Front Page Archive to October 2017

PORTRAIT
It's David ‘Showbiz’ Wigg in oils!

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A chance meeting in a London cafe resulted in this painting of former Daily Express showbusiness reporter David Wigg appearing at the National Portrait Gallery in London.

David’s appearance fascinated the artist Sopio Chkhikvadze. She asked him to pose for a portrait which is now hanging in the BP Portrait Award 2017 exhibition at the gallery.

Ms Chkhikvadze studied at Tbilisi Nicoladze Art College, Georgia and Tbilisi State Academy of Art.

Buy a print

Picture by ROGER WATKINS

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New Joe Allen open for business

AT YOUR SERVICE: The new Joe Allen restaurant in London’s Burleigh Street, opened on September 1 after its move from round the corner in Exeter Street. The Daily Drone crowd has already had two lunches there … and we thought the new place was rather good.

More pictures here 

Alan Frame’s lament

Roger Watkins’ lunchtime legends

ALAN FRAME laments its demise.

 Read the details here

An important new book about Daily and Sunday Express cartoonist Carl Giles was launched on Tuesday at the Political Cartoon Gallery in Putney, south-west London. The gathering was addressed by former Daily Express executive editor ALAN FRAME – and the Drone was there too.

Read all about it here


All hail the 10-year lunch
LUNCHES, especially long ones, were one of the best-loved features of old Fleet Street.

And when one retires there is only one important thing to do – have lunch with erstwhile colleagues. That is just what a group of former Daily Express senior journalists have been doing for the past 10 years.

The venue, as regular readers of the Drone may have noticed, has been Joe Allen in Exeter Street, Covent Garden, London. But now an era is at an end and Joe’s has moved round the corner to Burleigh Street, just off The Strand. The move coincides with the 10th anniversary of the World’s Greatest Lunch Club.

ROGER WATKINS chronicles the history of the club and reflects on the valued colleagues we have lost

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osbert-lancaster med hr

Gentle Sir Osbert, proud NUJ man

Lord Drone can vividly remember Sir Osbert Lancaster bringing his Pocket Cartoon into the Daily Express newsroom each night to show to the backbench. The night editor always guffawed at the cartoon whether it was funny or not. 

Examples of the Pocket Cartoon, a term invented by Sir Osbert himself, are becoming increasingly hard to find. They fetch huge prices at auction but the Drone has secured a new supply.

The cartoons feature a series of memorable characters including Maudie, Countess of Littlehampton, Canon Fontwater and Father O’Bubblegum. Sir Osbert was awarded the CBE in 1953 and was knighted in 1975. He died in 1986.

Reader Roger Watkins writes: Your reminiscence about night editors routinely pissing themselves with laughter over that day's (often obscure) Osbert cartoon reminds me of Lloyd Turner's "repeat and guffaw" response to humour, especially if it emanated from further up the editorial chain of command!

Sir Osbert, proud NUJ member

More about Osbert

Lost and Found 1: Rick McNeill

ONE of Lord Drone’s most talented former colleagues, RICK McNEILL, pictured, has contacted this organ. Here is his message to chums:

Greetings Bingo old bean.

Congratulations on your website which is cleverly amusing and informative. More power to your elbow, the lifting part anyway.

In case you’re saying “Rick who?” adjust your monocle as I remind you that I was on the Express from 1965 to 1982 – sub, chief sub, night editor, assistant editor (features). Not quite as young as Boullemier or Frame when I joined aged 25. 

I eventually fell foul of Christopher Ward (he of the oversized specs and tan boots) and after a spell on Daily Star with Lloyd Turner I exported myself back to South Africa in 1984 where I’ve been ever since.

I became deputy editor of the Joburg Sunday Times before launching out as a consultant in 1995. Newspapers fell like ninepins to my expertise (acquired and honed under the baleful eye of Major Morris Benett) and in 2002 I helped launch the Daily Sun, the first tabloid newspaper for blacks which swiftly became (and still is) the country’s biggest newspaper. They kept me laying out their front pages until March last year, when I was decommissioned aged 74.

I’m now living in Simon’s Town, in the Cape’s deep south, which has Royal Navy connections dating back to the late 1700s, in a house with a view over the dockyard and False Bay where whales come to mate. I’m writing my memoirs (yes, moi) even if the only readers are my family. Needless to say the Express features prominently.

Good to read about so many old colleagues (old being the word).

 I will drone on no more. If anyone wants to say hello my email is rick33@icon.co.za. And I’d be happy to ply anyone visiting Cape Town with a Bells and a light ale.

Good wishes to you and all who laboured under the Crusader and still remember me.

Rick McNeill

Lost and Found 2: Nigel Lilburn

Nigel, pictured, writes: Delighted to see that so many of our ilk and age survived and may I congratulate you Alastair on the DD enterprise. 

Fabulous stuff! The names pour out of your website where individual attempts to keep in touch have failed. 

 I was a great fan of Rick McNeill and delighted to hear of his "afterlife" in SA. 

 I left the dear old Daily Express in 1981 for Singapore where for the next 10   years I learnt about real journalism discipline (named sources, accuracy etc!), then headed for Hong Kong well before the handover of sovereignty to the Chinese and all the while furnishing South-East Asia with wisdom I'd collected on the way via journalism seminars. 

Currently, I'm in North-East Thailand (Mahasarakham) where the past is much contemplated and the future is still challenged. My email address is nigel.lilburn@gmail.com if anyone wants to contact and have made DD a "favourite" to follow. 

