IRIS SAYS: I’ll be dodging the showers

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 It serves me right for putting all my eggs in one bastard — Dorothy Parker on her divorce


Today's papers



Pseuds Corner

27JESSIE J.jpeg

Singer Jessie J


Rosalie’s Art Class

The Bullfighter’s Salute: Mariano Fortuny

‘Look, I’m the one with a degree in marketing and I don’t care what old man Gregg says. If he thinks standing in front of a dead cow shouting olé and waving his fucking arms about is going to shift those unsold vegan sausage rolls, he’s got another think coming.’

RR (t)


Porky’s spicey pig-out

Graham hits out at ‘drunk' Parry in angry Twitter clash over Caroline Flack's death

Cipriani’s original Tweet

How rugby player Cipriani started the row


IT Department


TO: The Editor

CC: Showbiz                                                                                           February 15, 2020


Our algorithm and cookies software has revealed that many male Drone readers and butch English Civil War enthusiasts are devoted fans of the late actor, Oliver Reed.

Might it not be worth highlighting that one of Mr Reed’s exciting films, The Scarlet Blade, an English civil war swashbuckler from the Hammer Studio, is showing on Talking Pictures TV (Freeview 81, Freesat 306, Sky 328 and Virgin 445) on Friday, February 21 at 7.20pm?

No — Ed



An occasional series by SPIKE DIVER

Q. Was there ever a letter in a newspaper signed Disgusted, Tunbridge Wells?

A. The Kent and Sussex Courier, based in the royal borough, is read avidly by, among others, choleretic colonels and/or disapproving dowagers who have encountered something nasty in the Pantiles; people described by E M Forster in Room With A View as having a “stuffy, reactionary image”.

They may well be disgusted but they are rarely shy about adding their names, titles and awards to their correspondence with the lively Courier Letters Pages.

There are many theories but the sign-off is said actually to have been invented by a rival newspaper envious of the Courier’s letters. The editor of the Tunbridge Wells Advertiser instructed his reporters to make up correspondence (it has been done!) on controversial topics and sign off with a pseudonym.

As it happened, a spoof letter in the Advertiser from Disgusted, Tunbridge Wells was spotted by actor and comedian Richard (Stinker) Murdoch on a visit to his parents who lived in the town.

He is said to have used it in his popular wireless programme Much Binding In The Marsh. 

The scriptwriter and raconteur Frank Muir (“What’s a homophone? I don’t know but it certainly has a gay ring to it”) later picked it up and used it on spoof letters in Take It From Here in the sixties.

Next in Media Hits and Myths: Is the rough end of a green pineapple really that uncomfortable?


Rosalie’s Lookalike

                     CHIMP                                         BALE

So...these two may share a resemblance but no one’s making a monkey out of wing-heeled, fleet-footed Welsh wizard Gareth Bale these days. 

OK, the Real Madrid shooting star may have fallen out with his boss, Zinedine Zidane at the Bernabèu but being given the freeze by the excitable Frenchie just means that he’s being paid £350,000 a week to indulge his great passion, golf. 

He’s mad about the game and has even reconstructed the famous 132-yard Par 3 17th hole (the island green) at TPC Sawgrass in his back garden (as you do). 

Teetotal Bale, 30, who shares his Spanish exile with his sweetheart from their teenage, Emma and their three children, will probably see out his contract at Real unless some other club is prepared to match his wages. 

So alike yet so different from Pan Troglodytes which roams the forests and savannahs of tropical Africa. They may look cuddly but can be vicious. 

Granny Rambleshanks says they’re rather sad being forced to dress as humans and drink PG Tips and all that.

What if they prefer Earl Grey? Fair point, G.

R.R. (t)



And to hell with journalists who had their very modest
five per cent claim rejected


NO wonder Reach chief executive Jim Mullen is smiling — he’s been awarded nearly £1million in shares just four months after joining the company.

Tell that to the editorial staff of the company which publishes the Express, Mirror and Star titles whose request for a modest pay rise has been rejected by bosses.

Unions had asked for a five per cent pay rise over two years, which would cost the company less than £100,000. They were offered a little more than one per cent which they rejected.

A two per cent pay rise for this year has since been offered to Mirror group staff,  who will hold a ballot on the offer on Friday. 

The British Association of Journalists is the recognised union for Mirror staff. The National Union of Journalists, representing staff on the Express and Star, is still waiting for a new offer and has told management that it must improve upon two per cent, according to Press Gazette.

Jim Mullen, who previously worked at News International (now NewsUK) and betting firm Ladbroke Coral, was awarded £949,999 in ordinary shares in the company last December four months after taking over from Simon Fox as chief executive.

The shares are double his base salary for 2019. Each of the 972,364 shares is worth 97.7p.

City Editor TOM TROUSER DE-LOTT reports: The Reach share price has rocketed to 168p. They are going up nearly as fast as Tesla, apparently on the assumption that Reach is now a brilliant high-tech company, bugger the newspaper circulations.    

On the share chat lines, they are talking about the possibility of shares hitting £3 or more so the ‘greedy bugger’ angle could eventually be much greater.



Today’s cartoons






CHRISTIAN ADAMS, London Evening Standard 










(Up to a point, Lord Copper)

THE truth can now be told in your non-stop, soaraway Daily Drone about three of the world’s greatest mysteries.

We can report that Lord Lucan, Nazi Martin Bormann and the racehorse Shergar were found 35 years ago but the news was  somewhat under reported at the time.

But now the facts can be revealed. Well, sort of

Our story about Mirrorman Garth Gibbs’ unsuccessful search for the fugitive Lord Lucan stirred former Mail sub Tom McCarthy into action.

He revealed last night: "What is not generally known is that the fugitive peer was finally tracked down in 1985 by the Daily Splash, along with Martin Bormann and Shergar. It turned out all three were living together in peaceful semi-retirement in a rose-covered cottage in Ireland.

"Unfortunately, the paper  did not receive any accolades for its scoop because it was a one-off produced by Daily Mail staff in Manchester to raise money for charity.

"Old hands may remember that each of the nationals in Manchester took it in turn annually to make their own version of the Daily Splash. 

"Happy days.

"Long may your Mighty Organ, truly the World’s Greatest Website, thrive.


Old boiler lets off steam

2017: So … let’s salute the Golden Age of Steam, immortalised in the verse of Auden, Betjeman and Edward Thomas whose poem Adlestrop has inspired many a young writer (that train has left; it shall not return - Ed). 

Exactly a century after it was built, Charwelton, a Manning Wardle 0-6-0, has retired from huffing and puffing and snorting around the former marshalling yard now the home of Walton-on-Thames Railway Heritage Society because it developed boiler problems. 

For most of its life this classic Saddle Tank (28 tons; 7,810 lbs tractive effort; two cylinders 15in. dia x 22in stroke; 150 lbs boiler pressure) worked at the Park Gate Iron and Steel Co, of Charwelton, Northants and a quarry in Lincolnshire.

Now it is tended by loving heritage railway buffs (not the one I know - Ed) including Big Mac, pictured here. He likes to keep busy polishing the brassware and cleaning the thrust flues while going choo-choo and, occasionally, woo-hoo. Harmless, really.

R.R. (t)

I suppose you think that’s funny, Rosalie — Ed


Front page pic that’s put skids under Osborne


COULD George Osborne soon be sacked as editor of the London Evening Standard?

If he does get his marching orders it will be because of this picture of Boris Johnson and the  paper’s proprietor Evgeny Lebedev plastered all over the front page.

Lebedev, 39, decided that the picture, taken at a shelter for homeless women, was unflattering, The Sunday Times reported.

This resulted in a “bust-up” between Osborne and his boss, prompting rumours that the former Chancellor of the Exchequer is set to be ousted as editor.

Osborne, who has eight other jobs, is expected to remain with the company as the Lebedevs value his contacts and “strategic advice”.

Lord Drone commented last night: “Keep the champagne on ice chaps. The Standard has become unreadable since that silly arse Osborne took over. He’ll get the heave-ho before long."


Daring publicity stunt that could have cost foreign editor David English his job


THIS historic picture of the entire foreign staff of the Daily Express posed an enormous risk to the paper at the time.

It was taken by Terry Fincher in London in February 1965 at the instigation of foreign editor David English but it left the paper without any foreign coverage for three days.

The photograph features in reporter Andrew Fyall’s excellent autobiography First In, Last Out, Memoirs of an Expressman.

Pictured centre is English, flanked by René MacColl, left, and George Gale. Behind Gale on the far right is John Ellison who later became Foreign Editor of a much reduced department. Andrew Fyall is immediately behind MacColl.

The get-together, organised by the buccaneering and ambitious English, was a risky venture. Foreign correspondents were flown to London from all corners of the earth at enormous expense. Staff travelled first class, were met at the airport in chauffeur-driver limousines, and put up at five-star hotels.

Fyall, a foreign correspondent who spent much of his time in New York, explains in his book: “It was a huge gamble by English; one which would have cost him his job if anything had gone wrong, but his luck held. Nothing much happened in the world that weekend.”

The aim of the photograph, which was splashed across a page of the Express on a Monday morning, was to stun the paper’s rivals. It did that but it left the Express without a single man abroad for 72 hours.

Fyall calls it one of the greatest publicity stunts ever seen in Fleet Street.

English had badly wanted to become editor of the Express but the Mail group saw his potential first, making him editor of the Daily Sketch and then, famously, appointed him to the chair of the Daily Mail which consequently beat the Express in the circulation race.

The picture below, also taken from the book, shows the Express office in New York shortly after moving to the Herald Tribune building. Andrew Fyall is on the left talking to photographer Bill Lovelace. Bureau chief Henry Lowrie is in the background.

Fyall’s book is warmly recommended to anyone interested inthe history of the Express and Fleet Street in general. It covers in entertaining details major world events in the 1960s and 70s. 

Buy it on Amazon for £13.99 in paperback or £3.50 for the Kindle edition.

fyall crop.jpeg


The night TV’s Alastair Stewart admitted being ‘pissed’ on air 
… and kept his job as a result


By POPBITCH Gossip Editor

It's become even more astonishing to us that ITN newscaster  Alastair Stewart had to step down over his "errors of judgment" on social media after the deluge of stories we've heard.

From the sounds of it, he's always been very capable of talking his way out of a sticky situation. 

Back in his big drinking days, Alastair was called into his boss's office to sit down and watch a clip of News at Ten that he had presented the night before. His boss demanded an explanation for it, saying: "If you say you were drunk during that bulletin, you're fired. What's your excuse?” 

Alastair calmly replied: “I was ... pissed.

It earned him a reprieve.

Even in the most debauched surroundings, Alastair still managed to keep his head and was able to extract himself – and others – from tricky situations. 

In 1992, ITN sent a delegation out to Brazil to cover the Earth Summit. While in Rio, one of the journalists' favoured bars in which to unwind of an evening was a place called Frankie's – famed for staging live sex shows. Alastair could often be found there, chatting animatedly to punters in between pukes. 

But when the landlord started getting heavy-handed with a fellow reporter, springing an unexpected $200 rum bill on him and threatening to call his brother-in-law (who he claimed was the local chief of police) if he didn't cough up, who should fix the situation but Alastair. 

He stepped straight in to smooth things over with the lairy owner, defused the situation like a pro and stumped up the necessary funds to get his colleague off the hook. 

Why Alastair had to go


Jollies with Ollie

Fleet Street finally catches up with our story on changes at Sun and Times two weeks later

       PROMOTED: Newton              DEMOTED: Gallagher 

BIG editorial changes at NewsUK have been announced — TWO WEEKS after the story was first published by the Daily Drone.

The company finally confirmed that former Express graduate trainee Victoria Newton has been appointed editor of The Sun, replacing Tony Gallagher who moves to The Times as deputy editor.

Gallagher replaces Emma Tucker who becomes editor of The Sunday Times.

The only new fact is that Keith Poole, digital editor at The Sun, has been promoted to deputy editor. He and Newton will continue to have oversight of the Sun on Sunday, which Newton currently edits. It is not clear if a separate editor will be appointed to the Sunday title.

The changes take place next Monday.

Newton’s appointment means the UK’s two biggest-selling daily tabloids will be edited by women, with Alison Phillips at the Mirror. Roughly a third of paid-for national daily and Sunday newspapers in the UK are now edited by women.



 Emma Tucker is the new editor of The Sunday Times 

By POPBITCH Gossip Editor

FORMER Daily Express graduate trainee Victoria Newton is to take over as editor of The Sun, informed sources reported last night.

To complete the female coup, Emma Tucker, deputy editor of The Times, has been awarded the editorship of The Sunday Times.

So far the only official announcement has been the appointment of Emma Tucker, but the gossip is that it has set in train another game of media musical chairs at NewsUK.

As it stands, the reshuffle is thought to look a little like this: 

  • Emma Tucker displaces Martin Ivens, who is joining the board of NewsUK as a director.
  • Tony Gallagher will quit as editor of  The Sun to take up Tucker's vacant deputy seat at The Times.
  • Victoria Newton will be drafted from The Sun on Sunday to replace Gallagher as editor of The Sun.

