Front Page Extra

By POPBITCH Gossip Correspondent

For a newspaper that never seems to let a front page go by without using the word 'bellend', you'd have thought that hacks at the Sunday Sport would know the in-house style inside out. But apparently not.

The editor of the Sport had to send a rather angry email out to employees in 2014, to ensure that they were all swearing correctly and consistently. Disciplinary action was threatened for anyone who couldn't abide by these simple rules:

Censored in headlines and copy: Cunt, Fuck.

Censored in headlines, but allowed in copy: Wank, Twat.

Uncensored in headlines and copy: Shit, Cock, Bollocks, Bellend.

The cause of this email? Someone had put a hyphen in "bell-end”.


Adlestrop Livestock Market


Market Report

Messrs Pilton, Stilton & Cheeseburger report mixed interest in beasts available at the June sale of livestock at the Old Barnyard, Adlestrop. Prices, recently badly affected by the Coronavirus lockdown, rallied somewhat in easy trading. The quality of stock was variable but there were outstanding bargains to be had.


Welsh mules: Easy to place at £86; other smart coloured sorts, £75 to £82.

Superior Texel Cross mules to £100. Suffolk cross less than £70 with smaller, nice headed Texel crosses £70 to £80 but poorer headed types trading at £60 to £70.

Prime lambs. Tighter numbers pushed up price. Euro is no better but SQQ is 174.2/kg above last week. 

Cull ewes and rams: Flying demand on all grades. Texel achieved top price of £107.50; Suffolks to £9.50. Mules to £75. Overall av outstanding £66.83.


Breeding cattle: one outfit forward selling to £910 (BBX cow, 29m & BBX bull calf 20d).

Stirks /young stores: increased entry of 75 head meeting selective trade on all well fleshed and good farming types with top selling of £800 for 11m Charolais steers; £740 for an 8m Limousin. Out of spec remains difficult to place.

Store cattle: 358 forward. Feeders to £1150 (675kg-32m) for Limousin crosses. Wintering steers to £1025 (535kg-17m)

Rearing calves: 70 forward, largest for some time but quality, with a few notable exceptions, very poor. Standout calf of the day was a two-month-old blue heifer from Manners Farms selling at an excellent £410.

With deadweight prices slipping 10p/kg, a large number of very plain cows attracted noticeable less interest.

Cull cattle: a shorter entry sold to excellent trade throughout

Best continentals really rang the bell reaching 187p. 

Finished cattle: a seasonally short entry attracted an unbelievable trade. There were no superstars forward but all better sorts sold to 225p


Litters in short supply because of virus and Crufts setback. Those forward met keen interest reflected in ringside price. Labs particularly popular with retrievers attractive and spaniels again in demand. Litters av £230 exc. Indivs £470 inc.


Disappointing trade because of poor quality entries. Domestic short-haired particularly slack. Litters av £47 inc and exc. Indivs hard put at £7.50 exc.


Auction cancelled in advance.

PS&C’s auctioneer was Gavin Gavel-Shanks

Is there much more of this shite? — Ed

FORMER Daily Mail and Sun photographer Clive Limpkin has died aged 82.

His death comes only a few weeks after that of John Downing, legendary chief photographer of the Daily Express.

Limpkin worked at The Sun throughout the 1960s and 70s before being headhunted by the Daily Mail where he worked for 20 years.

His famed shots from the Battle of Bogside became some of the defining images of The Troubles in Northern Ireland.

He passed away after battling a brain tumour and leaves a wife  Alex and their two children Zissou and Chloe.

Sun veteran royal photographer Arthur Edwards paid tribute to his colleague and friend.

He said: “Clive was first and foremost a gentleman and treated everybody with kindness.

“When I first joined The Sun, Clive was one of the best photographers in Fleet Street.

“He was always prepared to give you good advice and help young photographers.

“In later years whenever I met him it was a delight to see him and listen to his latest tales.”

Mail tribute

THE Government has finally gave into the Drone’s demands and awarded a knighthood  to Captain Tom Moore.

Just five weeks ago we demanded that Capt Moore, 100, should get the award for his efforts in raising nearly £33million for NHS charities by walking up and down his garden umpteen times.

Not only that but the old boy has been upgraded to honorary colonel, which is something we didn’t demand — to be honest we never thought of that.

That, folks, is the power of your non-stop, super soaraway Daily Drone. Oh yes! 

(Will this do, My Lord?)

What we said on 16 April



A propos of absolutely nothing at all, here is a picture of writer and former Daily Express news sub Robin McGibbon with Mr John Fashanu, who is apparently a former player of Association football. Mr McGibbon is wearing one of Mr Fashanu’s England hats. 

Er, that’s it chums. Nothing more to see here.


Michael Cummings was one of the greatest cartoonists employed by the Daily and Sunday Express. His cartoons made up for what they lacked in humour with superb draughtsmanship.

Cummings, who worked on the Express for decades until shortly before his death aged 76 in 1997, was held in high regard by Lord Beaverbrook.

He told Robert Allen in 1983: "Beaverbrook was a great advocate of cartoons, he believed very strongly that they were far more effective than words in getting across a political point.

"In fact a reader survey once showed that the cartoons were the most popular part of the paper. Express cartoons have always had greater impact because they were given the necessary prominence. In fact, I can recall occasions when a cartoon has been drawn to accompany a leading article and, in the end, the leader has been scrapped and the cartoon retained on its own. 

"From time to time I used to be invited to dine with Beaverbrook and it was usually a sign that he wanted to disagree with one of my drawings. 

"For example, when Krushchev had Pasternak's relatives arrested on trumped up charges to do with alleged currency offences, Beaverbrook took the opportunity to tease me during dinner about a critical cartoon I had drawn. 

"He always rather liked Krushchev and felt that it was possible to negotiate with him. I was too right-wing for Beaverbrook's taste. I was never prevented from drawing a cartoon which I felt to be right. 

"Beaverbrook and [Daily Express editor Arthur] Christiansen would disagree with my views and would tell me so, but they would never attempt to censor my work."

Robert Allen wrote in his book Voice of Britain: The Inside Story of the Daily Express: What impressed me most about Cummings was his absolute commitment to his political views and his very personal attitude towards political figures. 

Many people who are involved in journalism and politics develop a sophisticated attitude which leads to purely theatrical struggles with their opponents — there is much sound and fury but very little blood. 

Michael Cummings is not at all like this. Some may accuse him of being over-serious but no one can deny that his views are deeply felt. 

He obviously reveres Mrs Thatcher, intensely dislikes Tony Benn (and takes credit for being the first cartoonist to note his wild stare), has no time at all for Ted Heath, and so on. The Right can have fewer more convinced and devoted advocates.


I am the last bastion,

The guardian

Of grammar and syntax,

Spelling and style,

Structure and clarity,

Accuracy and context.


No one gives a shit.


I write clever headlines

And efficient captions.

I design attractive pages

With multiple reader entry-points

And effective graphics.


I make news judgments

And page assignments

And a hundred other decisions

That will be second-guessed

By people who went home at 4pm.


Reporters who hate

What I “did” to their stories,

Editors who don’t take responsibility,

Publishers who are terrified of the readers.


I used to work for this paper only.

Now I’m processing pages

For papers in other towns in other states

That I don’t know fuck-all about.


No one gives a shit about that either.


I’m the last one out of the building

Except for the pressmen

Who push buttons

And colour correct

And watch for web breaks.

They don’t read the paper.


My name appears nowhere in the paper.

I used to resent that.

Now I think

It’s just as well.


So … here are two spookily similar raven-haired (still OK to use this?) lovelies hugger mugger on a Hollywood red carpet. One is Demi Gene Guynes (Demi Moore to you); the other Courteney Cox. As actresses they might not be as highly regarded as some of their contemporaries. But they certainly have been the highest paid. 

Moore, 57, trousered (If that’s the correct word for a lady) $12.5million, a record for an actress, for starring in the film Striptease.  

Cox, 55, is better known for her TV work and was latterly paid $1million an episode to play Monica Gellar in the ubiquitous series Friends for which she still receives $20million a year in royalties.

Although she has been nominated for various acting awards, Moore, former wife of Hollywood A-lister Bruce Willis, has little to show for it. True, she was named Sexiest She Villain in the MTV Movie Awards (Mexico) but she also won a Golden Raspberry for Worst Actress. Yet roles in Disclosure, A Few Good Men, Indecent Proposal and, particularly, Ghost, made her a star. 

It was Demi, of course, who was subject of one of the most iconic photographic images of the 20th century: Annie Leibovitz’s Vanity Fair cover of her naked and pregnant. Offset, she has an interesting, some would say messy, back story. Let’s not go there.

La Cox will forever be associated with Friends, of course. She and Jennifer Anniston were the two major female stars, Lisa Kudrow less so. But she has also had a decent film career, especially starring in the Scream franchise. Courteney has English ancestors and if you ask Who Do You Think You Are? she could well reply “a 27-generation descendant of William the Conqueror”.

It’s amazing to consider that The Last One, the final episode of Friends, watched by 52million in the US, was screened 16 years ago. Yet the clamour for more continues. A reunion episode entitled The One Where They Got Back Together has been filmed but the broadcast schedule has been disrupted by the Coronavirus pandemic.

Not Many People Know That Corner: Friends was originally going to be called Insomnia Cafe.

R.R. (t)


Psst! Want to buy the Telegraph?

The Barclay brothers’ empire includes Shop Direct, the Telegraph, delivery firm Yodel and the Ritz

The billionaire Barclay brothers have put the Telegraph newspapers up for sale as they review their family empire.

Aidan and Howard Barclay, 63 and 59, are reportedly evaluating the family’s businesses on behalf of their father Sir David Barclay and his twin Sir Frederick, who also own The Spectator magazine, The Ritz Hotel, and online retailer Shop Direct.

The Daily and Sunday Telegraph, which the wealthy 84-year-old brothers have owned since 2004, have been put on the market after months of speculation, according to The Times. It has been suggested Sir Frederick may have been keen to sell the business, but this has not been substantiated.

Potential buyers could include Daily Mail and General Trust, owner of the Daily Mail, and Alexander Lebedev, owner of the The Independent and Evening Standard.

It comes following reports the family has also received offers of about £800million for the five-star Ritz in Piccadilly, London, which they bought for £75million in 1995.

According to the hotel’s latest financial filings, profit before tax almost halved last year from £12.8m to £7.9m, while turnover increased by £1million, The Times reports.

Shop Direct, which was created when the family merged Littlewoods and GUS and has annual sales of more than £1.9 billion, could also be sold off.

It is understood The Spectator is not part of the strategic review, which is thought to have been sparked by a difference in interests within the family.


Julia treats her girl to a wizard Halloween treat

With Brexit supposedly due to occur on October 31, Brexiteers are going to be forced to choose between celebrating Halloween or celebrating Britain's glorious emancipation from the oppressive shackles of the EU (etc, etc...)

Except for former Sunday Express political editor Julia Hartley-Brewer, whose regular Halloween plans were pretty Brexit-y already.

Julia's neighbours have long stopped expecting a call from her on October 31. That's because for many years Julia has chosen to take her daughter out trick-or-treating in St John's Wood instead. 

The neighbourhood there is stuffed to the rafters with wealthy American families whose kids are enrolled at the nearby American School. As they all get properly into Halloween each year, in true Yank style they offer up a seemingly endless supply of premium goodies to anyone who comes knocking. 

A much better deal than the paltry presents her much closer neighbours offer. 

