Friday, November 30, 2007

Continuing our occasional series, "what's really going on in that byline photo?"

"What are we going to do today, Brain?"

"What we do every day Pinky. Try to take over the world."

... I don't like to mention the Kt., it looks bigheaded

It's not just Norman Baker who likes to show off the letters after his name.

I wouldn't have thought there was much that could make me think less of Sir Ian Blair at this point, but now we learn he signed his letter to Chris Huhne about the Labour donations investigation:

Ian Blair
QPM MA (Oxon)
Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis.

Show off your Queen's Police Medal, fair enough. But one of those Oxbridge MAs you get automatically a few years after finishing your BA degree? (I know. I got mine in 2001. It was a great reunion. We had a disco and everything.)

Actually, the really interesting one to see would be the letter from Chris Huhne to him. How did that one begin?

"Dear Sir Ian. Remember me? I'm one of the ones who's been publicly banging on about how you should resign for the last month. Well, anyway..."

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Are you ready for me, lassie?

This from the Eprhaim Hardcastle column in this morning's Daily Mail:

Now Evan Davies is moving to Radio 4's Today as joint number two with James Naughtie, isn't Newsnight's statuesque Stephanie Flanders an obvious choice to replace him as BBC Economics Correspondent? An unmarried mother who mocks Tory policies on single parents, she excites male viewers who are attracted to stern women. They recall wistfully a recent documentary in which she was filmed cycling from one location to the next. The big economics job might afford a wider range of opportunities to see Steffers at her best.

There's something refreshingly honest about this, isn't there? While other gossip columnists like to pretend they're out till all hours every night partying with the bright young things, Hardcastle editor Peter McKay is quite happy for the world to know that he stops in most nights for a pot noodle and a wank over Newsnight.

Here's his "just before a look at the front pages" face.

Monday, November 19, 2007


“We don’t believe viewers were materially misled,” claimed the BBC last week in its apology for adding sound effects of babies crying to silent footage of quintuplets in an Oxford hospital. “We received the film without sound and on reflection we should have kept it that way.”

This is, however, far from the only time that the corporation’s news department has “improved” upon reality for viewers. Footage of the first day of the Iraq war on March 20 2003, at the height of Donald Rumsfeld’s shock and awe campaign, was tidied up so that viewers of the Six O’Clock News could experience the sound of explosions at the same time as the blooming flames – despite the fact that the footage was filmed from several miles away, which results in sound and vision being out of sync. “The BBC doesn’t feel there is anything untoward in this practice as the actual sound is still being used in the reports,” concerned viewers were told.

Post by Adam Macqueen MA (Cantab)

The strange death of David Kelly, the Methuen-published conspiracy-fest which the constituents of Lewes funded their Lib-Dem MP to spend 17 months writing, concludes, with the help of an anonymous man in a pub in Exeter, that the weapons expert was murdered by "anti-Saddam Iraqis".

It is credited on its cover to one "Norman Baker MP".

Who is the only other member of parliament to have insisted on having his full title displayed on his dust-jacket?

Jim Hacker.

But then of course, the contents of his book were a fantasy.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Time for bed, boinged Geri

Have you ever seen a set of colder, deader eyes outside of a fishmongers?

Ding-dong, the wicked witch is... promoted

So we are no longer to be treated to the over-airbrushed phizzog of Victoria Newton on a daily basis, with news that she has been relieved of the editorship of Bizarre. Once again she's taking over Dominic Mohan's job. We all thought she couldn't be worse than him before; now she's got the opportunity to prove us wrong once again.

Here, once more - because it never gets old - is my rundown of her best scoops of 2006, the year she got the Showbiz Writer of the Year award.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The news, as brought to you by Mario Testino

Is this the most gratiutous excuse to run lots of pictures of bronzed totty in swimwear EVER?

And it's not even from the Daily Telegraph...

Monday, November 12, 2007

2: number of years late the Guardian are with this morning's front page,,2209542,00.html

I did this for the Number Crunching column in Private Eye when Blair first tried to force through the 90-day detention rule in November 2005.

And I didn't need a press release from Liberty, either. I did the working-out all by myself.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


... I have just worked out how to post videos in my blog.

