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IRIS SAYS: It’s a bit changeable


Why my trip to interview  George was not exactly what the doctor ordered


There were red faces and profuse apologies when TERRY MANNERS visited his friend George Layton, star of Doctor in the House, with photographer John Downing

Crash, bang, wallop what a picture


Year the Express feared a shock Labour victory that gave us the welfare state

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1945: No matter what your political leanings may be, this headline, probably written by editor Arthur Christiansen, proved to be unnecessarily alarmist. Nothing new there then.

Labour did win the 1945 general election against all the odds just 12 weeks after Winston Churchill announced the defeat of Nazi Germany. It was a political bombshell. 

The Express’s fears turned out to be groundless because the Government led by Clement Attlee introduced the welfare state and the jewel in Britain’s crown — the NHS.



I was present but I don’t think I was involved


Muldoon’s Lookalikes

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                  WALLACE                          KENNEDY

Here’s a pretty pair! One’s an award-winning actress of Irish descent, a graduate from the University of Life, whose father was a telecom engineer; the other is an honoured journalist of Irish descent who attended one of Europe’s most prestigious universities (Trinity, Dublin) whose brother was a rugby hooker. 

Of course, it’s Jess Wallace, who regularly causes mayhem in EastEnders, and Philippa Kennedy, one of the first women news editors in Fleet Street and the person, let no one forget, who gave M. Parry an executive job on the Daily Express News Desk. Are they related? Could be...

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              KEANE                                 ROBINSON
Is there, by chance, asks MULDOON, any familial link between mild-mannered, sweet-talking far-right activist Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, alias Andrew McMaster, alias Paul Harris, better known as Tommy Robinson, of Irish stock, and mild-mannered, sweet-talking football player/manager/pundit Roy Maurice Keane, of Irish stock? If not, they certainly share a taste for the controversial.

Front Page of the Day

Scroll down for the rest of today’s front and back pages



Dame Edna in the Royal Box


New management team takes over at the Express

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Take me to your reader

Jonathan Pie on Boris

Muldoon’s lampoon

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1984: Here’s a glittering media couple, well known to Drone readers, contemplating their next move on the Boulevard of Broken Dreams. 

Within a few years Nick Lloyd and his wife, Eve Pollard, were editors of the Daily and Sunday Express. Who can forget them arriving for work in convoy in their identical chauffeur-driven company Jaguars? There’s posh.

When the Express was in Fleet Street Nick used to have the first edition page proofs delivered to him by cab as he and Eve sat up in bed watching Newsnight and skimming magazines. 

One Night Editor well remembers Nick’s “review” by telephone of the edition being interrupted by the classic Pollard stage whisper: “Oh, and tell him the Page 7 lead is crap!”

Nick, a graduate of Teddy Hall, Oxford (rather a rugger bugger college, actually) and Harvard, was known for his licking of the nether regions of Margaret Thatcher. It paid off: He was knighted in the 1990 Resignation Honours. Since 1996 he has been chairman of the PR firm Brown Lloyd James.

Eve, essentially a fashion hack who made good, loved the trappings of power. An anonymous source (oh, Terry Evans how we miss you) recalls how she was stuck in a traffic jam outside an upmarket shoe shop.

When her driver said he couldn’t pull over so she could buy a pair of shoes she fancied, she later sent a snapper to photograph the window display. And then her secretary, armed with a picture with the shoes ringed, was dispatched to buy them. 

Happy days.

Muldoon! This piece could get me sent to the Tower, you stupid boy — Ed



A READER PUTS DOWN HIS SHOPPING BAG TO WRITE: I see that M&S are fobbing us of with Round Tomatoes from Spain.  So what's wrong with good old English square tomatoes, may I ask? Beats me why trendy marketing executives want to change everything these days, that's what I always say.



Bingo and Biffo



Seaside town where the sun always has its hat on

This bijou Dorset resort has always attracted families of quality, many first by the old London and South Western Railway in 1885, and today is no exception, says MULDOON

Knotted handkerchiefs and deep fried battered sausages are so outré here that one wonders why the local council hasn’t enshrined it in statute. Not that visitors aren’t encouraged to have a good time: there are sandy beaches, attractive cafes and a promenade. 

Why, there’s even Bingo on the beach. And if you want to really know this part of the Jurassic Coast talk to the locals. There’s a rum cove at Lulworth and in Studland Old Harry Rocks and his chum Ballard Down always have a tale to tell.


Townsend is axed as Sunday Express editor


MARTIN TOWNSEND has quit as editor of the Sunday Express, the Daily Drone can reveal today.

He spent his last day in the chair on Saturday, and will be replaced by Express editor-in-chief Gary Jones who will head a seven-day operation.