Julia currently hosts the breakfast show on TalkRADIO.


Headline in the Daily Sport:

My boyfriend left me so I am now marrying a fish finger, See her tits on Page 5


Mail bosses furious over his attack on Greig

DAGGERS DRAWN: Dacre, left, has hit out at Mail editor Greig

PAUL DACRE’S future at Associated Newspapers was in doubt last night after he effectively accused Daily Mail editor Geordie Greig of lying.

Dacre, 70, who edited the paper from 1992 until last year, accused his successor of being "economic with the actualité" over claims that a new approach for the paper had helped lure back advertisers.

He delivered a scathing assessment of the Greig's claims about his handling of the publication in a letter to the Financial Times.

But the Guardian reported that his outburst had put his future relationship with the company in doubt.

Full story



Three Express amigos

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

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

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

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

None of us spoke. 


Zack gets em-rule back after 33 years

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Major, failed PM who still curries very little favour

THE WAY THEY WERE: Edwina makes a point to Major in happier times

BY S MULDOON (trainee)

THE Brexit imbroglio and the publication of the third volume of the Thatcher biography have thrust the Rt Hon Sir John Major KG CH back into the fickle spotlight of scrutiny, revealing that there really is less to him than meets the eye.

His shabby treatment of Lady Thatcher, as recorded by Charles Moore*, and his preposterous posturing over Brexit have also confirmed that he is a Grade A, dyed-in-the wool, copper-bottomed, cantilever-actioned (Enough - Ed)(More than enough - Ed),, all-singing, all-dancing, gold-leafed  industrial strength, 24 carat, turbocharged (Stop this instant - Ed) twat.

This was the man, remember, who was said to have run away from the circus to join a bank. A man, moreover, who tucked his shirt into his underpants. (Should we be believing this A. Campbell “briefing”? - Ed).

It was he who stunned a disbelieving nation by finally admitting an extra-marital affair with Tory MP Edwina Currie (apparently, he gallantly took the taps end if they shared a bath) when he was a whip (sic). In her diaries Currie described him as a sexy beast (Ahem, do we really need to drag this up? - Ed)

Alas, Major moved on and forgot Congreve’s prescient verse: Heav’n has no rage like love to hatred turn’d/ nor hell a fury like a woman scorn’d.

Edwina shopped him in revenge when he failed to mention her, even once, in his turgid 1999 autobiography.

Major, who also conveniently forgets that he, too, prorogued Parliament (to avoid scrutiny over cash for questions), was not, to put it mildly, a favourite of Fleet Street.

When, following the UK’s forced exit from the ERM on Black Wednesday, he phoned Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie to ask how the paper would report the story, MacKenzie replied (although Major disputes this): “Prime Minister I have on my desk a very large bucket of shit which I’m just about to pour all over you.”

And in the dying days of his government when Blairism was on the march, he visited MacKenzie who then ran L!VE TV (think News Bunny, topless darts, the weather in Norwegian) from a high rise eyrie in Canary Wharf.

“What a wonderful view you have,” said Major, anxious to make conversation.

“Yes, Prime Minister. And on a clear day you can even see a fucking Tory voter.”

*Margaret Thatcher. The Authorised Biography, Volume Three: Herself Alone. Allen Lane. £35.


Muldoon’s Overheard in Waitrose (Part 2)

One of the highlights of the digital publishing year (Oh, come on! — Ed) was the Daily Drone’s hilarious series Overheard in Waitrose featuring fascinating snippets of conversation which revealed so much about the people who shop in that up-your-bum grocery store.

Since then the Drone has been inundated (? — Ed) with pleas from readers for more of the same.

Even our proprietor, Lord Drone, a keen fan, has been approached in the luxury mixed gender Turkish baths that he patronises in a cellar in a side turning off Curzon Street (Stop! On no account must this be published before I check with Lord D — Ed).

So, by popular request, our witty, incisive trainee Muldoon, the Drone’s very own unexplained item in the bagging area, passes on more gems Overheard in Waitrose:

“You’ll like potato, darling. It’s what gnocchi is made of.”

“Simon, don’t get the basic hummus - you’ll make me a laughing stock.

“Horry, put down that Daily Mail this instant. Horatio, I said now!”

“Please take that out of the trolley, Lavinia. I’ve told you what kind of people eat crisps.”

“George, run over and pop this little green token into one of those boxes. Nothing to do with the homeless or gypsies mind.”

“I just died when they offered me a Ferrero Rocher with my Bellini. Rough as tits it was. Rough as tits.”

“I told you they’re not people like us. Range Rover in the drive and a massive vat of Utterly Butterly in the middle of the buffet.”

“Oh, buggery botch wagons, Felicity. Do mummy a favour and run and get the organic quinoa before it’s our turn to be served.”

“Excuse me, do you stock the Earl Grey chocolate thins? I can’t remember for the life of me whether I got them here or at Fortnum’s.”

“I’d have a breakdown only I’ve got a facial booked for two o’clock.”

“Mummy, why are we getting Essential Waitrose carrots?” “They’re for the pony, darling.”

“The music teacher had the cheek to say that Eveline could do a Bach sonata at the end-of-term concert. I thought ‘Fuck this. I’m not paying through the nose for a piddling sonata.’ So I told him: ‘It’s the Elgar or nothing.’”

“No, the parking around there is horrendous, especially when the infants come out. I had to tell a couple of the new mums the other day: ‘Don’t parade around here in your Korean AWDs. This is Range Rover territory.’”

“Oh, she’s a jumped-up bitch all right but I brought her down a peg or two at the book club dinner. Imagine asking for chopsticks in a Thai restaurant!”

Overheard in Lidl: “Won’t be long, Felix. Just doing my Waitrose shop.”

And finally, Overheard in Aldi: “Hi, Tig. You’ve caught me in Waitrose despite the crap signal. Of course I’ll be at bridge tonight. Antigone, you know you can rely on me.”


Magical day Robin played football for a World XI

STARRING ROLE: Robin McGibbon with his medal and his story in the Charlton Athletic match programme                                                                                        Picture RUSSELL JOYCE

Few amateur footballers get to meet their professional heroes, much less perform on the same pitch. But on one sultry Italian night, in the 1970s, I had the privilege of playing alongside arguably England's greatest post-war winger, in front of 10,000 spectators.

The unforgettable experience was courtesy of Eddie Firmani, the former Charlton Athletic striker and Italian international, whom I met when he was working as a PR for a life assurance company.

Once Eddie had forgiven me for admitting that my favourite Charlton player was not him, but his fellow South African team-mate Stuart Leary, we became friends and played squash and charity football matches together. He even showed me how to swing a golf club.

Over lunch, one afternoon in June 1973, Eddie told me he was taking a group of former England international footballers —including Finney, Newcastle United centre-forward Jackie Milburn, pictured right, and Tottenham's Welsh winger Cliff Jones — to Mestre, just outside Venice, to play in a World XI v Italy XI charity match.

"Why don't you come, too," Eddie said. "And bring your boots."

I thought he was joking but Eddie assured me wasn't. "Who knows," he grinned, "you might get on."

When we all arrived at Mestre Stadium, Eddie said it was okay for me to go into the Visitors' dressing room with the World XI players, and take part in the pre-match kickabout. I then sat on the subs' bench, marvelling at the speed and trickery of Finney, then 51, and the shooting power of 49-year-old Milburn.

I didn't expect, for a second, to play in the match, but, at half-time, Jackie Milburn plonked himself next to me in the changing room and said: "On you go, son — I'm bloody knackered."

So, on I went, announced over the Tannoy as: Robbie McGibbon, who once played for Scotland. And after the match, I was presented with a medal, confirming I'd played in a World XI.

I'm happy to say that Finney and I kept in touch and, as an in-joke between us, he signed his autobiography with some flattering — and totally unjustified — words about my performance in that game.

What a magical night! And what a gorgeous, modest gentleman Tom was.

I didn't appreciate the personal significance of  that night until years later when I was boasting about the match to former Express news sub Terry Ryle, who, as most of us know, is a Geordie.

Terry was so impressed he nearly knocked down the long row of cigarette butts lined up on his desk. "Good God, man," he exclaimed. "You substituted for Wor Jackie — our Tyneside legend!"

I'd honestly never thought of my appearance that way. But, after that, I told anyone who cared to listen!    


Still dumb and even duller, Daily Mail’s pathetic film listings

By S MULDOON (Trainee)
The clamour has been cacophonous; the inquiries have been insistent; the pleas have been persistent. 

And now the Daily Drone is proud to proclaim that its most popular Muldoon series of recent times (Hang on! What about previous witty, incisive features such as Overheard in Waitrose, Last Train To Adelstrop, Muldoon’s Lookalikes? — Ed) has been brought back.  By popular demand.

Yes, it’s the Golden Age of British Cinema as seen through the prism of the piss-poor programme notes department of the Daily Mail’s Weekend TV listings supplement. 

Here, to its shame, the otherwise excellent magazine lets loose its numbskull “subs” on the oeuvre of Talking Pictures TV (Freeview, channel 81; Freesat 306; Sky 328; Virgin 445) and allows them to make an already crap post war B movie seem even more unattractive or to dumb down a classic movie to its banal basics (See here  for synopses for A Tale of Two Cities, David Copperfield, Oliver Twist and This Sporting Life).

But that’s enough of the trailers. Reach for the popcorn. Snuggle down. Sit back and savour

The Leaden Age of British Cinema (Part 2)

And if you missed it (shurely shome mistake) — Part 1

Garage rummage turns up a lost Rupert annual

BROUGHT TO BOOK: Esther’s husband Steve, right, hands over the long-lost Rupert annual to Mr Cunliffe

Former Daily Express Features Secretary ESTHER HARROD reports on an amazing coincidence: 

My husband Steve has been a collector of many varied books since the 1970s including Rupert annuals.  

Clearing out lots of boxes in the garage over the weekend at our home in Cambridgeshire, he came across a 1964 Rupert annual he had bought in a boot sale in Barking, East London, in the 1980s for one of his children. 

When he read the inscription, the book had belonged to a Peter Henry Cunliffe.  Our lovely local vicar, Rev Peter Cunliffe, married us four years ago.  Within a few minutes I was able to ascertain that indeed our vicar’s middle name is Henry and unbelievably it is his treasured Rupert book from when he was 10 years old.  The book was duly returned to the vicarage this morning.  What an amazing coincidence and a triumphant return for Rupert who has been sitting unloved and a bit battered in a box for over 30 years.

The Rupert cartoon strip first appeared in the Daily Express in 1920 and still appears in the paper.


Crikey! Croquet and crochet in the House 

ONLY the whisper of the decorous caress of fine bone cup on saucer disturbed the idyll as members of the House of Commons Croquet, Chess and Crochet Society celebrated the end of the season at a match on College Green. 

The game also marked the society’s decision to leave the European League to take part in a more lucrative global competition. 

Among the celebrity spectators was Diane Abbott (Hackney North) pictured showing characteristic sympathy for a player who has just fluffed a crucial Dambuster Double Bounce. 

Team coach David Lammy (Tottenham) demonstrated the power of subtle persuasion, explaining the difference between a Hard Banana and an Aspinall Peel.

Players and spectators were grateful for the calming influence of Paula Sherriff (Dewsbury) as she cut up the half time oranges.

Meanwhile, shy, retiring Barry Sheerman (Huddersfield) is shown gently exhorting team members to finesse a difficult Duffer Tice in an attempt to pull off a nuanced Dolly Rush.