If implemented, those changes would mean at least two of NewsUK's four papers will soon be edited by women, which is a great stride for equality. 

The male editor who remains in situ though is the one who – as we've reported before – has treated more than one female colleague to his infamous chat-up line "You have no idea how much I want to shove my cock into you.” 

So a slightly mixed bag.

Emma Tucker will not be the first female editor of The Sunday Times — that honour went to Rachel Beer, the aunt of war poet Siefried Sassoon, who held the post between 1893 and 1901.


History in moments

1900: So...Hey oop. Ecky thump. Happen there weren’t much to gladden the heart in grim, industrial Blackburn as a new century dawned. These children seem transfixed by the antics of a street performer known as Owd Chipper, real name Robert Reynolds.

This sometime cotton spinner and rag-and-bone man entertained youngsters with a peep show of the Boer War (yes, really!) featuring toy soldiers. It wasn’t much but it was a brief escape from the grinding poverty which blighted their lives. 

Still that’s all in the past, isn’t it? Fast forward 120 years and Blackburn’s prosperity has been transformed, hasn’t it? 

Ah, if only.  Nearly half the children in the borough are still officially living in poverty: it seems that the only thing thriving is the food bank. Depressing, isn’t it?

R.R (t)


Biker Steve takes the Road to Hell

Former Express photographer STEVE WOOD has been living in the dream in the Far East. 

Determined to throw off the shackles of his increasing years, Steve bought a Harley-Davidson motorcycle and set off on an epic journey from Bangkok to Vietnam with his companion Kornkanok on the pillion.

He calls this video his Road to Hell. It doesn’t look too bad to us Steve!


Rosalies art class


Les Grandes Baigneuses: Paul Cezanne

‘Let’s face it girls, we might as well put our fucking kit back on. Now that our rugby boys have just beat them, the English will piss off home as fast as shit off a shovel.’ 




My part in Christine Keeler’s downfall, by snapper Larry Ellis

(As told to MAUREEN PATON)

Larry Ellis spent 18 months on just two stories

EVERY Expressman or Expresswoman of a certain age has a tale to tell about Christine Keeler’s role in the Profumo affair — and photographer Larry Ellis is no exception.

Feature writer Maureen Paton tracked Larry down and interviewed him about the 1963 scandal in which Christine had an affair with War Minister John Profumo.

The ensuing ructions led to Profumo’s resignation, the downfall of Harold Macmillan’s Tory Government and the jailing of Miss Keeler for perjury.

Maureen told the Drone: “I remember Larry talking about it many years ago in the Express showbiz office where he was one of our regular snappers.

“The other day I was writing a backgrounder piece for The Lady magazine; it was published with Larry’s quotes in the January 10 issue. He talked about how a tip-off led to a snatch shot of Christine Keeler emerging from the underground car park of her block of flats to avoid the ravening media hordes. 

“He maintains she gave him a two-finger salute in the shot but I think that’s a shocking allegation about such a nice young lady: she may have just been rearranging her hair. 

“Most impressive of all, I thought, was Larry’s revelation that he spent 18 months working flat-out on just two stories: Keeler and the Great Train Robbery. Eighteen months… 

“Larry now lives on the Isle of Wight and was the recent subject of a Fleet Street star snappers exhibition at its Dimbola Museum and Gallery, along with Mike Maloney, Bob Aylott, John Cleave and David L White."


Why TV hell-raiser Alastair had to go

DRUNK WITH FAME: Alastair Stewart

By POPBITCH, Gossip Editor

It's genuinely quite astonishing that a bad tweet may be the thing that ends up derailing Alastair Stewart's illustrious innings at ITV News — but not for the reasons that hysterical pundits are giving.

Until he drastically changed his lifestyle in 2004 (after a second drink-driving offence where he rammed his car into a telegraph pole on his way home with a Chinese takeaway) tales of Alastair's hell-raising were legendary in the industry.

At London Tonight in the 90s, it wasn't unheard of that he would have to be locked in his dressing room because he was too hammered to read the news at all, let alone on camera. 

And on one overseas trip, he got so wrecked at dinner he spent the entire journey back to his hotel vomiting. One of the crew with him was an old roadie who claimed he hadn't seen anyone that fucked since his days touring with Joe Cocker in the 60s "...and he had an arm full of heroin”.

My dad and Christine Keeler, by Frank Baldwin


The history boys

1958: So...who are these fledgling rockers even Granny Rambleshanks would struggle to remember?

Well, after in-depth research (Editor, please note) I can reveal that the tall, rather good looking chap on the left is Reg Smith, from Blackheath. Not, as some may think, Harry Webb, of Lucknow.

Next to him is the diminutive figure of Ron Wycherley, of Liverpool, sporting a hair-do which old soaks at the Drone (am I allowed to call them that?*) claim was adopted by Terry Manners during his transient showbiz flowering as Lenny Livid. 

But the most interesting musician is the guitarist energetically trying to master G7sus4/A. He is not, as some contend, Gerard Marsden but actually James Joseph Tarbuck, another Liverpudlian, who seemed destined to march to the Mersey beat until he won a contest at Butlin’s to be a comedian 

Thereafter, his career and those of Marty Wilde, Billy Fury and Gerry, not forgetting Cliff, went their separate ways.

*Comes under the heading of fair comment — Ed

R.R. (t)


Art for aesthetes

Portrait of the bookseller, E.J. Fontaine: Gustave Caillebotte


‘Piece of piss, he says. Take in PA, a 10-minute tick-up and then out for a break. Fat fucking chance, I says. PA, my arse. More like throw it all up in the air and a total fucking rewrite.’



Redone Dad and Keeler.jpg

ACCUSED: Christine Keeler arriving at Court with Frank Baldwin’s lawyer father Freddie in December 1963

The BBC TV series The Trial of Christine Keeler has again raised the profile of The Profumo Affair which continues to capture people’s imagination even though it happened nearly 6o years ago. 

Publisher and former Fleet Street journalist FRANK ‘SCOOP’ BALDWIN has a special interest in the scandal — as his father Freddie was Christine Keeler’s solicitor.

Freddie Baldwin also had to visit Christine’s London flat on occasions and often found her still in bed, which Frank's mum was NOT very happy about.

My Dad and Christine Keeler


History in moments

1930s: So...what’s happening here? A baby in a cage? Suspended out of a window, presumably high up? Do elf and safety know? Yikes! Motherhood was certainly a little edgy between the wars.

Baby cages became in vogue after an “expert” called Dr Luther Emmett propounded the theory that infants needed to have regular “airing”, a bit like damp rugs. 

At first, high-rise moms (it started in America, of course) left their babies on the flat roofs of apartment blocks until Emma Read, of Spokane, Washington, invented the cage that became the rage. 

Then they dangled them over the street! As mummy says: “How unlike the home life of our own dear Queen.”

R.R (t)


Rosalie’s Art Class 


Corner of a cafe-concert: Edouard Manet

Corner of a Cafe-Concert Edouard Manet.jpg

‘You a dancer or a journo? Someone called Laws on the phone. I think he said can you go back and do a jig on the third’


Angry people in local newspapers






Rosalie’s Lookalike


                CRUELLA                              WRONG-DAILY

So...who is the scarier of the two? Is it Cruella De Vil (Cruel Devil. Geddit? I didn’t: mummy had to explain it to me) or Rebecca Long-Bailey?  

In truth, both are pretty daunting. Cruella, of course, has been frightening children and terrorising Dalmatian dogs since her debut in a 1956 novel followed by a couple of films. 

Long-Bailey, known as Wrong-Daily since her inventiveness with her CV became known, is a front-runner in the Labour leadership race. 

Cruella’s back story is naturally intimidating; Rebecca’s less so, although in an interview this week she, in the manner of a Milwall fan, declared: “I’m from Salford. No one messes with me.”

Quirky (or should that be Quinky?) Cruella: She was expelled from school for drinking ink.

Risible Rebecca: She has marked Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership 10/10. Now that is scary.

Rosalie Rambleshanks (trainee)


McFadden’s Cold War



Angry people in local papers


Of course the old chap's angry, it’s a single decker


Rambling Rosie’s Art Appreciation Society

The Execution of Lady Jane Grey: Paul Delaroche

21lady jane.jpg

‘Tis said, milady, that you find blind man’s buff a pain in the neck. Forsooth, you ain’t seen nothing yet.’

The word in the Beaver is:
We don’t want Meghan and Harry here in Canada

ROGER TAVENER reports the latest gossip from his favourite Toronto pub

I always found parts of Canada very fond of the Royal Family, particularly Diana. 

But my pals in Toronto's quaintly named, English-themed Queen and Beaver (yes, I know, but ’twas named when Meghan was but knee-high to a monarch) tell me the mood is turning with the Markle debacle, a reality soap the quiet quasi-Yanks would rather avoid.

I'd spend many a long night in the Beaver, playing darts, eating fine sausage and mash washed down with London Pride.

An old pal, former Globe and Mail sub Dave Downes, tells me: "Most Canadians don't want the attention, or security costs. We don't want Meghan's dirty washing hung out here."

News you may have missed

Legs poster.jpeg



Star Sunday leads circulation slump

THE Daily Star Sunday and Scotland’s Sunday Post led the slump in sales in December, according the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

The Star Sunday lost 18 per cent, reducing sales to 167,601 and the Post dropped 19 percent  to 87,335

The Observer once again saw the smallest paid-for circulation drop, reporting sales down two per cent year-on-year to 163,449 copies.

The Sun remained the UK’s top-selling newspaper with a circulation of 1.2m with the Daily Mail still close at its heels, just over 7,800 copies behind it when the Sun’s bulk copies are removed.

Mike Graham’s Plank of the Week


History in moments

1884: If you thought Ludgate Circus was busy now, just look at the teeming masses at the iconic junction, well known to Drone readers, towards the end of the 19th century. 

Hansom cabs and costermongers’ carts compete for space with thirsty hacks braving the throng as they slope off to the King Lud or the Albion just around the corner in New Bridge Street. 

On the left is the steeple of the Wren church of St Martin within Ludgate built on the site of a medieval building destroyed in the Great Fire. Wren’s greatest masterpiece, St Paul’s, dominates the skyline.

A London, Chatham and Dover train steams north out of Ludgate Hill Station across the Ludgate Viaduct which was demolished in 1990 to make way for what is now City Thameslink station.

RR (t)


Dramatic new look at site of Ludgate House

The site of the old Express building in London’s Blackfriars is to be transformed, as illustrated by this artist’s impression.

Ludgate House, formerly home to Daily and Sunday Express and the Daily Star titles, was demolished some time ago.

A huge skyscraper has already been built on the opposite side of Blackfriars Road and dominates the South Bank. Soon it will have a rival.



Private Eye snaffles Daily Drone story


PLAYING CATCH-UP: The Eye’s January 10 edition



FIRST WITH THE FUN: These Tweets were first published by the Drone last month. As Lord Drone once said (it was after luncheon): ‘We may not be first with the news but we’re always wrong’ A mishtake, shurely— Ed


News you may have missed

ALMOST CORRECT: A bucketful of bilge from the Christmas issue of American weekly gossip magazine In Touch


History in moments


1945: Emaciated British troops, just liberated from the hell of an internment camp in Sumatra, catch up with the latest “war” news in the World’s Greatest Newspaper. 

Actually, as it is late August, the fighting against Japan had been over for more than a week following Emperor Hirohito’s surrender on the 15th. But the troops’ ordeal, and that of many civilians, continued. 

Few in those heady early days of freedom and longed-for peace realised how much the world had changed after Hiroshima and Nagasaki as reflected in the Express’s splash head: THE ATOMIC PLAGUE



Sensible logic from The Times Letters 


All you need is Wigg


Wigg interviews John and Yoko Lennon in 1969

Interviews The Beatles gave to former Expressman David Wigg 50 years ago have resurfaced on Mail Online. Wigg spent many years on the Express before taking the well-trodden path to the Daily Mail but was working for the London Evening News at the time of the interviews which were given shortly before the group broke up. 






CHEESED OFF: Marc Veyrat’s restaurant has been downgraded

KIM WILLSHER has written a delightful story in The Guardian about a French chef who lost a Michelin star because he allegedly used Cheddar in his cheese soufflé 




By Rosalie Rambleshanks (trainee)


                  COOPER                                 DUNCAN

So...let’s start with an apology. To some, starting New Year Lookalikes by drawing attention to the similarities between Monica Duncan and the persistently irritating Yvette Cooper may be just too, too much and very unfair to the much admired Ms Duncan.

The versatile BAFTA award-winning thespian’s many credits include playing Rosemary West in Appropriate Adult, the Welsh BBC communications officer Tracey “I’m not being funny or anything but...” Pritchard in W1A and Marion Thorpe, opposite Shit Grant, in A Very English Scandal.

