Kill one man and you're a murderer, kill a million and you're a conqueror — Jean Rostand


Today's papers


Peter Brookes, The Times


Out on a bender with my besties


Between a rock and a hard place

This cartoon, entitled The Rock and the Storm, was drawn by Ernest Shephard and published in Punch at the time of the Battle of Britain in 1940. If you swap the swastikas with Covid symbols comparisons could be drawn with today



Don but not forgotten



Will glass coffins be a success? Remains to be seen.



By POPBITCH, Gossip Editor

After having publicly shamed a long list of Covid rule-benders, it was pretty rich of The Sun to throw an in-person Christmas party in their office in late December – just days after London was placed in Tier 3.

True to form, there hasn't been much of a rush to bring any disciplinary proceedings against the lecherous 50-something boss who, after several bottles were sunk, was seen fingering a drunken PA 30 years his junior in a glass-fronted office. HR has been too busy summoning the minimum-wage graduate trainees who witnessed the incident – and threatening to sack them if they dared repeat what they saw.

It's no surprise things are on high alert there though. Throughout the festive season, one of The Sun's former star reporters was taking to Facebook late at night, threatening to spill everything he knows about the paper's inner workings, before deleting them shortly after. NewsUK has always worried he'd be the one to go rogue, even after they arranged a book deal for him to keep him sweet. Seems to have only bought his silence for so long…

UPDATE: As more details of The Sun's finger-heavy Christmas party continue to emerge, how long can they keep the implicated Senior Exec in  position? Especially now that more and more women are swapping stories between themselves about his seedy use of Google Messages?

NOW he's had his second dose of the vaccine in the UK, Rupert Murdoch is preparing to make his way to NYC to oversee the difficult post-Trump positioning for Fox News. Should be fun.



Perry QC gets it in the neck from his learned chums

EMINENT QC David Perry, a former night lawyer on the Daily Express, has got himself into a bit of a scrape.

He has attracted the ire of his fellow learned friends by agreeing to act for the Hong Kong government in its efforts to convict Jimmy Lai and eight other pro-democracy activists accused of taking part in an illegal assembly in 2019.

Now, after pressure from within the profession, Mr Perry has pulled out of the case.

Hong Kong’s justice departmnent noted “growing pessure and criticism” of the QC for taking the case. Mr Perry had “concerns about such pressures and the exemption of quarantine” and "indicated that the trial should proceed without him".

Many of us who worked on the Daily Express in the 1970s and 80s remember David as a charming and knowledgable lawyer with a light-touch approach to newspaper law. 

He advised us what we could get away with rather what we couldn’t say. One of his few equals on this was the late, great Geoffrey ‘Called to the Bar’ Conlin, another fine and convivial fellow who was a delightful companion in the pubs and clubs of old Fleet Street.

David, one of the country’s most respected and formidable criminal lawyers and a part-time High Court judge, found himself at the centre of controversy over his Hong Kong appointment.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton, the shadow attorney-general and former lord chancellor, said: “He must withdraw as he cannot continue in that role and remain consistent with the values of the UK. He is prosecuting some of the most well-known democracy campaigners.”

Baroness Kennedy of the Shaws, QC, chairwoman of the International Bar Association’s human rights institute, told The Times: “I cannot fathom why any reputable British barrister would provide a veneer of respectability to actions which are contrary to democracy and the rule of law. This decision will become a source of shame.”

David has refused to comment on the controversy but in his defence we would point out that it is nothing new for lawyers to be asked to act for people whose views they find reprehensible.

The “cab rank” rule is the standard justification. Horace Rumpole sums it up thus: “I’m a taxi plying for hire. I’m bound to accept anyone, however repulsive, who waves me down and asks for a lift.”

In other words, lawyers must accept any case that comes their way. That is nothing new.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of the case, the Daily Drone  wishes the excellent Mr Perry well.

CLIVE GOOZEE remembers: Mention of the late great Geoffrey Conlin took me back to an evening in the Black Lubyanka when he walked into the sports department to query a story, just as another late great, John Lloyd, carrying a tray of teas and rock cakes, arrived for his shift, late as usual. That’s why he bought the warm beverages. 

On seeing Geoffrey, John said: "Allo Allo Mr Lawyer, how’s the soliciting business?" The subs thought it was funny, but a very affronted Geoffrey didn’t appreciate the laughter, said loudly: "I wouldn’t know,” and walked out.


After P.E. Dant’s list of banned winter clichés, the Flying Fuck Back Bar What’sApp group would like to know if the following are still allowed:

Winter Wonderland!

It’s Snow Joke!

Brrritain! Brrrighton! Brrridlington! (I get it — Ed)

More on way, warn Met men (archetypal sub deck used on any weather story)

Ice Work If You Can Get It! (Skating rink attendant pictured with girls sliding around in short skirts)

Freezer Jolly Good Fellow! (Good Samaritan aids trapped motorists)

Ski’s A Jolly Good Fellow! (Good Samaritan skis to aid trapped motorists)

Tree’s A Jolly Good Fellow! (This is getting silly now-Ed)

Winter Of Our Disco Tent! (DJ defies Lockdown to stage rave under canvas)

That’s it! Stop this right now — Ed


US goes cuckoo




Close-knit family

Cat nabbed

Wildcat strikes

work from home dog.jpeg



This estate agent’s property description was spotted on Facebook by Jo and Reg Burnard, formerly of the Western Daily Press

The atmospheric photo that landed Katherine Whitehorn her first job 


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

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

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

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

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


Dear Aunt Marje 

(still a trainee and still in dentures)

agony aunt.jpg

Gipsy Rosalie (with apologies to that weird cross-dressing potter whose name we forget)

It wouldn’t happen here

Dear Aunt Marje,

That kerfuffle on Capitol Hill: your take?

Liberty Belle

Dear LB,

Disgraceful scenes all right, LB. One wonders what Washington, Jefferson, Franklin and Madison would have made of this affront to democracy. But, rest assured, that sort of thing could never happen in the UK.

It’s unimaginable that a democratic vote (however small the majority) would be subject to continued attempts to overturn it.

It’s ridiculous to suggest that distinguished politicians and former prime ministers would actually demand a People’s Vote on a People’s Vote because they didn’t agree with the result of the first one.

It’s unthinkable that demonstrators would occupy Parliament Square for months and that the law would be invoked in an attempt to thwart the will of the people.

It’s inconceivable to imagine that the Speaker of the Mother of Parliaments would nakedly work against the democratic process on which the House of Commons is founded.

It’s laughable that apparently sensible people, in terminal denial, would flood social media to moan and groan incessantly that black was, in fact, white.

How America must envy us, eh? 

White out

The new Netflix bonkbuster Bridgerton would have us believe that some in Regency England’s high society were not, how shall I put it, of Anglo Saxon stock. What are we to make of that?

Puzzled Viewer

Dear PV

I’ve caught this American production and it is a bit bizarre I agree but it’s also a lot of fun: beautiful cast, sumptuous costumes, and not a trace of shit in the streets. 

I suppose that, at a reputed £5million an episode, Netflix are entitled to recruit whom they wish, including a black Queen Charlotte. It’s called colour-blind casting, I’m told, and we’re naughty to notice. The Grauniad certainly didn’t: in a 700-word review it isn’t mentioned once.

Also, I suspect, it’s theatrical wokedom slyly teasing those of us who thought England in 1813 was not like that at all. So, book now for Dominic West and Lily James in Porgy and Bess; Julian Clary must be a shoo-in for the title role in Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

Let the luvvies enjoy their whimsy. Bless.

More pernicious, though, is what is happening in TV advertising. It seems almost obligatory for a black man to have a white wife these days and some ads feature all black families. Nothing wrong with that but, statistically, it’s flawed. A recent analysis of 1,000 ads broadcast in the UK revealed that 37% featured black people even though they make up just 3% of the British population. Now that would make Don Draper mad.

It’s the splash!

Dear Aunt Marje,
Wild water swimming: thoughts?
Chapped Thighs

Dear CT,

First, congratulations on the second shortest question (after Tog? in September) I have received this year. I’m going to have to be careful on this one, though. I know, from sharing a spare prize bottle of Appellation Richard Chateauneuf du Pape with darling Matt off-piste in the American Bar of the Flying Fuck, that these health chappies are hot on any sort of exercise during the pandemic. 