Genial Barry told our man on the oche (Wrong sport — Ed): “After a hard week in the bear pit of the Commons there’s nothing nicer than relaxing with friends at a game of croquet. 

“Mind you, it’s a bit combative for me these days: I prefer a bit of cross stitch myself.”

How Hickey ed Wilson saved this Fleet Street sculpture from crusher

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Anyway, like us, it’s still around!”

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

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

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

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

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



                              BAKER                                               HODGE

Whoah! Freeze frame! Back a bit! A bit more! Is this spooky or what? Can it be that the late, great BBC newsreader Richard Baker has been reincarnated as Lord Hodge, one of the Supreme Court justices sitting in judgment this week on Boris Johnson’s prorogation of Parliament? Are they actually one and the same man? No, stupid boy: they just look alike — Ed



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

TAKING IT EASY: Evelyn Waugh had sage advice for reporters 

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

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

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

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

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

And the moral? Never take work too seriously.



Alex Collinson unearthed this pic of trainee journalists visiting the South Wales Echo in Cardiff in 1967.

But he has lost track of his erstwhile colleagues.

He told the Drone: "I know Bob Warman had a lifetime career on Midlands TV and Peter Deeley’s name has cropped up as a sports reporter on radio [and as a presenter on LBC.] 

"As for the rest, who knows? The names aren’t in running order, by the way — that’s me on the right, though I wouldn’t recognise myself. I was a reporter for the Berrow’s Group, Worcester, at the time.

Alex added: "I never did darken the doors of the Black Lubyanka during my years in Fleet Street, working variously at the PA, London Evening News, Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday and the Daily Mirror.

The cutting is from The Journalist of the time reporting on on the NCTJ block release course based in Cardiff. 

Do you recognise anyone in this pic? Let us know if you do at


From Hickey to Hardcastle, McEntee gets the diary date

CELEBRATING: McEntee at lunch in London with Barry Cryer

FORMER Hickey editor John McEntee had good news for his friends on Facebook.

He wrote: "Today I signed a new contract with Daily Mail editor Geordie Grieg to continue as Ephraim Hardcastle in his esteemed paper.

"It makes me the longest serving gossip columnist in Fleet Street surpassing Seb Shakespeare, Ross Benson, Nigel Dempster Kenneth Rose and all the rest.

"From Londoner's Diary via Times Diary and Wicked Whispers to be the last William Hickey on Express and now succeeding my mentor Peter McKay as Effy.

"And who better to celebrate with than Barry Cryer at an Oldie lunch in Simpson’s-in-the Strand.

"Thank God for my health my children my grand children my Morven oh and Geordie!”

Paul Callan commented: “Congratulations John! I think I’m not far behind you. 

"My gossip column years are: Londoner’s Diary, 1965 to 1971; Daily Mail Diary which I started with Dempster as my Number Two, 1971 to 1973; Punch (for which I wrote a weekly gossip column), 1973 to 1975; Daily Mirror, Inside the World of Paul Callan, 1975 to 1982.

"That’s a total of 18 years at the coalface of gossip before turning to the relative purity of features and news colour."


Unique genius of  Cold War Steve 

WHO HE?: Coldwar Steve is the nom de plume of Christopher Spencer, a collage artist and satirist. He is the creator of the Twitter feed McFadden's Cold War. 

The work features photomontages of celebrities with EastEnders actor Steve McFadden as his TV character Phil Mitchell. The work typically shows a grim, dystopian location in England, populated by media figures and politicians, with McFadden being the constant, usually looking on in disgust at the scene he is viewing. 

Spencer's work has been described as having "captured the mood of Brexit Britain" and likened to earlier British political satirists Hogarth and Gillray.



ACCUSED: Mirrorman Nick Owens leaves the High Court after giving evidence to the Leveson Inquiry in 20                                   Picture: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

THE deputy editor of the Sunday Mirror has been forced to resign after an incident involving a female member of staff, according to BuzzFeed News.

Five separate sources told the website that staff were informed of the sudden resignation of Nick Owens, during a bizarre and impromptu staff meeting in July conducted by Gary Jones editor of the Mirror’s sister newspaper, the Daily Express.

The alleged incident, in which drink played a part, occurred during a Mirror team think-tank meeting in a pub. Owens had been at a lunch with another editor before attending the event.

It’s alleged that Owens touched and groped one of the female journalists multiple times.

In the following days, he is alleged to have repeatedly called the woman while also sending texts and emails to her. One source alleged he had offered the woman a new job reporting to him.

Gary Jones went into the Sunday Mirror’s offices on July 5 and called a meeting of the newspaper’s staff.

“We walked into the office and Gary just came out with, ‘Nick’s gone. There was an incident involving drink and a female member of staff’,” a source in the meeting told BuzzFeed News.




Curry in January 1979 when he was working for the Express

Sports sub Joe Rigby had a heart attack at the end of June

TWO talented Daily Express sports stars have died within days of each other.

Shortly after we learned of the death of football legend Steve Curry, it was announced that sports sub Joe Rigby had also passed away.

Curry, who was 76, joined the Daily Mail in 2001 having forged his career with the Daily Express, Sunday Telegraph and Sunday Times. He left the Mail in 2006 but continued to contribute to Sportsmail on an occasional basis.

He began as a reporter with the weekly Blackburn Times, covering Blackburn Rovers, then switched to the Lancashire Evening Post.

Curry, right, enjoyed more than 30 years on the Daily Express, beginning in time to cover England's World Cup final win over West Germany in 1966.

In a career spanning more than five decades, his exclusives saw him established as a Fleet Street legend and won him multiple awards.

David Emery, who worked alongside Curry,  before becoming Express sports editor, said: “There were a few young lads who went on to have significant roles in the paper and there was a great feeling of camaraderie.

“Steve pulled some big stories and had some great contacts.”

At a Football Writers' Association tribute to him on his 70th birthday, Curry recalled the change in football reporting: "We used to stroll into training grounds, stand on the touchline, shout at the players and have fun. It was all one happy family. Now you almost have to make an appointment to visit a training ground. They're like Fort Knox.

"We made friends with footballers. After England won the World Cup I remember giving Alan Ball a piggy-back round the reception of the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington late in the night."

Curry was a life member and former chairman of the FWA. He was also a regular on Sky Sports' Sunday Supplement programme.

He leaves a wife Carol and son Mike.

Joe’s death was announced by his wife Angela, a former Daily Express copytaker.

She said: "It is with more sadness than I can describe to tell you that my dear husband, Joe Rigby, passed away on Thursday afternoon.

"He had a heart attack on 29th June and was discharged six days later. We hoped he would make a recovery to allow us to go forward and enjoy our retirement.

Joe also leaves an identical twin brother Vic, a sports sub on The Sun. The two were very close.


Former Daily Express sports sub Ian Barratt told the Drone: "I was devastated to learn of the sad deaths of first-class Expressmen Steve Curry and Joe Rigby. 

"Though I did not know Steve that well when I was a sports-sub on the Express, I worked closely with Joe, both on the Express and later on Sunday Sport. 

"Apart from being one of the most knowledgeable of sports-subs on almost every subject, Joe was a pleasure to work with, always helpful, honest, generous, unassuming and good company. A true gentleman."

*Steve’s funeral will be held on Friday August 30th, at 11.30, at St James Church, Weybridge KT13 8DF.

Joe’s funeral will be held at St Mary’s Church, Church Lane, Long Ditton, Surrey KT6 5HH on Monday, September 16, starting at 12.15.  

There will be a reception afterwards at a venue to be arranged. The service will be followed by a cremation to be attended by close family members only.




My herogram from legend Steve 

CLIVE GOOZEE remembers a personal letter he received from football writer Steve Curry, who has died

I have a fond memory of a night in December ‘78 when I persuaded Express sports legend Steve Curry to file a story about the new Chelsea manager. 

He had been scratching his head all day trying to pin down the identity of the new boss. He finally persuaded the Chelsea chairman, Brian Mears, to name that man. 

Things were winding down as we gave the finishing touches to the third edition sports page when he phoned yours truly.

I was chief sub that night and he told me Danny Blanchflower, legendary captain of the Spurs League and Cup Double winners, and Sunday Express sports columnist, was the new manager, adding that Brian Mears would never speak to him again if we published the story. 

I and several of the subs, including Roger Kelly (later to become head of sport at the Mail on Sunday, and Peter Pace (ditto The Sun) agreed he should write it. 

“Put me on to copy,” said Steve. His story headed DANNY’s THE BOY appeared in the 4th edition — and Steve was buying the champagne next lunchtime. 

He also wrote me the note reproduced above.

THERE’S  an old Daily Express saying that it never rains in pubs. 

This old saw has never been disproved, although we do recall a burst pipe causing water to leak through the ceiling at the Mad Hatter in Blackfriars, London, one night. This, however, did not interrupt the drinking. Nothing did in those days.

TalkSPORT breakfast radio host Alan Brazil followed this wise dictum yesterday when rain in London forced him to a welcoming hostelry to meet his old pal, former Daily Express news editor Mike Parry.

Rumour has it that they were still there when the sun came out. Plus ça change.


Internal Memorandum

To: The Editor

From S Muldoon (trainee)                       18 August, 2019


Please forgive me for being presumptuous but I think I have a good idea for a new series in the Drone. I notice that your recent use of a picture of a former News Editor of the Daily Express met with wide, nostalgic acclaim.

I respectfully suggest that we broaden this concept and “print” pictures of other iconic Express news editors under the generic title of, say,  Monarchs of the Newsroom. 

Of course, I don’t know these people but old hands suggest those who ended an error era at the old Express building in Fleet Street would be most suitable: Brian Hitchen, Arllis Rhind, John Jinks, Philippa Kennedy and Michael Parry.

I feel confident that this timely reminiscence will also bring you the approbation of your peers.

*Stupid boy — Ed


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Flotilla's tribute to 

our man Ecclestone 

SAD MOMENT: Paul Ecclestone’s widow Kelly scatters his ashes   Picture ALAN LEWIS, Photopress Belfast

FRIENDS and family of former Expressman Paul Eccleston paid a final farewell to him as his ashes were scattered on his beloved lake.

Paul, pictured right, who held a number of reporting and news editing roles on the Daily Express in Manchester, died of cancer aged 67.

He worked on the Belfast Telegraph and other local news sheets before graduating to the national press and Fleet Street.

Paul was a keen fisherman, and former winner of the Roscor Cup. It was his final wish that his ashes be scattered by his wife Kelly on the lake where he spent many happy hours.

A keen angler, Paul was the uncle of former Doctor Who Christopher Eccleston and also worked for the Telegraph, Mail, Mirror and Today. He was made redundant as editor of the environment section in 2008.

Paul’s entry on LinkedIn reads: "After a lifetime in Fleet Street working across a variety of tabloid and broadsheet newspapers I am now based in Kent and taking it a little easier.

"I help run a community newspaper on Romney Marsh called The Looker — the name of a traditional Romney Marsh shepherd's hut.

"It's strange — but hugely enjoyable after the frenzy of national newsrooms — to go back to local issues and politics.”

After the scattering of the ashes, a toast was made and a local musician played in celebration of his life.

The occasion ended in predictable fashion, as  ALASTAIR McQUEEN reports: Word reaches me of a happening — or even embarrassing occurrence — at the scattering.

Allegedly a former Daily Express reporter found his way to Lough Melvin but could not get to the correct launching place in time for the flotilla’s departure.

Eventually he pitched up as the flotilla reached the middle of the lough and sat in his car watching from a great distance.