God bless you all – Nigel Lilburn

Memories of Sir Jimmy

The Daily Express has employed more than its fair share of characters but none was more colourful than Jimmy Scott Douglas, pictured right with Northern Editor John McDonald.

Drone correspondent ALAN FRAME writes: Sir James Scott Douglas Bt was Northern Motoring Corr of the Express (those were the days!) when I arrived in 1966 and also ‘worked’ on Hickey in Manchester. He was essentially a playboy but delightful with it who would have been a shoe-in for the Drones. There was an air of Paul Callan about him (except that he really did go to Eton) and he died far too young (barely 40 if memory serves).

I visited once him in hospital in Armagh when I was back seeing family (Jimmy, a talented racing driver, had an accident in a Ferrari on his way from Dublin to Belfast) and I remember that his room was awash with champagne. 

He died not long afterwards of a heart attack. 

One other story told about him: He had been told that he could make a lot of money if he bought some guns and smuggled them into Algeria on his yacht (a converted RN destroyer) – the Algerian war was on at the time. Jimmy explained he had done this but when he arrived in Algiers he couldn’t find anyone who wanted to buy them. Realising he could not return to France with the weapons he ditched them over the side of the boat into the Mediterranean. 

Geoff Mather, Northern Features Ed at the time, wrote this delightful piece about him

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Delmer’s camel

The Times TMS Diary has been contacted by ‘an old hack’ who told a tale about Sefton Delmer, ‘a great Daily Express foreign reporter who was not great at accountancy’. 

The Diary continued: ‘In 1953, a frustrated clerk demanded that he send in a detailed invoice for covering a coup in Iran or he would tell Lord Beaverbrook. Reluctantly, Delmer, pictured left, gave him a form that included a huge sum for “hire of a camel”.

'Suspicious, the clerk called the Iranian embassy to ask the going rate for camels and found Delmer’s sum to be well over the odds.

“It was a racing camel,” Delmer protested.’

The accounts department told Delmer that if the newspaper was to pay for the camel it wanted it back in London.

There was silence for a week; then Delmer filed another receipt … for the camel’s burial costs.


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A touch of genius from STEPHEN WOOD(PILE)

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D’ya want some Juncker?

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Two Mikes get a wigging

Former Expressmen Mike Parry and Mike Graham have been in trouble with Ofcom over a conversation they had during their TalkSPORT radio show. 

The Two Mikes were discussing the alleged lewd behaviour towards women of an unnamed colleague at the Daily Express and a listener’s complaint about them has been upheld.

Parry, left, a former news editor, and Graham, who rose briefly to night editor, have forged successful radio careers after leaving the Express.

Read the gory details here

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Desmond’s new pension offer

Express Newspapers chairman Richard Desmond is reported to be trying to persuade staff to quit the company’s pension fund.

Private Eye magazine reports: 'Yet more deck-clearing at Express Newspapers as Richard “Dirty” Desmond prepares the company for sale. He hopes to entice members of the pension fund to leave by offering 25 per cent increases to the transfer value of their pension pot if they take it elsewhere.

'It is more than 10 years since Dirty Des first tried to reduce the liabilities of the main Express Newspapers fund by offering lump sum cash payments for pensioners willing to give up certain rights, such as inflation-proofing. But still many stubborn old hacks prefer to sit tight.

‘His latest lure was a £50 Marks & Spencer voucher for anyone willing merely to discuss the offer with his pension consultants, Goddard Perry and Corinthian. Finance director Rob Sanderson wrote to assure fund members that the consultants “have been engaged to give you unbiased advice about the pension transfer option and whether or not it is a good idea for you to take it up”.

‘Alas for Desmond, the people he is paying to dish out unbiased advice are doing just that. Old hacks from the Express and Daily Star tell the Eye that after explaining their circumstances Corinthian or Goddard Perry they were advised to ignore Dirty Des’s enhanced offer and stay in the company scheme. They are, however, very grateful for the M&S vouchers…'

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Old Blokes Home (Part 96)

Here’s another old pic from the old days. It shows chums from the Daily Express Manchester office having yet another drink. We can’t name everyone in this picture, supplied by Carolyn Dee, but in the back row are Gordon Amory and John Wardaugh; middle row, Unknown, Norman Midgeley and Aubrey Matthews; front row, Unknown, Laurie Lee, Frank Spooner and Robin Esser. Can anyone fill in the blanks?                                  Picture: LEO CARTER

Who is this woman?

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All hail the new Messiah!

 GIDDY LIMIT: George addresses the bemused Standard staff

Arthur Christiansen, David English, John Junor, Larry Lamb, Arthur Percy Firth (Shurely shome mishtake - Ed). Now a new name can be added to the pantheon of great newspaper editors: Gideon George Osborne.

Yes folks, the world of journalism is bowing down before a new God. The former Chancellor of the Exchequer, sacked by Theresa May, has been appointed editor of the London Evening Standard.

As the plaudits for this inspired appointment flooded in last night it was revealed that Osborne, who has no previous journalistic experience, had only applied for the job three days earlier.

MICK DENNIS imagines what the new editor told his staff:

"We’ll tickle the masthead. We're going to have ears for sale and I'm bringing back the fudge. 

"No more kerning. Same fonts for now. WOBs are out. Only caps on BOTs, and BOTs must be an em shy of the gutter. Go easy on the dogs' dicks in heads and copy. Jump lines in bold. Captions blobbed and ragged right. 