But Wild? Water? Swimming? In Winter? OK, so it’s exercise. In the fresh air. But jumping into a lake, river or outdoor pool at this time of year? Do leave it out, as my cleaner says.

Yet the author of Wild Swimming, Daniel Start (I wish he’d fucking stop), says: ‘There’s something slightly naughty, a little bit scary and wonderfully invigorating about entering open water with just your skin (and perhaps a swimming costume) between you and the elements.’ 

You see where this is heading don’t you? Into the dripping green world of insufferable smugdom: cue up-your-bum Grauniad puffs for ‘spring-fed quarry lakes with glistening jade water’ or ‘lunar snorkel safaris under a full moon’. Beware, too, the achingly twee names of the sort of clubs you’d be expected to join: the Open Water Beauts, the Salty Seabirds, the Blue Tits, the Neoprene Queens or the Chunky Dunkers.

If you’re still convinced this is a good idea, pose for the obligatory self-satisfied Facebook snap, take the plunge and plough on...leaving the rest of us spluttering in your woke.



BBC in a class of its own


The BBC is to resume its Bitesize online lessons for students confined to home by the lockdown — News Item




History in Moments

(Our awards-nominated trainee)

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

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

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

AN RR (t)


Canary Wharf, 50 years apart


Looking north from Greenwich, these two pictures reveal how Canary Wharf, home of the Express, Star and Mirror titles, has grown from a dockyard to a huge commercial centre with towering skyscrapers.

From 1802 to the late 1980s, what would become the Canary Wharf Estate was a part of the Isle of Dogs and was one of the busiest docks in the world. After the 1960s, the port industry began to decline, leading to all the docks being closed by 1980.

The area in East London was then developed to become what it is today — a city of skyscrapers, 300 shops and luxury flats. Thanks to Covid it is a bit quiet at the moment.

Happily, the Old Royal Naval College, now part of the University of Greenwich, on the south of the Thames has remained more or less unchanged.


Daily Express stems losses as Sunday sales rise a little

Several national newsbrands managed a month on month increase in print circulation in November, with The Observer seeing the biggest rise at 4%.

The Sunday title's print circulation rose from 145,680 to 152,129 having remained steady in the previous month.

The Sunday Express, the Sunday People and the Guardian also saw print sales rise 1%, after seeing declines between September and October

The Observer saw the smallest year-on-year decline at 5%. It was the only title not to report a double-digit year-on-year fall.

The Financial Times had the biggest paid-for decline (36% to 104,024) followed by the i (31% to 151,888).

Metro and the Evening Standard, which had their free commuter distribution models hit by the Covid-19 lockdowns, were still 46% and 40% down on the previous year’s print readership.

Source: Press Gazette


Shielding, Blitz-style

Knitting while London Burns. This picture, taken from Blitz Spirit, by Becky Brown, proves that lockdown and the wearing of masks is nothing new. 

Irritatingly, there's no caption (as with all the pix in an otherwise excellent selection of War War II diary entries.) But it attaches to a chapter chronicling January to June, 1940. 

The lady is in her Anderson Shelter. Note the knitting – and the face mask. She obviously couldn't care tuppence for what old Adolf might get up to.


The unchanging face of London

CHARING X RD 1937.jpeg

A PERIOD of 83 years separates these two photographs on London’s Charing Cross Road.

The top pic was taken on a foggy day in 1937 and the scene below shows the same spot in 2020. As you can see, nothing much has changed.

Photographer Davenant questions whether it is the same tree in both pics. We had our doubts as it appears to have moved several feet to the left. But ‘avid Drone fan’ Ian Barratt suggests that it is the same tree as the pavement appears to have been widened since 1937.

CHARING X RD 2020 JAN.jpeg


Legends in their lunchtime


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

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

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

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



Hello again.  Breaking news: We decided to go to church. No. Stop it. Don’t take the piss. It has been (socially-distanced, no hymns) Christmas, after all. Actually, Teddy was brought up on daily chapel when he was at Harlow (Sure that shouldn’t be Harrow? — Ed)  and I often used to go with Mummy when I lived at home in Corby. Our village church, dedicated to St Addis, is a fine Norman building with exquisite stained glass and a no-nonsense nave. Alas, the vicar, the pinch-faced Rev Petronella Prune, is an absolute disaster, darling (as they say on Strictly).  

No organ: ageing, ponytailed would-be rocker ‘playing’ electric guitar; spotty youth on keyboard. New form of service, of course; no sign of the Book of Common Prayer. His Tedship distinctly unimpressed. Our Pet wouldn’t know Thomas Cranmer if he rose up from his martyr’s grave and bit her on the bum, he says.

La Prune was a microbiologist before she retrained for the ministry, we’re told, and lives with the

sexton, a burly, unsmiling former provost sergeant in the Royal Military Police called Sally. Teddy thinks they might be g*y.

Whatever, we’ll not darken their door again. If pressed, I’d prefer Songs of Praise and buttered buns by the wood burner. After all, we grew up with Aled, didn’t we?

Rural idyll update? You’ll think me amiss! In truth, there’s not much to tell. Christmas was a bit of a Tier 2 isolated non-event to be honest. Bit fraught between His Nibs and me. At times I’ll admit we were like two cats in a sack (there’s a thought!). At present we’re OKish. But 

little Frame Hampton now feels definitely ITBMW, as darling Christina used to say.

Something’s peeping through the undergrowth at the village pond, though. The lovely Sikhs at the shop say they’re snowdrops. How would they know, asks Ted. The plains of Punjab are hardly replete with them (such a bitch!). Well, I say, the Sikhs have been in the village longer than us so they would know. 

One highlight to report: we spotted a quite rare Wright Tit on the lower branches of the Weeping Zackondia. It has a distinctive twitch and the inability to spot a good splash (Ollie, pet, this allusion is way too obscure, especially for the average Drone reader - Ed).

Till the next time. Stay safe! Oh, and a happy new year!


More from the Country Boys


History in Moments

1982. So...before my time, of course, but Proddie, my self appointed ‘guide and mentor’, recalls fondly the moment that a well-upholstered lass called Erika Roe ran on to the pitch at Twickenham, flaunting her magnificent embonpoint to a baying crowd. 

‘Talk about swing low sweet chariot,’ he chuckles. The ultimate streak played well on telly, as you’d imagine, but still pictures were rather ruined by the little chap in top hat and tails who insisted on covering Ms Roe’s 40ins attractions with the union flag he was carrying. 

Typical of the late Ken Bailey, 71-year-old self-styled England cheerleader and mascot, a ubiquitous, jumped-up, show-off who was ever-present at sporting events at the time. 

Naturally, the January 2 rugby match between England and Australia was disrupted. England prop Colin Smart memorably said to his skipper, Bill Beaumont: ‘Don’t look now, Bill, a bird’s just run on with your arse tacked on to her chest.’ 

Erika, who later became a sweet potato farmer in Portugal (as you do), was unrepentant. Drink was blamed. 



Robin’s latest thriller

Here’s something we can all look forward to — a new Fleet Street crime thriller written by former Express sub Robin McGibbon.

The blurb on the back cover of Final Deadline, which will be published in the New Year, gives you a clue to the plot. 

We are reliably informed that a character called McIntyre plays a crucially significant role in the denouement.

’Twas ever thus …


Careful talk can save Covid lives 


BY POPBITCH, Gossip Editor

Prince Andrew is under the spotlight again now that Peter Nygard – another society figure he has ties to – has been arrested on sex trafficking charges. 

Some new questions are now being asked about Andrew's version of events, but no doubt HRH will simply consider this to be more of the same beastly treatment he has come to expect from the media. 

When Handsy Andy was a guest at a party at Cameron Diaz's house a few years ago, one poor soul who ended up stuck talking to him says the Prince spent the entire evening complaining about how the UK press liked to build people up, only to knock them back down again. 

Not only had it happened to him, he said, but also to his favourite band "The Radioheads”.


Q: Why does the Duke of York not sweat?
A: He uses Andy-perspirant



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

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



(See ‘Pissed Off’ in Letters to the Editor)


How Barbara pulled a fast one and got a lad in


Dame Barbara Windsor had many strong points, but subtlety was not one of them — as I discovered while ghosting her autobiography 20 years ago.

