The Diary

Click to follow
The Independent Online

And the award for most shameless junket goes to ... Northern Rock

Another awards ceremony, Another set of red faces. The first nominee to come out of the hat at last Tuesday's Mortgage Strategy Awards 2008 was blackandwhite.co.uk. This provoked much mirth, as the company has gone into administration after pulling out of the regulated mortgage market. Needless to say, blackandwhite did not win an award, unlike quasi-nationalised Northern Rock, which somehow found the money to pay £3,000 for a table where the champagne, naturally, flowed. Robin Ashby (pictured), spokesman for the Rock's small shareholders and tireless campaigner against its nationalisation, was not impressed. "While they're trying to say it's business as usual, it would be helpful if they were more frugal with optional entertainment opportunities," he told us.

Down come barriers to business

A far more worthy event than a mortgage industry bash is tomorrow's launch of Enabled 4 Enterprise, a scheme aimed at helping disabled entrepreneurs start their own businesses. The initiative – which involves the charity Leonard Cheshire Disability and the London Development Agency – plans to offer support for businesses across London, while also establishing specialist enterprise consultancy and entrepreneurs' groups to shape disability equality policy. Hats off to all those involved ...

Callan has an axe to grind

'Express' man Paul Callan is incensed that the gossip column of the 'Press Gazette' has remarked on new 'Times' ed James Harding being Jewish. "As both a Jew and a journalist, I find these stories utterly gratuitous," he fumes. But the man behind the Axegrinder column, slated as "dreadful" by Callan, is Michael Kallenbach, who is Jewish himself. "He didn't think the column was so dreadful when I recently wrote a nice item about his daughter [ex-3am girl Jessica Callan]," says Kallenbach.

Facelift for ‘EastEnders’

Terrestrial television's move to high-definition is a major headache for the makers of 'EastEnders', who will have to build a brand new set to stand up to the scrutiny of all those extra megapixels. With HDTV, every last bit of chipboard and Blu-Tack will suddenly become visible. But one person who will not object is ex-BBC chairman Michael Grade. The BBC is considering moving production out of Elstree, where the programme has been made since it started in 1985, and going to Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire. Grade, head of ITV since defecting from the BBC last year, is also chairman of Pinewood.

Download your super, soaraway Telegraph.com

In the war of the websites, 'The Daily Telegraph' is plotting a new skirmish. A redesign is afoot, taking the website of the 'New York Post' as its model – a curious move, some might say, as the 'Post' is a US version of 'The Sun'. So why the downmarket trajectory? The theory is that there is little point in trying to poach readers away from 'The Guardian' website, which has the largest number of unique users of any title. Better instead to target the online readers of the 'Daily Mail' and 'The Sun', which are jostling for second and third place in the market. Meanwhile, the print edition is preparing to go full colour, a project being overseen by Saturday magazine editor Michele Lavery.

First collect the pinstripe and then the P45

With the economy in dire straits and City bonuses set to fall, at least one sector in the Square Mile is smiling. Tailors have been doing a roaring trade since ABN Amro staffers were told they had to be interviewed for jobs at Royal Bank of Scotland, the new owner of London operations. "We're going great guns," said my man as another banker exited, new suit under his arm. "It's been a revolving door." Presumably the good times will continue to roll as the culling starts and those who have lost their jobs start searching in pastures new.

Only toffs need apply

A rejig at 'Country Life' sees Rupert Uloth rise from features editor to deputy ed. He is to replace Jessica Fellowes, who is pursuing a freelance career. The mag, which claims the past year has been its most successful, is now recruiting a new number three. But do applicants require toff credentials? Fellowes is the niece of 'Snobs' author Julian Fellowes, while shootin' and fishin' Uloth – well, his name's Rupert. Enough said.

The ‘Eye’ of the beholder

That infamous Conway family photo has appeared in every newspaper, and is now on the cover of 'Private Eye'. But it is odd to see Lord Gnome has been applying the airbrush, as did the 'Daily Mail', to remove poor Claudia, as noted here last week. The original snap, showing all five family members, was on last year's Conway Christmas card. If the 'Eye' is manipulating images, it is time to start worrying.

Just the job for an old smoothie

Spotted: Tony Blackburn in London's Smooth Radio offices on Monday, the day he was announced as its new presenter of the weekend breakfast show. Although not due to start work until 16 February, Blackburn was shuffling around the studio to get a feel for his new home. "I'm the new work experience," he quipped as he was introduced to staffers. The veteran broadcaster and 'I'm a Celebrity ...' winner began his illustrious career back in 1964 on legendary pirate station Radio Caroline.

Comments