"I have the final say on display ads on dummies. I don't want proofs but always show me the splash and the banner, and the banner has to be above the fold. 

"Separations must go 20 minutes before off-stone. I want two sports bills every edition and sport can change the back of four on the slip. 

"Snappers and blunts to share cabs. Keep the morgue up to date. Um.. that's it for now. Doug, lend me your card for the canteen.”

STOP PRESS: More fabulous news from the exciting New World of Journalism: Emily Clarkson (daughter of Jeremy) has been given her own column in Fabulous, the Sun on Sunday's supplement mag. It's not usually the sort of job you step straight into, but somehow reliable Rebekah Brooks has managed to sort it for her Chipping Norton buddy. (Give me strength, Bings – Lord Drone)

The Guardian’s take

The real journalists respond 

NEW An amazing risk, by FRASER NELSON

Here’s Gideon's first front page

Inspired brilliance from WILL HAGERTY of The Sun

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Lost in translation

Apparently there's a growing trend among young Turkish business people to name their companies by reversing their first name. Which looks cool ... unless your name is Esra.

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Secret Lemonade Drinker

There’s no accounting for taste … but this is Terry Manners pouring LEMONADE into his red wine at Joe Allen on 15th February. No one noticed – apart from Dick Dismore who took this snatch picture. 

The latest on Joe Allen’s move to new premises is that they expect to remain in Covent Garden and a suitable venue is believed to have been found in the piazza nearby. No date for the move has been set June is looking most likely.

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Vegetable crisis

A Drone original

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Legends in their lunchtime

It would be indelicate to mention a chap’s age, especially when he reaches 80, but there had to be a reason why four former Expressmen gathered for lunch in Mayfair. Who’s Who? Find out here

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Old dog, new trick

The headline is Christopher Wilson’s and the book he is holding is The Riviera Express by 'TP Fielden’ which will be published next month. One must draw one’s own conclusions as to the true identity of the author.

Christopher, a former editor of the William Hickey column, tells his Facebook chums: "Out in Salcombe nursing a hangover and a proof copy of TP Fielden's debut novel, The Riviera Express.

"The first of four commissioned by HarperCollins' new HQ imprint, the story's set in Temple Regis, Devon's prettiest town, in the 1950s – a place where a disproportionate number of murders have a habit of occurring. 

"Solved, of course, by the divine Miss Dimont, chief reporter on the local newspaper and a helluva lot more besides. Expect more self-serving posts between now and publication in February.”

Lord Drone has been furnished with a review copy and will no doubt delight us with his views once he has sobered up. But he assures the editor that it is “rattling good yarn”. The editor agrees.

Buy the book HERE

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Remembering Ross Benson

TAKING A PEW: Ingrid Seward, editor of Majesty magazine sits behind a plaque in memory of her late husband, Daily Express diarist, foreign correspondent and feature writer Ross Benson.

The plaque was unveiled in St Bride’s, the journalists’ church in Fleet Street, London, on December 21st. Ross died suddenly in March 2005 aged 56.

ALAN FRAME reports

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DRONE EXCLUSIVE: Lookalike

               Bingo from Banana Splits                                                      Sarah Olney MP

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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

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Festive celebration at Joe Allen

Members of the World’s Greatest Lunch Club did the decent thing and  took their wives to their annual Christmas celebration at Joe Allen. Pictured from left are Alan Frame, Roger and Carol Watkins, David Eliades and his wife Lamar Raine.
MORE PICTURES HERE

This will be the WGLC's last Christmas do at the Covent Garden restaurant as Joe Allen is being forced to move out because the building is being turned into a hotel.

Informed sources have told the Drone that the restaurant has found alternative premises but we are not in a position to reveal more details as nothing has been signed yet.


IT’S BACK!

One in the Eye No 101

Volume 15: 1986

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.

24th January 1986

Street of Shame

Michael Heseltine’s resignation provided Fleet Street leader writers with a gift of a subject for editorial comment. Up and down the Street of Shame typewriters became red hot as hacks weighed in on one side or the other.

Heseltine was praised as a shining light of principle or denounced as a low down self-seeking rat by all of the national newspapers.

All? Well not quite. The aggressively pro-Government Daily Express was conspicuous in not having a single word of editorial comment on the resignation, a sad and remarkable lapse.

FACT: One of the closest friends of Sir Larold Lamb, the courageous and independently minded Editor of the Getsworse, is Mr Michael Heseltine.

Grovel

The Libel of the Century between the Daily Getsworse’s scintillating Diarist Richard Compton Miller and former GLE Nigel Dumpster grinds on, I hear.

Compton Miller, determined to rebut Dumpster’s disgraceful allegation that he has homosexual tendencies, intends to call as witnesses a parade of gorgeous lovelies who have discussed Uganda with him.

They include one who, he claims, recently joined the Mile High Club with him on his way back from the Cayman Islands.

21st February 1986

Grovel

Scintillating Compton Miller of the William Hickey column came face to face with his nemesis, the former GLE Nigel Dempster, at Stringfellow’s club the other night.

Both had been invited to a “Men Only” party in honour of Peter “Lytton” Bowles, the well-known actor.

Despite the “stag” label Compton insisted on bringing a gorgeous pouting companion – a fact, he insisted, that had nothing to do with the Case of the Century (Eyes passim).