One of the experiences Barbara had to address in the book was falling love with the son of one of her old school friends, while married, a story she asked me to reveal exclusively in the News of the World.

On the morning the story broke, the tabloid Press besieged Barbara’s Marylebone home, eager to see and hear from the new man in her life, an actor, 26 years younger, named Scott Mitchell. 

The couple stayed indoors, with the phone off the hook, all that Sunday and most of Monday. But that afternoon Barbara had to leave for the theatre, where she was appearing in Aladdin – and, as she rushed to Scott’s waiting Mercedes, she fended off questions with: “Sorry, can’t stop – I’m appearing in panto.”

The next day, The Sun ran a photo, under the headline: “Sorry, must dash, I’ve got Aladin tonight” a witty line, for which Sun sub Fergus Shanahan must take the credit.     

When Barbara read how I’d written this episode for her book she shook her head. “No, darling, we’ve got to spell it out, otherwise my readers won’t get the joke.”

She wanted the line to read “: … I’ve got A-LAD-IN-TONIGHT.”

I explained that The Sun must have been convinced their millions of readers would understand the double-entendre and, after a while, Barbara gave in.

As far as I was concerned, that was the end of that but, weeks later, when I read the proofs, I discovered that crafty old Babs had persuaded the editor to put the dashes back. 


The mad gangster now singing at Platform 14

shirley-anne 2.jpg

No, you’re not going barmy … this really is the benevolent Mad Frankie Fraser singing his heart out for charity with movie star Shirley-Anne Field.

The astonishing photo was taken in the early nineties by former Express sub-editor Robin McGibbon, who was ghosting the notorious gangster’s autobiography.

It came about when Fraser learned that Shirley-Anne wanted help in promoting a carol singing event on London’s Waterloo Station, in aid of Save the Children. 

The publicity-mad villain immediately offered his services, while admitting he couldn’t sing a note and his tuneless voice was torture for anyone unfortunate enough to hear it.




Steve Wood and Larry.jpg

LIFE OF LARRY: Steve Wood in Downing Street yesterday Picture by MARK THOMAS

THERE isn’t a lot happening in the world of politics so photographer Steve Wood wandered down to Downing Street to see what was occurring.

The answer was not a lot. But who should Steve encounter outside No10 but Larry the cat, looking worried about how the negotiations on the price of fish were progressing in Brussels.

Former Express star photographer Steve told the Drone: "Larry is worried about his supply of Greek sea bass. 

"I worry about the supply of halibut from Norway but I couldn't give a shit about the fish that the French want off  the Cornish coast — smelly awful tiny herrings — they can have them. 

"All of the fish in British waters is probably covered in oil. I don’t want any of it — I'll stick to Norwegian halibut and Larry will stick to Greek sea bass.”

Er, yes, quite … we told you it was a slow news day.



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ann sidney2017.jpg


History in Moments

1943: So...even heroes have to chill, writes Awards Nominee Rosalie Rambleshanks (trainee), skilfully avoiding the classic Calm Before The Storm cliché intro. 

A young man in uniform takes a breather in a poppy field as the Second World War rages. But this was no ordinary airman. Rather, it was the extraordinary Wing Commander Guy Gibson relaxing before the action that was to celebrate his name for ever: the Dambusters raid over the Ruhr, Germany’s industrial heartland, on May 16-17, 1943.

Gibson was a phenomenon. He flew more than 170 missions and was the most glittering bomber pilot of his day; so much so that his time as a fighter pilot tends to be overlooked. 

Promoted to senior rank very young, as the holder of the VC, DSO and Bar, DFC and Bar, he was the most decorated serviceman of his day. Yet when he was killed in action in 1944 he was still only 26.

Like his school companion, Douglas Bader, he didn’t suffer fools at all. He was known as the Boy Emperor and the Arch Bastard. Said to be arrogant and bombastic, he had little time for ‘other ranks and colonials’. Yet one of his crew conceded: ‘I could see that he was a true leader although he never spoke to me or even acknowledged me.’

Gibson’s role in the bouncing bomb (mines, actually) raids has been immortalised in the classic and oft-screened 1955 film The Dam Busters. There’s a poignant and true account of the death of his black Labrador dog on the eve of the raid (who can forget the sight of Gibson throwing its lead into a waste paper basket?). Yet one of our insufferable, achingly woke TV stations (no ducks to be won for suggesting Channel 4) chose to cut this because the dog’s name was Nigger.

Gibson was excellently played in the film by another war hero, airborne forces veteran Richard Todd. But his part in the celebrated capture of the Pegasus Bridge in 1944 is, of course, another story, another History in Moments.


Never upset a snapper!


A Christmas gift from the House of Drone

Curtain Twitcher’s


Ever get bogged down writing wordy Facebook chatter group posts answering the perennial question: Hi peeps: anyone know what’s that noise outside? 

Instead, reach for this handy library of Drone PostPix which really proves that a picture paints a thousand words.

What’s that Noise?
Also in development:

Mutt from No.9 mating noisily with next door’s cockerpoo

Girl on Lidl checkout rowing with boyfriend on corner Infidelity alleged

Bloke opposite coming home pissed again (who the fuck is Nellie Dean?)

Spurs would seem to have won again

Carol singers open repertoire with We Wish You a Merry Christmas

And many more


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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

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

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

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

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


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


lil dicky.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

Memory Lane
Dollis Hill.

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



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

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

Read the fascinating tale here


Steve Bell’s cartoon banned by the Graun

BELL IF.jpeg

CARTOONIST Steve Bell was in even more trouble last night after this drawing from his If strip was rejected by editors.

Bell, one of our most gifted by controversial cartoonists, is already working out his notice with the paper.

London’s Political Cartoon Gallery tweeted: 'Spiked because it made someone at The Guardian "feel uncomfortable". This is the first time that a cartoon has been spiked by the paper because it didn't toe a particular editorial line. A sad day.'


My fabulous night with the Fab Four

Beatles cover.jpeg

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

A pleasing night with The Beatles




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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"So unlike him to want to keep anything quiet!

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

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

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

"He would have loved that.”

Farewell to a Fleet Street great, by ALAN FRAME

Daily Telegraph obituary


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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


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


Deux amis sur Le Continong

(Gay Paree actuellement)


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As ever,


Funny you should say that Dick ...

Former Mirror and Expressman John Clarke writes:

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

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

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

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



Two pics from the 80s
to jog a few memories

HAIR RAISING: Our man Williams, left, forges ahead

PUFFY BUFFY: Roger Watkins

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy times!


How an Expressman came face to face with Sutcliffe in Broadmoor

FRIENDS: Maureen Flanagan and Charlie Kray


The death of Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe reminded me of the time I came face to face with him, in Broadmoor.

It was early in 1985, shortly after he’d been transferred from an Isle of Wight prison, and I was visiting the Berkshire psychiatric hospital — at Reggie Kray’s suggestion — to meet his twin brother, Ronnie, for the first time.

With me was Maureen Flanagan, a former Sun Page Three model, who’d become friends with the twins, and older brother Charlie, after being employed as their mother’s hairdresser.

Ronnie always liked to make a grand entrance into the visiting hall, and we were sitting waiting for him when Flan — as she insisted on being called — leaned towards me and whispered: “Don’t look now, but the Yorkshire Ripper’s at the next table.”

I waited a few moments, then, as casually as I could, looked across the aisle. And found myself staring into Sutcliffe’s face. All these years on, it’s hard to remember how I felt, but what I’ve never forgotten are his eyes: dark, cold, expressionless.

A minute or so later, Sutcliffe’s wife, Sonia, arrived, and embraced him, like any loving wife. The next time I stole a glance they were huddled close, cheek to cheek, reading the Bible together.

When Ronnie arrived, it was clear he had seen the Ripper because he immediately changed our seating arrangements, so that he, not Flan, was  in Sutcliffe’s line of vision. Always the gentleman, Ron!

My Kray connection to the Ripper doesn’t end there. 

Five years ago, a man I’d never met rang my home. He said he’d listened to the CD of my conversations with the Krays and wondered if I’d be interested in hearing his taped conversations with a notorious killer. 

Who is it? I wanted to know. When he wouldn’t tell me, I ended the call and thought no more about it. Two days later, he called back and admitted he’d lied about his name because he wanted to be sure I was trustworthy.  

