Media: The Word on the Street

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The Independent Culture
WHO CAN the Daily Mail be talking about? "It is years since he had any relevance to modern pop. This lightweight record of cloying, sentimental ballads and soft rockers will delight fans but surprise no one. The album lacks conviction. Rating: One star out of five." Yes, it's that man Sir Cliff. That is how the Daily Mail reviewed his new album on Friday 16 October. By Wednesday 21 October the paper that has never seen a middle- of-the-road bandwagon it didn't want to jump on was running a campaign to save Cliff from "The Mad Mullah of Pop" Chris Evans, whose radio station had put a "fatwa" on his album. It would have been interesting to see the reaction if the Mail had dubbed Evans the "Rabid Rabbi" of pop.

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YOUR PAST can come back to haunt you. Mirror reporter Aidan McGurran was sent by his paper to cover the murder trial of Michael Stone. McGurran, better known as the Sun and Mirror's Lenny Lottery, was greeted with mirth at court by a Sun hack: "Hell, don't tell me Stone's won the lottery as well."

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MOST FORMER editors can look forward to a quiet life of lucrative consultancy work and gentle column-writing. Not so Stuart Higgins, formerly editor of The Sun. He joined Marquee, the sports management and PR company, in September and it has been all hands on deck ever since. First, their client Will Carling made the headlines as Britain's most despicable cad, just as he had a book out and a testimonial planned. Then another client, a Blue Peter presenter Richard Bacon, got caught on the big white highway. Finally, Marquee man David Gower saw his BBC Test match cricket job whisked away by Channel 4. Insiders are talking of a "Curse of Higgins". He is probably talking fondly of quiet days on The Sun.

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POLITICAL PROGRAMMES are a presenting a problem for Channel 4, which has struggled to find a replacement for The Week in Politics. It is now resorting to gimmickry to bolster its daily parliamentary programme. Politicians will get to present the programme for a week each - Virginia Bottomley goes first. Broadcasters are waiting with bated breath to see whether Bottomley, infamous for her roundabout, pointless answers, is any better at asking questions. Perhaps she should interview Harriet Harman, with viewers invited to guess what either of them is talking about.

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PROSPECT, THE lofty intellectual magazine, is undergoing a culture change. Ownership has shifted into the unlikely hands of Derek Coombs, businessman and erstwhile Tory MP. His flashy style is already evident - while the mag is run on a shoestring, its owner hosted a brain- storming session on its future. Writers such as Suzanne Moore and Ian Jack were helicoptered to Dorset for the occasion. It was not unnoticed that their transport costs could have financed several editions of the periodical.

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