The evening swiftly degenerated into an ugly shouting match between the two Great Journalists during which the poor baffled Bowles quietly slipped away.

7th March 1986

Grovel

Dapper Getsworse boss David Stevens was startled in Sloane Street, Chelsea, the other day when a wild-eyed man jumped out of a white BMW and stuck his hand out.

“How are you sir?” inquired the apparition. Stevens replied: “Who are you?” 

It was former Greatest Living Englishman Nigel Dempster. Since the incident Dumpster has taken to appealing publicly in his column for Stevens to sack his scintillating rival, Compton Miller, editor of the brilliantly amusing William Hickey column.

21st March 1986

Street of Shame

Pint-sized Daily Express supremo David Stevens is increasingly the plaything of the Daily Mirror’s Captain Bob Maxwell. The latest manifestation of the disturbing development involves the front half of  fabled Chateau Despair, the Black Lubyanka in Fleet Street.

Stevens has ordained, à la Cap’n Bob, that one of the two lifts will in the future be for his personal use. It will have a girl operator as he cannot abide to travel alone in a lift. Moreover, on the short walk from the front door to his (executive) lift, he shall hitherto never have to endure the sight of tired hacks loitering there to greet their mistresses or oily printers trysting with their stockbrokers.

Meanwhile, two floors above their newly-salubrious scene Sir “Larold” Lamb’s final death throes as editor – he was the sixth Getsworse editor in 10 years – are causing distress and embarrassment to his sleazy successor Nick Lloyd. Larold says “the boy”, as he calls Lloyd, should have no access to important editorial papers until the moment next month when he lumbers off the scene.

Three floors above this squalid scene sits the great Sir Jonah, 94, brooding that his earlier judgement of Stevens – “this little man’s another Beaver” – might have been premature to say the least. Sir Jonah has discovered that Stevens’ obnoxious chief executive, former Mirrorman Roger Bowles, has been plotting to end the glorious 37-year editorship and turn the stately Sunday Express into a seedy tabloid.

Auchtermuchty’s most famous son has a bunker plan which will take immediate effect if the greasy Bowles prevails. Pocketing his pension and his pay-off he will accept a long-standing invitation of Sir David “Fester” English to join the Mail group as a highly-paid consultant, and write his immensely popular column for the Sunday Express’s bitter rival, the Mail on Sunday.

MORE LATER

ONE IN THE EYE 1985

ONE IN THE EYE 1984

ONE IN THE EYE 1983

ONE IN THE EYE 1982

ONE IN THE EYE 1981

ONE IN THE EYE 1980

ONE IN THE EYE 1979

ONE IN THE EYE 1978

ONE IN THE EYE 1977

ONE IN THE EYE 1976

ONE IN THE EYE 1975

ONE IN THE EYE 1974

ONE IN THE EYE 1973

ONE IN THE EYE 1972

ONE IN THE EYE 1966-1971

SPOOF FRONT PAGE FROM 1965

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Who sacked all the subs?

If the headline doesn’t fit just knock out a few letters, suggests Stephen Wood, who spotted this triumph in the Sussex Express

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In the footsteps of Didge

REFLECTIONS ON AN OLD FRIEND: Former Express sub-editors David Laws and Valerie Bolcina on a marathon walk from Dover to Deal in memory of Bill ‘Didge’ Reynolds.
DRONE PICTURE SPECIAL

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Your trains tonight

Sign of the times, spotted by ROGER WATKINS

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Political Correctness Corner

Spotted by NICK HILL

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Legends in their lunchtime

Former Express reporter TOM BROWN steps back in time for a Fleet Street pub crawl

Backs to the wall at Joe's

After years of being off the wall, the World’s Greatest Lunch Club has finally gone on it. A framed picture of its members has now been screwed firmly to the wall at Joe Allen restaurant in London’s Covent Garden. The brass plaque reads: The World’s Greatest Lunch Club. By an uncanny coincidence, it has been placed immediately against a poster for The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, as pictured below.

Guest at the August lunch was the great raconteur John McEntee, who writes the Ephraim Hardcastle column in the Daily Mail. John’s excellent new book “I’m Not One to Gossip But…” is available HERE

Pictured from left are: Dick Dismore, Alastair McIntyre, David Eliades, Alan Frame, Terry Manners, Roger Watkins, Ashley Walton and Pat Pilton.

Photographs by courtesy of the Drone Grainy Picture Department (patents pending).

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In memory of a great Hickey

A plaque in memory of Peter Tory, former editor of the William Hickey column in the Daily Express, has been unveiled at St Bride’s Church in Fleet Street, London. Read more here

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The Express’s militant tendency

The attitude of the editorial staff to the management of Express Newspapers was bolshie bordering on the anarchic in the 1970s as this spoof memo circulated to staff at the time proves. 

Staff cuts were nothing new even in the 1970s as managements strove to cut enormous staff numbers. The memo was written at the time of union dominance on the paper with the NUJ riding on the coat tails of the then much more powerful print unions. 

The NUJ militancy, which often resulted in mandatory chapel meetings at busy times, resulted in some large pay rises for journalists. Those were the days!

Thanks to former Daily Express sub Nigel Lilburn for finding "this piece of creative prose" among his treasures.

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Farewell to Fleet Street

The Street of Broken Dreams is no more. The Guardian has published a terrific set of pictures of Fleet Street newspapers through the ages to commemorate the last journalists leaving our spiritual home. This photograph shows crowds outside the famous Daily Express building in December 1932 waiting to greet the aviator Amy Johnson on her return from her historic flight to South Africa.