When guests returned to shore they saw him and approached his vehicle to be greeted with the words: “Sorry lads, I can’t get out of the motor, I’ve just shit myself.”

Can this unfortunate wordsmith in purple Y-fronts be identified? Lord Drone would love to know.


Who could that be with our Alf?

Sunday Express legend Alf Lee was just strolling through Henley Regatta in his best bib and tucker when who should he bump into than our former Prime Minister Theresa May.

The pair exchanged a few friendly words before ambling off in different directions.

Jeremy Gates suggests a caption competition and offers: Alf Lee to Theresa May: “You might think you had a tough time, but I had to work for both Eve Pollard AND Charles Golding!”

Can you do better? Send a stamped, addressed envelope to

It would be no exaggeration to say that the Drone has not been inundated with entries for the caption competition. That dolt Muldoon did submit an entry but addressed it to himself and failed to include it in the envelope — which he sent without a stamp — Ed

UPDATE: An entry at last. This from RICK McNEILL: “It’s all right officer, I found her wandering around the champagne tent. I think she’s become separated from her party.”

The crisp oncer (it’s on an elastic band attached to Lord Drone’s wallet) goes to Rick.


Pattinson’s great moon scoop - and they didn’t even give him a byline

THE 50th anniversary of man’s landing on the moon was celebrated in July — and what better way to celebrate it than publishing this picture, described at the time as the Scoop of the Century.

Reporter Terry Pattinson showed ratlike cunning to secure the first pictures of the dark side of the moon for this great Daily Express front page, dating from 5 February, 1966.

Pattinson discovered that the Russians were using the same photographic technology as that used by newspapers, to send photos back from space. So he arranged for the Express to send the necessary machinery to the Jodrell Bank observatory from where the picture was snatched.

Terry has been dining out on the story ever since but he has been complaining on Facebook this week that he was not given a byline for his scoop. We think he has a point.

He said once that he would love it if his epitaph was ‘The Man Who Caught the Moon’. 

How the Express described that great lunar landing 50 years ago

The Cummings view

(Brought to you by the Grainy Pics Dept)

Thanks to Expressman Colin Simpson for these cartoons. Take a peek at afaranwide, the excellent Hong Kong-based travel website Colin runs with his wife Sue Brattle, HERE


Putin raises the steaks

              SLAB OF MEAT                       MAD VLAD
WATCH out chums, those damned Russkies are everywhere you look, even in the butchery department of your local supermarket. That nice Mr Vladimir Putin seems to have his beady eyes on us. Don’t have nightmares!

Lunchtime O'Smooch

ON ME ‘EAD SON: Daily Mail diarist and former Expressman John McEntee receives some well-earned adulation from his son Paul after an expensive lunch at Ranald Macdonald Boisdale in London. 

Paul took this selfie outside Dirty Dicks although they hadn’t actually been in the pub. It just seemed like a good idea at the time. You know how it is after a good lunch ...



… and thanks for all the laughs, Mr Booker
THE Drone pays tribute today to Christopher Booker, first editor of Private Eye and the genius behind many of its jokes, who has died of cancer aged 81.

This cover of the magazine, dating from 1968 and featuring Enoch Powell at the height of the racism row that cost him his job in Ted Heath’s shadow cabinet, is acknowledged to be one of his best.

Booker founded the Eye with fellow Salopians Richard Ingrams and Willie Rushton in 1961. He was ousted by Ingrams two years later. 

Returning in 1965, he remained a permanent member of the magazine's collaborative joke-writing team with Ingrams, Barry Fantoni and current editor Ian Hislop.

Of his collaborative joke-writing, Booker said: "Over the years I have enjoyed some of the most hilariously pleasurable times I can remember in my life. Between us we have laughed our way through tens of thousands of joke items.”

The writer and critic Adam Mars-Jones regarded Booker as “near-barmy”, yet it was said without malice.

Times Obituary



TWO NICE BOYS: We asked who you thought these two young Expressmen were. We can name them as Roger Watkins, left, and Terry Manners who both went on to senior positions on the Daily Express and other publications. They are pictured on holiday in Tenerife some time in the 1970s.

Roger Watkins breaks off from a Tibetan yoga-based fitness session with his personal trainer Chailai to recall that at the airport on the way home he remarked that it was a pity their holiday was only a week long. “Oh no, mate,” said Manners, “ I couldn’t suck my gut in for longer than that.”

LOTS OF BOTTLE: Evening beers with the two Carols

Caricature of the Week

Boris Johnson by ADRIAN TEAL



Actress Raquel Welch sets out for a walk in Curzon Street, Mayfair, London on March 4, 1966    Picture: JOHN DOWNING

THE work of two Daily Express journalists has been featured in The Guardian in a tribute to the illustrious past of the World’s Greatest Newspaper.

A fascinating collection of photographs taken by the celebrated photographer John Downing can be found HERE.

Reporter Kim Willsher visited the site of the Chernobyl disaster with Downing in 1986. Her eyewitness account is published HERE.


Don’t all rush, they’re only free for over-75s




Beaverbrook as you’ve never seen him 

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

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

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

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

You have been warned!

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

Watch it here

How newspapers work 


Before the other day, the last time that Liverpool won the Champions League was in 2005, reports POPBITCH.

A small group of reporters managed to cadge their way on to one of the club buses as it paraded around the city. While on the bus, one tabloid hack took a call from his editor who needed to know the size of the crowd cheering on the team.

Having no real idea, he blurted out "750,000" – and then suggested to all the other reporters that if they all just agreed to stick to that figure, they'd all be OK for the day. So they did.

The story came to mind last Sunday when the city of Liverpool was celebrating again. And how many people did the press think were out on the street?

Yep, you guessed it.



Christiansen Chronicles

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There will be a new one every day.

Read them here

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

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

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

Drift received and understood — Ed

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

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

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

Point taken! — Ed

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

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

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

Farewell to two legends of the old Daily Express

GREAT LADY: Peggie Robinson collecting for Poppy Day                 Picture: Yorkshire Post

TWO talented stalwarts of the Daily Express in Manchester, Stan Welsh and Peggie Robinson, have died within days of each other.

Stan, famed copytaster and all-round good guy, succumbed to pneumonia on Wednesday, May 15.

Peggie, a brilliant news reporter, died on May 4, aged 97.

Jim Collins, a former Express sub-editor and a good mate of Stan described him as "one of those true journalists who made up the Daily Express’s backbench team in Manchester for many years”. 

Stan had been suffering from bowel cancer but eventually succumbed to pneumonia while in hospital. There will be an inquest.

His former wife Rita Welsh said it was a peaceful death in the Northern General Hospital, Sheffield.

Another friend, Mike Hughes, said: "Stan, who was in his early 80s, joined the Express in the late Sixties and soon became copytaster. 

"He stayed at the Express until production switched to London. He was also a Sunday Express regular.

"He had been active until recently, still going for a beer with former Express and Star colleagues living in Sheffield, including Peggie Robinson.

“Stan made his way to the Express, after National Service as a gunner and working for papers in East Anglia and Sheffield.”

Peggie, a highly-respected mountaineer and yachtswoman, was one of the few women reporters operating after the war and covered the Yorkshire Ripper case and the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

A Tynesider, she died in a care home in Sheffield after a long illness.

Two lost legends of journalism, bRICHARD DISMORE

Shields Gazette tribute



How editor McColl came to be known as Basil Brush (possibly)

                       MR BRUSH                                                      MR McCOLL
Former Express and Mirror man 
TERRY PATTINSON has entertained his friends on Facebook with two great anecdotes about the Daily Express

I was once delegated to escort Tory Minister Norman Tebbit around the Daily Express building in Fleet Street.

Editor Ian McColl, not long out of Scotland, insisted on joining me although I knew the building like the back of my hand.

After showing Tebbit around the newsoom, picture desk, and fashion department, I decided to take him to the features writers' room.

As we walked down a long corridor McColl suddenly stopped and said to Tebbit: "This is the features department, accommodating the best writers in Fleet Street."

With a grand flourish he threw open the door.
 Out fell buckets, brushes and mops. It was a store cupboard.

McColl apologised and Tebbit said he had to 'get back to the House of Commons.'

I escorted Tebbit to his chauffeur-driven limo, parked outside the Express office.
 As he got into the car Tebbit said to me: "Why don't you Express chaps drink more lemonade?"

Private Eye loved the anecdote.
 After that McColl was dubbed 'Basil Brush.”

*But there’s no denying that McColl (my first DX editor) did look like Basil Brush — Ed

True story. Freelance journalist Frederick Forsyth ventured into Fleet Street in the late 60s when he was 31 years old and tried to persuade the legendary Chapman Pincher (Daily Express) to look at his manuscript for a new book.

Pincher had asked his faithful secretary, Yolande, to get rid of the 'nutter' from the front hall (as we used to call people who dropped in without an appointment. Most were time-wasting nutters).

Instead, Yolande took Forsyth upstairs to meet the great man and made a pot of tea.
 Pincher was busy with his latest blockbuster exclusive and was as polite as possible before throwing the hungry freelance back on to the street.

Pincher felt sorry for Forsyth because, said Pincher, the proposed book had no chance of success.
 The book? The Day of the Jackal.
 The rest, as they say, is history.

Pincher revealed this anecdote in his autobiography published four years ago.


The Day I had breakfast with Doris Day (sort of)

ROBIN McGIBBON remembers a chance meeting with  Hollywood superstar Doris Day, who has died aged 97.

In the mid-Seventies, when I was publishing books, I had breakfast with Doris Day, in the famous Beverly Hills restaurant, Nate 'n' Al's.

Well, not quite.

I was in a booth with a minor Hollywood film producer, Murray Silverman, when Doris came in, with a gentleman I didn't recognise, and sat in an adjoining booth, only a couple of feet away. 

My producer pal, who was not known for his shyness, immediately asked the actress if she would mind if he introduced me, "a famous publisher from London, England”.

In those days, I wasn't shy in coming forward either and did my best to live up to Murray's hyperbolic billing. Far from being irked that she'd been hijacked, with no escape, the enchanting Miss Day was charm itself — politely asking me about myself and my company for, at least, a quarter of an hour — before her (very tolerant) companion looked, again, at his watch and said they really must order.

Over the years, I've rarely missed an opportunity to boast of the morning I had breakfast with the legend that was Doris Day.

Well, I did. Didn't I? 

And look who met her too!

WHO’S A LUCKY BOY? Express and Mirror columnist Paul Callan posted this pic on Facebook of him with Doris Day when he was a mere slip of a thing




WHAT is the point of the Daily Mail’s new cartoonist Paul Thomas? His drawings are just not funny, in fact they are embarassingly bad. Every day.

Thomas was hired to replace the brilliant Mac, Stan McMurtry, who retired last December. 

Yesterday he plumbed new depths by drawing a cartoon, pictured above, which not only isn’t funny but doesn’t make sense.

Does anyone get the ‘joke'? The Drone can’t explain it.

The editor should have taken Mr Thomas aside and whispered in his ear: “Could you have another think, old man?”

For that matter, the Mail On Sunday cartoonist Michael Heath isn’t much better either.

It’s a sad state of affairs when newspapers lose their sense of humour.

*An observant reader points out that the cartoon has a headline to which the answer is No.

How the Mail billed Paul Thomas's arrival in January


Muldoon’s Lookalike

                  McENTEE                                BRADY
One is perceived to be playing a pivotal role in the future of this country with his subtle, sotto voce, behind the scenes advice and guidance; the other is the chairman of the 1922 Committee, a backbench group of Tory MPs. 

