The Word On The Street

WORRIES that the Sun's deputy editor, Rebekah Wade, would inject too much cuddly female influence on the paper have been dispelled by the outgoing editor Stuart Higgins. He was forced to pull her choice of headline for the story about deaths linked to the impotence drug Viagra. The sensitive young lady wanted to run with "Die Hard". For the George Michael public lavatories story she proposed "Under a-wrist".

higgins told the stories during a speech at Wade's 30th birthday bash at the Belvedere restaurant, in Holland Park, west London, attended by such tabloid glitterati as Alan Rusbridger of the Guardian and Peter Stothard of the Times. The rest of the speech was very waspish, about the need for long experience of the paper. Higgins, it was assumed, was trying to save his job from Wade, who has only been on the paper a few months. He had the wrong target, however, as the new Sun editor, David Yelland, was also at the party, sitting quietly in a corner having been flown in at News International's expense.

BBC NEWS management's hot new idea for its journalists is to group them together in their mammoth new Television Centre newsroom in clusters according to their specialism: science, education, legal, etc. Media, arts, and, for some reason, royal correspondents have been officially gathered into the "culture cluster", which, while it sounds like something to do with Sellafield, is an improvement on the Sunday Times' nickname for its fluffy types: the shallow end.

move over Hello! - the curse of Channel 4 is upon us. It might be the vogue to blame a red-haired Virgin DJ for the relative tragedies of Gazza and Geri Spice, but in fact a far more malevolent force is at the root of all this distress. C4 decided around a month ago to schedule Gazza's Coming Home, a documentary about his years at Rangers, as a pre-World Cup repeat. Cue Gazza's deselection. For the double whammy, the unusual decision was taken two weeks ago to repeat TFI Friday's Spice Girls special just as, you guessed it, Geri quit. Warning to all celebrities: do not allow yourself to be "featured" by C4; pursue photo shoots in Hello! at will.

THE self-effacing Guardian is considering plans to set up a museum devoted to journalism that will present "hacks as heroes". Whether it will contain heroic cod faxes and lunch receipts paid for heroically by the KGB is yet to be decided, but, given the high esteem journalists are held in by the public, the mind boggles at who would pay to see a slightly elaborate cuttings library. The Daily Mail's Lord Rothermere is said to have a similar plan, so let's hope that museum includes a free and frank appraisal of the 1922 Zinoviev letter.

boddingtons is to sponsor Skinner and Baddiel's Fantasy World Cup programme on ITV. The boys are about to find the commercial world a tougher place than the BBC, from where they were poached. The two comedians used to spend much time on screen swigging bottles of Becks, the definitive Nineties lager. Becks is made by Scottish Courage, while Boddingtons is made by Whitbread. ITC rules will probably stop the two comedians being forced to drink the cream of Manchester. But don't look too hard for the bottles of Becks to make an appearance.

A SERIES of hectic job changes of late have clearly had a negative effect on the appearance of Andrew Marr, one-time editor of this organ. His new column for the Observer this week was flagged on the top of the front page in early editions alongside a picture of Keith Flint of the Prodigy. Keith's opinions on weighty issues like the single currency have never been revealed, so his column would have been worth reading. Mr Marr however was widely known for his bizarre haircuts and the black rings under his eyes, so the picture wasn't that big a surprise.

SOME confusion remains about the reason for the Mail on Sunday's front- page apology to Brooke Shields last week. The paper's editor, Jonathan Holborow, insists it was his personal decision to break with newspaper tradition and match the space given to the original story.

However an article in yesterday's Guardian claims it was part of Shields' lawyers' demands. Whether the front-page apology catches on in future may depend on whether it truly was a piece of one-off editorial largesse or won by the hard-nosed libel expert Keith Schilling.

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