Media: The Word on the Street

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SPECULATION THAT the reclusive Barclay brothers want to buy the Express Group have caused flutters for months in Lord Hollick's empire. But maybe the flutters should be felt a mile or so up the road, at the Guardian Media Group. The Barclay brothers' representative on earth, Andrew Neil, publisher of Scotsman Publications Holdings Ltd, was overheard rubbishing rumours of the Express purchase. But when asked whether The Observer could be in the brothers' sights, he was reticent. Now, there's a marriage made in heaven.

TALKING OF brothers, the journalism award for fraternal love must go to the brothers Hoggart. Simon reviews TV for The Spectator. Paul reviews television for The Times. In the current Spectator, Simon revels in how "my brother Paul Hoggart, a TV critic for The Times", hoaxed Daisy Donovan of Channel 4's 11 O'Clock Show. A mention by a TV reviewer of another TV reviewer is normally more than ego permits; but reviewing the BBC sitcom Hippies, Simon Hoggart begins: "As my brother Paul points out", and then uses another of his jokes. Let's hope The Spectator's pay cheque is shared out among the family.

FEARS HAVE been expressed about a dumbing down of arts coverage at the BBC. Some wonder whether the new ArtZone, with just 90 minutes' dedicated arts coverage on BBC2, is a sign of this. What can be revealed now is a project being undertaken by BBC1's Omnibus slot. A programme is being planned profiling Vinnie Jones. The ex-footballer has so far been in precisely one film. He was rather good, as it happens. But a profile on Omnibus? Good thing he never played in the World Cup finals. He'd be a regular on Late Review by now.

AS THE glossy magazines celebrate the new millennium with special, even glossier, issues, spare a thought for Geordie Greig, editor of Tatler. His mag is doing nothing special at all because during the time that others were planning their millennium issues, Tatler had a little local diifficulty and was between editors. "By the time we got round to thinking of a millennium issue it was too late," says a member of staff.