overhead banners, which read: Five minute milers, six minute milers. They went on and on and on, in decreasing times.

Roger and I decided that we would replicate our roles as  backbencher and Chief City Sub and adopt the roles of “sweepers”. We would run at the back to mentor and encourage any stragglers.

We finished the race, still which time Chris Williams was probably back in Fleet Street!

Happy times!


Steve Bott’s World

Former Daily Star football reporter and sub STEVE BOTT has written his memoir — and you can read it only in the Daily Drone.
Start reading From Wigan to the West Indies and Beyond HERE

Part 2

Part 3


Great pictures of Daily and Sunday Express in the 80s

The Daily Drone is now in proud possession of 148 pictures of the Daily Express taken by photographer PATRICK ROWLEY in the 1980s.

This picture shows the Daily Express Backbench, from left, Norman Cox, Hickey sub; Dougie Mann, news sub (obscured); Pat Pilton; Craig Orr; John Jinks, news desk; Ray Cave, art desk; and Terry Manners







How to be sensible


You know how it is, you are having a drink with friends in  a pub garden after a round of golf and it starts raining. Silly people head indoors to the pub but former Expressman Roger Watkins just grabbed the nearest cushion and popped it on his head. 

That, chums, is how to be sensible — it is a proud Daily Express tradition.

Mr Richard Dismore, of this parish, said: 'This pic invokes the spirit of Bingo and Bertie c.1985. It recalls the Press Club jape of wearing the club’s lampshades as hats, to the displeasure of the hapless Yorkshireman who ran it. Good drill, Rog!’


Sir — What on earth’s going on at the Drone?

I refer to your incessant pandering to the narcissism of former Fleet Street executives definitely in the ‘has been’ or ‘never was’ category. 

I’ve no problem with that bearded bloke from features peddling his latest book. The story of Tonto and Coypu looks a good read. 

No, it’s the photograph of that prat with the white hair (ash blond, surely — Ed), obviously in drink, posing in a pub car park with a cushion on his head. I ask you!

Why not use this wasted space for interesting snippets from supermarkets or, better still, a nostalgic, evocative series called, say, Last Train to Adlestrop?

It’s game raising time, Mac!



Mail reporters ordered to stop knocking off early and to get some actual news in the paper


Enjoy this proper old fashioned bollocking memo emailed to the hacks on the news team at the Mail on Sunday by James Mellor, the news editor.

He laments; the lack of actual news in the paper, hacks knocking off early, hacks spending time filing their expenses rather than producing news, lack of genuine scoops… well, read it for yourself:

From: James Mellor

Date: Monday, 19 October, 2020  

The quality and quantity of stories provided by the News department this week was unacceptable and frankly embarrassing. By my count, there were just five self-generated exclusives from News in the entire paper. With a couple of exceptions, we let ourselves down. I have apologised to the Editor for our lack of contribution.

To fill the paper, we were reduced to effectively cutting and pasting stories from Mail Online. Despite the desperate need for new material, one of you found time yesterday to file an expenses claim. Others decided to head home before the gaps were filled. 

They might consider apologising to their colleagues who at least had the decency to stay and help fill the paper. The News department has been crucial in making The Mail on Sunday the biggest selling Sunday newspaper — but we failed this week and have not been firing on all cylinders for some time. This needs to change.

With immediate effect, everyone — without exception — is required to send an email detailing their stories and ideas for the week ahead to me, Ronan and Jane by 10am each Tuesday at the latest. If you have no ideas or stories to offer, you should send an email stating that — and be seriously asking yourself why. 

Expect to be chased by the desk if you haven’t sent a note or at least called and spoken to one of us. I also want at least one properly fleshed out idea for an investigation from each of you by Tuesday, October 20. I don’t want a nebulous concept, but a thoughtful, researched proposal. Again, send that to me, Ronan and Jane.

As well as genuine scoops, we need more light and shade on the News List -glamourous, quirky and consumer stories featuring famous people as well as gritty stories. Copy needs to be well-written, accurate and filed earlier to prevent a logjam on Saturday. 

If your stories aren’t making, it’s because the Editor doesn’t rate them, so you need to find ones that he does. We failed badly to meet our usual high standards this week. Let’s ensure that it does not happen again.



Expressman Frame’s book lifts lid on newspaper peer’s  intriguing wartime affair

FORMER Expressman and Drone blogger ALAN FRAME has a cracking new book out which should be high on the reading lists of all old Fleet Street hands.

Toto & Coco: Spies, Seduction and the Fight for Survival tells the remarkable true story of one of the greatest, unknown (until now) heroines of World War 2, the Vogue model Toto Koopman and her one-time friend Coco Chanel. 

Frame told the Drone: "Toto, lover of Lord Beaverbrook AND his son Max Aitken (whoops!), became a British spy, fighting with the Italian Resistance, until she was sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp. 