The move comes a few weeks  after STUART JAMES, editor of the Daily Star Sunday, ‘stepped down’ from his post. This left Townsend as the only editor in the newly-named Reach group who had been appointed by previous owner Richard Desmond.

Townsend, a former editor of OK! magazine, was appointed to the editorship of the Sunday Express in 2001 shortly after the Express group was sold to Desmond by United Business Media. 

Reach, formerly known as Trinity Mirror, took over Express Newspapers in a £127million deal last February.

Shortly following the merger, the editors of the Daily Express and Daily Star, Hugh Whittow and Dawn Neesom, also ‘stepped down’. 

Stuart James, pictured seated below with Star Sunday staff, spent his last day in office in the Walrus and Carpenter pub opposite the Express Newspapers offices in Lower Thames Street. 

James, regarded as ‘one of the good guys’, was appointed editor in 2015.

A seven-day operation has been tried before in the 1990s on the Daily and Sunday Express but quickly unravelled. Separate staffs were soon re-established apart from the subs who still work for both titles.

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                   Grint                                      Grunt

Those ruddy lads of, presumably, Pictish lineage often bear a striking resemblance but award-winning actor Rupert Grint, who successfully mined the Harry Potter franchise as loveable Ron Weasley, really could be related to popular troubadour Ed Sheeran, who has sold more than 26 million albums and 100 million singles worldwide.

Day the long Fleet Street lunch died


COLIN DUNNE, a former feature writer for The Sun and Daily Mirror, has written a superbly nostalgic piece in Press Gazette about the death of the Fleet Street long lunch. It will ring a distinct bell for many readers of the Daily Drone.

Dunne’s story inevitably involves Kelvin (no surname needed) storming around the office trying to get his staff out of licensed premises. 

The Drone’s own ASHLEY WALTON has a similar recollection. He reports: Shortly after Kelvin left the Express to edit The Sun I was taking a lunchtime glass in the Wine Press and joined four Sun reporters who were all sitting at the bar with one eye on the window and Bouverie Street.  

In the middle of some convivial chat the foursome suddenly fled from their stools and disappeared into the back of the bar. Kelvin came through the door and joined me at the bar.

After about half an hour of picking my brains about life on the Express he stood up to leave. At the door he turned round ... 'Oh by the way can you tell those cunts in the bog to come back to the office.’

I went to the gents, there was no sign of them but four closed doors. Looking underneath the doors, nothing to see, so I shouted: 'He  knows you are here!

The foursome got down from the toilet bowls and fled to the office — but not without finishing their drinks still on the bar.

There was a good deal of late evening merriment going on, too, at around that time, not least at the Mirror.

On one famous occasion chief sub Vic Mayhew rolled back from Barney's about 20 minutes after the last bell to be confronted angrily by night editor Mark Kahn.

'Pissed again,’ said Kahn to Vic.

'Yeh Mark,' said Vic. 'So am I!'   




The Great Stink

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1858: London was struck by a heatwave so bad it caused an event known as The Great Stink. 

The polluted, sewage-filled Thames was blamed for cholera epidemics, but it forced the city to build the sewer system we still use today. Germ theory was not well understood and many people blamed bad smells for spreading illness. 

The heat and smell of the noxious river forced Parliament to close down even after they tried to cover up the Stink with chloride of lime, used to keep meat fresh "even in the warmest weather".

Picture shows: "The Silent Highwayman" (1858). Death rows on the Thames, claiming the lives of victims who have not paid to have the river cleaned up.


Lincoln, a towering jewel

However you approach this charming “small city”, by road or East Midlands Trains, the horizon is dominated by the English Gothic masterpiece which is the cathedral, writes MULDOON. There it sits high on a hill overlooking the relatively flat Lincolnshire countryside. 

For 238 years in the Middle Ages the cathedral was the tallest building in the world and now it attracts millions of tourists. The city also has a Norman castle which houses a rare copy of Magna Carta. 

The ever-improving university, which has just over 14,000 students, is playing an increasingly important part in the life of Lincoln. The city has the reputation of “telling it as it is.” Thus, the steep hill (1 in 7 gradient) which leads from the lower town to the cathedral and castle is called (you’ve guessed it) Steep Hill.


Two countries divided by a common language



Southend-on-Sea: The Drone’s spotty summer intern Muldoon, inspired by the evocative poem Adlestrop, has been travelling by train, of course, from the sublime to the gor blimey. So here we are in the much maligned Essex resort which is, in fact, served by two railway lines.

Southend’s best days may be behind it and, in truth, this lovely railway poster is an idealised depiction, but it hasn’t given up yet. Some 6.4 million visit each year and it has miles of promenade, the longest pier in the world (1.3 miles), an adventure playground, aquarium, a funicular railway, theatres and gardens.