By contrast, the Labour politician Pixie Balls Cooper is very much a one-trick pony. Her single starring role is as Wronged Woman, undone by bolshie Brexiteers and creepy Corbynistas. Think pink, furrowed brow and screwed-up doll’s face. Not a dry eye in the House, love. 

The most surprising thing about Baby Yvette is that she’s even more ludicrous than her husband, Ed, who played Clown Prince in many a Commons farce. Exeunt both. Please. But not you, Monica darling.


Rambling Rosie’s Art Appreciation Society 
Rosalie Rambleshanks (trainee) explains the meanings behind the works of the Great Masters

Dancers at the Barre: Edgar Degas


“I got them in Primark’s sale. Gusset’s nice and comfy but they chafe like hell when I’m showing off my petit jetés.”


And When Did You Last See Your Father?
William Frederick Yeames


'My Father? That shit who stopped my pocket money? He’s in the priest hole under the stairs


Bathers at Asnières: Georges Seurat


‘If that little twat doesn’t stop making silly duck noises, I’ll jump in and drown him


Salome with the Head of St John the Baptist: Andrea Solario

ROSIE ART 3.jpeg

'Yes, I understand all that, Madame Guillotine, but can it do anything else?'

Young Spartans exercising: Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas


'Do the Hokey-Cokey? What sort of a chat-up line is that? Well, you can do what you like, Sigourney, but I’d want to know what he’s putting in, what he’s putting out and what he’s shaking all about

Lord John Stuart and his brother, Lord Bernard Stuart: 

Anthony Van Dyke

‘Don’t look now love but that big butch Roundhead who has been eyeing you up all night is coming over. Ooh-er, he’s bringing his mate

A leading art critic has launched an outspoken attack on the Daily Drone.

Roderick De Vere Muldoon, BSA, author of the seminal work Pointillism: What’s the Point? has accused the World’s Greatest Website of a “dispiwiting and disappointing lurch down market”.

He said: “The latest Dwone series, Wambling Wosie’s Art Appweciation Society, twivialises gweat art in an unforgivable way and holds it up to widicule and contempt.

“Dwone readers want to wead twied and tested items about amusing snippets overheard in supermarkets and the dwoll Leaden Age of British Cinema. I urge the Editor to get back on twack quickly.”

A Drone spokesman said: “We always welcome feedback from our loyal readers with whom we are on an ever-evolving journey of discovery.”

Letter to the Editor

Sir, I had to put pen to paper to congratulate you on your new series, Rambling Rosie’s (Rosalie, actually*) Art Appreciation Society, which has greatly enhanced the attraction of the must-read World’s Greatest Website.

How clever of you to combine great art with humour in such a compelling and reader-friendly way. Thank goodness you have abandoned highlighting boring film listings in TV magazines and banal musings in supermarkets. 

We are the first to appreciate that you have moved the website’s offering closer to people like us.

Well done, Daily Drone!


West Byfleet

*Rosalie would have bust the headline — Ed



Are they on the table or behind it?

24 PUDDINGS.jpeg


Internal Memorandum

To: Rosalie Rambleshanks (trainee)
From: The Editor
24 December 2019

Rosalie dear

When I asked you to wear fur on the Tube it was to test fellow passengers’ reaction to using animal skins etc as apparel for what would have been an interesting feature.

I was, therefore, disappointed to receive the attached photograph of you on the District Line dressed as a tree.

I know you are only in the first weeks of your traineeship with us but I would be unhappy if I thought you were going the way of our previous trainee, the numpty Muldoon.

However, please be assured that my door is always open if you are not sure of anything and require one-to-one advice.



Andrew spotted with
15-year-old Escort

22Andy escort.jpeg

By POPBITCH, Gossip Editor

It’s been a bruising few weeks for Prince Andrew since his cataclysmic interview with Emily Maitlis — but he’s probably brimming over with remorse and humility now, right?


Last week Handy Andy went on another of his (straightforward) shooting weekends. At breakfast one morning, everyone else in the party was sitting quietly reading the papers when Andy came into the room.

As no-one stood up when he entered, he bellowed: “OH HO HO. LET’S TRY THAT AGAIN SHALL WE?” Then walked out of the room and re-entered, so that everyone could oblige him.


Festive drinks for our friends in the North


Former staff of the Daily Express and Daily Star have held their traditional Christmas get-together. About 30 turned up, some travelling from Turkey, France, Ireland, Wales and deepest Yorkshire, including a surprise visitor, Peter Grimsditch, launch editor of the Daily Star, who now lives in Bordeaux.

The picture shows staff who were at the birth of the Star in 1978. They are, from left: Steve Bott (sport), reporter Tony Brooks, Mike Hughes (subs), Chris Turkentine (née Wilson, editor’s secretary) Peter Grimsditch and reporter George Dearsley, visiting from his home in Turkey.

… and something similar for our friends in the South


RELIVING OLD TIMES: Former Daily and Sunday Express staff enjoy a get-together at the Seven Stars in London’s Carey Street. Pictured, from left, are lawyer Stephen Bacon and sub-editors Mike Hughes, Andy Hoban, Deborah Stone and Nick Dalton



The real reason  Beaverbrook  sacked greatest  Express editor 


RUTHLESS: Lord Beaverbrook fired legendary editor Arthur Christiansen in 1957 after he had doubled circulation 

Former Daily Express reporter ANDREW FYALL is one of the few surviving journalists who worked under legendary editor Arthur Christiansen.

He has written exclusively for the Drone of his experiences working for the great man — and reveals the real reason why Beaverbrook sacked the best editor the Express has ever had.

How the Express lost its greatest genius

Buy Andrew’s memoirs here


Sun scores own goal in sex pest cock-up


HAPLESS: Sun editor Tony Gallagher picked the wrong target

By POPBITCH Gossip Editor

Sun editor Tony Gallagher was expecting high fives all round for his paper’s recent exposé of David Pemsel’s sex-pest antics — a devastating story which caused the Premier League’s incoming CEO to resign in disgrace. 

It seems as if hapless old Tony picked the wrong target in Pemsel as, unbeknown to him, Pemsel is a close personal friend of none other than … News UK boss Rebekah Brooks!

Behind the scenes, Brooks had been secretly negotiating a football broadcasting rights deal for talkSPORT with her pal Pemsel ahead of his formal start in the New Year — something that the Sun’s bombshell has left in charred, bloody tatters.

So if you were curious as to why both The Sun and The Times were quite so quick to pull their online stories, and why they then quietly buried the story of the resignation that they all but forced, rather than trumpeting it across their front page the very next day, now you know.

Subs get the party going


ONLY HERE FOR THE CHEER: Former Daily Express
sub-editors get together for a glass (or three) of lunch at the Royal Oak in London’s Borough yesterday. 

Pictured, from left: Rod Jones, Bob Smith, Chris Shearer, Bill Dickson, Deborah Stone, Robin ‘Gorgeous’ Davison-Lungley, Mike Carter (who still works on the paper at Canary Wharf) and Rab Anderson (who doesn’t)




Former Daily Express chief photographer JOHN DOWNING is the subject of a fascinating documentary shown recently on ITV Wales. Several familar faces can be spotted in the programme including Leon Symons, Gill Martin and Liz Gill, whose late husband Danny McGrory is also pictured. Run time is 23.20

Many thanks to Alex Collinson for sending the link. He reports that the programme came about "because of your item on the Daily Drone website. The producer Sarah Drew is my daughter-in-law."

CHUMS: A still from the ITV programme, featuring John Downing, centre, with Liz Gill, Leon Symons, Gill Martin and Kim Willsher in the front row


Clive James chats to Alan Coren in the Daily Express  Fleet Street foyer, July 1991

Clive James, who has died at the age of 80, visited the Daily Express Fleet Street offices in this BBC Postcard From London recorded in July 1991 after the paper had moved to Blackfriars.

He chats about the old days in Fleet Street with his old friend Alan Coren in the famed foyer of the newspaper. The relevant part starts at 24.20 but if you want to watch the whole show it runs for 48 minutes.


Another Wilde Lookalike


                   WILDE                                   LIDDLE       


So, who’s a pretty boy then? Well, actually they both are. Despite being born a century apart, these two look so alike (tick!) they could be brothers. 

One, of course, is the well-known and ubiquitous columnist and commentator Rod Liddle; the other is a poet and playwright called Oscar Wilde. (Rosalie, dear, if that’s an attempt at Muldoon-like understatement as levity, kindly desist. It didn’t do him much good and neither will it you — Ed). 

The loquacious Liddle writes columns for such disparate publications as the Sun, the Spectator and the Sunday Times. He even contributes a thoughtful and informed weekly piece on football for the ST. Once he was the award-winning editor of Today when the Radio 4 Programme actually broke stories and set the news agenda for the nation. 

Wilde, an Irishman (wouldn’tcha know) was, of course,  a genius, the master of the epigram, aphorism and quotable quote. 

Both had interesting private lives. Liddle cut short his honeymoon to spend quality time with the woman who became his second wife; Wilde had a propensity for young men which led to his incarceration in Reading Gaol (qf The Ballad of). 

Eventually banished to Paris, he had a sad end in a dingy hotel. Typically, his witty last words were: “This wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. Either it goes, or I do.” 

It didn’t; he did.


By POPBITCH, Gossip Editor

The Sun was happy to get on its high horse about Premier League boss David Pemsel's inappropriate sexting of a former colleague, but its dedication to rooting out the sex pests in its own workplace is a little more slapdash. 

In among the well-known sleazes on their payroll, one hack's persistent creepiness with female colleagues is so legendary that it's become something of a running joke at the Sun to attach the guy's byline to any small-fry story they run that contains perverts, fondlers, gropers or pornography. 

It's one way to deal with the employee who once made so many dick jokes at a work experience girl that he made her cry – but maybe HR would be better?



Rosalie’s Lookalike


LUCAS                                   REPTILE


So, I rummaged through the previous trainee’s drawers and found this idea. Well they do look alike. That’s a big tick!!! But they are very different really. 

One is a tortoise, a slow-moving reptile which lives to a great age and carries its house on its back. Granny Rambleshanks saw plenty of them when she sailed around the Galapagos with Silversea. She says if you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all. Mind you, after lunch, all inclusive, I’m surprised Granny could see anything !!!

The other is a lady called Caroline Lucas, who is a big noise in the Green Party. As there is a General Election on she is on the television a lot telling people what to think. 

Mummy says she’s harmless really but Daddy says he’d like to slap her, which isn’t very nice!!! 

(Very commendable start, Rosalie, dear. Next time try to find people who look more alike and discover something interesting to say about them. If I can help further, my door is always open — Ed)


Out damned Spotty! Now we’ve fired that stupid boy Muldoon 


EAGLE                                         EAGLE

Political Corrs, who’d have ‘em? We’ve already had cause to remonstrate with Hoss, Laura and little Bobby Peston about their Lookalikes failures in the past and now these two Labour MPs have slipped through their net. 

OK, so they’re not exactly alike: their hair colour is different for a start. But even a modicum of research reveals spooky similarities. Both born in Yorkshire, both; believe it or not, went to the same schools in Lancashire; both took PPE at Oxford; both served as Labour shadow ministers; both have 

(Muldoon, you numpty, stop right there! Of course Maria and Angela Eagle are, and do look, alike: they’re twin sisters. Right, you’re fired. The company’s willing to give you a month’s more pay than the statutory legal requirement if you sign a Non Disclosure Agreement concerning certain working practices at the Daily Drone. Collect your belongings and leave the building immediately — Ed)


Why can’t Geordie track down his old party pal Ghislaine?



Where in the world is Ghislaine Maxwell?

Since Prince Andrew’s excruciating interview, the Press has redoubled its efforts to track down the whereabouts of Jeffrey Epstein’s elusive “fixer" Ghislaine Maxwell.

So far, no dice — but it’s weird that Daily Mail editor Geordie Grieg hasn’t thought to put in a call.

He and Ghislaine were big pals when they were contemporaries at Oxford and have remained close in the intervening years.

In fact a quick image search through some of the better known picture agencies shows the two of them partying together as recently as 2013 (and in a very intimate looking clinch in 2003).

He knows there’s a £10,000 bounty going for this, right? That’s got to be worth a quick text, surely.

At the risk of attracting the attention of Inspector Knacker, we appear to have found a couple of  the aforementioned pics  — Ed





GREAT WHITE                           McDONNELL

One is a greatly feared, cold-hearted, ruthless predator who, with all-seeing eyes, goes to great depths to pursue helpless victims then swoops in for the kill; the other is a great white shark.

John McDonnell, Labour’s Chancellor in waiting (Eh? - Ed), is one of those spooky characters who, when he (rarely) smiles, looks more menacing than when he tries to look menacing. 

Corbyn’s  enforcer in chief once trained for the priesthood but decided instead to save the nation for eternal glory as a politician (Is this the line we should be spinning? — Ed). 

Meanwhile, according to Professor Dirk Muldoon, of the Broadstairs Shark Research and Conversation Programme, a great white shark is still a great white shark.