Read all about it here

Last of an illustrious line

UPDATE Stig Abell, editor of The Times Literary Supplement and former managing editor of The Sun, has written an excellent account of the state of the British Press for the New York Times.

Read it here

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Ivor and Iain Beatle off to lunch

TWO Fleet Street veterans found much had changed when they had lunch at El Vino in London.

Ivor Davis, who reported from Los Angeles for the Daily Express for many years, got together with Iain Smith, formerly of the Daily Mail, at their old watering hole.

Ivor, pictured right, told the Drone: "El Vino's lunches were much vaunted: Champagne to start, fine wines followed – then brandy and port. Then back to the office to get the paper out.  And oh yes – food." 

Davis found fame in 1964 when he traveled with the Beatles on their first American tour – and has been dining out on the experience ever since.

He acted as ghostwriter for George Harrison, who was being paid fairly lavishly for his Express column. The Express helpfully referred to Harrison as “George Harrison the Beatle" so as not to confuse him with anyone else.

Iain Smith and Tony Delano of the Mirror, also joined the tour which created rock and roll history. And, as Ivor put it, a few popular songs.

Ivor Davis reveals all

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Grainy Snaps Dept strikes again

Selfies taken in the pub on a Friday night are seldom noted for their artistic merit but when the study is described as a ‘brief and limited Express reunion at Canary Wharf' the Drone cannot shrink from its responsibilities to publish. Pictured here, possibly having the time of their lives are, from the left, Mark Hoey, Nigel ‘Nine Times’ Palmer and Valerie Bolcina. We cannot shed any light on the nature of Mr Palmer’s sobriquet but if you can help, kindly send a Telex to 'Drone London’. Cleft sticks are so yesterday.

UPDATE Such was the quality of the snap that it was sent for improvement to Drone Laboratories and, in the finest tradition of the Daily Express, the result is revealed below.

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Corbyn’s answer to Trident

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Press Photo History Project

CALLING all photographers!

The Daily Drone is pleased to be associated with the Press Photo History Project which aims to record every news photographer and photographic agency operating in the UK from 1904 to the present.

The project is run by Will Carleton, who explains: "The project was born from weekly copyright inquiries I get through my main photo industry website https://photoarchivenews.com which I have been running for almost 18 years now, it covers news from the editorial and stock photo industry. 

"As I have the Fleet Street bug for anything associated with the working life of newspaper photo departments, photo agencies and freelance news photographers, starting and updating the http://www.pressphotohistory.com was a natural way of enjoying an interest while providing an information and networking base for photographers who worked in Fleet Street.

"The project as a whole intends to list/map every Fleet Street photographer and agency operating in and around the Street from around 1904 when photography was really noticed by newspaper owners. 

"The PPHP has been responsible for a few reunions and arranges get-togethers for photographers across the globe - this was off the back of the site: http://www.pressphotohistory.com/central-press-photo-agency-staff-incredible-reunion-after-45-years/

"The British Library has given it a tick as a worthwhile directory and record of life as a press photographer in Fleet Street. Any cash donations to the project are spent trawling through directories at places like the British Library, trying to piece addresses of agencies and the photographers who worked for them. 

There is a little more about the project here: http://www.pressphotohistory.com/about/ with links to a few memories which really make the base of the site and record what was a very industrious side to the production of a newspaper.

You can contact Will through his website HERE

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Bottoms up! 

Who’s this performing her famous party trick? Found out here

Of all the bars in all the world...

The chances of two veteran Daily Express subs meeting in a deserted steak bar in Northampton on a Monday night were slim to non-existent.

But Rod Jones (left), up from London visiting friends, stumbled across Tony Boullemier, who lives in Northampton. They hadn’t seen each other for 20 years.

Tony and his family were just about the only customers and insisted that Rod and his companion took wine with them. Naturally there was much catching up and many anecdotes.

Curiously the two were Northamptonshire rivals in the 1980s when Rod edited the Evening Telegraph at Kettering and Tony ran the Northants Post group based in Northampton. 

But they never met until the 1990s when Rod was at the Express and Tony had sold the Post and was back at the DX as a freelance sub.

 “It was great to see Rod again,” said Tony. “From what I recall, we put the newspaper world entirely to rights.”

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Jimmy Nicholson dies aged 89

THE World’s Greatest Crime Reporter, James Nicholson, known to everyone except the byline writers as Jimmy, has died at the age of 89. He is pictured celebrating his 87th birthday at his care home in Essex in January 2014.

Times obituary

Telegraph obituary

Drone version for those without a Telegraph subscription

Guardian obit

EXCLUSIVE Big Noise of the Bailey by JAMES DAVIES

Press Gazette tribute

Drone Picture Special

Legendary crime reporter

True story of the Prince of Darkness

See Jimmy interviewed by Sky’s Martin Brunt

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The Lino's back on the floor 

There are a few familiar faces from the old Daily Express days in this snap. Can you put a name to any of them? Find out who’s who here

Memorial bench that fits the Bill

The bunting was fluttering outside the Essex home of Bill ‘Didge’ Reynolds as family and friends unveiled a bench in memory of the much-loved Expressman who died last August aged 73
PICTURE SPECIAL: Didge’s country seat

Mr Glum takes new tech lying down

CAN YOU HEAR ME MOTHER? A reader has sent us this excellent photograph from a book on the history of an old hospital in Kent. The caption reads: 1958: St Helen’s first ‘mobile telephone’ which was funded by the Women’s Royal Voluntary Service. Some members of the WRVS are at the bedside as a patient makes the inaugural call.