Its neighbour, Leigh-on-Sea, beloved of some former Express executives, is regarded as one of the most desirable places to live in the UK.

A word to the wise, though. If you plan to visit, check that the tide’s in. Otherwise it will be Southend-on-Mud!

Shouldn’t Muldoon be travelling by acne carriage? — Ed


History in Moments


1951: Imagine the chutzpah of the “Suit” in a Reithian-era BBC planning meeting who suggested doing a ventriloquist act on the wireless. Thus it was that Peter Brough and Archie Andrews, stars of the Light Programme’s Educating Archie became one of the most popular double acts in entertainment history: after all, Brough really could say “bottle of beer” without appearing to move his lips. 

In a way, it was a pioneering leap in the dark on a par with the first mad fool who ate an oyster or the bloke who said: “Fuck this, I’m going to wear my sandals without socks.”

Alas, though, it convinced the hierarchy at the Beeb that they could literally get away with anything: Richard Dimbleby doing a Panorama programme on spaghetti trees, the dire jubilee river pageant coverage and hiring a helicopter at licence payers’ expense to film an ill-advised police raid on Sir Cliff Richard’s home.




Muldoon is spotted in Shakespeare country

Stratford-upon-Avon: As a reward for thinking up the Last Train to Adlestrop feature, Lord Drone arranged a freebie for our intern, Muldoon, and his girlfriend Clea (short for Clearasil) in this lovely town in the heart of England. Here is his report:

“To be honest, we thought Stratford was where they held the Olympics but it’s quite a stretch by train from Euston in the other direction. We were surprised to find the place packed with people, Yanks and Japanese and the like, because it wasn’t market day and there was no football on. 

We took in the sights, Primark, New Look, JD Sports and Clea bought me one of those baseball caps with the peak at the back. Then we grabbed a couple of Greggs sausage rolls and sat by the Thames, watching the boats and that, before checking our phones. We could of gone to Hiawatha’s Cottage but Clea doesn’t like Westerns.

“Later we did Nando’s, had a couple of Magners in Spoons and then went back to watch MTV on the flatscreen. We were in the same hotel Lenny Henry stays in. The beds are so soft. To be honest, we didn’t find much to do but it was nice.

“I almost forgot. Lord Drone said I had to mention that Stratford is the place where they have the best parish magazine in the country. (That was supposed to come off pat). Er, that’s it.”

The fine art of photography

Lesson 1: How best to position your subject




Manchester, the land of cakes and bulls' bollocks

Manchester: Muldoon, the Drone’s spotty summer intern whose love of the poem Adlestrop inspired our railway poster perambulation, has never been oop North. 

Today he would find Manchester an exhilarating, thriving city. Fifty or so years ago, despite the promise of this London Midland poster, It was a little more dark and satanic. 

Back then, of course, Fleet Street was replicated in Withy Grove, Deansgate and Ancoats. Just recalling the Express pubs makes the head swim: The Land o’ Cakes, Yates’s and the Crown and Kettle, where the landlord used boil up black pudding, like bunches of bulls’ bollocks, in a pot behind the bar.

Old Manchester joke: A policeman is trying to sort out the traffic chaos caused by a horse dropping dead where Oldham Street leads into Piccadilly Gardens.

An angry sergeant appears demanding the reason for the delay. PC says: “Sorry, sarge, I were just making a note and couldn’t remember whether there was one C or two in Piccadilly.” 

“Oh, for fuck’s sake just drag it round into Tib Street”!


Larry Lookalike

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By MULDOON, the Drone’s spotty intern

Remove the silly hat and, yes, there is a passing resemblance between one of Fleet Street’s finest and Captain Troy Tempest, pilot of Stingray in the TV series of that name. Maybe they are related but, because Troy isn’t going to be born until 2038, it’s difficult to be sure.

By the time he reached the Express, Sir Larry Lamb was pretty much a spent force but he was still a consummate politician and formidable technician. You could see what all the fuss had been about.

In his younger days, when he was on the Mirror in Manchester and had yet to graduate to fine whisky and even finer wine, he liked to go for a drink with t’lads. After a few pints he’d say: “Now we know we like it, we’ll ‘ave some.”

When his Express car was off the road it was said that he jumped on a No.11 bus outside PA and barked to the conductor: “Take me to the Savoy!”

Troy Tempest, despite being always ready to save the earth from the dreaded Aquaphibians, was always a puppet by comparison.



Last train to Adlestrop

It was a non-event, really. Nothing happened. A train pulled into a rural station in Gloucestershire in the summer of 1914, spat steam and chuntered, as trains did. Then, a few minutes later, it went gently on its way.