“So, what is your real name?”

“Ray Kray,” he said.

“Yeah, right,” I said. “And mine’s Donald Duck.”

Astonishingly, it turned out his name was Ray Kray. And the conversations he had on tape – many, many hours of them over several years – were with Peter Sutcliffe, in Broadmoor, and prison.

I set up meetings with ITV, who were most interested in broadcasting the tapes, but Ray felt he would be betraying Sutcliffe, who had come to consider him a genuine friend. So, the tapes have never been aired.

I wonder whether Sutcliffe’s death has changed Ray’s mind.


Author Frame looks back to the future

Yesterday’s Belfast News Letter


It was not really a deja vu moment, more a strange combination of role reversal and time travel: I was interviewed by the paper on which I began my, ahem, career. The organ in question is the Belfast News Letter where I started as a spotty, innocent 18-year-old.

The reason was to find out more about my new book Toto and Coco: Spies, Seduction and the Fight for Survival with the angle, I suppose, along the lines of ‘former News Letter hack can actually write more than a few pars’ (take in PA)

When I told the feature writer, a good chap named Graeme Cousins, that I arrived at the paper in 1964 he helpfully explained that he had not been born then. Good start young Cousins! Anyway, he let me prattle on about interviewing an eclectic bunch ranging from the Beatles, Mick Jagger, Ian Paisley and the bravest of the Northern Ireland prime ministers, Terence O’Neill, and seemed to be impressed. Looking back, so am I...

We compared the very first time our by-lines appeared on Page One and then he told me that the News Letter, one of Belfast’s two morning papers (and the oldest continually published paper in the British Isles I’ll have you know) now employs just 14 staff, I felt very depressed, not just for my old home but for the state of our industry generally. In my time there we fielded more than that number at any one time in the pub, the Duke of York, a splendid place presided over by a young barman, one Gerry Adams, who went on to other activities.

So it really was a trawl through All Our Yesterdays. And at my age, that was quite a treat.

Now I’m hoping Lord Drone will dispatch Rosalie Rambleshanks (t) to give me a thorough grilling. It would be the highlight of my career. It’s the least he should do – on Sunday when interviewed about the book I gave the  World’s Greatest Website a whopping great plug. *

*Miss Rambleshanks views this request as a problem as can be discerned from her letter to Aunt Marje, below.



Steve Bott’s World

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

Part 2

Part 3




Former Mirror and Expressman John Clarke dug out this gem from 1991 to remind us all of the villainy of pensions robber Robert Maxwell who died within 10 months of writing this newsletter warning of ‘major changes'


Former Express legal chief is Times Lawyer of Week



Great pictures of Daily and Sunday Express in the 80s

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

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








Who’s that with Sue?

bobby and sue.jpeg

Comedian Bobby Ball, who has died, moved in the best of circles. Here he is with Sue McGibbon, wife of Robin, and Kenny Lynch. The picture was taken at the opening of a club (possibly Xanadu) in Regent Street, London in 1986

How to be sensible


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

It’s game raising time, Mac!



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


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

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

From: James Mellor

Date: Monday, 19 October, 2020  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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

Hitch makes his crisps last as he flouts mask rules

COME OUT, WE KNOW YOU’RE IN THERE: Peter HItchens makes a point by wearing a wartime gas mask


After making a big song and dance about face coverings this summer, photographing himself multiple times in full WW2 gas mask get-up, it seems Peter Hitchens has settled on a new plan to flout the requirement to wear a face mask on public transport. 

On the train from London to Oxford this week, Hitchens ignored the many announcements and signs asking him to consider fellow passengers and wear a mask – instead getting himself a cup of tea and a packet of crisps so that he could remain maskless in order to consume them. 

He then proceeded to make the solitary packet of crisps last the entire journey, nibbling away at a rate of one crisp per 1.8 minutes. 

So if any starving schoolkids are looking for advice on how to make a meal out of not very much… 



THE exodus of staff from the London Evening Standard has begun following the Covid crisis and the curious appointment of George Osborne as editor. 

At least 16 journalists have announced their departures online in the past week from teams including video, showbiz and sport.

They are part of an anticipated 40 per cent cut to newsroom staff after the Standard’s business model was one of the worst hit in the media industry by Covid-19, relying as it does largely on free pick-up by commuters and advertising revenue.

It is believed that up to 115 staff in total will leave in the current round of redundancies, including 69 in editorial.

The journalists to have left the newsroom include:

Chris Stone, executive producer for video and audio

David Lynch, Liverpool FC correspondent

Emma Clarke, SEO and audience development manager

Fola Olorunselu, video journalist

George Fenwick, showbiz reporter

Jack Webb, gaming and tech writer

Joe Krishnan, sport journalist

Kimberley Bond, showbiz reporter

Lucy Pavia, Insider editor

Mathilda Mallinson, video journalist

Rachel McGrath, digital showbiz and TV editor

Rich Parry, deputy head of sport

Rob Le Mare, video producer

Sally Biddall, head of social

Tony Mogan, digital production assistant (sports desk)

Zoe Paskett, arts writer.

The Drone says: Even before the Coronavirus crisis the Standard became almost unreadable thanks to job cuts and the appointment of a non-journalist as editor. 

Most people never bothered to pick up their free copies, preferring to get the latest news from their phones.

Despite this, George Osborne is still employed at the title as editor-in-chief.

Sometimes we are at a loss for words at what some managements are doing to our beloved newspaper industry.






times subs.jpg

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



Expressman Laws has another book out

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

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

The synopsis reads:

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

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

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

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

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

Order from Amazon

Video trailer

Davids website


Rosalie Rambleshanks (t)
Polyhymnia, Muse of Eloquence: Charles Meynier

Social distancing, my arse. If I’d known it was going to be this bad I’d never have signed up for Strictly



(Up to a point)



Read all about it, listeners!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4) The job is mine.

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


The following message has been passed to Lord Drone:

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

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


Our trainee Rosalie joins the Gong Show in awards bonanza

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


History in Moments


May 11, 1941: So...this is a scary moment during the Blitz when the whole wall of an office block collapsed spectacularly. The fantastic picture was taken by PC Fred Tibbs, of the City of London Police, the morning after another German bombing raid had weakened the building. 

Curiously, there is a dispute which address in Queen Victoria Street (not far from the Black Lubyanka) was affected. The Salvation Army claimed it was its HQ at No.101 (surely they wouldn’t fib); the fire brigade said it was 23 (surely they would know); a third report said it was No.147 (who knows?)

However, the nightmare of the Blitz, designed to bully the Home Front into surrender, had ended. Not before 3,000 people had been killed on the worst day since the terror campaign began the previous September. They were added to the terrible toll, not just in the capital but in other strategically important British cities, too.

A total of 32,000 were killed and 87,000 seriously injured. Two million properties (60 per cent of them in London) were destroyed. Yet the civilian population’s defiance forced Hitler to re-think: he moved his heavy bombers to the eastern front in preparation for the invasion of Russia.

Britain’s refusal to surrender during the Blitz, whatever the cost, proved a turning point. In a speech to the Canadian Parliament at the end of 1941 Winston Churchill referred to a sneering remark made by the collaborist Vichy government in France about our chances of surviving alone.

He said: ‘Their generals told their prime minister and his divided cabinet that in three weeks England would have her neck wrung like a chicken.

‘Some chicken. Some neck!’

R.R (t)


Don’t talk to me about
A series in which we talk about things
you’d prefer not to talk about, actually

No1: The Hogarth Roundabout

By IZZY K. BRUNEL-SHANKS Motoring Correspondent

This major traffic fuck-up has been bedevilling motorists in West London since the growth of the motor car after the last war.

Named after the painter William Hogarth, who lived nearby, it is at the junction of the A316 Great Chertsey Road, carrying traffic from the M3 and the A4 Great West Road in Chiswick.

There is usually ample opportunity for drivers to admire the façade of the Griffin Brewery of Fuller, Smith and Turner on the roundabout.

It is notable for its single lane flyover (see picture) built as a temporary measure (sic) in 1971 to carry eastbound traffic. The hastily-assembled structure was intended to be part of the London Ringways project, eventually abandoned after years of wrangling. A recent major refurbishment has made it safe for the future (allegedly).

