Dear Andrew Lloyd Webber

The homes of Middle England already hum to your tunes; must you invade them through newspapers, too?

So rumour has hardened into certainty and you really are bidding for the Express newspaper group. What will you call it: the Really Newsy Group? (You'll have to get used to puns, I'm afraid. They are to newspapers what rhyme is to Tim Rice.)

You have amassed your reputedly vast wealth - pounds 381m was one figure quoted and that is almost certainly too low - not just by writing jolly good tunes, but by having your finger or perhaps your ear to the pulse of middle England. You know what it yearns for and the strange scenarios it finds entertaining. Middle England will flock by the coach-load to see hideously disfigured chaps yearning for the love of a beautiful girl, or biblical chaps in brightly coloured raiment, or Mary Magdalene sobbing out her love for Jesus. They'll watch cats and skating and dictators, but not butlers ... bit close to the snobbery nerve, perhaps? Anyway, apart from the failure of Jeeves you've sussed out middle England's likes and dislikes to a tee.

This instinct for what people respond to is a rare talent and an invaluable quality in a newspaper proprietor. For it is a paradox of successful ownership that a good media magnate knows his mind but keeps his hands off. He is more likely to see his profit curve soar by being sure about what he stands for and - equally important - what he won't stand for, than by running his empire like a business, according to the rules of accountancy and the bottom line. Anybody half-way diligent and numerate can do that: except that most of them seem to fail.

Do not think that getting newspapers on to the nation's breakfast tables will be as easy as getting its bums on your theatre seats. If you succeed in taking over the Expresses, you will find yourself contemplating a long line of broken newspaper dreams. You may remember Hugh Cudlipp's pre-Murdoch Sun, or Eddie Shah's attempts at a daily paper for the north. Or the demise of the London Daily News and the Sunday Correspondent.

Things aren't looking too healthy over at Express newspapers, I'm afraid. Circulation has dropped by half in the last 15 years. The Mail, for so long a neck-and-neck rival, is surging ahead. Ask yourself, Sir Andrew, can you reverse that decline?

I can't help wondering why you should want to. What are your motives? Good reviews? - you've got 'em already. Protection of your private life from malicious gossip? Your marriage looks pretty harmonious and anyway, buying the Express wouldn't stop the other papers speculating. You say you want to limit the Tories' domination of the media and encourage more debate. Amen to that ambition.

Let us hope you avoid the Phantom of Fleet Street ... the squat, scowling ghost of Lord Beaverbrook, who has put a curse on every proprietor who tried to follow in his footsteps. I have a sneaky feeling he would have taken to you, Sir Andrew...

ANGELA LAMBERT

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Full Stack Software Developer - £80k - Javascript / MEAN

    £45000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Ambitious, entrepreneurial busi...

    Recruitment Genius: Fitter - Plant / Tool

    £20000 - £23500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Fitter is required to join a ...

    Recruitment Genius: Sage 200 Consultant

    £30000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They have a unique reputation f...

    Recruitment Genius: Communications and Graphic Design Officer

    £14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This UK wide voluntary organisa...

    Day In a Page

    Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

    Solved after 200 years

    The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
    Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

    Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

    Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
    Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

    Sunken sub

    Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
    Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

    Age of the selfie

    Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
    Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

    Not so square

    How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
    Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

    Still carrying the torch

    The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
    The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

    The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

    ...but history suggests otherwise
    The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

    The bald truth

    How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
    Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

    Tour de France 2015

    Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
    Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

    A new beginning for supersonic flight?

    Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash
    I would never quit Labour, says Liz Kendall

    I would never quit party, says Liz Kendall

    Latest on the Labour leadership contest
    Froome seals second Tour de France victory

    Never mind Pinot, it’s bubbly for Froome

    Second Tour de France victory all but sealed
    Oh really? How the 'lowest form of wit' makes people brighter and more creative

    The uses of sarcasm

    'Lowest form of wit' actually makes people brighter and more creative
    A magazine editor with no vanity, and lots of flair

    No vanity, but lots of flair

    A tribute to the magazine editor Ingrid Sischy
    Foraging: How the British rediscovered their taste for chasing after wild food

    In praise of foraging

    How the British rediscovered their taste for wild food