Yet one tiny slice of life at Adlestrop in the heart of an England on the threshold of war inspired this hauntingly evocative poem:

Yes. I remember Adlestrop —

The name, because one afternoon

Of heat the express train drew up there

Unwontedly. It was late June.

The steam hissed. Someone cleared his throat.

No one left and no one came

On the bare platform. What I saw

Was Adlestrop — only the name.

And willows, willow-herb and grass

And meadowsweet and haycocks dry

No whit less still and lonely fair

Than the high cloudlets in the sky.

And for that minute a blackbird sang

Close by and round him, mistier,

Farther and farther, all the birds

Of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.

The poet, another of that golden generation cut down by war, was Edward Thomas. He was killed at the Battle of Arras the following year. The station? Alas, that fell to the Beeching axe. It was demolished in 1966.

Now, because Muldoon, one of the Daily Drone’s spotty summer interns “studied” Adlestrop for GCSE, he has persuaded his lordship to launch a new series of nostalgic images under the title of Last Train To Adlestrop. 





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Alan Bennett Diaries


The shocking decline of Britain's press freedom



Sheer genius from Randy Rainbow 


History in Moments

1955: If anyone deserved to be presented with the Big Red Book by Eamonn Andrews it was Charles Burgess Fry, who died the following year, aged 84. CB, described as “probably the most gifted Englishman of any age”, was truly a Phen. Om. En. On. 

Politician, diplomat, academic, teacher, writer, editor, publisher and sportsman: he was all those and was even offered, and declined, the throne of Albania. 

But it was as a sportsman that he really excelled. A talented golfer, he also played first class football and rugby. CB was a superlative all round cricketer who captained England and played 95 Tests. He had a batting average of more than 50 and twice took 10 wickets in a match bowling fast medium.

Oh, he also found time for athletics as a talented sprinter, hurdler and high jumper and once equalled the world long jump record.

And in his seventies CB could still perform his party trick: leaping from a stationary position on the floor backwards on to a mantelpiece!



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                NO EXIT                                NO BREXIT

Now it becomes clear! David Davis never seemed to be on top of his brief as Brexit Secretary: well, would you if you had been holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for the past six years? To be fair, WikiLeaks fugitive Julian Assange did his best but he was no match for those wily negotiators in Brussels. Time for a reboot!




History in Moments


1976: Fowey, what a scorcher, as they’re saying in Cornwall. Minister for Rain, where are you when we need you? (actually, he’s dead — ed). 

This is Labour’s Denis Howell celebrating a job well done after he was charged by the Prime Minister to persuade the nation to use less water as Britain sweltered under its driest summer for 200 years (remind you of anything?)

Howell, a jolly cove, was from that sub species of politician regarded as an occasionally useful buffoon (qf Eric Pickles; John Prescott). 

He entered into his role with great gusto, revealing he was sharing baths with wife Brenda to save water and even doing a rain dance. Days later the heavens opened and he was appointed Minister of Floods. Who said Harold Wilson didn’t have a sense of humour?

Proving that you can’t keep a good man down, he was also recalled to the colours during the harsh winter of 1978-79 as Minister for Snow.


CLIVE GOOZEE remembers that the Daily Express ran a front page picture of Mr Howell, who was a  top referee, relaxing in a bath after a First Division football match. We think it was this one ...

Fleet Street then and now

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1899: Carter’s Hair Cutting Saloon, at 17 Fleet Street, London, just opposite Chancery Lane. The facade above the gateway, which leads to Inner Temple, hid the original 17th Century half-timbered front which was subsequently restored. 

The first floor of the building comprises Prince Henry’s Room, named for the son of James I. It is one of the few surviving buildings in the City of London dating from before the Great Fire of London in 1666. It is a Grade II listed building.

BELOW: The same building today.

More on this

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


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

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

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



History in Moments

2010: If you had an IQ of 235 (way above that of a Fleet Street executive; after all, Einstein and Hawking were “only” 160) would it take you long to work out what to do with a $1million prize awarded for solving a mathematical problem which had stumped leading brains for more than 100 years? 

Well, if you were Russian genius Grigori Perelman, 52, you’d turn it down, wouldn’t you? Perelman, pictured, who lives with his mum in a St Petersburg apartment, said: “I’m not interested in money or fame. I don’t want to be on display like an animal in a zoo.” 

The problem he solved was the Poincaré Conjecture, posed by French mathematician Henry Poincaré in 1904. It was: Any loop on a 3-sphere — as exemplified by the set of points at a distance of 1 from the origin in four-dimensional Euclidean space — can be contracted to a point. But you knew that, didn’t you?