"Chanel on the other hand became Nazi Agent Westminster. It was no camp for her, she stayed in the luxury of the Paris Ritz throughout the war, living with her Gestapo lover."

The book is available from Amazon or in the usual bookshops as a paperback, Kindle or Audio (Audio will be online from mid November.)

Frame added: "If you buy it through Amazon and like it, maybe you would be kind enough to write a review on Amazon (the usual fiver in the post!)

"I’ve been lucky enough to have had the help of the Aitken (Beaverbrook) family for this labour of love."

Toto & Coco: Spies, Seduction and the Fight for Survival is published on Saturday, October 24 by Kelvin House. 




The Daily Mail’s review of the book covered three pages __________





times subs.jpg

SOMEONE LOVES US: Ben Macintyre has written an excellent piece in The Times on the role of the oft-criticised sub-editor. The headline, of course, has been written by a sub. We think it needs a larger audience outside the paywall. Lord Drone is paying.



Expressman Laws has another book out

YOU can’t keep a good man down, and Expressman David Laws is no exception.

Furloughed from his Sunday Express subbing shift, he has written another thriller, The Fuhrer’s Orphans.

The synopsis reads:

A ragged group of fugitive children are hiding out in a city wilderness in fear of their lives from Gestapo round-ups.

It’s 1940 and their parents have been taken to the concentration camps, but the children have managed to slip away and are sheltering – hungry and desperate – in a disused industrial site in Munich.

Two strangers come together to attempt Mission Impossible; bringing them all out of Germany in the midst of war.

One is a young teacher in the city, the other a British commando with orders to destroy an installation next to the children’s hiding place. He has to decide: follow orders or save the children.

The book is available as a 99p ebook from Amazon (free if you subscribe to KindleUnlimited) and as an £8.99 paperback.

Order from Amazon

Video trailer

Davids website


By Kelvin MacKenzie as he clears the decks in bid to become BBC chairman (no sniggering at the back there)

OUR chum Kelvin MacKenzie has seen his chance for renewed fame after fellow journalist Charles Moore withdrew from the race to become BBC chairman.

Perhaps sensing that his notoriety may count against him, Kelvin has cleared the air by explaining why Rupert Murdoch sacked him from his Sun column and why he likened footballer Ross Barkley to a gorilla.

Laying out his stall, Kelvin said: ‘I will make the BBC great again by cleaning out all the Lefty and Wokey types.’

Kelvin Tweeted: Although tipped as the next BBC Chairman there are 4 reasons George Osborne  won't get it. 

1) He wouldn't get out of bed for the £160K pay. 

2) Boris wouldn't pick an ardent Remoaner like him.

3) His only media link was as a hopeless editor of the Evening Standard.

4) The job is mine.

Crikey! Lord Drone wishes Mr MacKenzie the best of luck in his mischievous bid for the BBC chair. He’s going to need it.


The following message has been passed to Lord Drone:

Rebecca Ryan, solicitor with Novum Law, is working on a potential claim for Mrs Downing on behalf of Mr John Downing. Rebecca is  trying to contact people who worked either with John or in the same building to ask a few questions about the building layout and details about John's work.  

She's on Direct Dial: 03330 102268/0117 338 2268. Mobile: 07557 273124; email: .


Our trainee Rosalie joins the Gong Show in awards bonanza

Daily Drone trainee Rosalie Rambleshanks has been nominated for two prestigious journalism gongs.

The 22-year-old reporter has been shortlisted as Young Digital Journalist of the Year and as a One To Watch in the Emerging Talent category of the PressGazette British Journalism Awards 2020.

Rosalie has been a temporary intern in the Drone’s head office for a year. A former pupil of Lady Eleanor Holles School, Hampton, she graduated with a 2:2 in Media Studies from De Montfort University, Leicester and is the eldest daughter of motor dealer principal Reggie Rambleshanks and his wife, Lavinia, a British Wheel of Yoga teacher, from West Byfleet.

A spokesman for Lord Drone said: ‘So...we are delighted to hear that, er, Rosemary Rumplesheets (trainee) is in line for these awards. She is a credit to herself, the Daily Drone family and journalism itself.’

Rosalie said: ‘’s been an emotional rollercoaster of a year. To be honest, I have only just got used to being mistaken for a crossdressing ceramicist in the street.

‘Although I could never presume to emulate the quality of past Drone series such as the haunting and iconic Last Train to Adlestrop, I am proud to have launched Art Attack and the popular Ask Gipsy Rosalie/Aunt Marge advice columns.’

Media commentator Alan Frame, a former Daily Express Executive Editor, said: ‘So...this is richly deserved. Rosalie has the knack, like all great columnists, of talking directly to the reader. It’s almost as if you know her.’

An awards spokesman said: ‘ is most unusual for a trainee to be nominated for any of these awards.’

The winners will be announced at a Virtual Ceremony on December 9.

