Media: The Word on the Street

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The Independent Culture
LAST THURSDAY The Mirror printed a request for any photographs or videos of Paul Gascoigne "doing the full Monty". It is not an image anyone but a tabloid would want to look at, but the following morning Greg Bennett on The Mirror picture desk took a call from a man with a Geordie accent claiming to have the said pictures. The caller specifically asked to hand over the pictures to Jeremy Armstrong and Steve Dennis, the writers of an unflattering piece about Gascoigne.

The accent, the pub noise in the background and the specific nature of this request aroused Bennett's suspicions and he challenged the man to identify himself. After an exchange of banter with Gascoigne - for it was he - the footballer hung up. He called back later demanding that Armstrong and Dennis meet him at Middlesbrough's training ground on Monday morning. As yesterday's headlines make clear, Gascoigne didn't make it.

JUST WHEN you thought every conceivable stage in a woman's life had been covered by a glossy magazine, along comes Couples, a new magazine endorsed by Relate. It seems to be intended for women readers of Red who don't want to go back to being readers of Cosmopolitan. Presumably if they don't communicate with their partners they can leave the magazine lying around and hope they get the message.

THE BBC'S year-long study of what people want from its news was presented last week in one of the corporation's jolly little booklets. This included a paragraph that reads: "Audiences recognise BBC News for its professionalism and accuracy... they also want the BBC's use of language to be clearer and to cover a broader range of stories. BBC loyalists unless their needs are met." Unfortunate juxtapositions, don't ya love 'em?

WITH PETER Wright in charge, presumably the The Mail on Sunday won't make little errors such as the "helicopter" one from Jonathan Holborow's last weeks. Photographers were sent to the south coast to photograph Mohamed al-Fayed's yacht, which was returning to the UK for the first time since its role as a holiday plaything for Dodi and Diana. The snappers met a helicopter pilot hired by the MoS and showed him pictures of the yacht, to see whether he thought he could recognise it from the air. "Er... yes, but you'd better look at this," the pilot said, and took the photographers outside to see his helicopter. It was painted green and had the word "Harrods" emblazoned on the side. "Of course I'd recognise it," said the embarrassed pilot. "It's my boss's yacht."

SCARY MR Wright has quickly made an impact on The Mail on Sunday. Last week he called in the paper's executives to tell them that all their staff were rubbish, with the exception of the writer Fiona Barton - which will make her popular around the office. Journalists have been told to stop drinking at lunch time and, just to make the point about where the power flows in Associated these days, Daily Mail writers will write for the Sunday for the first time in its history. The daily is beefing up its staff accordingly.

INTERESTING TO see The Daily Telegraph's attitude to interest rate cuts last week. Rumour has it that we should not hold our breath waiting for Charles Moore's definitive biography of Margaret Thatcher. It was reported in June that Mr Moore will be paid pounds 750,000 for the tome. So much has been paid up front that he can safely put it in the bank and collect a mountain of interest without having to lift a finger for years - the book isn't to be published until after the Iron Lady dies.