Elsewhere in fantasyland

Two years ago, I went along to the filming of something very similar to Dance of the Goblins (below) to report for the Times. So when the Goblin lady waddled on to Dragon's Den (with a title like that, is it any wonder she thought she was in the right place?) and started her "a very famous actor who was in Pirates of the Carribbean" schtick, my partner and I turned to each other simultaneously and said "oh, god, it's Barry the Demon Hunter..."

Here's what I wrote. A weeny-wickle edited-down version of it appeared in the Times on 9th January 2006.

The succubus is having a lovely day. “I couldn’t believe it when the director rang me,” she enthuses, “because I’m mad about vampires and all that mythology, so I said yes straight away.” (This may be worth remembering should you ever want to persuade an exotic dancer to perform for you for free). Anghel – “that’s my real name” – can usually be found twirling round a pole in Soho, but today she and a couple of colleagues are the latest paranormal foes to do battle with Barry the Demon Hunter.

Yes, you read that right. Barry is related to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but not in any way that might, say, cause disquiet to copyright lawyers. He was born not long after his Californian cousin saved the world for the final time two years ago, when photographer and fan Oliver McNeil used fifty quid, a video camera, two torches and some willing friends to transform Hastings town centre into an occult battleground. “The real break-through was when we met up with some live role-players”, sound-man Nicholas confides. “They do live-action Dungeons and Dragons stuff, and Olly said ‘we need some monk costumes.’ They pulled out a big trunk and said ‘Cistercian, Franciscan, or Dominican?’”

Today’s episode, number four, features a large cast recruited mostly through adverts in the local paper. “I only got cast last night,” admits Paul, picking himself up off the pub pool table where he has been deposited courtesy of a magical attack which will be added later courtesy of Oliver’s laptop. “It’s not the first acting I’ve done. I was a backshot in Dempsey and Makepeace.” Richard Alan, who plays Reverend Simon, is the series’ one professional. When not demon hunting, he does “children’s parties, panto, anything really”, and has just bagged a role in the new Rentaghost musical, where his supernatural experience will no doubt come in handy. Oliver himself takes the role of Barry, a “Knight Templar of the New First Order”, which means he gets to do all the cool sword fighting, and he also writes the scripts, which may have something to do with the fact that Barry is spending much of this episode being seduced by those demonic pole dancers. Sadly, the episode’s climax – in which the succubus (a female demon who feeds on the sexual energy of her male victims) is destroyed by means of a steamy lesbian kiss – has had to be rewritten. “I’m going to grab her by the throat instead”, the pretty 19-year-old who plays heroine Brook kindly but firmly tells the disappointed production team.

At last filming time arrives, and the pole dancers and live role-players – who have hitherto been keeping to opposite sides of the room, as if at a school disco – move into position. The rule here is that if you’re on set, you’re on screen, so after the judicious application of some terrifying zombie make-up by the leather trench-coated Jack (“I usually create wounds and bullet holes” – “Professionally?” – “No, just for my friends. I work at the cash and carry.”) I make my acting debut. Like Oliver and the rest of the crew, I’m expecting a call from Hollywood any day now.

You'll note my close-up at 09:56. Eeh, I was proud.

And for that reason, I'm out...

Remember the funny goth lady from Norwich on Dragon's Den this week who wanted a million pounds to make a film of her own screenplay of her own novel about goblins that had sold less than 2000 copies, and seemed to think this wasn't just as much of a fantasy?

She's put an animated trailer for it online.

It's frickin' aces...

Monday, November 05, 2007

Kramer v. Defamer

While not restraining from putting the boot into Heather Mills following her attack on the media last week – columnist Amanda Platell responded to accusations of press vindictiveness by calling her deranged and demanding she stop doing charity work because any causes associated with her are “completely contaminated” – the Daily Mail is keeping a weather eye on the McCartney divorce settlement and ensuring her husband also receives a fair division of opprobrium.

“Damning tape recordings. Fits of anger when she walked out for days and dark talk of violence,” a headline in Saturday’s paper solemnly intoned. “No, not Heather ... but Linda. So was Sir Paul's FIRST marriage really such a fairytale?”

Why should anyone think it was? Perhaps because they read a week-long series of articles which appeared after Linda McCartney’s death in April 1998, under the banner “All Our Loving: The Heart-Warming Story of Pop Music’s Most Remarkable Marriage”. Where did this tribute to “the happiest, strongest, most stimulating and faithful marriage” appear? The Daily Mail.