Picture research: Rosalie Rambleshanks (trainee)

Editor’s note: Jam tarts, which were traditionally consumed at tea time on the Daily Express news subs desk in the 1970s and 80s, were known as Hogarths because they were filled with … well you get the idea. Not a lot of people know this.



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it’s approved by doctors!

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Whatever happened to silver serpents in Daily Express foyer?


THE foyer of the Daily Express building was one of the wonders of London’s Fleet Street.

It is so important that it is the only part of the old building that still exists.

But a mystery surrounds the entrance hall: What happened to the art deco silver serpent balustrades that adorned the steps to the lifts?

The ones currently in the foyer are replicas which the developers had to make because the new owners said the serpents were 'lost’. That seems unlikely.

Very little is documented on the serpents but their value was huge. Has one of the chairmen got them in his hallway or in the basement? It all seems to be shrouded in silence.

Can anyone throw light on this mystery?

The much-admired entrance hall is a Grade II* listed building designed in 1932 by Robert Atkinson and is one of the most prominent examples of art deco/streamline moderne architecture in London.

The foyer is normally only accessible to employees of the building and invited guests.

A Daily Express reunion was held in the foyer in 2008, organised by the late Norman Luck.


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

Drone Media Commentator

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional research by Rosalie Rambleshanks (trainee).


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Guttersnipe's Dick pens another novel

23 dick durham.JPG

Another day, another book written by one of the big names of old Fleet Street.

This time the author is Dick Durham, pictured, who worked as a staff reporter on the Daily Star from 1980-1998 and as a casual on The Sun, Daily Mail, and Daily Mirror prior to that.

Dick told the Drone: 'On The Daily Star I covered the Seoul Olympics; Brixton Riots and Prince Charles and Diana's wedding among other stories, which are all mentioned in my memoir, Guttersnipe, A Tabloid Hack's Memoir of Fleet Street, which was aired in your august organ thanks to Mike Hellicar.'

Dick’s second novel, Dead Reckoning, is available now on Amazon in paperback and Kindle ebook.

Here’s the synopsis:

Duff Bundock tries to rebuild his fractured marriage with a sea voyage aboard his sailing boat. When his wife, Connie, is thrown overboard, as the boat loses control, the affair which caused their rift in the first place comes back to haunt the skipper. 

Was the accident really an accident? If it was an accident was it one which presented an opportunity for a new life? Is Duff convincing himself it was an accident in order to return to his mistress?

The book, written in the first person, is in two parts, the first from Duff’s point of view, the second from Connie’s. The pair explore faith, sexuality, marriage, and infidelity, discovering vice in the first three and virtue in the last.


One snapper and his dog Flossie record
a town in lockdown

Award-winning photographer Bob Aylott has his two-year-old Cockerpoo, Flossie, to thank for helping him create a book about his home town during last Spring’s national lockdown.

Bob, who worked for the Daily Sketch, Mail and Star, in an illustrious 40-year Fleet Street career, used Flossie as a decoy to fool residents in Fareham, Hants, that he was  taking allowable daily exercise — not shooting thousands of photographs of the deserted town centre and neighbouring areas.

“I certainly couldn’t have got away with it without her,” Bob, 71, told the Drone. “We’d walk up to six miles a day and nobody took any notice. I was just this old pensioner getting his exercise. Flossie would warn me of people approaching, even before I saw them. And she seemed to sense when I wanted to capture a scene because she’d lay down, as though she was tired.”

Bob would have published his book months ago, had he not contracted Covid 19 and been kept in hospital for five weeks. Fortunately he’d taken more than 10,000 photographs before the virus struck. 

In 1968, Aylott won the News Picture of the Year award for his photo of a police officer being kicked in the face by an anti-Vietnam War protester, outside the U.S Embassy, in Mayfair. 

Lockdown Town, by Bob Aylott, with his dog, Flossie – Foreword by Fareham MP and Attorney General Suella Braverman QC – is published by Fareham Life in two editions: high quality hardcover and e-book


Ludgate Circus on a foggy night in November, 1922




An occasional series by SPIKE DIVER

Picture research by R.R.(t)

FUDGE: This stereo plate was used for breaking news

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is said that one stand-in Late Sub blames the first silver hairs in his thatch on one incident in the rapidly changing  Toxteth riots of July, 1981 at 2.15 on a Monday morning when he was very much alone. 

Simultaneously trying to copy-taste, redraw Page 1, sub a new splash, write a new head and stone it in while copy tasting another new splash (Cops Fire CS Gas For First Time On British Mainland) certainly kept him awake.

Alternatively, one could always while away the time by composing fantasy fudges for major historical events such as:

Gravity discovered as apple falls on boffin near Grantham, Lincs

Doomed monarch fails in bid to swap kingdom for horse at Bosworth near Leicester

Star-crossed lovers die in suicide pact after family feud in Verona, Italy

One-armed, one-eyed admiral killed as Navy routs French in battle off Cadiz, Spain

Next in Media Hits and Myths: Is it possible to grow your own rough ends of green pineapples in the UK climate and will Rosalie Rambleshanks ever graduate from being a trainee?

LATE SUB: Bob Haylett, left, on his normal Back Bench perch

Year the Express changed its title piece three times in as many days (well, there was a General Strike on)

May 8, 1926: An elegant light serif

May 11, 1926: Bold sans caps

May 13, 1926: Traditional Gothic

The General Strike lasted nine days, from 4 to 12 May, 1926. It was called by the TUC in an unsuccessful attempt to force the Government to act to prevent wage reductions and worsening conditions for 1.2 million locked-out coal miners. 

Some 1.7 million workers walked out, especially in transport and heavy industry and the printers joined them, reducing newspapers to single news sheets. 

The government was prepared, and enlisted middle class volunteers to maintain essential services. There was little violence and the TUC gave up in defeat.


Last night in Fleet Street on the Daily Express backbench

FINAL EDITION: The year is 1989 and Daily Express night editor Terry Manners speaks on the backbench telephone during the paper's last night at its iconic offices in Fleet Street, London. Also pictured are art supremo Tim Holder and backbencher Dick Dismore. The circulation manager is in the background.

This picture, along with six others, have been unearthed by former night news editor Terry Chinery.




8 Daily Express, September 24, 1938



CARLIN                                   PARRY

So … spooky or what? Not Mike Parry, although, to be honest, he can be a bit scary. No, I mean his resemblance to fellow journalist John Carlin. 

Both are in their mid-sixties, went to good schools and are university educated. 

Carlin, born to a Scottish father and Spanish mother, started in journalism on the Buenos Aires Herald writing about football, politics and film. He has enjoyed a successful career writing in both English and Spanish and has won many awards. 

He is best known for his work on The Times, Sunday Times, the Independent and the Toronto Star as well as broadcasting for, alphabetically, ABC, BBC and CBC. A book he wrote on Nelson Mandela formed the basis of the well received 2009 film Invictus.

Parry, more correctly Michael Alan Newton-Parry, is, by comparison, more of a journalistic grunt, although he enjoyed a respectable career in Fleet Street notably as an industrious news editor on the World’s Greatest Newspaper. 

For a time he was press officer for the Football Association and went on to make a name for himself on talkRADIO and, later, talkSPORT, forming amusing double acts with the likes of Alan Brazil and another former Express exec, Mike Graham. 

Indeed, he and Graham even toured the halls with their live Two Mikes show but later fell out and went their separate ways. Parry had serious health problems in 2004 but fought back admirably and resumed his radio and TV work. He left talkSPORT a year ago and now inhabits somewhere he calls Planet Porky. Nuff said. 
R.R. (t)


Express and Mirror subs ordered to work an extra night for no pay increase 

STAFF at Express and Mirror newspapers have been outraged by an order to work an extra night each fortnight for no increase in pay.

Sub-editors and other production workers have also been offerred the ‘opportunity’ to continue working from home. 

Express subs are already on a nine-night fortnight, but now the title's middle-benchers, who have been on four nights until now, have been asked to work the extra day. There will be no increase in hours actually worked.

Mirror subs have not been working the nine-night fortnight but are being told to now. Understandably there have been objections.  

These were answered by Lloyd Embley, editor-in-chief, who reportedly told a meeting that parent company Reach had just made extensive redundancies on the regional titles so those sacked workers would be willing to work on the national titles. But he said he did not want to do that.

