Wednesday, November 29, 2006


I've inspired another blog. I'm so proud.

The marvellous Vickywatch (click above), details the brilliance of the Sun's Bizzarre columnist Victoria Newton, whose scrupulous attention to detail I documented in a Hackwatch for Private Eye back in March this year.

From Eye 1155:

Congratulations to Victoria Newton, editor of the Sun’s Bizarre column, who not only managed to spend five thousand pounds of the Sun’s money in an attempt to get a picture byline she was happy with, but also picked up the Showbusiness Writer of the Year Award at the British Press Awards last week. Here are just a few of the spectacular scoops she has pulled in over the last twelve months:

March 2 2005: “Former Busted star Charlie Simpson’s single with new band Fightstar is due to chart at a pathetic number 73 on Sunday,” crows Newton. “I think Charlie, left, who split Busted when he left, will soon be begging for his job back. I've written a letter he can cut out and send to his former pals: Dear James and Matt, Hey you guys. Looks like I made a huge mistake leaving Busted.” Rather than take up her offer Simpson’s record company instead issue a press release pointing out that the record in question was a limited-edition vinyl 7-inch of which only 1000 copies were pressed, and for it to make the charts at all is an almost record-breaking achievement.

March 7: “Bad boy rapper 50 Cent has become the first artist to have three singles in the US top five,” Newton points out. Unfortunately the record – an even more impressive five out of five, in April 1964 – is actually held by a little-known outfit called The Beatles.

March 8: “Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston are secretly trying to mend their broken marriage,” Newton reveals in a front-page Bizarre “exclusive”. ‘Brad, 41, has moved back into the Beverly Hills home he shared with Jennifer, 36. A source said: ‘They really want to patch things up.’” “These are made-up stories and non-stop lies”, says the couple’s publicist. They file for divorce two weeks later.

March 9: “Billie Piper is secretly planning to relaunch her music career, I can reveal,” pants a breathless Newton, a few weeks ahead of the actress’s debut in Doctor Who. “A source said: ‘Billie would love to make a return to the music scene… She has been having talks with a number of labels, including Sony BMG, but hasn't put pen to paper yet.” Four months later, a still-unsigned Piper tells an interviewer “I care so much more about acting than I do for music. I never really wanted to be a singer in the first place. I’m having the time of my life at the moment.”

April 14: “The Westlife boys have come to blows after a massive punch-up,” Newton tuts. “I can reveal that tempers are running so high between the lads, I fear this could mean the band is close to calling it a day… the band's only commitment is for one more album, pencilled in for studio time in August. But sources close to the boy band say the rivalries developing mean they are likely to go their own way once the record is complete.” Five months on from the album’s release, the band remain together.

May 20: “Ladies, it's time to dust off your Union Flag dresses - because the Spice Girls are back,” Newton shrieks. “I can reveal the fab five are set to reform for a one-off ten-year reunion concert next summer, so get those platform shoes on and be ready for some serious zig-a-zig-ah… I can’t wait.”

May 25: “Madonna has a title for her next album - Defying Gravity,” Newton confides. “The release date for the album has been pencilled in for January. A source said: ‘There is a rockier edge and the usual electronic influence.’” The album is released in November, consists almost entirely of disco tracks and is called Confessions On a Dancefloor.

June 2: “Madonna will duet with Sting at London's Live 8 gig on July 2,” reveals “the official Live 8 columnist. “It's a collaboration which will go down in history and is perfect for the biggest gig of the decade.” And that’s not all – in another exclusive, Newton reveals that “The Spice Girls are being secretly lined up to make a comeback at Live Aid II.”

August 8: “Little Britain’s David Walliams lands Bond Role” reports our mole at Mi6. “The funnyman is being lined up for a quirky cameo part as an in-joke for British fans.” Over to Walliams for confirmation: “No, I haven’t auditioned. I don’t know where that story came from.”

September 9: “Have Kate Moss and Pete Doherty had a secret engagement?” asks the woman in the know. “The pair held a private party at London's Dorchester on Wednesday night. Some say it was a pre-engagement party to tell pals about their plans to marry. Watch this space...” Naturally, the couple split up within weeks.

November 30: Scoop! George Michael has decided to “speak exclusively to the Sun” about the new civil partnership law. “Although George supports the new legal rights, he has no plans to marry long-term lover Kenny,” Newton reveals. Which comes as something of a surprise to readers of the same day’s Times, Mirror, Express, Daily Record and Evening Standard, all of which carry quotes from an interview with Michael in which he reveals that the couple are planning a “small private ceremony relatively soon after it comes in, probably early next year.”

January 30 2006: “McFly frontman Danny Jones has asked to leave the band to go solo - casting doubts over their future,” an ashen-faced Newton reports. “Sources from McFly HQ tell me they are panicking Danny may leave and never return. Is it all over?” Er, not according to Danny Jones, who issues a statement via his record company: “I’m really upset by this rumour. No way am I giving up my dream job.”

February 2: Hold the front page – “SPICE GIRLS WILL REFORM” shrieks Newton. “Forget the half-truths that keep surfacing - I can tell you for DEFINITE that Geri, Victoria Beckham, Emma Bunton and Mel B have agreed to a tour in November with at least ten, and possibly 12, dates. The live dates will be followed by a greatest hits album and DVD, which will be released in time for Christmas.”

February 16: “Coldplay ‘split’” claims the headline on Newton’s coverage of the Brit Awards. Her column the following day clarifies this slightly. “Coldplay ‘no split’.”

February 23: “A bitter Big Brother battle is on the brink of blowing up,” Newton warns. “BB3 contestant Jade Goody is terrified that her crown as Queen Of Reality Telly is under serious threat from Essex Celebrity Big Brother winner Chantelle Houghton.” One month later, the pair do a joint interview. “I don’t see you as a rival, I see you as a big success and I hope you carry on doing well,” Goody tells Houghton in, er, the Sun.

March 16: “At last some good news on the Spice Girls reunion tour - it's not going to happen,” writes Newton, proving that consistency is just as important to her as accuracy. “I can reveal that Mel C and Victoria Beckham have seen sense and realised it is a bad idea. So we can breathe a sigh of relief. It would be cringeworthy.” Nothing like the Sun’s showbusiness coverage, then.

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