Oh Lucky Jim — he gets special visit from Esther

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FUN IN THE SUN: Steve, Sheelagh. Seated left to right: Pat, Jim and Esther at the Nare Hotel, Cornwall

ESTHER HARROD travels down to Cornwall to visit old Daily Express colleague Jim Davies

Trotting down to Poldark Country from Cambridgeshire, my husband Steve and I set aside a day to spend with eternally-young Jim Davies and his wife Pat.   

They have been living the vida loca in the sleepy village of Tregony, near Truro, for the past 18 years. Just a few weeks before we rocked up, Peter and Sheila Mason from Down Under had visited Jim and Pat to celebrate Jim’s 84th birthday. Yes, really.

Unfortunately, in May, just before Jim and Pat were due to travel to Egypt to visit Pat’s daughter, Jim had a very frightening seizure in the night.  

As he already suffers from atrial fibrillation, the ambulance crew thought the seizure might have been caused by the AF, so he was rushed to Truro hospital. Jim had several tests and a scan and has been put on relevant medication.  

Much to his dismay, he has had his driving licence suspended for six months which is difficult as Pat doesn’t drive. So the lovely walks with the dog along the beach have had to cease for the moment unless a friend or neighbour can take them on an eight-to-10 mile round trip 

Jim and Pat took us (and Sheelagh, an old nursing friend of Pat’s who was also visiting), to an amazing restaurant at the Nare Hotel beside Carne Beach which is on the beautiful southern tip of the Roseland Heritage Coast, about 5 miles from where they live. 

The weather was gorgeous and the food, wine and conversation flowed while taking in some intoxicating Cornish scenery. Then its was back to theirs for more reminiscing and a bottle or two of red wine. 

So if your ears were burning at the end of June it’s because Jim and I exchanged many lovely memories of old friends and colleagues, some of whom are sadly no longer with us.  

Steve and I also much enjoyed Jim’s tales of his journalistic  time in Africa, especially a humorous but serious story of when he was on an assignment with photographer Harry Dempster and his year-long investigation into the Jeremy Thorpe case.   

I asked him what he thought of the recent TV drama starring Hugh Grant and Jim thought the production was very good indeed. The only criticism he had was they made Norman Scott more camp than he actually was.  

Thanks for a very special day and get safely back behind that wheel again soon Jim.


History in Moments

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1952: Liverpool Street Station during the London smog

History in Moments 

1425: Behold, La Trinita! This seminal artwork is thought to be the first painting (fresco, actually) to employ single point linear perspective, a development which transformed art for ever. It graces a wall of the church of Santa Maria Novella in Florence, opposite the railway station which is itself a striking example of “fascist architecture”.

The Innovative artist was Tommaso di Ser Giovanni di Simone, better known, simply, as Masaccio. Little of the enormously influential Massacio’s work survives but his The Virgin and Child, from 1426 is in the National Gallery (Room 59). 

One wonders what he would have gone on to produce but he died at the age of only 26. Another example of fate snatching great talent from us too early like Mozart, Keats, Shelley and Sid Vicious (Stop it. You’re being silly now — Ed)


History in Moments

1966: The pianist tickling the ivories at this Los Angeles charity concert is unmistakably Liberace but who is the singer?  Actually, she is a ghost — official. She is the owner of the most wonderful voice who spent almost her whole career dubbing the parts of famous actresses who thought they could sing but, ahem, couldn’t.

Thus, she was Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady, Deborah Kerr in The King and I and Natalie Wood in West Side Story, all films laden with Oscars but did the ghost receive any credit? We know the answer to that one.

Such was the secrecy involved that, at the time, she was banned from revealing her contribution. Indeed, it is said that Ms Wood only realised that her voice hadn’t been used in the film at its premiere!

The ghost did appear as herself, playing Sister Sophia in the Sound of Music (it was felt that the star could cope), but otherwise she was condemned to stay in the shadows of the dubbing studio.

Oh, her name? The marvellous, fabulously awesome Marni Nixon, of course. Credit where it’s due, eh?


How Stumpy Mac got his bonzer Aussie baggy cap

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                                                               Picture: SUE REID

Former Express sub ROBIN McGIBBON has a heart-warming tale to tell about his baggy Australian cricket cap.

Robin, also known as Stumpy, writes: The medication I'm on, for various issues, means it's too dangerous for me to have another knee replacement, so the only way for me to get around is on crutches.

Two months ago, I came across the most idyllic country cricket ground — surrounded by horsefields and a swiftly-running stream — and was hobbling along the mid-wicket boundary when the groundsman, and former player, asked, very politely, who I was, and what was I doing, trespassing on private land.

We got talking and it turned that, like me, he'd played for Bromley Town FC, in the Isthmian League. Then, it further turned out that I'd played Athenian League football with one of his club's most celebrated players which elevated me immediately from uninvited interloper to someone who deserved a cuppa in the clubroom.