We have done our best with the headline. Can anyone do better?

Peter Michel suggests: Immobile phone for Mr 1958

Ken Potter: Mr Glum not hung up on new technology

Alan Frame: Phone sex is best done in private ...

Le boulevardier de Nîmes

An Englishman Abroad: The lesser-spotted Expressman Geoff Compton has been found alive and well and living in Nîmes. Dick Dismore, who took this picture, has just returned from Provence where he has been inspecting ancient ruins

Craig’s heroic poll failure

Never a man to shirk a challenge, Craig Mackenzie has failed in his bid to win a seat on Elmbridge Borough Council in Surrey. Craig stood as an Independent in the true-blue seat of Weybridge Riverside and did quite well, gaining 468 votes, 8.13 per cent of the poll. The surprise winner, a Liberal Democrat, gained 893 votes (15.52 per cent). Two Tories were also elected. Craig’s brother Kelvin also stood as an Independent in the seat in 2014 but failed to persuade the electorate that he was the right man for the job. The electorate don’t know what they’re missing.

Full steam for Warren Street

GOING LOCO: Expressman David ‘Bunny’ Laws is all ears as he prepares to hop aboard an Easter express      Picture: RAY KING

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OFFICIAL PHOTOGRAPH

World’s Greatest Lunch Club

GLASSES HALF FULL: But who’s who? Find out here

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Thatcher visits the Express

Mr Geoffrey Compton, formerly of this parish, has finally got round to viewing the above photograph published last year on the Daily Drone. Geoff recalls that he was involved in an incident with a waste paper bin when Margaret Thatcher visited the Daily Express offices in Fleet Street in 1978. He also mentions that waste paper bins were considered a novelty in the subs room, although what he means by this is anyone’s guess.

Maggie, monocles and mayhem

Only in your Super Soaraway Daily Drone

YES chums, the Drone is widening its horizons into the dizzying world of sport. This major venture occurred after a companion remarked to Lord Drone at luncheon in Mayfair that the one thing the Daily Drone lacked was Sports News, whatever that is. 

His Lordship, who confesses that he is not well versed in matters relating to games, sincerely hopes that the following items fit the bill. The companion referred to, the Hon Jonathan Zackon, wishes to remain anonymous. 

(Will this do? – No, it’s crap, Ed)

RUGBY England v Wales

SPOT THE EXPRESSMAN 1: A sporting print from 1960

SPOT THE EXPRESSMAN 2: Roger Watkins, Monmouth School Colts XV (back row, second left)

SPOT THE EXPRESSMAN 3: It’s that man Watkins in sporting kit once more, Junior Colts XV (3rd row, far right)

SPOT THE EXPRESSMAN 4: Watkins in cricket gear, Monmouth School 
Colts XI, (back row, third left)

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RACING Grand National shock

FOOTBALL Spot the Potts

As regular readers will know the Daily Drone is always keen to get news of Paul Potts, former 'deputy editor’ of the Daily Express. So it is with great pleasure that we publish this ancient picture of him fixing his gimlet eye on the unfortunate camera person. 

The photograph has the added benefit of adhering to this publication’s avowed new policy of placing more ‘sport’ in our columns. 

Have you spotted Pottsy? He’s in the back row, third from the right, letting his hair down.

Is this OK for legals, Cocklecarrot? – Ed. Only just my lord

… and now spot the bots

SILLY ARSE: There’s always one …

BADMINTON Two cocks better than one

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Norman takes an early bath

Express reporter Norman Luck was game for everything during his illustrious career, but what is he up to this time? Find out here

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Old songs, old fiddle (allegedly)

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A grater view of Fleet Street

London is an ever-changing city and the skyline as viewed from Fleet Street is no different. Competing with the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral is the 737ft tall Leadenhall Building, better known as the Cheese Grater. It wasn’t there when Lord Drone was a lad.

Picture by LEAH DUDMAN

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Good lord! It’s a hippo replacement

How Lord Drone survived the wartime petrol crisis: The ever-resourceful peer commandeered a hippotamus from the London Zoological Gardens to replace his limousine which had run out of fuel. Horses could not be used at the time as hay, carrots and sugar lumps were also in short supply. The snap turned up at the Drone morning editorial conference today which mainly involves his Lordship talking to himself. The news drought continues …

(Good Lord, is that the time - Ed)

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How Lord Drone survived the war

Taking no chances: This ingenious perambulator allowed a youthful Lord Drone to smoke cigars while out with Nanny 
(It’s a slow news day – Ed)

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And still on the subject of masks 

The year was 2003 and the Daily Express news subs decided to celebrate in typically off-beat fashion for their Christmas do at the Cheshire Cheese pub in London. But why were they wearing masks? Lord Drone attempts to explain here

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Chums meet up by chance

Three former Express subs who worked together in Manchester more than 40 years ago had an unexpected, unscheduled reunion in a pub near Fleet Street. 

They are, from left, Danny Gallagher, Roger Watkins and Dave Harbord. Danny and Roger were features subs in Great Ancoats Street; Dave was on news. All three subsequently worked on various papers in Fleet Street including The Sun and Today as well as the Express. 