Farewell to the great Moncrieff


LEGEND: Chris Moncrieff in the corridors of power

THE world of journalism is mourning the loss of another great reporter — the legendary former political editor of the Press Association Chris Moncrieff.

Moncrieff, who was known for his hard working and his equally hard drinking, has died at the age of 88.

Such was his reputation around Parliament that the Commons Press Bar was renamed in his honour.

Former Expressman TERRY MANNERS, who went on to work for the PA, told the Drone: "Chris Moncrieff was one of the kindest, most likeable people you could meet … hard-working to the extreme, dedicated and trustworthy. 

"When Paul Potts asked me to work on the official book covering the history of the Press Association with Chris, I jumped at the chance, knowing I would have to keep pace with the scribe’s rapid work rate — especially as the doyen of the Commons no longer excelled in the excesses of the Commons Bar. 

(This was once the man who had a pint in hideaways all over Westminster ready for the long day and night ahead, especially debates — on a corner shelf; in a cupboard; behind a curtain). He could be assured of a drink anywhere he liked and at any time no matter where he was covering a political story.

In fact Chris’s work rate was so high all his life that he hated taking time off and would be in PA’s London office or the Commons before the day shift arrived – and still be there long into the evening. 

I remember a moment at a function, I think to celebrate his long-standing years of service with PA, which his good lady wife attended. In a pause in the conversation over gin and tonics and egg and watercress sandwiches, Paul and other Board members spoke highly of Chris’s talent, endless hard work, long hours and dedication to the company as Mrs Moncrieff smiled with pride. 

When the praise subsided she turned to Paul and said quietly: “Thank you and I know that you value Chris’s hard work but don’t you think, after all these years, he deserves to have more than one week’s annual holiday?”

Stunned silence.

Guardian obituary



READ ALL ABOUT IT: The cover of the lavish 400-page book

It seems like only yesterday that it launched but The Sun is now celebrating it’s 50th year.

The paper has marked the occasion with the publication of a lavish 400-page book which has been issued to all staff and contributors.

The Drone’s ROGER WATKINS has got his hands on a copy.

Read his comprehensive review, only in the Drone


Coulson airbrushed out of Sun’s 50th anniversary 


SUNRISE: The paper's first front page, November 17, 1969

As part of The Sun's recent 50th anniversary celebrations, Dan Wootton wrote a gushing tribute to the paper's Bizarre column, revisiting some of its best scoops from its various former editors. 

Most of the big names were there: Piers Morgan, Nick Ferrari, Gordon Smart, Dan himself. But there was one rather notable exception. 

Once again, there was absolutely no mention of Andy Coulson. 

Coulson edited Bizarre for four years in the 90s but — in much the same way he was airbrushed out of the Times' serialisation of David Cameron's recent memoirs — there was no trace to be found of him. 

It's a shame, because there's still plenty of good stories about Andy from those high, heady days to be told. The evening he chazbapped with Anna Friel, for example.


Muldoon’s Lookalike


HAIGH                                   FERGIE

The first rule of doppelgängers is: Never be seen in the same room at the same time.

Veterans of the Express’s Fleet Street days fondly recall how women’s editor Katherine Hadley would glide out of the newsroom door to Aitken House to answer a summons from Struan Coupar and the lads from PricewaterhouseCoopers just as bouffant-haired foreign correspondent/diary editor Ross Benson sashayed in from the other door.

And have you ever seen flame-haired junior shadow minister Louise Haigh on the Buckingham Palace balcony? Or the copper-locked Duchess of York plotting in some Commons corridor with Jeremy Corbyn?

Of course not. Rule One applies.


The golden age of newspapers

A fascinating look at architecture which built London’s Fleet Street


I have no recollection of meeting these men - Duke of Pork (sword)


By CLARENCE HOUSE, Royal Reporter

BUCKINGHAM Palace has issued a strong denial that the Duke of York has been involved in bizarre sexual practices involving hill marching.

It is reported that up to ten thousand men are alleged to have been involved in incidents involving the Duke.

One participant, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said: “I and loads of other guys were offered money to dress up in early 19th century uniforms and then march to the top of a hill.

“When we got there we were greeted by an extremely ‘excited’ Prince Andrew. He was very giggly now I think about it.

“Then, just when we thought it was all over, he seemed keen to make us march all the way back down again.”

Another man, who also claims to have been involved, claimed: “He was quite firm about it, when we were up we were up and when we were down we were down.”

Denying the claims, a Buckingham Palace spokesman said: “All allegations in this matter are false, and records will clearly show these men were neither up nor down.”


Dear Sir

Your item about the Duke of York’s penchant for hill marching prompts me to inform you that it started at this school in the 16th century, not as a “bizarre sexual practice” but as a way of honing junior boys’ youthful bodies and hardening up their supple young thighs.

It was traditionally said of those lads who did not want to take part: “They don’t like it Uppingham!”

Yours etc


Downham House

Uppingham School






The Daily Star ran a front page last week bemoaning the death of workplace "bantz", saying that nearly two-thirds of men are now afraid to make "old-school quips" in the office in case PC snowflakes kick up a fuss.

Clearly, this news has yet to reach the broadsheets. Staff at The Times are well used to hearing some very salty language from their esteemed editor. 

More than one colleague alleges they have been treated to his charming chat-up line: "You have no idea how much I want to shove my cock into you.

This story is completely untrue m’lud (allegedly) — Cocklecarrot



General Election lookalike 


RAYNER                                  PHILLIPS

If Jeremy Corbyn loses the election (If? — Ed) the already-formed queue of MPs desperate to replace him will quickly start to shuffle its collective feet impatiently, writes Drone Political Analyst ELVIRA MULDOON (Mrs).

Whom to select? After all, they all seem to spout the same jargon (stridently) and some even look alike. 

Take this pair of identikit wannabees: 

Angela Rayner has, as they say, an interesting back story: the daughter of an illiterate mother, she left school at 16 without any qualifications because she was pregnant. Now, a grandmother at 39, she is the Shadow Education Secretary and an influential diner at the Labour high table.

The other is outspoken Jess Phillips, who, despite proclaiming “I think I’d be a good prime minister” has endured an ambivalent relationship with the Labour hierarchy. 

She is said to have once told Diane Abbott to “fuck off” during a party row. Asked what Abbott did next, La Phillips replied: “She fucked off.”

Both women to watch and, alas, listen to.





Night a mini-skirted Anne asked our man to bump-start her car

STEPPING OUT: Anne in her mini-skirt days

Former Express and Mirror man TERRY PATTINSON has regaled his friends on Facebook with the following memory

The late Daily Express photographer Harry Dempster and I pulled the short straw of having to watch Princess Anne and her latest boyfriend arrive at a restaurant on the Embankment at Chelsea. (It was in the 60s when she was still single).

We had to wait until they finished dinner, so it was a long vigil until they left.

When Harry finished snapping he put his cameras into the boot of his car.

We chatted on the street corner and plotted sneaking away for a pint or three before returning to the office.

Suddenly I felt a tap on my right shoulder (Yes, a funny place to have a tap — Chick Murray, Scots comedian.)

It was Princess Anne.

She said her boyfriend's car would not start and could we help? Obviously, she did not know who we were.

I informed her and her boyfriend how to 'bump start' using the gear and the clutch.

All three of us pushed the car while her boyfriend sat behind the wheel, Anne was wearing a mini-skirt, so the royal posterior was in the air as we pushed the car.

The car started and the white sport car roared off — Anne blew us a kiss..

After they disappeared we both realised that we had missed a great photo — it could have been the royal photograph of the year.

Harry said: "Please do not tell anybody about this until after I am dead."

And I never did.


What a sloppy way to write a caption

This wonderful portrait of actress Faye Dunaway not only demonstrates the towering talent of former Fleet Street “monkey” Terry O’Neill, who has died at 81, but the often average quality of the journalism on Mail Online which marked his death.

Back in Fleet Street, Express subs were instructed to appraise a picture properly by staring at it “until the eyeballs ache — and then stare at it some more”.

Lloyd Turner had two rules on writing a caption: it should always describe what is going on in the picture; and a reader should first look at the snap, then the caption and read something there that made him want to look at the picture again.

So what would the Express backbencher and Daily Star Editor have made of this lamentable effort? The writer has broken all the rules. In a generous three lines he/she has had the space even to give the exact date (as well as the noon temperature in downtown Santa Monica and the Dow closing price). 

But what’s that shiny thing on the table? And what’s that splash head in the paper on the floor? Are they not worth a mention?

Could it be that this iconic morning-after-the night-before picture depicts Dunaway reflecting on the Oscars she and Peter Finch (he posthumously) had just won for Network?

Indeed, it could. Oh, and the fact that O’Neill went on to marry Dunaway might have been worth squeezing in. And what about spelling Beverly Hills correctly?

*A reader writes: From the way she is slumped in her chair she could well have been shot dead. (At first sight anyway.)  But if anyone is accused of getting away with murder it should be the Mail Online caption sub. 


Terry O’Neill, CBE, photographer, who worked on the Daily Sketch, was born on July 30, 1938. He died of prostate cancer on November 17, 2019, aged 81

ROBIN MCGIBBON remembers: I first encountered Terry O'Neill on the Sketch, in 1963. But we didn't strike up a friendship until the early seventies when I launched a publishing company, Everest Books, and we met to discuss projects.

One of the books I published was the authorised biography of Bobby Moore - and it led to Terry giving me a bollocking.

Bobby was keen for me to use a classy photo Terry had taken of him, as the book's cover. I was more than happy to oblige and, at the star-studded book launch — at the Martini Terrace, in New Zealand House — I made a welcoming speech, in which I singled Terry out for special thanks for letting my company have the pic for nothing.

I felt sure he would be pleased, but as soon as I'd finished speaking Terry pulled me to one side and called me a cupid stunt for embarrassing him with Elton John, one of many showbiz guests there.

"I let you have that photo for nothing as a favour," Terry fumed. "But when I'm asked to photograph Elton, I charge him twenty grand."

Happily, that incident did not damage our relationship — or Terry's with Elton —because, a few years later, I bumped into Terry and he told me he had been to one of Elton's legendary fancy dress parties.

Knowing Terry was not one for dressing up, I asked him what costume he had worn.  He said he'd sprayed some luminous gold stage make-up on one of his fingers and gone as Goldfinger. 

That was Terry. Always imaginative. Always original.

CLIVE GOOZEE: Monica and I met Terry O’Neill at the Royal Bath Hotel in Bournemouth where we’ve lived since 2005. He was on a tour promoting his book of Sinatra photos entitled Frank and Friendly, not always friendly, Terry told me. 

I introduced myself by saying I had worked nearly 25 years on Express Sport, mentioning the names of some of the photographers,  including John Downing, Reg Lancaster, Harry Dempster, he knew them all. He autographed the book (pictured) then he called over his book’s editor, former Sunday Express editor Robin Morgan, who arrived from the Sunday Times to replace Robin Esser. 

I was expecting someone posh sounding but he had a strong Black Country accent and he was a Wolves fan = just like me!

Picture gallery of O’Neill’s work

Terrific obituary in The Times


Do not adjust your sets — this video has no sound




MORAN                                 PIDCOCK

Hoss, Peston, Kuenssberg please step into the bollocking bay. Now, team, you’re going to have to raise your game: you’re missing a great election story. Haven’t you noticed that two sisters are standing for different parties?

Labour’s leadership hope Laura Pidcock and Lib Dem rising star Layla Moran may disagree on politics but they’ve got to be related. 

Mind you, in the home of keen political analyst Elvira Muldoon they’re both known as “Chopsey  Mopsey”. Well, they do like the sound of their own voices. 


Another fine mess, Stanley

YOU can’t keep a good man down … except when he goes under the knife. 

Former Daily Express reporter Peter ‘Stanley’ Mason was still smiling after spinal surgery at a hospital near his home in New South Wales.

He wrote on Facebook: “I’ve just sold my lower back and traded up to a new one.

“They call it a partial laminectomy with spinal fusion.

“It’s bloody painful but I had a top surgeon, brilliant and expensive but worth every penny. Should be back on the golf course by Christmas.”

The operation came after Peter and his wife Sheila were among 3,000 people who were forced to evacuate their homes in the Australian bush fire crisis. He has promised to write an account of the emergency when he is back on his feet.



SUNDAY titles published by Reach recorded the biggest losses in circulation last month, according to ABC figures published yesterday. 

The Daily Star Sunday, Sunday People and Sunday Post were the worst-performing titles in October, both falling year-on-year by 18 per cent, followed by the Daily Star, Sunday Mirror and Sunday Mail which all lost 16 per cent.

All are owned by Reach, except for the Sunday Post which is a  D C Thomson title.

Smallest losses were recorded by the Guardian and Observer which both saw their circulations fall by five per cent year-on-year in October – the Guardian to 128,492 copies and the Observer to 160,068.

Behind them were the Daily Mail, Daily Express and Financial Times, which all saw a seven per cent year-on-year circulation drop.