John McEntee and Sir Graham Brady may share the role of influential power brokers but they actually look alike as well.

Former Expressman McEntee, a leprechaun-like wit, bon vivant and World’s Greatest Lunch Club favourite, has just taken over the Daily Mail’s Ephraim Hardcastle column where he excels at writing short, witty and incisive observations of the events of the day (taking the pith, perhaps).

Sir Graham, a former PR consultant who edits the parliamentary magazine The House, has a genuinely important Brexit deadlock task in persuading the Prime Minister to “stop making a tit of yourself and piss off.” 

Isn’t life (and Muldoon) grand? — as McEntee’s guide and mentor Peter McKay was wont to proclaim.


 WE on the Drone are not particular fans of the comedian Freddie Starr, who has died aged 76. But this recording of him trying to mime to a broken tape shows him at his best.

Expressman ROBIN McGIBBON met Starr in the 1980s when he took the spiritualist Doris Stokes to the comic's Berkshire home for a Sun story about him giving the medium a horse.

Robin reports: "A Sun photographer had already arrived and Freddie nodded towards the kitchen, saying: 'Yer mate's in here — having a wank,' then ushered Doris through to his lounge  where they stayed, chatting, until Freddie was ready for photos, 40 minutes later. 

"The photographer and I weren't even offered a cup of tea. A funny man? Certainly. But coarse, rude and obnoxious, too.

"I went back to Bouverie Street with the snapper and typed the story in the Sun newsroom before trotting over to the Express for my afternoon subbing shift.

"Oh, happy days!



Nation rejoices at baby's daft name

First school? Here’s a dummy run

THERE was dancing in the streets of Britain last night as Harry and Meghan announced the name of their newborn son. 

He will be known as Archie Harrison Tarquin Fin-Tim-Lin-Bin-Whin-Bim-Lim-Bus-Stop-F’tang-F’tang-Olé Biscuitbarrel Mountbatten-Windsor. 

The long-awaited announcement broke some of the secrecy surrounding the royal birth.

This is not the first time there has been a clandestine element to the birth of a Royal baby, as former Fleet Street reporter FRANK BALDWIN found out when he door-stepped the Lindo Wing for the birth of Princess Anne’s first baby Peter in 1977.

A boot up the Lindo Wing

Team who helped make the Daily 
Mirror great

THERE are some well-known Fleet Street faces in this picture of Mirrormen at the wedding of Tony Hatton in around 1971.

Sadly only four of them are still alive.

Pictured from left are: Alex Collinson, Phil Walker, Ted Graham (back), Ben Noble, Tony Hatton, Phil Bunton (back), Ron Pell, Vernon Rowe and Chris Evenden. 

So far as we know, the survivors are Alex Collinson (who supplied this picture), Ted Graham, Phil Bunton and Vernon Rowe.

Alex was with the Mirror from 1971 to 1988, starting as a news sub and graduating to production editor and group systems trainer. He later joined the Mail on Sunday finance section where he worked from 1993 to 2006.



New King rises out of a crisis




HARD LABOUR: Gary Jones has toned down the racism

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

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

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

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

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

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

The other nine editors are mostly too awful to mention.

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

Read the Guardian piece here


Retirement from the Daily Mail is music to the Ashworths' ears

WHAT  do two respected Daily Mail sub-editors do after being forced into retirement by that nice Mr Dacre? They get a life by creating a website full of nostalgia and great music.

Alan and Margaret Ashworth now devote their time to A & M Records, an online compilation of everything they love from Beethoven to Beefheart.

There are also clips from the old BBC radio shows like Take It From Here, Have a Go and The Brains Trust. There is even a Dog Track of the Week by Bingo Reginald Ashworth, the couple’s working cocker spaniel.

Alan told the Drone: "We now help out with the website The Conservative Woman and both write regular columns for it — myself on rock and folk music, Margaret on hymns and old programmes from the BBC when it was good."

Alan, a former Assistant Night Editor, and Margaret, who was Splash Sub, have a combined service on the Mail of more than 70 years. They live in the Ribble Valley.

You can enjoy their website here

Two Mikes fall out in Twitter spat

DAGGERS DRAWN: Mike Graham, left, and Porky Parry

EXPRESSMEN Mike Graham and Mike Parry, who formed a popular radio partnership on TalkSport, have fallen out big time.

The origin of the dispute, which broke out on Twitter, is unclear but seems to be centred on comments in Mike Graham’s book On the Road which is due to be released next Christmas.

Their radio partnership broke up when Graham moved to host his own show in the prime mid-morning slot on TalkSport’s sister station TalkRadio. The programme is in direct competition with another morning chat show hosted by Expressman James O’Brien on rival station LBC.

Parry, known as Porky, co-hosts a TalkSport show with Alan Brazil which he bills as Alan and the Porkmeister.

The two Mikes met while working on the Daily Express in London. Parry spent some time as a reporter before being appointed news editor.

A passage in Graham's book reads: 

"The problem for Mike Parry was that he wasn’t actually very bright. He was fifth in the pecking order in his own office. He was despised by every photographer he ever worked with and was universally known as a man who couldn’t be trusted.

"Aside from that his time in New York was uneventful. He broke no stories, he came up with no great features and in London he was treated as very much the junior.

"When he met me he became very chummy. He asked me to feed him all the news that I found out about for a very substantial fee that he could pay me for the Express.

"I liked him at first. It took me a while to work out that he was a complete bullshitter.”

Cynics have wondered whether the entire affair has been engineered to publicise Graham’s book. 

EDUCATING ARCHIE: According to Wikipedia, Mike Graham’s first name is actually Archibald but, of course, you can’t believe everything you read on the internet. 

The tweets below give a flavour of the spat.

Fleet Street between the wars

George Davison Reid photographed this uniformed messenger boy crossing Fleet Street in London some time in the late 1920s and early 30s. Such boys often went on to become photographers or journalists themselves.

The picture looks west up the street towards the Law Courts and The Strand. The church is St Dunstan-in-the-West which has stood on Fleet Street for 180 years. Close by is the Bristol Times and Mirror building.

 Below is the scene today. 



Industrial editor Barrie Devney at his desk in the Daily Express offices in Fleet Street on 9th March 1969                         Picture: Norman Quicke/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

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

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

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

Devney’s revenge


The Daily Express, best policy for a healthy life


Expressman Leon Symons commented: "I worked for the Ilford Recorder many moons ago. It was part of a group that stretched from Newham to Romford and was a very good example of the great British local paper.

“We didn't do stories about the borough's levels of excrement. However, I did once adopt the guise of a Spaniard and went ‘undercover' after Redbridge Council decided to make the borough a tourist destination — except they had no tourist attractions."

Inside story of how Daily Star’s Page 3 models went tits up

CENSORED: Ellie’s embonpoint has gone belly-up

Lord Drone is obliged to his gossip friends at POPBITCH for the following dispatch ...

The Daily Star's move from Richard Desmond's stable of smut to Trinity Mirror's more right-on empire has been a surprisingly seamless transition. 

But behind the scenes, at least one huge change has been made. Last week, topless models disappeared from the Star’s Page 3 – and they're not coming back.

The fact that the change was slipped out with zero fanfare suggests that management was hoping to get away with it without anyone noticing. However, when nobody actually did notice, it got them even more worried. 

Some of the Star's long-suffering staff fear that the reason there hasn't been a resulting media storm means that no-one's actually reading their paper any more.

Never fear, chaps! We saw what you did – and we're here to pay tribute to the end of a British institution and some of the stars that Page 3 produced.



CARING: Helen was also grieving the deaths of her parents

A STRESSED Daily Express journalist killed herself after working an arduous 17-hour shift, a coroner was told.

Helen Ledger, a 45-year-old freelance on the picture desk, was found hanged at home after her work load increased following the paper’s takeover by Mirror Group.

She was also grieving the loss of both her parents.

Her partner Christopher Walton described Helen as a kind-hearted and caring woman.

Coroner Dr William Dolman gave a verdict of suicide, saying she hanged herself and had made her intentions clear in a note.

Mr Walton, who lived with Helen in Crystal Palace, South London, called paramedics after returning home from his job in the music industry on 26 November, 2018. She was confirmed dead the same day.

Only three weeks earlier Helen's father had died of motor neurone disease. A year earlier that same disease had taken her mother’s life.

Delivering his conclusion at South London Coroners’ Court, Dr Dolman said Miss Ledger had been “down and distressed by work events and other events in her life”.

Christopher Walton told Press Gazette she “accepted everyone” and was “always warm” towards others. “If you needed help, or something was a problem, she would always be understanding,” he said.

Mr Walton told Press Gazette that she had been unhappy at work and he believed workplace stress had “played a massive part” in her death


“It was evident to me that the work was making her suffer, because she just wasn’t happy. It just wasn’t fun for her in any shape or form,” he added.

He said changes at the Daily Express, which early last year was bought by Mirror publisher Trinity Mirror (now Reach), had “meant staff were all having to do more” and that she complained about it to him daily.

She “changed as the job changed”, Mr Walton said.

In September last year, Press Gazette reported that Reach was cutting 70 jobs across the Express, Mirror and Star titles in an effort to “remove duplication of effort”, with the redundancies understood to have fallen hardest on Express and Star staff.

Mr Walton said journalism had “always been part of Helen’s life”. She began her career in her late teens at a picture agency before going on to work at The Independent.

He said Ledger had faced a “maelstrom” of events before her death, including the loss of both parents.

“To say one thing was more prevalent than the other is probably unfair, but she spent most of her time at work,” he said. “She spent more time at work than she did with me.”

In the week before she died she had worked long hours, covering from 8am until 1am on the Saturday. He said she “was like a ghost” on the Sunday. The following day he found her dead.

“I keep wondering why is it she got left alone on the desk that week,” he said.

A Reach spokesperson said: “Everyone here is extremely saddened by this and devastated for Helen’s partner Chris. She was a talented colleague and beloved friend to many of us and we miss her.”

Helen’s friend and colleague DON JOHNSTON said in tribute: "So sad to read of Helen Ledger, with whom I worked closely on the Indy and Sindy years ago. 

"Really a lovely lass, full of fun and laughter but combined with a drive to get you the best results. 

"A good few times in the rush to finish pages, she’d send us pics then follow that a little later with others, saying, 'You might like these better'. And, of course, they were, and we’d whack them in, usually laughing, sometimes swearing. Mostly laughing, and thankful. 

"A terrible loss to her family. And national journalism. An awful, emotionally disturbing result of the cruel cost-cutting that has ruined the quality of today’s journalism. 

"May that poor lady now rest in peace. Alas, suicide does not end the pain, it just transfers it."


Daily Mirror newsroom 1953

Even our elderly benefactor Lord Drone struggles to identify anyone in this view of the Mirror newsroom taken in Coronation year, 1953. 

The chap pictured centre in the bow tie looks very much like David Thompson, current Life President of the Association of Mirror Pensioners, but it isn’t him as he confirmed last night.

He said: "Doppleganger reporting. No, not me. But I was involved in the Coronation, reporting local events for the Mansfield Reporter and Sutton Ashfield Times and then starting National Service.” 

Revel Barker added: "I have a vague recollection that one of them (and I couldn't even guess which) was Joe Grizzard, who was on the back bench as a rising young star, perhaps even around that time.