The trio met up at a party to celebrate the acquittal of journalists on The Sun caught up in the Operation Elvedon cash-for-info witch hunt. They included former Express reporter Graham Dudman, who is, of course, Watkins's son-in-law. 

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Who’s this sunning himself?

The Sheikh of Araby maybe? Or just an Englishman abroad protecting himself from the madness of the midday sun. The answer to the conundrum, which amazed even Lord Drone, may be found HERE

Downward spiral of a once-great newspaper: Lord Beaverbrook would turn in his grave, mutters Lord Drone. 

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Our snappers in the North

Daily Express photographer JOHN KNILL has been delving in his drawers again and come up with this snap of the serried ranks of DX photographers. And this was just the Manchester contingent, well most them – someone must have been working that night. Just who is who? Find out here

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Here’s to Evans above

Family and friends of the late Terry Evans, picture editor of the Sunday Express, gathered for a lunch in his memory at Joe Allen in London’s Covent Garden. Who’s who?

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Gunner Hulls, hero of Arnhem

Everything comes to he who waits, so the old saying goes.

But some have to wait a little longer … 71 years in fact.

Daily Express sportswriter Sydney Hulls has at last received three medals which he should have been awarded after the Second World War.

Gunner Hulls, 92, is pictured with former Expressman David Eliades at a lunch in the old soldier's honour at the October First Tuesday reunion meeting in London in 2015.

Sports journalist David Miller, who discovered that Sydney was entitled to the medals, has written a tribute to his old colleague.

Hero of Arnhem

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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

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Hail and farewell to Fleet Street

The year was 1989 and Daily Express was finally leaving its old home in London’s Fleet Street. Three of the paper’s old hands joined in the celebrations in the composing room before the move across the river to Blackfriars. They are from left, picture editor Terry Evans, backbencher Bob Cocksworth and showbiz writer David Wigg. Bob died in 1994 aged 49 and Terry passed away last April aged 69. Both are greatly missed. 
Picture supplied by TERRY MANNERS

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Who’s this at the Black Lubyanka?



All is revealed here

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In praise of the unsung heroes

Writer Robin McGibbon, a former sub-editor himself, has discovered this old slightly stained Sunday Times piece dating at a guess from the 1980s

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Youngest Express sub dies at 80*

Another chum dies, this time it’s Guy Bellamy, who later found fame as author of The Secret Lemonade Drinker.

*Apart from Tony Boullemier, who came along 10 years later – and Alan Frame who says he can beat them both by five years.

Final toast

Another claim to Frame

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NEW FROM DRONE TV

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.

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Why Carl Giles said: I can’t draw people

Jolly John Knill reveals the amusing truth

Picture by Jane Bown, 1986

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ONLY ON DroneTube

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. 

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Esther’s right Ryle mix-up

WE’VE all done it ... you arrange to meet a friend in the pub and you turn up on the wrong day or even the wrong pub.

Former Daily Express Editorial Secretary Esther Harrod did exactly that when she asked Glenys Pyne, former secretary to Daily Star editor Brian Hitchen, and one-time news and features sub-editor Terry Ryle to meet at the monthly First Tuesday get-together of old colleagues at the Old Bank of England pub in London.

Not understanding why 42 strangers were squeezed into the usual private room reserved for the Express, Esther harangued the manager – only to be told that she had come a week too late.

Nevertheless, Glenys, pictured above right, Terry and Esther had an enjoyable couple of hours catching up with each other and sinking a few beers.

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Say cheese! Or cheesed off?

Clive Hollick’s interesting decision in May 1998 to appoint the Left-wing women’s libber Rosie Boycott to the editorship of the then staunchly Tory Daily Express met with mixed results to put it mildly.

Rosie did her best to promote women to senior roles but the one executive she inherited, Deputy Editor Nicola Briggs, seemed less than happy with her lot when this photo was taken in 2000 shortly after Ms Boycott took the chair.

Pictured are: Front row, from left, Rosie Boycott; night editor Tina Moran, Lesley Thomas, Nicola Briggs, Colette Harrison and copy taster Wendy Fuller.

Back row: Jacqui Goddard, Heather Preen, Laura Kibby (now Fox) Tiffanie Darke, and Lisa from the art desk.

Rosie exited left in 2001 shortly after Richard Desmond bought the Express and she now runs a farm in Somerset. Nicola quit in 2003.

Philip Derbyshire comments: Boycott ordered this picture to be taken to show that the paper was being produced by women execs. Except that I was news editor that day. I thought she was going to sack me after I asked to be in the pic.

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Old Soaks’ Home

(Up to a point, Lord Copper)

The headline is not entirely correct. There were five of us for lunch but only two were drinking the hard stuff. Lunch with Didge

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Arthur Brittenden dies aged 90

Daily Mail editor Brittenden with Princess Anne on the stone of the newspaper in November 1969. He was formerly deputy editor of the Sunday Express Photo by Daily Mail/REX Shutterstock

Geoffrey Goodman’s tribute

When the Mail trailed the Express by two million

Telegraph obituary

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Late-night newsroom madness

A SPECTACLE IN MONOCLES: A typical late-night scene from the Daily Express newsroom in Fleet Street some time in the 1980s. Freshly back from the pub, Alastair ‘Bingo’ McIntyre (left) and Bob ‘Algy’ Smith make a feeble attempt to look busy. McIntyre commented: ‘At least only one eye was glazed.’
Picture by STEPHEN 
‘BIFFO’ WOOD

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Manchester Express special

STILL THERE: The iconic Daily Express building in Great Ancoats Street, Manchester, today as seen by Google Streetlife

Remember the terrible twins?