Free newspapers City AM, Metro and the Evening Standard continued to see the smallest readership declines.



Our witty new series is back despite hack’s plagiarism outburst


The Daily Drone is proud today to publish Part 3 of its popular Overheard in Waitrose series.

The column has not been without controversy as it led a grizzled Fleet Street hack to launch an extraordinary attack on the World’s Greatest Website.

It happened during an alcohol-fuelled lunch in a Covent Garden eaterie.

The journo, well known on national newspapers, clashed with the Drone Editor over the website’s popular series, Overheard in Waitrose.

A bystander said: “It was like something out of You’ve Been Framed: two white-haired old gits having a ruck. One seemed to be accusing the other of lifting or inventing stuff about a supermarket or something. You couldn’t make it up.”

A Daily Drone spokesman said: “We take very seriously any accusations about the probity of the website and its staff. Consequently, the matter was examined rigorously at an internal inquiry in which the editor, the HR director, the FOC and our trainee, S. Muldoon, the subject of the allegations, took part.

“None of the charges was proven and we deprecate this attempt to ankle-tap a fledgling journalist at the start of his career.”

Later the Editor issued a statement which said: “We strongly deny smears that this was a confected dispute designed to publicise a new feature in our witty and incisive Overheard in Waitrose series which is coming to the Daily Drone soon.

And a World’s Greatest Lunch Club spokesman denied that the club’s Christmas “Ladies’ Lunch” had been cancelled to “allow tempers to cool”.

PS: You’ll have to wait for the explanation about the jar of Butterworth and Sons chutney (a bargain at 2 shillings) — Ed

Today in your super soaraway Daily Drone


Overheard in Waitrose Part 3

(And find out the real story behind that bloody jar of two-bob chutney)


That doughty Miss Dimont rides again


Former Expressman Christopher Wilson has written a fourth book in his excellent Miss Dimont Mystery series. Dead and Gone to Devon can be ordered HERE.

Describing it as the best book in the series, Christopher announced on Facebook: “It’s 1959, and apart from a stiff lighthouse, there’s also a General Election (oh no, I hear you groan.

“They did things differently back then, however — including killing the candidate.

“From all good bookshops, etc.”


Old Expressmen never die, they lunch out at Simpson’s in the Strand

11 SALE TOZER.jpeg

LUNCHING IN STYLE: JOHN McEntee with Charlie Sale, centre, and Peter Tozer

MAILMAN John McEntee was on the point of leaving a smart London restaurant when he spied two old colleagues from the Daily Express sport department.

John, who edits the Mail’s Ephraim Hardcastle column, wrote on Facebook: "Lurching out of Simpson's In the Strand after an Oldie literary lunch with Simons Heffner and Jenkins I came across Charlie Sale with his old friend Peter Tozer.

"Some old fogies had left a bottle of red on an adjoining table so I toasted Charlie’s return to health after illnesses. 

"Before both joining Dacre’s Mail we soldiered on the Express together when Lord Hollick sold to Richard Desmond. Charlie was furious when Hollick dispensed gifts of £40,000 at random to people on the paper. 

"I got £40k having met his lordship once at the theatre. I remember Charlie ranting in Stamford’s about the legitimate unfairness of his largesse.

"He was not consoled when I told him that I gave the £40,000 to my then wife Colette just before I bolted. I was left with a £12000 tax bill.


HOW MANY?The Daily Express once had 169 staff writers and photographers
 (Tell that to the kids of today and they wouldn’t believe you)


SLIGHTLY FOXED: Tony Fowler’s memo from 1973


Statistical analysis by S. MULDOON (trainee)

How the mighty have fallen. Back in 1973 the late, lamented Tony Fowler, then Night Editor of the Daily Express in Manchester wrote a memo (see picture)  to “All Executives and Sub-editors” giving a list of staff writers and photographers in the London and Manchester offices who merited bylines.

Back then, the Express Northern News Editor Stanley Blenkinsop was nearly justified in, famously, routinely answering the phone: “News Desk. The world’s greatest newspaper.”

In truth though, the Express, despite then still selling more than three million copies a day, was on the slippery slope to obscurity.

As a former London Night Editor used to introduce himself to journalism students on the lecture circuit: “Between the time I joined the Express and when I left it had lost two million copies a day. Of course, I accept some responsibility but it’s not all my fault.” 

Now the Express, under the piss-poor ownership of something called Reach, is lucky if it sells 300,000 a day; the staff has dwindled to a fraction of what it was.

In March, 1973, the Express operated out of three “black Lubyankas” (although Scottish Daily Express production staff would soon move, reluctantly and truculently, to Manchester). Wee Ian McColl was halfway through his undistinguished reign as Editor, based in London. The mercurial (a euphemism for “usually pissed”) John McDonald, a far better journalist, reigned in Great Ancoats Street.

As Tony’s memo reveals,  the London and Manchester offices boasted comparatively huge staffs of scribes and snappers (forget about the poor bloody subs and desk men). A total of 169.

CHRISTOPHER WILSON commented: "Among the names of the great and good on Tony Fowler's list is that of the legendary Frank Goldsworthy, who in 1967 came to lecture us journalistic wannabes on block release at Harlow Technical College. 

"At the end of his slightly interesting peroration someone asked if he could give a simple word of advice to a young reporter.

'Always keep two fivers tucked in the back of your passport, and a change of clothes in a suitcase in the boot of your car. That way you're ready, 24 hours a day, to fly anywhere in the world.'

“It was a fascinating insight into why old FG had survived and prospered. And one which we — who rarely saw two fivers together, and who owned neither suitcase nor car, and struggled to find a change of clothes — absorbed in wonder.

At least most of us had the passport.

Here, for the record, is the list: 


Cyril Aynsley, Paul Dacre, Norman Dowdy, Lin Edgson, Michael Evans, Bernard Hall, John Hamshire, John Harrison, Frank Howitt, George Hunter, Jill King, Norman Luck, Colin MacKenzie, David Richardson, John Sanderson, Brian Steel, Frank Thompson, George Webber, Alastair Wilson, Arnold Latcham, Frank Goldsworthy, Richard Wright, Jack Hill, John King, Colin Pratt, David Thurlow, Declan Cunningham.

Michael Charleston, John Christopher, Kingsley Squire, David Jack, Wilfred Sendall, Daniel McGeachie, Roy Blackman, George Lochhead, Walter Partington, Alexander Kenworthy, Keith Thompson, Percy Hoskins, Chapman Pincher, Bruce Kemble, Barrie Devney, Terry Pattinson, David Benson, Leslie Nichol, James Wilkinson, Frank Robson


Andrew Fyall, Peter Chambers, James Davies, Douglas Orgill, Adella Lithman, Bruce Kemble, James Murray, Alan Cass


Victor Davis, David Wigg, Judith Simons, Martin Jackson, Ian Christie, James Thomas


Herbert Kretzmer, Noel Goodwin


Sandy Fawkes, Sue Hayton


David Ash


Mary Collins, Jean Rook, Hugh McIlvanney, Sheila Hutchins


Charles Benson, John Santer, Steve Curry, Roy Ullyett, John Davies, Crawford White, Norman Dixon, Alan Williams, Pat Gibson, Jim Gould, 

Norman Giller, David Emery, Clive Graham, Desmond Hackett, Ronald Heager, Jim Hill, Philip Hodges, Sydney Hulls, John Lloyd, Pat Marshall, Derry Meade, John Morgan, Peter O’Sullevan, Frank Rostron, Mark Wilson


Victor Blackman, David Cairns, Harry Dempster, Terry Disney, John Downing, Ronald Dumont, William Jones, Jack Kay, William (Bill) Lovelace, Stanley Meagher, Michael McKeown, Hillaria McCarthy, Douglas Morrison, Norman Quicke, Robert Stiggins, Albert McCabe, George Stroud, Michael Stroud, Leonard Trievnor, Brian Laister, John Moran, Chris Wood, Reg Lancaster, Robert Chapman


John Alley, John Bell, Alan Bennett, Donald Blankly, Tony Brooks, Gerry Burke, Derek Hornby, Don Mackay, Carole Newton, James Price, Harry Pugh, Brian Ratcliff, Trevor Reynolds, Maurice Richards, Peter Welbourn, Robert Wilson, Frank Welsby, Philip Aris, Alan Baxter, Robert Brady, Peter Doyle, George Hill, Leonard Holliday, William Hunter, John Ley, Neil Moran, Leslie Poole, Peggie Robinson, Leslie Clare


Geoffrey Mather, Gerard Dempsey, Ray Purcell, Geoffrey Newson, Ron Boyle, Mary Duffy


George Birch, Leo Carter, James Dakin, John Dawes, Brian Duff, Peter Jackson, James Milne, Ernest McLintock, Alan Steele, John Wardaugh, Gordon Amory, William Gregory, Barry Henson, Stanley Pope, Robert Renton

Norman Giller reckons Tony Fowler missed some journalists out:


Bill Fryer, Alan Thompson, Derek Hodgson, Derek Potter, James Lawton. Mike Dempsey was sports editor.

Also omitted is Terry Willows, who served a year in Manchester and six in London.


Reflections on the First Tuesday Club

The First Tuesday Club of former Express staff is still going strong. After years of meeting at the Old Bank of England pub it has now moved across Fleet Street to The George.

If you look closely at the picture you can discern the reflection of the club’s organiser David Eliades who reserves an area of the historic pub every month for the get-together.


It’s Mad Mat as you’ve never seen him before

ONE of the brightest young men to have passed through the hallowed portals of the Daily Express is former news sub-editor Mat Ward.

A fine journalist possessed of a great sense of humour, Mat has since moved to Australia where he now makes music.

He wrote on Instagram with tongue firmly in cheek: "Thank you Cadbury! I'm happy to announce that, like many of my favourite artists, I have now hit the big time and have found a sponsor! 

"This is a great partnership as I have loved Cadbury products since the day I was born, if not way before I was born. Except for Dairy Milk. 

"I am open to other offers so hit me up at — all products considered — 'climate-damaging' fossil fuel vehicles, foodstuffs that others consider ‘unhealthy', I'll hock any old shit for cash, because everyone knows musicians make no money so it doesn't damage your cred these days! Thank you." * sponsored post *

Find out more about Mat’s music here



3FS 1907.jpeg

The Daily Express was just seven years old when this picture was taken 112 years ago.

Note the steam engine crossing the bridge over Ludgate Hill. Many small alleys were swept away in the late 1860s to build Ludgate Hill railway station between Water Lane and New Bridge Street, a station of the London, Chatham and Dover Railway. 

The station was closed in 1923. The railway bridge and viaduct between Holborn Viaduct and Blackfriars stations survived until it was demolished in 1990 to enable the construction of the City Thameslink railway station in a tunnel. This also involved the regrading of the slope of Ludgate Hill at the junction.


STILL RECOGNISABLE: The same scene today


Downing launches book 

of his life’s work at an emotional ceremony


PROUD: John Downing with his wife Anita at the launch

FORMER Daily Express photographer John Downing has proudly launched the book of his life’s work at an emotional ceremony.

Reporter Kim Willsher, who accompanied Downing of many news assignments, wrote on Facebook: “We laughed. We cried. We saw old friends and colleagues. but most of all we celebrated the life and work of John Downing and his book Legacy.

“It was a moving, humbling, sad but also joyful evening.

“I am thinking of this short poem by Raymond Carver. I think we showed John that he is beloved."

Late Fragment

And did you get what you wanted from this life even so?

I did.

And what did you want?

To call myself beloved, to feel myself beloved on the earth.

John is suffering from terminal lung cancer.

FEELING BLUE: Sometimes the job can get you down as John found when he covered the Tories’ Blackpool conference in 1987

My best photograph, by Express star Downing

Patients from Molesey Cottage Hospital, who were rescued by police and soldiers during flooding in Surrey, 17 August 1968. Photograph: John Downing/Getty Images

CELEBRATED Express photographer John Downing considers this picture of flood victims being rescued to be the most definitive of his massive portfolio.

Former Express reporter Kim Willsher, writing in The Guardian, quotes Downing as saying: “There’s such a lot happening in it; every part of it tells a story and you don’t need any words to know what is going on. 

“As a news photographer, you’re the eyes of the reader, so you’re always trying to catch the defining moment. For me, the defining moment in this image is the elderly woman lighting a cigarette for another elderly patient while they are being rescued.”

John’s book, Downing: The Legacy, is published by Bluecoat Press.

The big picture, by Kim Willsher

The Downing Legacy



In an astonishing breakthrough in the world of data management, Mail Online has unveiled a daring new concept in the dissemination of information.

Nearly News.

This week the website, which has a huge global reach, announced to its millions of readers that the wife of a Hollywood star had nearly fallen over in the street.

Yup, you read that correctly. Amal Clooney, wife of superstar George, was reported to have missed her footing in a cobbled street in New York and almost went arse over tits. But didn’t.