"You need somebody to contact Hannen Swaffer — a committed spiritualist, he was still around then, and will still be online, somewhere. You could get him via Doris Stokes."


Bottoms up Down Under

IT’S an unwritten law that when old Fleet Street hands get together they end up in the pub.

Expressman Roger Tavener and his old chum Allan Hall carried on this fine tradition when they met to discuss old times in Sydney’s Lord Nelson, allegedly Australia’s first pub.

Roger wrote on Facebook: “Very excellent to meet up with foreign correspondent and author Allan Hall in the Lord Nelson.

“After 35 years (we were kids) it ended as it must. He fell asleep on a ferry and had to be woken by a friendly deck hand.

“I fell asleep on a bus (what’s a bus?) and the driver woke me. Mr Uber got me home. A very lovely Fleet Street day in Oz.”


Mike’s a sucker for a chukka

QUEASY RIDER: Expressman Hughes on his trusty steed

THE horse looks pretty docile but so, it must be said, is its heavily-lunched rider. 

But who is this latter-day gaucho? It is none other Expressman Mike Hughes, doing his best to stay aloft his mount while on a visit to a polo ranch near Buenos Aires.

Mike, a former City sub, told the Drone: "I understand Lord Drone has had a few chukkas (or is it chukkas-up?) at Smith’s Lawn, so I thought he might appreciate a couple of pics of me on a docile young filly. 

"It was my first time on a horse in 60-plus years and I was persuaded  to ride after a leisurely Malbec-fuelled lunch.

"The mallet over my shoulder is just for show, although I did manage to hit a few balls and stayed onboard for 30 minutes."

SADDLED UP: Mike, right, with his daughter, Rachael and Federico, owner of the polo ranch in Argentina



TOP DRAWERS: Hector Breeze, left, with his fellow cartoonists Charles Griffin and Bill Caldwell at the Daily Express office in Blackfriars, London, 1997

THE Times has paid tribute to Daily Express Pocket Cartoonist Hector Breeze in an obituary. 

Breeze, who died last December at the age of 90, was appointed by the Express in 1982 and was best known for his drawings featuring impoverished gentry with characteristic chinless faces and tiny dot eyes. 

Fellow cartoonist Ralph Steadman wrote in 1996 that Breeze's "clumsy bewildered characters restore my faith in the seriously daft”.

In 2004 Breeze was voted Pocket Cartoonist of the Year in the Cartoon Art Trust awards, but six months later he was sacked by the Daily Express.

Times Obituary


Lament for death of
the gossip column

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

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

The rise and fall of the Fleet Street diarist



Former Daily Express and Daily Mail star features writer Geoffrey Levy has celebrated 50 years of marriage with his wife Stephanie … and Alan Frame was invited to the Golden Wedding party of his old friend.

Levy’s golden day


Angry people in local newspapers


To Russia with booze and a spare bath plug

Despite the heavy drinking and partying (all strictly for professional reasons of course) ALAN FRAME manages to recall his heroic visits to Russia on service with Her Majesty’s Daily Express


Ian Benfield dies at 84

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


C’est Jim sur le TV

Your eyes do not deceive you, this is Sunday Express sub-editor Jim Humphries appearing on BBC Breakfast TV. 

Jim, who has lived in the Dordogne region of France for the past 15 years, was interviewed  about his attitudes to Brexit with a fellow villager in Corgnac-sur-L’Isle.

As you perceive from his expression he is not keen on it. Jim said he was worried about continuing to receive free health care after he had undergone three recent operations in France.


Expressman David Laws gets full-page treatment

Long-serving Expressman David Laws is busily publicising his latest novel Brexit Day, a fact that has not gone unnoticed by the Bury Free Press in his native Suffolk.

The paper gave David the full-page treatment with an interview with writer Barbara Eeles.

The book, a thriller, involves an out-of-favour journalist who tracks down a group of spies intent on sabotaging Brexit — and an assassin who is stalking the Prime Minister.

It’s a cracking read and is available as an ebook or paperback on Amazon. BUY IT HERE



SIR — Your organ rightly points out that the answer to any headline with a question mark at the end of it is invariably 'no’. 

Ernie Burrington, when night editor at the Mirror decades ago, would attest to the truth of this by citing the following  classic  example (from the Daily Herald, I believe): Is this the face of Christ in the sole of a cobbler's boot?

My question is: Is there an earlier or more absurd example?   Silly me. The question mark provides its own answer.

Yours etc



Sir — I was intrigued to read in your mighty organ the reference to “the face of Christ on a cobbler’s boot.”

This may be an offshoot of a similar miraculous apparition which is indeed linked with the late, great Ernie Burrington, with whom I worked on both the Daily Herald and The People and who was mentioned in your item

Ernie was chief sub on the Herald when they published an astonishing picture showing the face of Christ in a patch of snow. This picture remained in the Odhams library and was occasionally exhumed to make appearances in The People when Ernie was deputy editor. It invariably produced a torrent of letters from readers who had spotted the face of our saviour in a variety of alternative settings including a pancake and a bar of soap.





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




                  MOMO                                WILLIAMSON

HERE’S an uncanny resemblance. Chris Williamson, the extreme-Left MP booted out of the Labour Party for denying anti-semitism was a major problem is known as the Vegan Serial Killer, because he’s a vegan and … well you get the message.

Momo is an internet hoax intended to scare the daylights out of children. Fortunately Momo doesn’t exist and many people wish Mr Williamson didn’t either.

One thing that can be said with certainty is that they have never been spotted in the same abattoir together.

Which is nice.





Express and Star help Reach to boost profits

PUBLISHER Reach increased its revenue by more than £100million last year following its acquisition of Express Newspapers.

New figures showed income rose to £723.9million in 2018, with an adjusted profit before tax of £141.9million, both numbers up by 16 per cent year-on-year.

The company, formerly Trinity Mirror, also increased its cash pot for dealing with phone hacking cases by £12.5million last year.

It spent £9.6million of the more than £70million provision in 2018, with £13.6million remaining. The publisher has faced more than 100 civil claims for historical phone-hacking carried out on the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and Sunday People.

Reach made an operating profit of £145.6million last year.

However, the company, which owns the Mirror, Express and Star titles plus the Sunday People, posted a pretax loss of £120million last year after writing down the value of its goodwill, publishing rights, titles and buildings, against a profit of £82million in 2017. Excluding the writedown, it made a profit of £141.9million.

According to its full-year accounts, the company is on track to deliver at least £20million of savings by 2020.

The company said it had made £3million in “synergy cost savings” in 2018 as it cut out duplication across the Express, Star and Mirror teams, with up to 70 national newspaper redundancies falling over the 12 months.

A further £20million in cuts was the result of “structural cost savings”.

Reach made up to 140 people redundant in its regional newsrooms in 2018 under its strategy of building separate print and digital regional teams, Press Gazette has reported.

The company’s net debt is at £40.8million, with a pension deficit of £348.6million.

In a statement alongside its accounts for the year, the company said: “Subject to there being no significant adverse implications arising from the UK’s exit from the European Union, we are confident that our strategy will enable continued progress to support profit and cash flow.”

Simon Fox, Reach chief executive, said: “I am pleased with the performance we have delivered in 2018 and encouraged by the stronger finish to the year.

“We have begun 2019 in a strong financial position with good momentum on the integration of Express and Star and with clear plans for digital growth.”



FASHION stops for no man as former Express photographer Steve Wood has proved. 

Despite breaking an ankle, Steve grabbed a pair of crutches and struggled to the airport to catch his flight from London to Italy for Milan Fashion Week.

He was philosophical about his broken ankle, telling the Drone: “It has stopped me going skiing so it has saved me £300 a day. I would rather have been skiing but I broke it the day before I was due to go.


Lower Thames Street 1905

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

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

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



Hold on to your hats chaps, there's a General Strike on

A BUS operated by an independent company passes through Ludgate Circus at the foot of Fleet Street, London, crammed with passengers during the General Strike on 4 May, 1926

The 15A bus route ran until 1987 when it was merged with the 15 which still runs down Fleet Street.


Craig parties with Fleet Street royalty on his 70th

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



FINAL EDITION: The staff of the Daily Star in London posed for a final picture as they prepared their last edition in Lower Thames Street. They have now moved to the Mirror building in Docklands.

Note the mouse held aloft top left, a reference to the rodent problem in the LTS building.

The Daily and Sunday Express news operation has now joined the Star at Canary Wharf.

Mirror sport and the magazines have switched in the opposite direction from Docklands to LTS.

The Star and Express titles had been based in Lower Thames Street since 2004.


Spot the Expressman

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






THE Mail on Sunday has run into more trouble under its new editor Ted Verity, the Daily Drone can reveal.

The paper rather naively ran pictures of the Queen out shooting with Jackie Stewart.

But the photographs were taken on private land which is not allowed without permission. This triggered a very rare complaint from Her Majesty. 

The faux pas has resulted in the resignation of the Mail on Sunday’s picture editor Jack Culver.

An MoS insider told the Drone: “Royal hackles were already up following the Prince Philip crash debacle so naturally they were thrilled to be able to whack back.

“But the complaint was not made to Ted Verity direct from the Palace press office, but through IPSO [the Independent Press Standards Organisation], which Lord Rothermere will hate because it’s such a stupid mistake.

“Ted Verity bawled out the picture editor Jack Culver because the pics the MoS had of Prince Philip driving solo, after his car crash, were not exclusive.

“I believe the background to this is that they were taken by a freelancer, who warned at the point of sale he would be selling elsewhere and those were the terms on offer.

“As a result, Culver went in and resigned without waiting for a pay-off.

“How much longer will Verity last? But then they say that about The Donald.”


Nestling amid the sylvan folds of the rolling English countryside, the Grade 1 listed mansion now known as DroneHaven welcomes journalists, particularly sub-editors, from the Daily Express and other Fleet Street publications who are facing their “final edition” with ageless style and aplomb.

The 300-year-old mansion has been skilfully converted into one and two bedroom self-contained six-star cottages and apartments all lovingly finished to an enviably high specification. This iconic retirement village boasts lounges, a bar, dining room and library. There are lawns and lakes and ample parking. A  mini bus* is available to take guests into the nearby town where there are frequent trains to London.

The dedicated DroneCare staff have developed a series of residents’ activities aimed at Fleet Street’s finest. They include:


A former Night Editor and local radio disc jockey leads music aficionados in what he calls The Vinyl Edition, listening to, and discussing, the hits and stars of yesteryear. Legends such as Connie Francis, Bobby Vee, Conway Twitter and the Big O. Our host will reveal fascinating facts about the icons he discusses. For instance, did you know what Chuck Berry was referring to when he sang about his dingaling? All meetings will feature state-of-the-art sound systems* and will close with our popular SingalongaTel karaoke sessions.


The group is given the chance to relive the glory days of Fleet Street sub-editors by helping to produce a genuine parish magazine (St Nicholas Church in the village) in real time against the clock. Guided by an experienced parish magazine editor, our “subs” will work on copy paper with a pen and use spikes, scissors and glue*. Crumpling up crap headlines, which have been rejected, and throwing them on the floor is encouraged as is randomly shouting “Stop the press!” “Hold the front page!” and “Cooking on gas!” These sessions traditionally end on “Press Day” with the “editor” shouting: “Make it sing!” and the “subs”replying in unison: “And make it a song I like!”