Here on the Drone we never forget a face, particularly not these two terrifying characters – sunken-cheeked Ted Hodgson and bespectacled John McDonald. What were they up to? Find out in John Knill’s extensive photo archive from the Manchester office of the Daily Express – only in the Drone

DRONE PHOTONEWS: 

Our friends in the North

Only here for the beer

The Great Characters of Ancoats

Hands up those who recall the good old days
 at Ancoats in Manchester

More pics from the old Daily Express Northern offices in Ancoats

55 years ago: Massed ranks of Daily Express photographers

Where are they now? This, believe it or not, is the Daily Express team of 62 photographers in 1960. The picture, supplied to the Drone by John Knill (back row, fourth from right) was a publicity shot for Express Photonews, a major feature of the paper in those days. Who can you spot? Click here for a larger picture

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Daily Express Newsroom 1990s

Who can you spot? This picture was taken in the early to mid-1990s at the new Daily Express offices in Blackfriars shortly after the paper had gone over to the SII system of direct input. The view is from the picture desk in the foreground to the news desk and behind that the backbench and news sub-editors.

We can spot Terry Evans (looking very ginger), Mick Lidbury, Maurice Hibberd, Gordon Ducker, Mike Parry, Annie Leask, Ian Walker, David Richardson, Danny McGrory, Brian Thistlethwaite and Ian Benfield

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What’s in the box?

Lost and Found: The Bulletin Box

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Ye olde Express Christmas

Old flame: Sub-editor Alastair ‘Bingo’ McIntyre celebrates Christmas in traditional style at the Daily Express in the 1980s. Note the lick of flame emerging from the wastepaper bin. If memory serves, McIntyre was invited by Night Editor Craig Orr to come out from beneath the desk ‘just for the first edition’. Needless to say, the picture was taken after the subs’ festive lunch.

McIntyre comments: Elaine Canham has been in touch to say: 'The flaming waste basket reminded me of the night you and I and Jan [Barden] set off fireworks in the subs room; you burned your thumb as I recollect.’ 

A spokesman for Sue, Grabbit and Runne said: 'Needless to say Mr McIntyre has absolutely no recollection of this. Will this do Bings?

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Daily Express Foreign Desk 1972

ANOTHER WORLD: Clockwise from the left: Ian Bain, Jim Nichol (deputy foreign editor), Stewart Steven (foreign editor), John Moger (night foreign editor) and Norman Jarvis.  The elbow on the bottom right may have belonged to David Ross, David Eliades or Jim Thurman. 

Ian Bain, who supplied this picture, recalls a drunken journey he blames on Jocelyn Stevens

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Daily Express Features Desk 1984

Pictured at the Fleet Street offices are, from left, Ross Benson, features secretary Tinu, Mike Deane and Alan Frame

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THE WORLD’S GREATEST LUNCH CLUB

Despite the dishevelled look of the table, there was a modicum of food consumed when the Drones met for lunch at Joe Allen on Wednesday 11th December, 2013. Pictured are, from left, Alan Frame, Ashley Walton, guest of honour Liz Gill, Terry Manners, Roger Watkins, Pat Pilton, Alastair McIntyre, Terry Evans and Dick Dismore

MORE GRAINY PICS AND A READER’S COMMENT HERE

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WHEN JOE HAD A GO AT POLITICS

Former Daily Express sub-editor Joe Neal has resurfaced as an actor in Ireland. And, as this picture proves, he stood unsuccessfully as an independent (or indepenent as his campaign literature puts it – sub-editor here please, steward) in the 2004 European elections. Joe has also written a book of poetry, Telling It At A Slant, which is available as a paperback from all good booksellers. If you want to see if he can act, (he can in the Drone’s opinion)

CLICK HERE

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Spaghetti House Siege (Part 2)

Laddies who lunch: The Daily Express Drones got together at the Spaghetti House in Holborn to drink to the memory of former Daily Express sub-editor and radio DJ Bob Kilbey who died in July. Bob used to organise an annual Christmas lunch at the restaurant. Pictured from left are Ashley Walton, Alastair McIntyre, Bill Reynolds, Ray King, Ross Tayne and Tony Boullemier. Since this picture was taken Bill Reynolds and Ross Tayne have died

Bob Kilbey tribute

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AND SO TO BEDS

This charming snap was taken from an aeroplane by Joy Desmond as she was wafted into Luton Airport. But what does it show? Find out here

Who’s that with Robin McGibbon?

screenshot-2017-05-24-11464 med hr-2


And why is he holding the FA Cup? Find out here

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If the cap doesn't fit...

Sometimes editors have to do the most undignified things, as Sir Nicholas Lloyd found in 1995 when Sky TV invaded the Express offices in Blackfriars for a charity Telethon which was broadcast live to the masses. 

The picture came to light during a gathering of the World's Greatest Lunch Club at which the guest was the man with the longest career in Fleet Street – 57 years and still counting. Read about it here.

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EXCLUSIVE PICTURE – LORD DRONE MEETS THE QUEEN MOTHER

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Who Was Who on the Express in 1969

More details here

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HISTORY OF THE EXPRESS DRONES CLUB

THE DUCK CALL AND FIRE EXTINGUISHERS AT MIDNIGHT

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© 2005-2017 Alastair McIntyre