There’s more. Mail Online’s Brian Gallagher (sorry, mate, there’s no hiding place from this even if you did file it at 2.43 in the morning) contrasts Amal’s experience with that of her sister, Tala, who actually did fall down in similar circumstances four years ago.

Incidentally, all praise to the website’s archives. Imagine sending Messenger Jack to the Express library in Fleet Street to retrieve a tattered envelope marked: Hollywood Stars’ Relatives (Falls).

In an attempt to catch up, the Editor of the Daily Drone, a bit miffed that he didn’t think of this innovative way to massage a news schedule, sent trainee S. Muldoon to rummage through the dustbins at Derry Street for other examples of Nearly News. Here’s a selection:

Frank Bruno nearly passes

Latin GCSE after intensive

tuition in his lunch hour

Diane Abbott nearly appointed

Waynflete Professor of Pure

Mathematics at Oxford University

Julian Clarey nearly called

into England front row


John Bercow nearly winner of

Donald Trump-Piers Morgan

Shrinking Violet Award For

Modesty And Self Effacement 


Canvey Island nearly named

Europe’s coolest surfing spot

by readers of Big Board Bugle


S. Muldoon (trainee) nearly

voted Digital Journalist of

the Year by Press Gazette


Pop poppet Lulu nearly

chose Careless Whisper

as her debut disc - report



Three Express amigos

NO wonder they’re smiling — these three former Expressmen managed to escape from the Black Lubjanka for the more journalist-friendly and lucrative Mail group.

Enjoying lunch at Wholefoods in London's Kensington are, from left, diarist Peter Mackay, who is now retired; John McEntee, editor of the Daily Mail’s Ephraim Hardcastle; and Peter Hitchens, who writes a column for the Mail on Sunday.

McEntee wrote on Facebook: My dear friend Peter [Mackay] worked with me on the Express when he shared an office with Peter Tory overlooking the Thames at Blackfriars. The pair watched the slow construction of what became the wobbly bridge from St Paul’s to Tate Modern.

When it was half finished the Queen walked out into the Thames on the incomplete structure. I recall going into the two Peters’ office and joining them and we stared at HM at the end of the half-finished edifice in the middle of the river.

None of us spoke. 


Zack gets em-rule back after 33 years

PICA RULES OK: Pat Pilton, left, presents Jon Zackon with the prized em-rule at Joe Allen yesterday

Back in the old days em-rules were prized possessions and locked away securely at the end of the night.

So you can imagine Jon Zackon’s dismay when his disappeared from the Fleet Street offices of the Daily Express back in 1986.

Later, the rule reappeared on Pat Pilton’s desk and the dispute over its ownership has been the subject of much light-hearted debate for the ensuing 33 years.

That was all settled at Joe Allen’s London restaurant when the World’s Greatest Lunch Club convened with Zack as it’s guest.

And there was a touch of the 1970s as he sat at the lunch table with the rule poking out of his jacket pocket.

LIKE THE OLD DAYS: Jon at the lunch table with his em-rule poking out of his pocket as Pat and Dick Dismore look on


How Hickey ed Wilson saved this Fleet Street sculpture from crusher

SAVED: The Three Printers sculpture in New Street Square 50 years ago, left, and in its present position in Goldsmiths Sunken Garden, London   Pictures by CHRISTOPHER WILSON

FORMER Hickey editor Christopher Wilson has revealed how he saved an important sculpture from being destroyed.

The work, Three Printers by Wilfred Dudeney, is a misnomer as it depicts an editor, a printer and a news boy. 

It originally stood in New Street Square outside the Westminster Press offices off Fleet Street but now graces the sunken Goldsmiths' Garden in Gresham Street.

Christopher wrote on Facebook: "This day 50 years ago I came to Fleet Street as a young reporter. In one of the back alleys I explored in the following weeks, I came across this sculpture by Wilfred Dudeney — as far as I know, the only public monument to us and our trade. 

"A dozen years ago, after the diaspora, it was in pieces in a builder's yard and destined for the crusher. I saved it, and since I never became an editor, I count it as my greatest journalistic achievement. 

“I wanted it to be re-sited in St Bride’s Churchyard but Goldsmiths' belatedly decided to claim ownership — even though until I said ‘ Oi!’ they were content to let it go to the crusher.

"They were the landlords of New Street Square but the sculpture was commissioned and paid for by Westminster Press [a now defunct local newspaper group].

“We compromised because Goldsmiths' offered to have it restored at considerable cost in return for it being placed in their garden.

“Anyway, like us, it’s still around!”

The Goldsmiths' Garden is on the site of the churchyard and medieval church of St John Zachary, which was damaged in the Great Fire. 

The Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths had acquired land in 1339, and built the earliest recorded Livery Hall. After part of the Company's property was demolished in WWII, the site was first laid out as a garden in 1941, redesigned in later years. 

The former churchyard is to the west, a raised garden with a number of gravestones and trees. Steps lead down to the excavated site of the church, laid out as a sunken garden with lawn, hard surround and seating against the retaining wall. 

The Three Printers sculpture, dating from around 1957, relocated there in 2009.

Westminster Press was sold by parent company Pearson to Newsquest in 1996.


Slope off to the cinema, smoke a pipe … then make a story up


TAKING IT EASY: Evelyn Waugh had sage advice for reporters 

EXPRESSMAN Geoffrey Mather, writing on his website about Brideshead Revisited, recalled an amusing anecdote about the book’s author Evelyn Waugh.

Quoting Waugh’s biographer Philip Eade he wrote: "Waugh spent several weeks ‘working' at the Daily Express. Having been fired in 1927 he gave advice to budding reporters.

"When assigned a story, 'the correct procedure is to jump to your feet, seize your hat and umbrella, and dart out of the office with every appearance of haste to the nearest cinema'.

"At the cinema the probationer was advised to sit and smoke a pipe and imagine what any relevant witnesses might say.

We on the Drone reckon this was an excellent policy which was followed 50 years later by eager Expressmen, although at that time pubs were more de rigueur than cinemas.

And the moral? Never take work too seriously.


His name was Hawkey, Raymond Hawkey and he had designs on Bond and the Daily Express ...

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THRILLING THREE: Express design guru Raymond Hawkey, far right, with Len Deighton and Bond author Ian Fleming

RESEARCH by the Daily Drone has unearthed one of the forgotten stars of the Daily Express from the 1950s and 60s.

That man was Raymond Hawkey, design director of the paper from 1959 to 1964, who later designed acclaimed book jackets for Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels and Len Deighton’s thrillers.

Clive Irving wrote in The Guardian after Hawkey’s death aged 80 in 2010: "I was features editor of the Daily Express when Raymond Hawkey arrived at the paper, which was then at the height of its success in the late 1950s.

"It is hard to convey to those who work in the relatively sanitised newsrooms of the digital age the bawdy zoo that was the editorial floor of the Express. 

"Banks of cut-and-paste subeditors yelled commands to the copy runners, a single backbench of senior editors shouted at the subeditors, muscular reporters bargained for column inches, and in a far corner of the black glass building was a bear pit of competing claims for the severely rationed space in the ‘soft’ end of the paper.

"In this Fleet Street madhouse Hawkey, who was always impeccably barbered, confronted visual barbarians. His title of design director seemed optimistic, since there was a rigid template of typography and page layouts, imposed from on high, that nobody had the power to circumvent. 

"But Hawkey chose to work in discrete elements, combining feature headlines and simple, strong images in bold panels.

"His style, which later came to full expression in his wonderful book jackets, was the first and one of the most consequential if furtive steps in the long and too-slow advance of newspaper design that eventually culminated in the transformation of The Guardian in the late 1980s."

Hawkey was design director of the Daily Express from 1959 before he was appointed presentation director of The Observer in 1964 where he led the design of its colour magazine. He died in 2010 aged 80.

In 1962, Hawkey was chosen by Len Deighton to design the cover of his first novel The IPCRESS File, which some regard as the template for the covers of all subsequent airport novels. He went on to design covers for Deighton's books, including Horse Under Water, Funeral in Berlin and The Action Cookbook (where the IPCRESS revolver reappears, this time with a sprig of parsley in the barrel).

Hawkey designed covers for works by many other authors, including the Pan paperback editions of James Bond published from 1963-1969, which the Financial Times described as having "a stark elegance ... consistently menacing and memorable. Each has a single photographic image on a plain or textured background. Blurb is dispensed with. It's the visual equivalent of a cruel, sardonic smile.” 

A key element was Hawkey's bold use of lettering — the sans-serif James Bond wording is far larger than the book title or the author's name. 





Beaverbrook as you’ve never seen him 

THE Drone has uncovered an extraordinary home movie featuring Daily Express proprietor Lord Beaverbrook and the novelist H G Wells.

The silent film, filmed in 1924 at the peer’s home Cherkley, near Leatherhead, Surrey, takes the form of an amateur black comedy and also features the writer and feminist Rebecca West, who had a long affair with Wells and later reportedly with Beaverbrook. 

Beaverbrook, who died in 1964 and widowed in 1927, is pictured above wearing a top hat with some of the cast.

The film is fascinating also as a social document, revealing the mores of the time which are considered very politically incorrect today. 

You have been warned!

The film, entitled They Forgot to Read the Directions, runs for 20 minutes and there is no sound. 

Watch it here



Christiansen Chronicles

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THE editor most revered by Express men and women is Arthur Christiansen, even though it is doubtful if anyone alive today worked for him.

He died in 1963 but his name is still spoken of in hushed tones by many.

Christiansen became editor of the Daily Express in October, 1933, a position he held for 24 years until 1957, a longevity in office that has never been beaten. 

During his editorship, sales peaked at two million in 1936, more than three million in 1944, and four million in 1949. 

Each day he wrote a bulletin. It was compulsory reading for members of editorial staff. 

Christiansen also expected them to read the Daily Express from start to finish daily and in addition, one other newspaper. Heads of department were expected to be familiar with the content of all morning newspapers by the time of first conference (around 11am). 

Only one editor since Christiansen has attempted to write a daily bulletin. That man was Christopher Ward (1981-83). His attempts were widely ridiculed by staff who risked their jobs by posting rival bulletins in the display box outside the editor’s office in Fleet Street.

These cod bulletins are in the possession of the Daily Drone (don’t ask!)

The World’s Greatest Website is proud to be able to print the best of the Christiansen bulletins when he was in charge of the World’s Greatest Newspaper.

There will be a new one every day.

Read them here

TERRY MANNERS writes: "Dear Lord Drone, I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed reading the story of Editor Arthur Christiansen's famed bulletins. And examples too ... what  a magnificent piece of investigative Drone journalism. 

"I shall look at his original, cream bulletin case hanging in my study between the picture of Elvis and the Beatles with renewed fondness. I may even polish the glass. 

"Meanwhile, I rather think your public is also waiting to be entertained by extracts from the outstanding bulletins published in the box long after the great man's death. Will they ever be found? Get my drift?”

Drift received and understood — Ed

JEFF CONNOR writes: "You suggest that 'no-one who worked with him will still be alive'. Last I heard Michael Caine is still going strong and he appeared with Chris in the 1961 movie, The Day the Earth Caught Fire. 

"Chris played a hard-boiled national newspaper editor and the filming took place in the Express offices in Fleet Street. Michael was cast as 'Checkpoint Policeman (uncredited)' which is proof that everyone has to start somewhere! 

“Also, I know you were probably discussing the history of the Express, but in his spell at the Star Lloyd Turner also posted a daily bulletin, nominally a herogram but pretty unusual back then!”

Point taken! — Ed

*The 1961 movie The Day the Earth Caught Fire is available as a DVD on Amazon for £9.92. Details here


Christiansen playing ‘The Editor’ in The Day the Earth Caught Fire

bulletin board

RELIC: Christiansen’s bulletin board remained on the wall outside the editor’s office until the move to Blackfriars in 1989. It was rescued by Terry Manners and now adorns his study wall





HARD LABOUR: Gary Jones has toned down the racism

DAILY Express editor Gary Jones has proved himself to be part of a grand tradition — a square peg in a round hole.

He has confessed in an interview with The Guardian that he is a lifelong Socialist who believes that immigration has been good for Britain and that we should remain in the European Union.

In other words his personal beliefs do not match those of his newspaper. There is nothing new here — the Express has been edited by an eclectic assortment of characters.

Does that make Jones the wrong man to edit the Right-wing Brexit-supporting Express? Not a bit.

It has never been a requirement of the job for the editor to be a Tory. Bob Edwards, who edited the Express twice, certainly wasn’t and Lord Beaverbrook once hired Left-winger Michael Foot for the Evening Standard.

Lord Drone, before his ennoblement, spent 32 years on the Express and served under 12 editors. Only three of those were worth their salt — Lord Drone's old chum Chris Williams, Derek Jameson, who was the only one to actually increase circulation, and Sir Larry Lamb, who could have been even better if he had shown more enthusiasm.

The other nine editors are mostly too awful to mention.

