Janet Street-Porter

A former editor of The Independent on Sunday, Janet Street-Porter is now the paper’s editor-at-large. As a journalist and broadcaster she has had an innovative and groundbreaking career in television, creating programmes for the BBC, Channel 4 and LWT, for which she has won a Bafta and the Prix Italia. She is also vice president of the Rambler’s Association.

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Janet Street-Porter: 'If Romanians and Bulgarians bothered to read Life in the United Kingdom, they might think we spend our time waving flags, dressing like Sherlock Holmes, reading Harry Potter and gorging on beef'

Wacky ways to spot a true Brit

What are the values that define a plucky Brit? For those hoping to pass the 45-minute citizenship test (with a 75 per cent pass mark), Life in the United Kingdom is required reading. Thank goodness I was born in west London, not Pakistan or Nigeria, because a quick perusal of the latest edition confirms I would not make the grade. Being British seems very complicated. The first big hurdle is unpicking the logic behind the wacky range of facts included in this Home Office publication. What convoluted civil service mind drew up the list of contents for starters? They range from Monty Python to St Trinian's, Fountains Abbey to Captain Cook, Torvill and Dean to Yorkshire pudding, Santa Claus to the Last Night of the Proms. This buffet of random factoids seems designed to confuse potential citizens.

Mackarel: according to the Marine Conservation Society, this humble superfood must be shunned by anybody who cares about our planet.

Poverty is exploited by food giants

I have sinned. The other night I ate a mackerel. A nice juicy specimen, purchased from Carricks fish stall in Ripon market. Slashed, stuffed with preserved lemon, and baked. Delicious, but, according to the Marine Conservation Society, this humble superfood must be shunned by anybody who cares about our planet. Mackerel has been declared an endangered species along with pandas, snow leopards, cod and turbot. It has simply become too popular – and too much is being caught off the Faroe Islands and Iceland. The Marine Conservation Society says it's OK to eat it "occasionally", which I find patronising.

Janet Street-Porter: 'There needs to be a new model for the high street which doesn’t compete with online shopping and out-of-town superstores, but offers something completely different'

High streets don't need chain stores

What a load of bilge has been spouted over the demise of Blockbuster, Jessops and HMV. Commentators whimpered over the end of an era, as if we all spent our seminal years on a weekly pilgrimage to leaf through the racks of CDs. This rose-tinted view of the past as being somehow more desirable than the present is the kind of cloying sentimentality that holds Britain back on the world stage. It's sad for the thousands of employees who are losing their jobs, but many are young and will find work with other retailers or distribution centres. In less than a month, 1,400 stores closed or went into administration, the worst figures on record. Many of these properties are "zombies", bad investments the banks should have called in ages ago, killed off by one key group – us, fickle consumers, who have completely changed how and where we shop. The high street of yesteryear will never return, in spite of much hand-wringing on the part of Mary Portas or shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna, who wants to launch a "small business Saturday".

Janet Street-Porter on Bowie: 'A massive exhibition about him opens at the V&A next month – a brilliant opportunity to sell product, when everyone thought you’d retire'

Leave me out of this Bowiemania

In June 1978, I was presenting a television show for young people when I got a call from David Bowie's PR to say the living legend had decided I should interview him. He'd watched one of my music documentaries, and was impressed by my lurid dyed burgundy hair – a style he'd sported in The Man Who Fell to Earth.

'PSY marks a new phenomenon - upbeat, relentlessly cheerful, cheesy and ironic'

Corny PSY fixes my new year blues

The porky South Korean entertainer marks a new phenomenon - upbeat, relentlessly cheerful, cheesy and ironic

Janet Street-Porter: 'Viva Forever!' buzzes along, the songs sungbetter than first time around

A pinch of Spice peps us all up

'Viva Forever!' buzzes along, the songs sung better than first time around

Google paid HMRC only £6m on a turnover of £395m last year

Google, Amazon, Vodafone and Starbucks might not be breaking laws. But they deserve to be punished

Our writer says one way to make them pay is through consumer boycotts

Janet Street-Porter: 'I'm all for free choice, and the right to live your life with the minimum of governmental intervention, but when it comes to booze, a large number of us lack the 'sensible' gene.'

Raise booze prices to save lives

By nature I'm a libertarian – give me a set of rules and regulations and my gut instinct is to ignore or work round them. When the Government launched the daft "five-a-day" fruit and veg campaign, I mocked from the sidelines, and was vindicated when research revealed that the advice was ignored. We now eat less veg than before all that money was wasted. Our cannabis laws are ludicrous, and the sooner soft drugs are legalised the better. It would save precious hours of police time and thousands of pounds in pointless prosecutions. Given that, why do I support David Cameron's determination to enforce a minimum price for alcohol? I should side with those who say that a hike in prices will also hit sensible drinkers and penalise those who can't afford it.

Get the BBC back to basics, Tony

As the BBC's new Director-General, Tony Hall's first duty is to take the Corporation back to basics

If the BBC is to retain the public's confidence, it has to provide a service that the market cannot. Can we say for sure it is doing that at the moment?

Chairman of the BBC Trust, Chris Patten

Back to basics for the BBC

Why not start at the very beginning, just like Maria in The Sound of Music? Let's focus on the letter A, and the gaping hole at the centre of the Newsnight/McAlpine/BBC/This Morning/Twitter debacle that can be summed up in one word – accountability, or, rather, the lack of it.

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