Who’s written this shite? I’ll believe this when I see it — Ed


Brilliant, yes ... but was Sir Harold Evans really
the greatest editor ever?

Drone Media Commentator

We all acknowledge the brilliance of campaigning editor Sir Harold Evans who has just died aged 92. He was an extraordinarily talented journalist; certainly one of the best of the last 50 years.

But some excitable obituarists have scrambled to proclaim him The Greatest Editor Of All Time. Really? May I, in all humility, demur?

Evans made his name as the editor of a regional morning newspaper and was trail-blazing editor of the Sunday Times for 14 years (although people tend to forget that he was the shortest serving of the 23 editors of The Times).

Of course, he then went on to be a respected media guru both here and in the States. But the greatest?

We’re to forget the likes of Ben Bradlee, are we? Or a list of other valid candidates, four of whom I have worked with but won’t name?

Bow the knee to Sir Harold by all means. But, surely, the ultimate accolade must still belong to Arthur Christiansen who, for an astonishing 24 years, inspired the World’s Greatest Newspaper when it was the world’s greatest newspaper. And he was the greatest editor.

Additional research by Rosalie Rambleshanks (trainee).


Farewell to Jimmy, great sub-editor and one of the good guys


LAST DAYS OF FLEET STREET: Jimmy working his Saturday evening shift on the Sunday Express, 1989 Picture: KEITH MARTIN

The Drone is saddened to announce the death of former Daily and Sunday Express sub-editor James ‘Jimmy' Humphrey. He was 73.

Jimmy, who had been ill for some time, died in an air ambulance in France on Monday night following a heart attack.

He had lived in the Dordogne village of Corgnac-sur-L’Isle for many years with his partner Leigh Andrews.

This picture of Jimmy, looking uncharacteristically grim, was taken from the TV last year when he appeared on BBC Breakfast discussing Brexit.

He said he was worried about continuing to receive free health care after undergoing three recent operations in France.

Lord Drone said last night: ‘Jim was a lovely man with a ready smile and winning giggle despite travelling regularly by the dreaded RyanAir from France for his regular Saturday shift.

‘He was one of the subbing greats and will be greatly missed.’

His friend and colleague Keith Martin said: 'Jimmy first moved to Fleet Street in his early twenties from the Coventry Evening Telegraph, joining the news subs on the Evening Standard, then based in Shoe Lane, in about 1973. 

'He quickly excelled in his favourite role of copy taster and later deputising as foreign editor.

'A heart condition prompted his early retirement from the Standard in the late 90s, where he had worked for more than 25 years, and he moved from Brighton to the Dordogne region of south-west France, a country he loved. 

'He carried on working as a staff casual at the Daily and Sunday Express, where he had done a regular Saturday shift for several years, changing his day a week to a week a month, commuting from France. He eventually retired five or six years ago.

'While living in Brighton, Jimmy served time as a Conservative councillor, but fell out with his fellow Tories over rail privatisation, leaving the party and, eventually, the council.

'In 2013 Jimmy married his long-term partner Leigh Andrews, shortly after same-sex marriages were legalised in France.

'A seasoned raconteur, full of stories about many of the larger-than-life characters he had worked with during his many years in Fleet Street, he will be greatly missed by all who knew him and by those who had the privilege of working with him.



An occasional series by SPIKE DIVER

Picture research by R.R.(t)

FUDGE: This stereo plate was used for breaking news

Q. Was The Fudge a piece of confectionery provided by the management to keep the late sub awake? 

A. Sweet thought but No. The fudge is jargon for the more confusingly named Stop Press, a device by which a newspaper is able to print late news on the run without, er, stopping the press. On the Express, where it was used until the newspaper went tabloid in1977, it usually consisted of a very short short “printed” on a mini stereo plate (See picture. Rosalie, ahem, this is a fudge from the Evening Standard — Ed) which was inserted in a gap in the full-size Page 1 plate (do try to keep up!).

It was considered a bit of a sin to run with an empty Late News slot even though it was often completely inconsequential, and it was one of the duties of the Late Sub to fill the voracious maw that was the fudge box. 

Trying-to-be-helpful printers were also forever using (and, tiresomely, re-using) any old fudge plate they could find littering the stereo room floor regardless of how old it was.

Thus, a veteran Express hand recalls seeing the classic, all-purpose:

Forty killed as bus plunges into ravine near Lima, Peru on at least three occasions. 

Late Sub was not a popular shift. Downtable subs and the Express editorial management, although they didn’t appreciate it, were lucky that the paper’s fortunes in the hours after drinks had been taken were in the hands of the calm, gentlemanly, multi-skilled Bob Haylett for many years.

The shift ran from 9pm until 4am (no break) and could easily lull anyone into a sense of false security. Most of the time, of course, it was fairly quiet. Just the odd Lima Ravine Plunge. But after the Back Bench had buggered off for beer and bagels, all hell could be let loose.