So can Jones make a success of it? Who knows. But if things go on as they are with circulation tumbling (see below) he could be the last to hold the top job on this once-great newspaper.

Read the Guardian piece here




Industrial editor Barrie Devney at his desk in the Daily Express offices in Fleet Street on 9th March 1969

          Picture: Norman Quicke/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

DAVID THOMPSON, former Chief Parliamentary Correspondent of the Daily Mirror, has a great anecdote about his days as a trainee reporter on the Mansfield and Sutton-in-Ashfield Reporter with his friend and rival Barrie Devney, who worked for the opposition.

The most boring job they had to do was to collect the names of mourners at funerals but often the earnest young reporters were arrogantly waved away by the town’s bigwigs.

One day Barrie, who went on to become the respected Industrial Editor of the Daily Express, got his own back.

Devney’s revenge


Lament for the death of the gossip column


TEA FOR ONE: Writer David Lister contemplates another slice of cake at Cliveden,1999  Picture: ©The Independent

DAVID LISTER, a writer and columnist for The Independent, has written a masterly account of the slow demise of the Fleet Street diarist, including the death and resurrection of the William Hickey column in the Daily Express.

The rise and fall of the Fleet Street diarist


To Russia with booze and a spare bath plug


Ian Benfield dies at 84

Lord Drone is personally greatly saddened to report the death of his good friend Ian ‘Bunter’ Benfield at the age of 84. 

Ian had been suffering from vascular dementia for two years, as as his son Guy reports below in The Journalist.

Bunter was a top news sub-editor on the Daily Express for many years where his agreeable nature and good humour made him a popular and valued member of staff. 

He was never happier than when he was drinking beer in the pub with his colleagues. 

Ian died last December but news of his death has only just reached Drone Towers. His funeral was in January.

DICK DISMORE remembers:
Bunter, the man who subbed the Yorkshire Ripper trial single-handed — and the Printer didn’t bother setting the running copy. This was much to the consternation of the Night Editor, one K. MacKenzie, who monstered the culprit so badly he had to buy him a bottle of whisky to ensure publication of the next day’s paper.  

And Bunter just kept subbing and let it all wash over him. Happy days.

*Ian's brother, Derek Benfield, pictured above, was an actor, best known for his role as transport company foreman Bill Riley in the TV series The Brothers.



GREAT TIMES: The Observer has republished a fascinating piece about Fleet Street watering holes written at the time the paper left for new pastures in 1988. The picture shows the conviviality continuing despite a power cut.





Lower Thames Street 1905

LWR THMS ST 1905.png

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

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


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


Craig parties with Fleet Street royalty on his 70th


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Spot the Expressman

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


Private Eye reports:

Veteran Daily Express hack John Chapman, who refers to himself as a “Fleet Street survivor” having stuck with the paper through its Desmond doldrums and on to the new Mirror-managed era, left last month with an old-school retirement party at El Vino.
He had an admirable valedictory message for his assembled colleagues: “I have witnessed the slow, sad decline of a once-great newspaper … but I was earning an old-style Fleet Street salary so I don’t give a fuck.”




Sunday Express editor Martin Townsend, left,  holds a riverside conference with deputy editor Dick Dismore, right, and Andy Hoban at the Lower Thames Street offices in London some time in the mid-Noughties.



Stamfords Wine Bar was the favoured watering hole for Daily Express journalists in the 1990s and early Noughties, mainly because it was but a short lurch from the Blackfriars offices. 

Pictured among an impressive array of empty beer and wine bottles are the usual suspects … picture editor Chris Djukanovic, editor Chris Williams, backbencher Nick Dalton and sub Sheila Molloy.


mike stammies 2.jpeg

STAMMIES again in a snap provided by MIKE HUGHES, who is on the far left. Also pictured are Chris Williams, John Twomey, personal finance writer Jessica Bown, and Luke Felton, who is sadly no longer with us.



WHO'S that woman with Expressman Ashley Walton? And why does he have that devilish look on his face? 

We do not know … but we think we should be told.

This picture of Margaret Thatcher with the Drone’s chief reporter comes from the BBC TV programme Icons.   

Walton explained yesterday: 'The shot was taken somewhere in the UK during Mrs Thatcher's first election campaign in 1979 before she became Prime Minister. 

'I covered the whole three weeks of the campaign travelling the length of the UK and having a great time. It was certainly the most gruelling three weeks of my life. Where did all that hair come from? Mine not hers.'

He added: 'Now I know what it feels like to be a legend in my own lunchtime.’



Guess who trousered the redundo jackpot?

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All three of them! 

This charming study of Daily Express features subs Norman ‘Normal' Cox, Dave ‘Squiffy’ Searby and Mike ‘Trouser’ Snaith shows them at a lunch to celebrate their redundancy in the 1980s.

Yes folks, thanks to excellent contracts, journalists once rejoiced in getting the sack, as JEFF BOYLE explains in the …

The Great Golden Wheelbarrow lunch


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


You know the feeling, you’ve had an enjoyably heavy lunch and then, in the cab back to the office, the news desk calls, jolting you back to reality.

This was Sunday Express politico Tim Shipman back in the day, trying to sound lucid after a liquid lunch at the Prospect of Whitby in Wapping, London. An amused Andy Hoban looks on.


Muldoon’s Lookalike


                     ESSEX                                     McINTYRE

By S MULDOON (trainee)

Can it be? Surely not. How is it that the world has only just noticed that the acting-singing heart-throb David Essex and our very own Drone clan chief Lord Bingo McIntyre of that Ilk bear more than a superficial passing resemblance? They’re not related of course: one’s quite high born, actually and the other is, at best, of artisan stock. 

Essex, OBE, a man of undistinguished looks, has made good through his showbiz talent. He almost became a professional footballer, though and was on West Ham’s books as a lad. He famously refused to answer a single question in his 11-plus so that he could attend a local secondary modern renowned for its footie prowess.

Lord B, the better looking of the two, comes from an ancient Highland clan (war cry: Flodden the bar!). The name McIntyre is from the Gaelic Mac an t-Saoir meaning son of the carpenter. The clan’s historic seat may have been Glen Noe in Argyll and Bute but it is now Walton-on-Thames, Surrey. The chief is in pretty good form considering he has been on a slippery slope (geddit?) for years.

I’ll get you for this, Muldoon — Ed 




WHERE’S HE GONE? Jon Zackon tears his hair out as a thirsty Kipper Keeling slips out to the pub again

ONE of the great legends of the old Fleet Street Daily Express in the 1970s and 80s was Ted ‘Kipper’ Keeling who, although an excellent news sub-editor, was mostly noted for his ability to slope off to the pub in a cloud of cannabis fumes without the Chief Sub noticing.

Reading on the Drone of Kipper’s exploits, former sub Nick Pigott climbed into his loft to retrieve this sketch he drew at the time of Assistant Chief Sub Jon Zackon tearing his hair out as his nemesis slipped out to the pub.

The original story is here:

The Grey Ghost, Forgotten Hero of the Lopés Cup


Daily Express news subs 1960s


This snap, provided by David Eliades, shows the Express newsroom in London some time in the early 1960s. 

In the foreground is foreign sub Jack Atkinson and next to him in his customary white shirt is splash sub Peter Hedley. The man to Hedley’s left on the middle bench is Ted Hodgson who later became night editor.

Opposite Jack is Ken Macaulay and next to him is Ralph Mineards. 

The man seated under the pillar in the white shirt and dark tie, is Eric Price. This would date the pic as before 1962 as Price left the Express that year to join the Western Daily Press in Bristol.

The backbench is the long desk on the left, second left is Bob Edwards, (the only man to be made editor of the Express twice) next to him is Eric Raybould and Morris Benett.

Thanks to TONY BOULLEMIER  and ROGER WATKINS for help with this caption.

RICK McNEILL reports:  I would date the picture pre-1965, before I joined. I recognise those you mention but others are unknown to me. 

I think the man in the far right background, on the telephone, is picture supremo Frank Spooner and the man seated looking up at him Jim Nicholl. I seem to recall the picture desk and foreign desk shared the same space around then. 

Facing Ted Hodgson is Welshman Harold Jones wearing his signature cardigan, look you. Apart from Morris and Raybould the Backbench is populated by strangers. I’d love to know who they are!

ALAN HILL, Chief City Sub from 1968 to 1996, who identified Bob Edwards, recalls: Bob gave me my job on the Express City staff. When I arrived, six weeks later, he had gone … again!

I believe he sacked Frank Spooner in the morning. Frank’s staff took him for a long lunch and when he returned to clear his desk … Bobbity had been sacked himself.  Frank continued as Picture Editor for years.

Click pic to enlarge


SIR — How nice to see a photograph of my late father, Ralph Mineards, deputy father of the Daily Express chapel, in your illustrious organ.

When he retired in 1979, getting the honor of being "banged out" by the printers, he estimated he had travelled more than a million miles commuting from his Northampton home to London Euston, whiling away his hour-long ride doing the Times crossword.

I always remember him telling me that when he sat on the committee that helped launch the Daily Star, its audience was considered "the Millwall supporter who rolls his own cigarettes”.

An extremely capable journalist and wonderful father.

I followed in his footsteps as an Express trainee on the Falmouth Packet, where my colleagues included Nick Coleridge, now the head of Conde Nast UK, before joining Paul Callan's Inside World on the Mirror and then moving to Nigel Dempster's Diary on the Mail, leaving for the U.S. as an editor on New York Magazine, eventually becoming an anchor for CBS and a commentator on ABC News.

I have now lived in Santa Barbara for 11 years, where I write a weekly column for the Montecito Journal.




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They look glum but these Daily Express women were in fact putting on an act. They were actually having fun, mourning the death of the paper’s William Hickey gossip column. 

Back in 1987, the Express decided to replace the long-dead diarist with a real person in the shape of Ross Benson. Fleet Street gossip columnists led by the Daily Mail’s Nigel Dempster held a mock funeral for Hickey whose  name was revived following Benson’s death. 

This picture is supplied by Kim Willsher, second left, with Louise Court on her right.

The day they buried Hickey

The rise and fall of the Fleet Street diarist



SIR — On a flying visit to London recently I took my family for dinner at the new Joe Allen, fondly expecting to wallow nostalgically in its uniquely cool and quietly clubbable atmosphere.

Imagine my surprise (as they say) to find myself in a overcrowded characterless bistro full of shouting tourists off the street and an expensive menu with little to remind me of its bygone Exeter Street heyday. Even the signature cheesecake tasted like Tesco’s!

Perhaps you chaps have a different perspective at your regular get-togethers there. Probably it’s the company not the place? Maybe also night times are a no-no. Too close to the Strand.

You know what they say . . . never go back.

Greetings to all Express Persons of Good Standing!



Tweet of the Year


Reflections on Cummings, a great Express cartoonist



They way we were


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


It’s the Duke, caught on camera in the 1970s

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There’s a few familiar faces in this pic of the London Evening Standard backbench in, at a guess, the 1970s. In the background gazing into the middle distance is Chris ‘Duke’ Djukanovic, later to become picture editor of the Daily Express. 

Seated on the right is Charles Wintour, famed editor of the Standard, and next to him in the striped shirt is Roy Wright, who later became the editor of the Daily Express before disappearing without trace.

PETER STEWARD has filled in the gaps. He writes:

I believe the picture was taken before I joined the Standard (in the long hot summer of 1976) and for some reason I think it was a pre-Budget meeting. At that time the Evening Standard was part of the Beaverbrook empire and housed in Shoe Lane.

As you say, to the left of Charles Wintour is Roy Wright who returned to the Standard while I was there. I think he was deputy editor when Simon Jenkins was fired and Wintour returned for a short time before Lou Kirby arrived and Associated took half a share in the paper.

Seated centre is Bill Sharp, the splash sub.The chap back left in beard and specs is Cyril Raper, who enjoyed a White Shield Worthington. I think he was once chief sub, but during my time there he was like an executive revise sub. 

In those days subs sent copy direct to the printers below via a conveyor belt down the middle of the desk and a hole in the floor. The first opportunity to get it revised was when galley proofs arrived upstairs or when the stone sub got a chance to read it.

On the left is the legendary political editor Bob Carvel (with pipe) and Michael King.

Perhaps the person furthest right could be David Henshall.

I left the Standard on December 29 1983 after being kidnapped in the Poppinjay by the sweet-talking Terry Manners. I was working a five-day week as the Standard's chief sub at the time but Terry held out the prospect of a four-night week for more money. 

Six months later Mr Manners showed me the way to the escape tunnel (or perhaps he regretted tempting me in the first place) and I left to join the Sunday Express under that dynamic liberal editor Sir John Junor.

Click pic for larger image


The faces look familiar to anyone who was on the Daily Express in the 1970s and 80s. But who are these two youngsters? The answers are here


Hold the front stage! It’s Christiansen the film star


1961: Legendary Daily Express editor Arthur Christiansen demonstrates that as an actor he was a very fine journalist playing himself in the cult sci-fi movie The Day the Earth Caught Fire. 