This threat could reasonably be interpreted that the company is willing to draft in cheaper labour to replace experienced national newspaper journalists.


The mad world of Andy ‘Bites Yer Legs’ Carson


HERE’S a picture that sums up the fun of the national press in its heyday.

The print was found among the memorabilia at art genius Vic Giles’s flat in the Barbican, London, by his son-in-law Expressman Stephen Wood.

Dated October 1981, it is an intriguing snap from Vic’s time at the Daily Star in Manchester.

We can’t fill in all the spaces but pictured, from left, are: Bob Coole; unidentified; Jeff McGowan, Daily Star news editor; unidentified; Vic Giles and Ray Mills. Grovelling on the floor is Andy Carson. 

The caption on the back in Ray Mills’s handwriting reads: “Andy ‘Bites Yer Legs’ Carson in typical pose.”

Can anyone throw any light on the mystery men?




TWO elderly gents rest their weary bones by the riverside in Lincoln. Discerning folk may recognise them as former Expressmen Roger Watkins, left, and Terry Manners.

It was, we suspect a social visit, not that you would deduce that from the caption supplied by Mr Watkins: 'Former Express hacks during rehearsals in Lincoln for a socially-distanced production of Waiting for Godot (“Dire: do not bother” — Q Letts, Sunday Times) and, below, in their back bench days.'

Mr Manners put it differently: 'Observing social distancing with my grandad in Lincoln today.'


Massed ranks of Fleet Street’s finest, 1997


FORMER Daily Express photographer TOM STODDART posted this picture on Twitter last night to celebrate World Photography Day. It shows Fleet Street's photographers in action as newly-elected Prime Minister Tony Blair arrives in Downing Street on 2nd May, 1997 after winning the General Election.

Rupert keeps it up


It's rare we feel much sympathy for any of the Murdoch family, but we had a slight pang of it in 2016 when we heard this story, remembers POPBITCH.

Wanting to check that her dear old dad was keeping fit, one of Rupert Murdoch's daughters bought him one of those wristbands that track your activity. 

She started wearing one too so that the pair of them could check each other's activity for the day – to keep each other motivated to stay healthy.

The daughter eventually decided to turn off the sharing function when Rupes got himself a new girlfriend though as she kept being reminded, at around 9pm each night, that his 'activity' would shoot right up*.

*Fnaar, fnaar — Ed



HAVE you worked it out yet? Yes chums it’s Mike Graham, formerly of this parish and now a celebrated radio broadcaster.

This picture was taken in New York in the 1980s where Mike ran a news agency.

He later joined the Daily Express where he rose through the ranks from reporter to assistant editor. After a spell as editor of the Scottish Daily Mirror he moved into radio in 2006.

Mike now hosts the mid-morning weekday show on TalkRADIO, taking over at 10am from his former Express colleague Julia Hartley-Brewer, who helped him celebrate his 60th birthday, below.

24emma graham nyc c88.jpeg





Daredevil Tom, forgotten hero of the Daily Express 


The extraordinary wartime exploits of Expressman Tom Dobney can be told today.

Tom became the youngest airman in the RAF when he lied about his age and signed up at the age of 14.

Thirty years later, when Sunday Express editor John Junor heard of the young pilot’s derring-do, he instructed his reporters to scour the country to track Tom down.

The investigators drew a blank … but in an amazing twist of events it turned out that the answer to their quest was on their doorstep.


History in Moments

1953: So … stop sniggering at the back there, you down-table subs. We’re about to embrace a serious topic, a first for the Daily Drone: lesbians. 

This rather sweet picture of some pretty girls dancing and drinking was taken at the Gateways Club, a haunt for ladies who batted for the other side in a dingy, windowless cellar-like room in Bramerton Street just off the Kings Road, Chelsea. 

The club, founded in the Thirties, flourished in the war and quickly became notorious for its edgy clientele. It even had a Green Door, said to have inspired the hit song of that name recorded by Frankie Vaughan and, later, Shakin’ Stevens. 

The club really became famous when it was the location for scenes, involving regulars as extras, for the 1968 film The Killing of Sister George, starring Beryl Reid, a youthful Susannah York and a sexy crop-haired Coral Browne. 

It was one of the first to explore lesbianism which, although never illegal like male homosexuality (it is said that Queen Victoria never believed it could happen and declined to sign off the proposed legislation), certainly was confined to the shadows of British life.

Gateways limped on until complaints about its loud music led to its closure in 1985. It was run for many years by Ted Ware, said to have won it in a poker game, and his Italian wife, Gina. They were joined (and I’m not making this up) by a woman, demobbed from the American Air Force, called Smithy.

The Drone’s resident former Express hack, Proddie, says she reminds him of the cast list of the celebrated BBC radio series Round the Horne which included, memorably: ‘burly, moustachioed former bomber pilot Betty Marsden’. Atta girl!

R.R. (t)

Shamefully omitted from the BBC documentary, Kelvin gives his side of Rupert Murdoch story

FORMER Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie has come out fighting in defence of Rupert Murdoch following an extraordinary TV snub.

Inexplicably left out of the BBC’s three-part documentary on his old boss, he has written a brilliant article for The Spectator about his experiences working for Murdoch.

And, as you would expect, he has not held back, accusing the programme makers of peddling one-sided bile.

There's more ... Craig MacKenzie revealed yesterday that his brother is writing a book entitled Murdoch and Me and Other Madmen. 

"A movie is in the works — it’s going to get messy,” says Craig.

You have been warned.

Beat the paywall and read Kelvin’s Spectator article free of charge on the Drone. You’re welcome.

The real Rupert Murdoch




BEGUM                                    LOREN

So … OK, it’s a bit of a stretch but, come on, they do look alike, don’t they? One is the doyenne (o dovrei dire la decana?) of Italian cinema; the other a rather pathetic wannabe terrorist. 

Sophia Loren, nee Sofia Villani Scicolone, is pushing 86 now but is still a celebrated beauty, famous for her sultry roles in well regarded films: she won an Oscar for the iconic De Sica movie, Two Women.

This dramatic still is from The Black Orchid, currently in the Talking Pictures TV portfolio. Her love life was a bit tangled. After a notorious affair with Cary Grant she ‘married’ the director Carlo Ponti, 21 years her senior. Trouble was he hadn’t actually divorced his first wife. So he and Loren had to go through a rather messy annulment to avoid bigamy charges. They did eventually marry and, in classic romantic style, lived happily ever after.

There hasn’t been much happiness in Shamima Begum’s short life. Now 21, she fled the UK at 15 and became an Isis bride in various Syrian hellholes. She had three children all, tragically, now dead. She was back in the news this months when the Court of Appeal ruled that she should be allowed back here to appeal against being stripped of UK citizenship. This decision, too, is the subject of an appeal.

However it all turns out, you may be sure that her life will never be as fulfilled and satisfying as her illustrious lookalike.

R.R (t)

History in Moments


February 5, 1953: So...what are these little reprobates up to? Stuffing their faces with sugarlicious sweets: don’t they know it’s bad for their teeth? 

Actually, by the look of  'em this trio is too young to be used to sucking gobstoppers, sherbet lemons, liquorice comfits, dolly mixtures (Get on with it: we get the message — Ed) because for all their lives they had been rationed. 

But today wartime rationing on sweets has ended after 11 years so it’s a feeding frenzy. Toffee apples were the big sellers today along with nougat and liquorice strips. 

One London firm gave 800 kids 150lb of lollipops; another doled out sweets to allcomers. Even adults joined in with many men taking a box of choccies home for their wives, most for the first time. 

An attempt to de-ration sweets in 1949 failed because demand far exceeded supply and rationing was reimposed after just four months. But this time all went well and the sugar rush led to a £250 million boost to the confectionery industry in one year (today the UK spends £5billion annually).

Curiously, rationing of sugar itself continued for another seven months. Old Proddie, the former Express hack who hangs around the Drone newsroom (and, increasingly, over me as I type, I might add) recalls, as a tiny tot, being placed in a ration queue by his mother to keep her place while she did other shopping. Common practice, apparently. 

I asked Granny Rambleshanks if she ever did this. ‘No, dear,’ she said, we had maids for that sort of thing.’ Oh, Granny, those were the days! La dolce vita, indeed.