Remember those Fleet Street days of salacious, scurillous scuttlebut? Whispers behind the hands? Secrets guaranteed to shock? These popular sessions are dedicated to the legendary Les Diver, the one-man rumour mill who coined the slogan “Goss is King; Goss is Power”. Your host is the Daily Drone’s resident royal expert, our very own PopBitch. He will pass on the very latest rumours from the Palace and Parliament. Be prepared to be teased and tormented.

The House of Drone wishes to thank the Press Association for its assistance in delivering this programme.


In the evenings it’s time to slope down to the Bertie Brooks Memorial Bar for an attitude adjuster or two. Whatever the weather, gentlemen are expected to be in shirt sleeves as if they had just “gone to the library” or “popped to the loo”. Offering toasts is very much de rigeur in Bertie’s. Apart from the popular “To Wives And Girlfriends - May They Never Meet”, Drones often utter the memorable “Lagers Till We Lurch”, “Swans Till We Swoon”, and “Pils Till We Puke”. 

Members of DroneDram*, our amateur dramatic and re-enactment team, will be on hand to assume the roles of famous Fleet Street characters. Mrs Moon will humiliate you by banning you from “Falstaff’s Dive Bar” and a sinister black-cloaked character will sweep in shouting: “Flood the bar!” Highlight, for some, is the florid, irascible Scotsman who pins you against the bar, invades your personal space and demands why the fuck he hasn’t been made Chief Sub.

More to come

Other programmes we are working on include DroneDown! in which “subs” compete for the Jack Atko trophy by being judged the best at asking for their copy to be delivered to the printer. A DroneDram* team member will act as Messenger Roger. DroneDrone enables residents to start their own beehives aided by apple-cheeked Mrs W* from the village. We have high hopes for DroneEscape in which the fitter members of our community form a Colditz-style Escape Committee and start to dig a tunnel, nicknamed Larry, under the West Wing bin store. 

*Extra charge.

Your retirement dream

Find out more about DroneHaven by sending for our information pack containing detailed specifications, plans and photographs of our apartments and cottages as well as comprehensive costings. Write to: Drone Enterprises, House of Drone, Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, KT12 1AD or visit our website

A Drone from Home with the House of Drone 


Help cheer up John Downing

CHUMS: Downing, centre, with the late Danny McGrory, left, and Tom Stoddart celebrate England’s 5-1 win over Germany while attending Kim Willsher’s wedding in 2001

THE many friends and colleagues of star photographer John Downing are being urged to rally round him today.

John has been diagnosed with incurable lung cancer, according to his wife, the pianist Anita D'Attellis.

She said John was ill over Christmas, culminating in an 

operation to remove liquid from his lung.

Anita added: "At the same time they took a biopsy, which sadly turned out rather bad news.  He has a particularly virulent cancer, which is incurable. He’s in good spirits considering, and full of gallows humour. 

"He's happy for you to mention it to any of his old colleagues, but would appreciate emails only, because he’s not up to taking phone calls at the moment."

John's great friend, Tom Smith, reported that the surgery John underwent last week at London Bridge Hospital will, in John’s own words, only "delay the inevitable a short time”.

He added: "Most of old-time Fleet Street and all of the London Welsh Choir have our fingers crossed. Please pass this on to all who knew him and worked with the 'best snapper of his time'.”

Understandably, John is not up to phone calls at the moment but Anita said you may contact him by email at


John writes in an email to friends:

The operation has gone well and will, I hope, extend my time a little longer.  In fact I feel pretty good. 

I am very lucky to have such a lovely wife Anita, who has been a true stalwart. I have had a great life full of excitement, fun and had the pleasure of befriending all of you.  Throw in a handful of tablets each day (the most important of which is the morphine I suspect) and how could I fail to feel good.  

In passing, watching two nurses trying to part me from my underpants whilst I was attached to tubes and wires would have had you in fits and would have made a great Jacques Tati film.

Well, must away and write a epitaph.

All the very best to you all, and thank you.

IS THERE MUCH MORE OF THIS? John Downing waits for reporter Kim Willsher to finish filing her story 

Downing's study of a young Sue McGibbon

FORMER Daily Express news sub Robin McGibbon is justly proud of this Downing photograph of his wife Sue taken when she was aged 17.

Robin told the Drone : "In the early 70s, my wife, Sue, worked at the Daily Express, selling classified advertising. Her boss was John's wife, Jeanette, who felt it would make the girls' regular sales calls more personal if clients knew what they they looked like. 

"She primed John on each girls' personality and he chatted with each one — to relax them — before taking their photograph, which was stuck on compliments slips sent to prospective advertisers.

"The attached pic of Sue, aged 17, is displayed in our study, assuring that, for her, John will never be forgotten.


Legendary sports writer McIlvanney dies at 84

THE greatest sports writer of his generation, Hugh McIlvanney, has died at the age of 84.

McIlvanney spent most of his 60-year career with The Observer and The Sunday Times and worked briefly for the Daily Express.

He leaves a wife, Caroline, son Conn and daughter Elizabeth.

In 1996, McIlvanney was awarded the OBE, was given the Lifetime Achievement Award 2004 by The Scottish Press Awards, and is the only sports writer to be voted Journalist of the Year. 

McIlvanney was great friends with fellow Scotsman Bill Montgomery, a Daily Express news sub who was never reluctant to give someone a thump whether they deserved it or not. 

An Expressman who prefers to remain anonymous, recalls:

"I am reminded of the night I was chief sub and, for no reason, didn’t give Bill Monty a story. He thought he was getting the freeze. Later in the Press Club, Bill told me there was a call for me. Remember those phone booths in that dimly-lit hall?

"I went out and picked up the phone which was hanging off its hook. The line was dead. It was a set-up. 

"I felt the grip of  death on my throat. It was paranoid Monty, demanding to know who’d instructed me to give him the freeze. I couldn’t plead my innocence owing to asphyxiation.

"Just then Hugh McIlvanney appeared through the gloom. 'Need a hand there, Billy?' he said. 

"You don’t forget moments like that.”

PATRICK COLLINS, sports writer and friend of McIlvanney’s summed up the man, saying: "When his countless admirers speak of Hugh’s writing, they recall the rolling phrases, the astute insights, the dramatic sense of occasion. 

"But those who worked with him — and especially the heroic subs who placed paragraph marks on his copy — will tell of the tireless perfectionist, the man whose Sunday would be spoiled by a misplaced comma or a wayward colon.”

ALAN HILL, former Express Chief City Sub, writes: One of my former bosses, Roy Mackie, City Editor of the Daily Express for some years, was a good friend of Hugh McIlvanney’s. I spent many a convivial night in their company, usually in The Old Bell.

My friend Iain Murray, formerly of Daily Express features and The Observer, told a Hughie story some years ago. 

Hugh was becoming a wee bit stressed by someone in the pub. Seeing what was coming our good friend Bill Montgomery placed his hand on the back of Hugh’s neck. 

The squeeze on the McIlvanney neck was said to be tighter than a Scotsman’s grip on a tenner. And it was accompanied by Bill, saying in his warmest Glaswegian tones: “Now Hugh, we’ll nae be havin any of your nonsense tonight.”

Iain claims Hugh’s feet came off the floor.

Calm was restored. And as Roy Mackie said: “Strong drink was taken, and we all went home good friends.”

ROGER WATKINS: I was a features sub in Manchester in 1972 when a newly-appointed McIlvanney came into the office to write up a featuremin time for the first edition.  He was taciturn and uncommunicative and I recall thinking at the time that he did not seem happy to be on the World’s Greatest Newspaper and, especially, not to be camping in a branch office wrestling with a battered Olympia.

When his copy came I’d  like to say I subbed it with all the attention of a Cliff Barr or a Roy Povey but, to be honest, I didn’t sub it at all.

JIM DAVIES: The fully-deserved paeans of praise for the work of Hugh Mcilvanney prompted some fond memories of our time together.  When he — I thought inadvisably — came back to the Express in the early Seventies (he had been on the Scottish Daily Express earlier in his career), we were having a jar or six in The Old Bell.

I said the Express was a tightly-subbed paper which might fit ill with the lengths he had been accustomed to at The Observer.  "I decide what a piece is worth," he said with what, in anyone else would have sounded like rank pomposity.

I teased him.  "I doubt they have a type face small enough so what do they do?”  'They hang it in a strip below the page,' he said with a look that almost challenged anyone to disagree.

His return to the Beaverbrook fold was not a match made in heaven and did not last.  But happily it did not derail an illustrious career the like of which I doubt we will see again.

Hughie and I were both among the class of '34 who arrived in Fleet Street in the late 50s and early 60s and, sadly, we are a rapidly dwindling bunch.  But boy, did we have the best of it! 

DRONE EXCLUSIVE: My last meeting with Hugh

Guardian obituary 

 3 Donald Trelford’s terrific tribute in the Sunday Times


Mail on Sunday ‘stole’ Mirror’s royal exclusive

SENIOR journalists at the Mail on Sunday are in despair after alleged blatant plagiarism at the paper.

The entire Page 3 of this week's edition of the MoS was apparently a straight lift of the Sunday Mirror’s splash about the woman who broke her wrist when her car was in collision with Prince Philip’s Land Rover.  

Our mole at Northcliffe House said staff had their heads in the hands over the incident and that the Sunday Mirror plans to bill MoS editor Ted Verity for the story.

An unconfirmed report claims that the woman who sold the tale to the Sunday Mirror went first to the Daily Mail and asked how much they would pay.

They gave a price which she agreed before being told: 'We'll call back you in the morning’. Exasperated, she took her story to  the Mirror who snapped her up.

Our informant told the Drone: ‘I seem to remember that in the old days it was always a case of 'grab the body and get it away.

'How times change.’


Meltdown on Sunday

THINGS are going from bad to worse at the Mail On Sunday with editor Ted Verity under pressure following the axing of star columnist Tina Weaver.

Weaver's removal was ordered by Lord Rothermere following revelations that she masterminded phone hacking at the Sunday Mirror while she was editor.

Verity is already facing a costly lawsuit for referring to the couple wrongly arrested for the Gatwick drones chaos as morons in a splash headline.  

Our informant at Northcliffe House says morale at the MoS is at rock-bottom because staff had been accustomed to the gentlemanly ways of former editor Geordie Greig. Under Verity they now find themselves back to the bad old days of Paul Dacre.

Weaver’s reported involvement in the phone-hacking scandal was revealed exclusively by the news website Byline.

A source told Byline: 'This is already being seen as a humiliation for Ted Verity and leaves a big question mark on his judgment. The decision to get rid of Weaver was made by the paper's top executives last Saturday.

'When they hired her, they knew there were some skeletons left over from her years at Mirror Group Newspapers. But until Byline's stories came out, they did not know the full extent of Weaver's involvement in the phone-hacking scandal. 

'It was abundantly obvious they had scored a big own goal. Reluctantly, but inevitably, they had to let her go.'

Read the report here



Who’s still in the Q?

Dear Lord Drone,

I wonder how many of your digital followers worked on the old broadsheet DX in the late 60s and early 70s, when Douglas Orgill was Chief Sub?

Dougie was very stout and never ventured far from his chair. He could just about reach Ralph Mineards & Co on the middle bench to hand out copy.

But we lower mortals, on the distant benches, had to be summoned to receive our LP, Brev and Min instructions. 

As an ex-tank commander, Dougie liked to keep up morale with a joke or two. So when he issued an order, he interposed the initial Q in our names.

When, for example, he called out: “Anthony Q. Boullemier, approach the base of the podium,” a hum of merriment would go round the desks.

But how many of those in the Q are still with us?