Over the next few weeks, the groundsman — Brett Walker's his name — and I got more and more friendly, and, for some reason, over another cup of club-house tea, I admitted secretly envying the two Australian Baggy caps given to former Daily Mail soccer and cricket writer Brian Scovell, a dear friend, who lives near me, in Bickley, Kent.

Why did I like the baggy green so much? Brett wanted to know. 

"I don't know,” I said. "It's just the shape, I guess."

"Stay right there," he said, getting up to go into the club's locker room.

He came back with a green baggy cap and put it on me, proudly, saying: "Have a Bromley Common CC baggy with my compliments."

I was touched by such a charming gesture. But, then, it's a charming club with jolly friendly people.

I now hobble there every day.


Hancock’s Haha




Hold Page 96
News you may have missed 

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We think this may be a pic of the Express subs

but could it be the Mail?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What do you think?

Tribute to a true gentleman

Hugh Dawson’s website

History in Moments


1972: Comedian and muddled magician Tommy Cooper sits in a pub in uncharacteristicly reflective mood. Perhaps he is thinking up pithy one-liners (“There was a tap on the door: my plumber really should get his eyes tested” or “I got up the other night and made a cup of tea in my pyjamas. It was no good — I should have used a teapot.”) 

Maybe he really had just heard the punchline to one of his best jokes: “I went into a pub which had a poster ‘A pie, a pint and a friendly word’. After I’d had the pie and pint I said to the landlord: ‘What’s the friendly word?’ ‘Don’t eat the pie’.”

 It’s the way I tell ‘em. Or is that someone else?


The amazing life of Bain, a fantastic story well told

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Singing in the Lifeboat is available on Amazon for £8.99 

Muldoon’s lookalikes


                 Prankster                                Waistcoat lover

What a contrast between the ubiquity of that high profile, hard working cheeky prankster Sascha Baron Cohen and the anonymity of low key, understated part time waistcoat model Gareth Southgate. They couldn’t possibly be related. Could they?

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Could it be that award-winning actors David Hyde Pierce and Kelsey Grammer, who played brothers Niles and Frazier Crane in the long-running US TV comedy series Frazier, were actually related in real life?

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            Robin Williams                                  Bono             
Is global pop superstar Paul Hewson, aka Bono (a much pithier nickname than 
Steinhegvanhuysenolegbangbangbang, which his schoolmates originally gave him) by chance related to the late lamented actor and comedian Robin Williams? Or is he just a tribute act?

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                Mr Pastry                             John Bolton

Now here’s an uncanny resemblance. John Bolton, national security adviser to the Donald, bears more than a passing similarity to much-loved children’s favourite Richard Hearne, better known as Mr Pastry. We don’t know about pastry but they do look like a pair of doughnuts.

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          Exotic waltzer                            Fish lover

Strictly entre nous, but what could exotic, nimble-footed  waltzer Anton du Beke possibly have in common with actor Rob Brydon, also known as fishing-trip enthusiast Uncle Bryn (it means “hill” in Welsh) West? It’s a guess but perhaps they are related?

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             Sir Richard                                 Yasser

Genealogists are agreed that, despite being born miles apart (Cairo and Liverpool), Palestinian freedom fighter/terrorist Mohammad Yasser Abdel Rahman Abdel Raouf Arafat al-Qudwa and musician, songwriter, actor and narrator Sir Richard Starkey, MBE are related. Here the two celebrate their familial link, between takes, at a recording of the Beatles’ international hit Yasser, That’s My Baby.


             Bette Midler                           Eve Pollard

Despite one being a superstar singer, songwriter, actress, comedian and film producer and the other a well-nourished celebrity mother and former newspaper editor who lives 5,437 miles away, are the Divine Miss Bette Midler and “Lady” Eve Pollard by chance related?

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              Jimmy Carr                            Roger Federer

Heard the one about loquacious stand-up comedian and ubiquitous game show hack Jimmy Carr and urbane, cool King of the Centre Court Roger (great name, Rog!) Federer? Well, geneticists aren’t laughing. They think they could be related

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             Lord Reid                              Deceased Pope 

Don’t look now but have you noticed that former Labour bruiser and Cabinet Minister Lord (John) Reid bears more than a passing resemblance to Karol Jozef Wojtlya better known as Pope John Paul II? Geneticists might hazard a guess that they’re related.

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         Cute and cuddly                       Tedious remoaner

What can this cute and cuddly native of Madagascar, content to remain on the island of her birth, possibly have in common with an embittered sacked Cabinet Minister who is now a tediously strident Remoaner? Perhaps they are related.