R.R. (t)


Guardian sacks cartoonist Steve amid allegations of racism and anti-semitism

CARTOONIST Steve Bell is to leave the Guardian next April after the paper confirmed his contract will not be renewed. 

Bell has caused significant controversy for the Grauniad, notably depicting Benjamin Netanyahu as a puppet master of Boris Johnson and Donald Trump, and depicting Labour’s antisemitism crisis as a witch hunt. 

Many people view him as the Guardian’s most talented cartoonist but he was widely accused of racism after depicting Priti Patel, below, as a bull. 

The British Tamil Conservatives protested: “It’s anti-Hindu. It portrays the Home Secretary, of Hindu origin, as a cow. A sacred symbol for Hindus. It’s racist and misogynist. It’s plainly unacceptable. It may constitute a hate crime.”

Guardian editor Kath Viner announced that the paper was axing 180 jobs last week. But the decision not to renew Bell’s contract is said to be unrelated to the latest round of redundancies.

Bell first joined the Guardian in 1981 and he has frequently sparked controversy with his caricatures.

A cartoon showing the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, as a puppeteer controlling British political leaders William Hague and Tony Blair, was criticised by the Community Security Trust’s Dave Rich as comparable to those featuring  in Nazi publications, the Jewish Chronicle reported last night.

Last July, Bell attacked his editors' refusal to run a cartoon featuring Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former Labour deputy leader Tom Watson, suggesting it is due to "some mysterious editorial line" about antisemitism.

In the drawing, pictured below, Watson was  depicted as an "antisemite finder general" for being critical of Jew-hate in the party, said the JC.

He was shown to be  encountering the Israeli PM and calling him an "antisemitic trope".

Mr Netanyahu was playing with Donald Trump and Boris Johnson puppets and Mr Watson apologised, saying, "I thought you were members of the Labour Party”.

I’m stunned, says Steve Bell

An Expressman writes ...


From The Times, July 13


Shock as Daily Star’s reporting team is set to be slashed by half 

THE Daily Star is expected to bear the brunt of redundancies in the latest cutbacks at Reach group newspapers. 

Its reporting team is set to be nearly halved from 17 to nine.

Sports journalists, reporters and subs are also believed to be in the line of fire.

It is also understood that six of the 17 photographers on Reach’s national titles are at risk, with the company planning to use photographers on its regional newspapers to cover national jobs.

Bosses have announced plans to axe 550 jobs — 12 per cent of the workforce — and have ordered subs to work a five-night week.

But they have agreed to end the 10 per cent salary cut instituted at the start of the Covid crisis and restore full pay. 

The cuts are blamed on falling income amid reduced demand for advertising in its titles.

Reach said its group revenue had tumbled by 27.5 per cent during the second quarter, compared with a year earlier, as newspaper sales and advertising plummeted during the coronavirus crisis.

The cutbacks, thought to be the biggest round of layoffs in the company’s history, are part of changes intended to deliver savings of £35million a year.

One insider told Press Gazette there was real concern among regional papers “because they believe the nationals will suck up their resources”.

There are further fears that in an attempt to create one combined editorial team, Reach’s regional titles will lose their individual identities, particularly online where some fear celebrity news may be favoured over local news.

The well-placed source also said that under the plans for one editorial team, sub-editors would become “brand publishers” and “page publishers”. An example of cutbacks being dressed up as a “transformation”.

Under the plans, one editor-in-chief and a deputy would be appointed to cover both of Reach’s celebrity magazines – OK! and New! – and its seven newspaper supplements, with staff working across all nine titles, they said.

The Express Newspapers’ union chapel said: “Despite accepting taxpayers’ money for what was meant to be a job retention scheme, Reach is now proposing to do away with many of these jobs."

The union said that despite Covid-19, “Reach is still predicted to make a pre-tax profit of £100million this year and emerge from the crisis with a £20million cash reserve, similar to where it was at the start of the year”.

Reach made a pre-tax profit of £150.6million on turnover of £702.5million in 2019, which included a full year of trading with the Express and Star titles.

A company spokesman said: “The changes at Reach are aimed at maximising the company’s business model and will protect its trusted national and local news brands for the long-term.

“Structural change in the media sector has accelerated during the pandemic and to meet these challenges we have completed plans to transform the organisation to create a more streamlined and efficient operation.”

As former Express and Star owner, Richard Desmond is Reach’s biggest single shareholder. Press Gazette was told staff feel “we are being asked to pay with our jobs” to fund Desmond’s “billionaire lifestyle”.

The insider also said there’s a sense that staff are paying for “past errors”, notably the Mirror group’s payments to historical phone-hacking victims, which has run into the tens of millions of pounds.



Big Gunn who ruled the old Daily Sketch

may17 54.jpeg

IT can be a tough job editing a national newspaper and very few succeed at the job. Ask anyone who worked on the Daily Express for more than a few months.

An exception is Bert Gunn, who edited the Daily Sketch from 1953 to 1959 during which time he doubled the paper’s circulation.

Gunn, who died in 1962 aged 58, started as a reporter for the Kent Messenger before moving to the Straits Times in Singapore. 

He returned to the UK to work at the Manchester Evening News, then the London Evening News and the Evening Standard. He had two sons: Thom Gunn, later a poet, and Ander Gunn, who became a photographer.

In 1936, Gunn became the first northern editor of the Daily Express, then in 1943 became managing editor. He wrote the headline "It's That Man Again", referring to Hitler, which later became the title of a popular radio show.

Gunn was appointed editor of the Evening Standard in 1944 but Lord Beaverbrook disagreed with his plans to adopt a more populist approach and he left in 1952. 

In 1959 Gunn left the Sketch to edit the Sunday Dispatch but this was merged with the Sunday Express in 1961. He resigned from Associated Newspapers in 1962.

The Daily Sketch survived until 1971 when it was merged with the Daily Mail.

Scroll down this page for more on the Sketch.


Would this Daily Express advert from 1987 tempt you to buy the paper?*

*Another in our series of headlines to which the answer is No. (But at least the ad must have been cheap to produce)

A virtual first for the Tuesday gang


THWARTED by their bid to meet again following the Covid crisis, the Daily Express First Tuesday Club held a virtual meeting on Zoom yesterday.

 Members had hoped to gather in The George in Fleet Street for the first time since lockdown, but their plans were wrecked by the fact that the pub was still closed. 

Pictured above are David and Lamar Eliades,  Tony Sapiano, Bill Orchard, Gill Martin and Jim Watson, Frank Thorne’s pic vanished into the ether.

Also joining in were Tom Brown in Scotland and Chris White in Belgium.

Wartime cartoon which spoke a thousand words


This Punch cartoon by Leslie Illingworth is regarded as one of the most famous of the Second World War. 

Entitled The Combat, it features an evil-looking Nazi wearing a gas mask and wings threatening an RAF fighter plane bearing the slogan Freedom.

Drawn in 1940 the cartoon prompted hundreds of heartfelt letters from readers of the magazine.

Illingworth, who died in 1979 aged 77, was chief cartoonist of Punch and also found fame with the Daily Mail.


Drone sub-editors relax in mufti after a long shift





HARD AT WORK: Bertie Brooks is in the foreground with the late Simon Crookshank behind him. Also pictured, standing from left, are Elaine Canham, Mike Graham, Chris Williams, editor Richard Addis and Wendy Fuller. Terry Evans, who is also no longer with us, can be seen in the background speaking on the picture desk phone                Picture: Getty

HONESTLY, the things one finds on the internet. While idly scrolling through Getty Images the Drone’s team of researchers  discovered this pic of the Daily Express Blackfriars newsroom the day after the death of Princess Diana in 1997.

And there in the foreground is a rare study of champion sloper John ‘Bertie’ Brooks at his workstation for once. 

Bertie, who died in 2005, was one of the great Fleet Street characters and a dear friend to many of us. The way he struggled to work while crippled with multiple sclerosis was an inspiration.

Another view of the newsroom is below with sub-editor Roy Povey in the foreground. 


MIDDLE MEN: Roy Povey, centre, and behind him on the middle bench are Rod Jones, Dave Morgan and Keith Ging


Solemn moment Daily Sketch staff learned the paper was folding

The faces are gloomy and not without reason — this historic picture was taken in 1971 as acting editor Lou Kirby told the staff of the Daily Sketch that the paper was closing.