Clearly Kelvin Q MacKenzie is. As is David Q Laws, Ian Q Bain, Laing Q Leith, Chris Q Chalke and Rick Q McNeill, although I believe Rick sat near enough to Dougie to be handed his copy.

But listing those who have departed this earth is sobering. Lloyd Q Turner, William Q Reynolds, Leslie Q Diver, Robert Q Kilby and William Q Montgomery to name just a few. 

How many others are still out there today?

If they’re readers of this mighty organ, perhaps we could be told?

Yours as ever,

Anthony Q Boullemier.

PS:  Dougie never did tell us what the Q was meant to stand for.

IAIN Q MURRAY may have the explanation.

He writes: I suspect that Dougie, whom I fondly recall from my brief spell in DX features, was enjoying a mischievous private joke.
Q was the pen name of Sir Arthur Quiller Couch (1863-1944), editor of the Oxford Book of English Prose and a series of Cambridge lectures published as On the Art of Writing.

He coined the writers’ maxim ‘murder your darlings’. 

“If you here require a practical rule of me, I will present you with this: ‘Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it— whole-heartedly — and delete it before sending your manuscript to press. Murder your darlings.”

It would have amused Dougie to see the subs as discerning assassins hired to butcher purple prose.

This from RICK Q McNEILL:

I recall Dougie Orgill also used occasionally to address lowly subs as Shufflebottom and Aloysius — as in “Anthony Aloysius Armstrong, your past has caught up with you!”


When Dougie Orgill was brutally sacked as chief sub he found himself deposited in features where I lived.  I barely knew him but attempted to commiserate.  'Nonsense, dear boy,' he said.  ‘It's out of the kitchen and into the restaurant.'

That lovely piece of insouciance began a friendship which lasted for several memorable years until his early death at the age of 63.

Dougie was an expert in some pretty diverse fields from tank warfare to butterfly collecting, a constant source of entertaining stories and a joy to lunch with — especially in El Vino where he loved my embarrassment at being made to wear a tie, usually one of Geoffrey Van Hay's gravy-stained numbers.

During the advance through Italy in early 1944 Dougie's tank was knocked out by a German shell and his crew surrounded and told they would be shot.  Bravely, Dougie told the Panzers that they could shoot him as commander but that his men must be taken prisoner under the terms of the Geneva convention. 

Into this crisis charged  a German officer, ironically the same rank as Dougie, who ordered the German troops away and apologised saying his men had sustained days of aerial bombardment and were stressed out of their minds.

He explained that he had no facilities for taking prisoners and told Dougie and his men to stay by their stricken tank until the Allied advance caught up with them.  'This war will be over very soon,' he said by way of farewell.  

Dougie congratulated him on his perfect English and asked where he had learned it.  ‘Oxford,' said the German. 'Which college?" asked Dougie.  ‘Balliol,’ said Herr Maior. 'Me too,' said Dougie, upon which they exchanged names and addresses and promised to get in touch when the war was over.

Dougie fulfilled the promise only to find out that his generous combatant had been killed within days of their battlefield meeting.

I can't settle Tony Boullemier's query about Q any more than I could ever discover why he always called me Soulberry.

I am, though, proud to say that I was invited by his family to give the address at his funeral at St Bride's where, to his undoubted celestial amusement, I did not wear a tie!

Good to know there are still those of us around who remember this great man.  Best to everyone, Jim.


Private Eye reports:

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



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


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

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


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



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

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

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

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

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

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



Guess who trousered the redundo jackpot?

All three of them! 

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

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

The Great Golden Wheelbarrow lunch


The day Jean Rook came gunning for Express subs

THERE is no doubt that Jean Rook was a great columnist who well deserved her title of the First Lady of Fleet Street.

But it is no secret that her column in the Daily Express needed careful subbing. This would of course lead to a certain amount of friction between Jean and the Features Department.

An executive, Geoff Compton, was assigned by Features Editor Alan Frame to be a ‘human firewall’ between the First Lady and the hard-pressed features subs.

One famous day he received two scathing memos from Jean complaining about the editing of her column. 



Deep in thought, the late, great Paul Carter

IF there was one man the Daily Express should never have let go it was Paul Carter. He was the finest journalist many of us have ever worked with — and not only that he was a delightful person.

Here he is meticulously checking the first edition proofs at the Express offices in Blackfriars, London, in 1999 or 2000.

Paul, who went on to be a brilliant deputy editor of the Daily Mail, was forced out by editor Rosie Boycott  mainly because she failed to understand the culture of a middle market tabloid.

Paul died in 2017 aged 54 after a long battle with cancer.

Also in this pic is the back of production editor Bob Smith’s head and Nick Dalton.

In his own words: Paul bids us farewell


The Roaring Eighties

IF ever there was a decade for partying on the Daily Express it must have been the 1980s — and here is the proof. 

Pictured at a Roaring Twenties evening are, from left, the late and much lamented Ross ‘Crommers’ Tayne, Robin McGibbon and his wife Sue, and Jan Barden who hosted the party at her home in Penge, South-East London.



ONE of the great features of the old Daily and Sunday Express was the people. And one of the most cheerful was Peter ‘Pinky’ Floyd of the Picture Desk. A truly lovely man, here he is in 1998, lighting up the SX picture desk in Fleet Street with his radiant good humour.


A quiet Saturday night on the Sunday Express

Here’s another snap from the old days, this time at the Sunday Express offices in Lower Thames Street, London, circa 2005.

On the far left is Tessa Evans, then Roy Povey arriving in his overcoat. In the distance, trying to mind his own business, is Alastair McIntyre, then from left on the middle bench is Mark Hoey, Rod Jones, Brian Izzard and on the backbench, Andy Hoban.


I had that Tim Shipman in the back of the cab 

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

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



IT WAS THE BEST OF TIMES: Daily Express features subs having fun in their break some time in the 1990s are Elaine Canham, Norman ‘Normal’ Cox and Jeff ‘Mine’s a Toby Light’ Boyle. The blonde in the foreground is features desk secretary-cum-nurse Alison Greenacre, who, according to one member of staff, 'dispensed our morning hangover cures’. 


Mrs Stumpy’s dog car(t)

A message arrives in a forked stick from ROBIN McGIBBON.

He writes: A girl, aged no more than four, was walking by our bungalow, with her mother, when she spotted blankets in the back of the pictured Perodua Kenari, which my wife, Sue, uses to take friends' dogs for walks.

"Look, mummy," the girl said, pointing at the odd-looking vehicle, "A caravan for little people."

As one of the shortest subs ever to work for the Express, I'm wondering if I should seek your permission to start driving it!

Lord Drone replies: On yer bike, Stumpy!


Muldoon’s Lookalike

                                    ESSEX                                                         McINTYRE

By S MULDOON (trainee)

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

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

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

I’ll get you for this, Muldoon — Ed 



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

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

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

The original story is here:

The Grey Ghost, Forgotten Hero of the Lopés Cup



Now Charlie throws in towel

Charlie Sale, former Daily Express sports sub and latterly sports columnist on the Daily Mail has announced his retirement on Twitter.

His decision to quit follows the exodus of several star names following the appointment of Geordie Greig as editor to replace Paul Dacre. It is not thought that Charlie’s retirement is connected with this.

Last night after more that 200 Twitter tributes to Charlie, he tweeted: "Absolutely overwhelmed by all the kind messages today re retirement. Even the trolls were nice. Thanks so much.”

One fan tweeted: "Charlie, many congratulations on your recovery. Yet another foe bested, though I’m sorry you’re leaving the circuit; you’ll leave a gap that’s impossible to fill. An absolute doyen of journalism and cantankerous harrumphery. Retiring now, maybe, but you’ll never be ‘irrelevant’.”

On the Express, Charlie rose from sub to No 3 and was a candidate for sports editor when David Emery was short-listed for deputy editor on the Sunday Express, but SX editor Eve Pollard opted for Craig Mackenzie.

LATEST gossip from Northcliffe House reveals that a memo from the Mail’s managing editor informing all staff of the details for Victor Davis’s funeral was sent to everyone — including Victor Davis! Well, he WAS there…

Our informant had a long chat with a Mail insider who said the troops were very distressed at the way the Daily Mail has lost its edge under Greig. Our mole compared it to the emasculation of the Express.

THE DRONE is indebted to Popbitch for the following titbit in its review of the year:

After nearly three decades of steering the ship, Paul Dacre stepped down as the Daily Mail's editor. 

Once in a morning conference Dacre interrupted a journalist talking about the female fighter pilots who were going into Libya to ask: "What? Actually flying the planes? And shooting? Not just navigating? Or giving directions?" 

The reporter informed him that, yes, the women would be flying fighter jets. 

Dacre mulled this over for a hot second, before asking: "Won't their tits get in the way of the steering?



These two images are taken from from a style book entitled The Express Way, issued to staff in Manchester and Glasgow in the 1950s, writes BOB CUMMINGS.

The pamphlet contains such gems as:


Advice to the critics: They should not assume too much knowledge on the part of the reader. It is their job to give information to the reader in such a way as not to offend the erudite and not patronise the ignorant. (April 1, 1953).

Whenever possible print a woman's age. That's a fine paragraph in today's Diary about Lady Helena Hilton-Green who flies to the hunt — but I wanted to know how old she was (March 31, 1953).



Here, in glorious black and white, is another trip down memory lane. This pic of Sport and General Press Agency staff was taken at the retirement in 1980 of John Macnee, centre standing. Back row, fourth from left, is Tony Sapiano.

Stuart Clarke, editor of The Moorlander in Devon, fills in some of the gaps: Middle row, Dave Ofield, Scoby Riggs, printer, Alistair Loos, Dennis Jones, Hugh Routledge. 

Front row: Neville Mariner,  Stuart Clarke, Roy Chaplin,  Julian Parker and Dave Benett.


Daily Express news subs 1960s

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click pic to enlarge


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

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

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

An extremely capable journalist and wonderful father.

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

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




Twiggy’s Express dress




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

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

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

The day they buried Hickey

The rise and fall of the Fleet Street diarist



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

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

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

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

Greetings to all Express Persons of Good Standing!



Tweet of the Year


Stan McMurtry, better known as Mac of the Daily Mail, has now surpassed Carl Giles of the Daily and Sunday Express as the longest-serving cartoonist on a national newspaper, serving from 1968 to 2018, reports Tim Benson of the Political Cartoon Gallery in Putney. 

Mac has now retired from the Mail and has been replaced by Paul Thomas.

Giles, who died in 1995, drew his last cartoon for the Express in 1989.


Reflections on Cummings, a great Express cartoonist

TERRY MANNERS tells the story behind one of thousands of cartoons drawn for the Express by Michael Cummings


Caricature of the week

Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart by Adrian Teal


They way we were

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


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

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

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

PETER STEWARD has filled in the gaps. He writes:

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

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

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

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

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

Perhaps the person furthest right could be David Henshall.

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

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

Click pic for larger image


When we were very young

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


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!'   



Fleet Street then and now

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!
 Christiansen the film star

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

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

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



We think this may be a pic of Express subs but could it be the Mail?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What do you think?

Tribute to a true gentleman

Hugh Dawson’s website


The amazing life of Bain, 
a fantastic story well told

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Singing in the Lifeboat is available on Amazon for £8.99 



In remembrance of Bob

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

See the pics and read TERRY MANNERS’ tribute here


Daily Star Sports Desk 1980

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 oAncoats from 1976 to 1988. ONLY ON THE DRONE!


One in the Eye

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



© 2005-2022 Alastair McIntyre