Chris, pictured with Edward Judd who played a maverick reporter (aren’t they all? — Ed), spent most of the time spouting lines like: “Hold the front page!” and “Make it sing and make it a song I like,” (or was that another legendary Daily Express editor?) 

The film was based on the Express in its heyday and many shots were filmed in the office and Fleet Street. Behind the scenes there was also rumoured to have been a piquant play within a play starring an Express executive (still there in the seventies) and the luscious female lead Janet Munro, who, after a hard day’s filming, were encountered discussing bold intros and splash heads in the lane behind the Old Bell (mem to Night Lawyer Cocklecarrot: It’s OK: they’re both dead now)



We think this may be a pic of the Express subs

but could it be the Mail?

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This fascinating pic of sub-editors in, at a guess, the 1950s has been taken from the website of Hugh Dawson, who was chief sub and production editor of the Daily Mail for more than 40 years. Hugh, pictured right, died aged 73 on 24 June after a long fight against motor neurone disease. He started in journalism on the sports desk of The Journal, Newcastle, in 1962 and left the Daily Mail in 2010. He also worked on the Hemel Hempstead Post and Echo.

Hugh identified the picture as of the Daily Express. That being the case, we think the man on the far right of the pic is Dan McDonald.

But Rick McNeill, who joined the DX news subs in the 1960s, thinks the picture may be of the Daily Mail newsroom. He said: "Inspecting your fascinating DX subs picture with my Sherlock Holmes © Magnifying Glass, I think the man you ID as Dan McDonald is cutting a copy of the Daily Mail. See masthead. Which leads me to suppose that (a) it is not Dan McDonald but a lookalike, and (b) this is a pic of Daily Mail subs. Did Dan ever work for the Mail?

"Also the room, windows, ceiling lights and clock on the pillar are wrong the Black Lubyanka subs’ room I joined in the mid-1960s looked nothing like this and was unchanged since at least before the war.

"Maybe the real mystery is why Hugh Dawson mistakenly identified the picture on his website? He was after all Mail chief sub for yonks.

"I’m happy to be proved wrong, however.

Chris Chalke, an Express news sub in the 1970s, wondered if the picture is in fact of the Daily Express in Manchester. Dan McDonald was a Scot so he could well have worked there before moving down to London.

Chris added: “The skull on the left opposite Dan McDonald reminded me of Ted Hodgson.”

Roger Watkins has his doubts too. "I don’t think that’s the Daily Express. When I moved to Fleet Street from Manchester in the seventies the back bench was parallel to Fleet Street facing north (it later turned 180 degrees when it moved to be closer to the news desk).

"In Hugh’s picture there are windows behind the back bench. For that to be the Express they would have to be on the Shoe Lane wall (where the art desk and reporters were situated when we left the Lubyanka)

"Unlikely, especially when you consider there was a huge supporting pillar (by which the Manchester Desk sat) which would have been in the middle of the subs desk.

"I don’t know much about lookalikes but I think Rick’s right about Dan.”

Last night further forensic examination of the photo throws up more doubts. Could the pic date from the 1930s?

Rick said: "Since when did subs (Mail or Express) ever look so respectfully buttoned up with suits and ties and Ernest Bevin specs? Pre-war I reckon."

What do you think?

Tribute to a true gentleman

Hugh Dawson’s website


The amazing life of Bain, a fantastic story well told

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The idea of launching a public relations company in a desert country where they’d never heard of PR, especially when you couldn’t speak the language and had no experience in that business, might  seem more like insanity than entrepreneurial vision. But that’s exactly what former Express sub IAN BAIN did in the United Arab Emirates.

After an understandably shaky start, he built it into one of the biggest consultancies of its kind in the Middle East with clients that included General Motors, Airbus, Intel, Samsung, Emirates Airline and many others. 

At the time, Ian was well used to risk-taking, having been a reporter, a merchant seaman, a big-time booze smuggler in India, and Buenos Aires correspondent of the Express and The Economist — all before the age of 24. 

How he achieved success without the benefit of an education (he attended nine schools in 10 years and was thrown out at the age of 15 without a single exam pass) is beautifully described in his memoirs, Singing in the Lifeboat, available on Amazon.

Amid a multitude of other adventures, the book relates how Ian battled alcoholism, checking himself into a psychiatric clinic in Dubai where he was shocked to find patients handcuffed to the water pipes, and guards with batons. “It wasn’t the kind of rehab I’d had in mind,” he said.

"I'm grateful to a few of my old Express colleagues who read the manuscript and produced some lovely words for the covers," he added. 

"Right now I'm trying to figure out how Amazon's sales charts work. With pre-orders alone, the book hit No 1 in UAE history and No 1 in motor rallying when these subjects are only loosely connected. Of course, that's only on one particular day but not everyone knows that.

Singing in the Lifeboat is available on Amazon for £8.99 



In remembrance of Bob

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Bob McGowan was one of the great reporters on the Daily Express. Now, exclusively on the Drone, his widow Pauline has issued some pictures of our esteemed colleague, who died in 2011 aged just 67.

See the pics and read TERRY MANNERS’ tribute here


Daily Star Sports Desk 1980

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Former Daily Star sub Jeff Connor, pictured front right, sent this snap of the paper’s Sports Desk in Manchester circa 1980 before they moved to new offices. 

Pictured, second left, is sports editor Arthur Lamb, to his left is deputy sports editor Gordon ‘Geordie’ Burnett (long departed), the secretary was named Sue. In the background between Gordon and Jeff is the backbench with deputy night editor Chris Davis, later Royston Davis, who went to The Sun, and leaning over him is copy editor Mike Hughes. 

Next to Chris is night editor Andy (mine’s a Bell’s and a light ale) Carson, then Ian Pollock. On the extreme left is Jack Ronnie (probably). Also on the backbench is Robbie Addison.

To the left of Chris Davis is Ian Pollack and standing is a guy called Robbie who we think was deputy to editor Peter Grimsditch. Behind secretary Sue is the DS newsdesk. Thanks to Mike Hughes and John Edgley for help in identifications. 

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


One in the Eye

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No 103

Volume 15: 1986

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

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


25 July 1986

Street of Shame

When an Englishman was sentenced to hang in Malaysia for drug-running, the Getsmuchworse swiftly dispatched ace newshound Norman Luck to cover the pleas for clemency, death-cell agony and grisly end. Unfortunately the grisly end took rather a long time coming.

Worried about the cost of this jaunt, the Getsmuchstingier’s news desk ordered the luckless Luck to return home. While he was in midair, though, it became clear that the editor, “Nick” Lloyd — who had not been told of Luck’s imminent return — wanted him to remain in Kuala Lumpur.

In panic, the news desk decided to keep the return of the prodigal wordsmith secret. As soon as he touched down on home soil he was whisked off to a hideaway and continued filing stories as if he was still in Malaysia.

Thus it was that a series of graphic eyewitness accounts of the days leading up to the hanging which appeared in the Express under the byline “from Norman Luck in Kuala Lumpur” actually came from no further afield than Tunbridge Wells where Luck was holed up in a luxurious flat while involved in discussions of a Malaysian nature.

19 September 1986

Street of Shame

Just as United boss David Stevens removes one source of sleaziness, Roger Boyes, so another pops up. Fleet Street's most repulsive yob Ray Mills, now has a column in the Star. 

Eye readers will remember Mills from issue 635, in which his habit of peeing in office wastepaper baskets, to the distress of cleaners, was disclosed. Mills’s new column is the journalistic equivalent of peeing in public.

At the Star he is known to one and all as BIFFO — Big Ignorant Fucker From Oldham.

The most recent Mills story involves his teenage son who, trying to please the elderly delinquent, baked him a birthday cake. Mills threw the cake at the lad’s head, shouting: “Are you a queer or something?”

3 October 1986

Street of Shame

When word was brought to dynamic Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie that Pat Phoenix was dead, his reaction was swift. “Get Doris Stokes [a clairvoyant] on the phone,” he screamed at a subordinate. “I want the first interview from the other side.”

A few minutes later the trembling subordinate reported back. La Stokes said that it took some time for for the spirit to move from earthly form. Even with her talents she could not yet make contact with the departed star.

“Well tell her to make it up,” shrieked MacFrenzie.

14 November 1986

“Hindley Freedom Move” screamed the Daily Getsmuchworse on Monday, labelling the story as “exclusive”. Its gullible readers were informed that Myra Hindley was to be sent to an open prison, and there were assorted quotes expressing the appropriate shock horror.

The Home Office denied the story as being untrue, for a very good reason — it was.

Step forward yet again Mr Michael Rocco Ryan who, posing as a prison nurse on escort duty, conned the gullible hacks. They can, however, almost be forgiven — for Rocky has become more sophisticated in the last twelve months. He has a fun-loving female accomplice who leads the hacks into his traps.

28 November 1986

Blood is running in the gutters at the Sunday Express, following the takeover by new Editor Robin Esser and his personally-appointed deputy Brian Hitchen.

Assistant Editor James Kinlay, once touted as the next editor, finishes at the end of the month. Photo editor John Dove has been given his cards and finishes up at the same time. Foreign editor Terry Foley returned from sick leave to be told he was no longer needed and has moved out of his office.

The latest office notice board announcement is the demotion of News Editor Michael Dove to reporter, apparently for his remark in the Poppinjay pub: “Brian Hitchen wouldn’t know a news story if it was shoved up his nose. He’s a beer-bellied idiot.”

“Inspector” Michael Watts has been axed after 27 years on the paper after telling Esser: “You can’t change the character of my column, old boy. I won’t stand for it.”

Travel editor Lewis de Fries has been chopped and now the Esser/Hitchen Punch and Judy act have turned their sights on Features Editor Max “Fuhrer” Davidson because of his continual complaining within the office: “All I get are inane features from Esser’s talentless Yuppie friends and Hitchen’s old drunken American-based cohorts.”

Assistant editor Ted Dickinson has been told to leave because when Esser tried to get back on the Daily Express after the closure of the Evening News he wrote a memo, still on file, reading: “On no account should Esser be given a job. He’s a total incompetent.”

Assistant editor Henry Macrory has been demoted to News Editor and one of his deputies, Ted Gartell, leaves at the end of November after being axed. Political editor Keith Renshaw has volunteered for early retirement at Christmas.

So of all departmental heads, that leaves just Diary Editor Lady Olga Maitland. The terrible duo backed off at the last minute when she befriended and started lunching with Lady Stevens, wife of Express supremo Sir David Stevens. Now she’s organising a counter-plot, jabbing her poison pen into the backs of her would-be executioners.

But that has not stopped Punch and Judy from targeting their next victim: the great Sir John Junor himself, who keeps bad-mouthing Esser and Hitchen to his spies still on the Sunday Express.


The Daily Express, it seems, is still under the impression that its rightful owners are the Beaverbrooks. Lady Beaver has recently taken to ringing the paper’s executives to complain of items she finds “offensive” or “anti-Tory”, to wit one poor hack’s reference to “booze and fags”.

The hack was summoned to Deputy Editor Leith McGrumble’s office and told to empty his desk and collect his cards. As stunned as were his building society and family, the minion duly complied, but first informed the Father of the Chapel. A ruckus ensued between various heads of department and, 24 hours later, the hack was reinstated. Later he was told that he had also been guilty of anti-Tory sentiments and had better keep his nose clean (ie brown) in the future.

Lady Beaverbrook is 94.

Christmas issue

Letters to the Editor



Less blood has flowed on the Sunday Express than you claim. Only one member of the News Desk is leaving the paper, entirely of his own volition. The only change in my own position is that my duties have been expanded.

Yours unanaemically, 

Assistant Editor,
Sunday Express 

121 Fleet Street, London



Your piece about me (Eye 651) is wrong in every detail.

I was not demoted from News Editor. I came off the desk in order to write for the new lively Sunday Express. It was entirely my idea and the move was approved by the editor.

Neither have I ever criticised Brian Hitchen in the Poppinjay or anywhere else. The remarks you attributed to me are a complete fabrication.

Your article was untrue and highly defamatory. I thought you had learned your lesson about checking facts after your recent High Court experience. 

Kindly publish this letter. I know better than to expect an apology from you.


Senior Reporter

Sunday Express

121 Fleet Street, London

















ONE IN THE EYE 1966-1971



Who put the lights out?


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


DroneTube Exclusive

Life After The Front Page

This rare and previously largely unseen film, unearthed in the annals of Lord Drone, recalls the grand old days of Fleet Street. It includes interviews with Ann Buchanan, of The Sun and Daily Mirror; Clem Jones, from the Wolverhampton Express; Eric Todd of the Manchester Evening Chronicle and The Guardian; and George Bell and Ted Townshend of the Daily Telegraph. 

The film, which was made by students of Goldsmiths College, University of London, in 1999, also includes someone called Alastair McIntyre (who he – Ed?) who addresses the public from the Daily Express offices in Blackfriars. 

Runtime is 16 minutes.


© 2005-2020 Alastair McIntyre