Many of the staff found other jobs, including Kirby and Sketch editor David English who switched to their sister paper the Daily Mail. English became editor and Kirby deputy.

The only people we can identify in this picture are Alan Frame, rear centre, and Jon Zackon, far left, looking into the centre of the room. The proximity of the man in the white coat, who we think is a librarian, is purely incidental.

ALAN FRAME comments: "What a delight to see the picture of the Sketch staff hearing the news of its (and their) demise. And well spotted! It is Your Humble Servant posing languidly in the centre, probably because my great mentor David English had already told me I was to join him on the Mail. 

"In front of me is Harvey Mann who became picture editor of the Mail on Sunday's You magazine and to my immediate left is my brilliant pal Richard Shears, long-time Mail man in Sydney. Next to him is Jack Davies the night editor who I think retired. The chap with the Col Blimp moustache towards the front is Geoffrey someone-or-other who was a star snapper.

"Fashion Note: Didn’t we all look smart in our Burton suits and polyester ties?”

JIM DAVIES: "It was indeed a sad day — though I had left nine years earlier at the beginning of the Sixties and was already on the Express. I had two very happy years  there though and many talented colleagues were just thrown onto the street. The moustachioed snapper Alan mentioned was Geoff White.”


Gad Sir! How Low hit heights with his pompous Col Blimp  

22BLIMP 2.jpeg

DAVID LOW was one of the most famous cartoonists of the 20th century and his greatest creation was Colonel Blimp who first appeared in the London Evening Standard in 1934.

Blimp, pictured here in the deckchair, was a pompous, irascible, jingoistic, and stereotypically British character, identifiable by his walrus moustache and the interjection "Gad, Sir!"

Low developed the character after overhearing two military men in a Turkish bath declare that cavalry officers should be entitled to wear their spurs inside tanks. The character was named after the barrage balloon, which was known as a blimp.

While working for the Standard, Low earned fame for his merciless satirising of Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin which led to his work being banned in Germany and Italy.

Born in New Zealand in 1891, he emigrated to London in 1919 after his work attracted the attention of Henry Cadbury, owner of The Star newspaper.

The Star sympathised with Low's moderately left-wing views but in 1927 he accepted an invitation from Lord Beaverbrook to join the conservative Evening Standard on the strict understanding that there would be no editorial interference with his output. 

There he produced his most famous work, chronicling the rise of fascism in the 1930s, the policy of Appeasement, and the conflict of World War II. 

Low was knighted in 1962 and died at his London home the following year aged 72.



My lament for iconic
Weekly News as it folds after 165 years


Sir — I think this may have slipped the radar in the midst of all the hullabaloo in the UK and worldwide but this was certainly an iconic and extremely sad occasion for many. 

Personally, I was absolutely devastated to hear that The Weekly News has closed after 165 years. The last edition (No. 8,600) went out on 30 May. I know for a fact that several former staff members of Express Newspapers (some quite famous) began their careers on the WM and will mourn the passing as much as I do.

I was 17 when I began work in the Chapel Street, Salford offices (now no more) and even after five decades miss it dreadfully. I was tutored by two legends of sporting journalism, Len Noad and Jimmy Arthur who must have helped hundreds of young journalists attempting to get on in the business. Len was what we know as 'a good operator' and first spotted the teenage Lee Sharpe and suggested to Alex Ferguson that he should sign him, which he did. 

As I remember it, the pay was £7 a week which somehow went a long way. Luxury! The difficulty, as on every other weekly, was finding a unique story and keeping it away from the dailies and nationals until Wednesday when it went to Press. 

I wrote a weekly column titled See Them on TV this Weekend which more or less speaks for itself. Most of the interviews were with wrestlers who all turned out to be the most charming of men and that included the so-called 'villains’. 

Like the Economist all writers on The Weekly News were anonymous. My moniker was Goggle Box. The most difficult interviewees, believe it or not, were cricketers who invariably expected a fee. 

As DC Thomson were based in Dundee this was a no brainer so the likes of Sir Geoffrey Boycott and the South African opener Eddie Barlow went unpaid. Boycott (and his mum) simply showed me the door, immune to the plea that I had spent half a day on the train from Manchester to Fitzwilliam and my sports editor (also Dundonian) was not going to be happy. 

Few people had phones in the early '60s so a lot of the newspaper work was all hit and hope.

Tonight I drink a glass to The Weekly News and all who sailed in it.





THIS atmospheric picture of London’s Shaftesbury Avenue, taken in 1954 by the Daily Mirror’s Monte Fresco and published in the Drone last week, has inspired former Expressman ROBIN McGIBBON to write a tribute to his old friend.

Fresco, who died in 2013 aged 77, was noted for humorous photographs of sporting events. He covered seven World Cups, many European Championships and more than 40 FA Cup Finals.

His uncle, Monty Fresco, was a sports photographer for the Daily Mail. His nephew, Michael Fresco, has carried on the family tradition as a Fleet Street sports photographer.

Monte is known on Fleet Street to this day for his sense of humour and for turning sports photography into a distinct discipline separate from news photography. 

He is said to have coined the terms ‘Smudgers' for photographers and 'Blunt Nibs' for writers.




The 75th meeting of the World’s Greatest Lunch Club, due to have been held at Joe Allen, 2 Burleigh Street, London, WC2, on Wednesday, June 17, 2020, has been postponed because of the Coronavirus restrictions. Principal guests were to have been Sarah, Duchess of York (the guest of A.Walton, Esq), the Lord Drone (the guest of A. McIntyre of that Ilk), Ms Amanda Redman, actress and presenter (the guest of P. Pilton, Esq),

Lorraine Chase, actress (the guest of T. Manners, Esq), Onllwyn Brace, rugby player (the guest of R.Watkins, Esq), Jess Conrad, singer (the guest of R.Dismore, Esq), Roy Hodgson, neighbour (the guest of D. Eliades, Esq) and Ms Rosalie Rambleshanks, journalist and ingénue (the guest of A. Frame, Esq).


Sir — I know that no one likes a smart arse and that it’s none of my business and that I’m not a club member and that Onllwyn is a pretty common name anyway, but are we sure that the Onllwyn Brace, rugby player, listed as a guest at the postponed 75th meeting of the World’s Greatest Lunch Club isn’t the talismanic Oxford University, Newport, Llanelli and Wales scrum half of the same name who passed on to the Great Communal Bath in the Sky seven years ago? Just askin’.

Much Shoving

Could be — Ed



Sir — That Emily Maitlis, you know the one with shiny legs off the telly, she’s a snippy, hard-faced little piece isn’t she? She often seems to be irritated or irritable but she’s always definitely irritating.

My other half reckons she suffers from a major chafing problem which comes to a head at the end of a long day on Newsnight.

But could it be that she’s pissed off because she always seems to have a cheap ballpoint super-glued to the fingers of her left hand? (See pictures) Just a thought.

Much Interrupting




History in Moments

1925: So...who’s this letting it all hang out on a helter-skelter at the Wembley Exhibition? Bertie Wooster? Lord Drone on dress-down day? 

No, in fact, it is the Duke of York, proving that, long before William Hague’s log flume baseball cap, prominent people could be persuaded by craven PR hacks to perform the most inappropriate tricks to prove they’re just like us really. 

The duke, who went on to star as Colin Firth in the well-received film The King’s Speech, was then a decent enough cove content to paddle the inconsequential backwaters of royal life.  Truth is, he was a bit of a wuss, said to be ‘easily frightened and prone to tears’. 

Eleven years later, as we all know, the abdication by his fancy dan elder brother, David (Edward VIII to you and me) thrust him and his family into the unforgiving spotlight of history where he performed very creditably as King George VI

His early death in 1952 ushered in the magnificent reign of his eldest daughter, Elizabeth, a constant, reassuring figure in all our lives, whose service is such a contrast to her dilettante uncle.

The Duke of Windsor, as he became, was a keen, if indulgent, golfer. He forever incurred the wrath  of my uncle, Bunny, who played off 10 on a good day, by hitting 3,000 balls into the Med off the deck of Britannia during his honeymoon with ‘that woman’. What a prat (although Bunny said far worse).



Who’s the masked man arriving at the Mail?

Scroll down this page and we’ll tell you