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          Old man Steptoe                      Jeremy Corbyn

Might it not be that this well-respected professional, lauded for his incisive wit and attainment, and the other, a figure of fun famous for being a grumpy old man, are in some way related?

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       Lascivious toe-sucker               Ashley Walton

Could it be that the lascivious toe-sucking vicar, the Rev Osbourne Whitworth in Poldark, and lascivious toe-sucking honey salesman, Drone stringer and former Daily Express Royal Correspondent Ashley Walton are one and the same man? Or are they merely related?

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   Red-arsed non-hominoid                Andy Murray

Is avuncular Andy Murray, the genial giant of the international tennis circuit, by any chance related to an aggressive, snarling non-hominoid primate known to like showing its bright red arse in public?

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               Poldark                                        Salah

Another reader asks: Is nimble-footed, free-scoring Pharoah of the Kop Mohammad Salah by any chance related to bodice-ripping, free-scoring scythe symbol Captain Ross Poldark, MP?

(No — Ed)




Sack the 
sign writer!



Mail Online captions?

You couldn’t make it up

(Actually they do)


The Drone’s team of special investigators has been monitoring the Mail Online website to see how the hard-pressed caption writers try to outdo each other to describe Z-list “celebrities" from reality shows.

This investigation, conducted purely in the interest of research, has unearthed the following examples of creative writing:

Turns up the heat as she exhibits her busty assets and taut abs

Flaunts her beach body

Showcases her slender pins

Sends temperatures soaring in a burnt orange bralet

Exudes glamour in a perilously low-cut monochrome jumpsuit

Embodies pure elegance in chic floral gown

Flashes taut midriff

Flashes her toned tummy

Exhibits her sensational figure

Flaunts her ample assets

Looks daring in double denim

Sets pulses racing in sizzling lace lingerie 

Sizzles in plunging orange bikini as she puts on a giddy display with beau

Exudes elegance in a thigh-skimming polka dot dress

Flashes her flat abs and a hint of under boob

Dons day and night ensembles as she hits the town

Dons eyepopping leather and leopard look

Stuns in colourful geometric gown

Goes TOPLESS in risqué snap

Looks incredible in flirty frock

Displays fit figure in little red floral print dress

Strips down into lacy G-string as she flaunts her pert derrière 

Exhibits her stellar style

Flaunts her ample cleavage

Hides burgeoning baby bump

Shows off her jaw-dropping curves in a gingham bikini

Smoulders as she flaunts her incredible bikini body

Playfully recreates Charlie’s Angels pose

Flaunts her perky posterior in semi-sheer lace lingerie

Parades her gym-honed frame 

Nails airport chic in a trendy sportswear inspired ensemble


Turmoil at the Mail

Quentin Letts set to quit

Sacked Dacre in state of shock

Vine smarting at slur on Gove
Rachel Johnson to take Vine slot


                LETTS: I’ll retire to Herefordshire


STAFF on the Daily Mail are in turmoil over the imminent change of editorship as star columnist Quentin Letts considered his position on the paper.

Our mole at Northcliffe House told the Drone: “I spoke to Quentin this morning and he is not minded to stay when Geordie Greig takes over, saying "I’ll retire to Herefordshire," adding "I always liked Daily Telegraph readers."

"Unlike most in Kensington, Letts can probably go where he likes. There is a real sense of shock in the corridors. Most journalists here have never known any other boss.

“Paul Dacre [the outgoing editor] seems himself in a state of shock after being effectively sacked. Have a look at his Diary in this week’s Spectator where he throws down the gauntlet to Rothermere and Grieg to remain, as it were, Brexiteers.

"And he is savage about Rachel Johnson who is tipped to take the Sarah Vine slot when she follows her mentor Ted Verity  to the Mail on Sunday. She is still smarting after the MoS suggested her husband Michael Gove had flirted with friends of Dorothy.

"Only Tom Utley has received a reassuring call from the new editor. Leaf [Kalfayan, features supremo] and the rest of features are in a state of shock as the engine of the paper. What is going to happen, they wonder?  

"The money is on Dacre leaving much earlier than October and the title of Editor in Chief and Chairman are feeble. 

"The statement on the change points out that Geordie will retain control of the MoS as well as the Daily Mail and report directly to Rothermere while he will now be on the board of DMGT. 

"Dacre will be merely chairman of the Daily Mail. Apart from that Mrs Lincoln…” 

MORE clues as to the state of Dacre’s mind on the day of his, er, promotion comes from Popbitch, which reports: 

Soon-to-be-ex Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre took to the Spectator this week to warn his successor against reversing the paper's support for Brexit. 

Dacre had assumed he'd have a bit of a say in who was picked to follow in his footsteps, so was a little blindsided when it was announced that his Mail on Sunday Remoaner nemesis Geordie Grieg had got the gig. 

Colleagues at the Mail say the most obvious sign of Dacre's fury was that, on the day of the announcement last week, he stormed off home at 5pm. And he almost never leaves his desk before 9.30. 

Paul Dacre’s Spectator Diary


History in Moments 

1995: The stance is compact, the elbow’s cocked and he’s definitely got his eye on the ball. No surprises, then, that 20 years after this photo was taken Joseph Edward Root was competing, in a crowded field, to be the most attractive batsman of his generation.  

The England captain’s choirboy looks mask a tough, gritty determination (remember, he is a Yorkie). Yet he combines it with a gentle humour: his shirt number in ODI games is 66 (geddit?). 

A golden boy, a winner then? It was not always thus. At King Ecgbert School in Sheffield Joe was on the shortlist to become the school’s Sports Personality of the Year. When he came home, his mum asked him if he’d won. No, he said, he’d been beaten by a girl called Jessica. As in Ennis.


Letter to the Editor of the Daily Express

Dear Sir,

I cannot be the first to express my disapproval of the "new" Daily Express under your editorship. But may I join what I am sure is a swelling chorus of outrage? 

I am in the early stages of Alzheimer's and have suffered for years from arthritis and diabetes. Additional to my interest in these disagreeable conditions are my daily concerns about pensions, house prices, statins, extreme weather conditions and the imminent threat of millions of dusky migrants swamping this once sceptred isle. 

Thus, I would like to place on record how profoundly unsettled I am at the unwelcome replacement of these topics by real news on the front page of my favourite newspaper, which I have been reading since young Max Aitken (with whom I went to school) acquired the title in 1916.

I fear you may have parted company from the integrity of your mind. Let it not be too long before the link is restored so that your most prominent Page One story — known by you print wallahs, I believe, as the "splash" — can resume normal service.

God save the King.

I remain etc,

A Loyal Briton (rtd)

This letter was written anonymously in green ink by PAT WELLAND and sent to Gary Jones, new editor of the Express.


In remembrance of Bob

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

See the pics and read TERRY MANNERS’ tribute here



History in Moments


1921: He may look more like a suburban bank clerk with a dodgy syrup than the greatest artist of the 20th century but, yes, that is Pablo Picasso. He is with his muse and wife, the Russian ballerina Olga Khokhlova, the mother of his son, Paulo. Alas their idyll didn’t last long. The devious dauber cheated on her with 17-year-old girl. With big boobs. Ah, plus ça change, as another famous person once said.


June circulations

And what they once sold







Bus race 1933

BUS RACE 1933.jpg

HOLD TIGHT: You wait ages then seven come along at once

Nick Lloyd’s tribute to Jean Rook in 1991

Hancock’s Haha




Our man Ashley on ITV news

Ashley Walton out on the Fergie story, early 1990s 


Hold Page 96!

News you may have missed

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Daily Star Sports Desk 1980

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

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

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

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

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


Boring pic of the week

Britain’s largest bus shelter (allegedly)





Life in the Elephant, London, 1948
The  Perfume Salesman
by Bert Hardy

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Wednesday's papers







Back Pages


Cartoons of the day




Patrick Blower


Steve Bell

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Bob Moran (drawn in 2016)


Morten Morland


Dave Brown


David Simonds

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Carolita Johnson


Bob Moran


Brian Adcock




Patrick Blower


Morten Morland


Patrick Blower


Martin Rowson

Punch Classic (1983) 

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Latest Beano

Latest Eye

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Classic Eye (2002)

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One in the Eye

eye title

No 103

Volume 15: 1986

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

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


25 July 1986

Street of Shame

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

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

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

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

19 September 1986

Street of Shame

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

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

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

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

3 October 1986

Street of Shame

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

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

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

14 November 1986

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

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

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

28 November 1986

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Lady Beaverbrook is 94.

Christmas issue

Letters to the Editor



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

Yours unanaemically, 

Assistant Editor,
Sunday Express 

121 Fleet Street, London



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

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

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

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

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


Senior Reporter

Sunday Express

121 Fleet Street, London

















ONE IN THE EYE 1966-1971



Who put the lights out?


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


Farewell to Fleet Street

Fleet Street was full of journalists for the first time in many years when the London Press Club held a long lunch to mark the departure of the last newspaper from the Street of Broken Dreams. Watch the YouTube video of the event above and read the Guardian report


DroneTube Exclusive

Life After The Front Page

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

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

Runtime is 16 minutes.

DroneTube Exclusive

The Crusader Years 1900-1990

Only in the Drone: This video was supplied to Express staff in 1990 and is now published on the web for the first time. 


© 2005-2018 Alastair McIntyre