BUNHILL : Sky Sports has a thirst to take off into Virgin territory

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The Independent Online
ON 1 MAY yet another treat awaits viewers to Sky Sports: their very own fruit drink. Sky had already stamped its own brand name on eggs, in conjunction with Tesco, and helped boost sales of Haagen-Dazs ice-cream. But now comes the big deal: a drink featuring apple and blackcurrant, for reasons the marketers refuse to disclose. It comes from a splendid stable, AG Barr, famous throughout Scotland for Irn-Bru and loved by every traditional youngster for Tizer.

It's clearly a good time to launch new drinks. As BSkyB's marketing manager, Jim Hytner, points out: "Richard Branson has already shown that it's not as difficult to get into the drinks market as it once was."

But he should beware the example of Cadbury Schweppes and LWT. In 1993 the seemingly all-powerful combo launched a sports drink called Gladiators. It flopped, but since then the two of them have made a killing by selling two other Gladiators products: bottled water and cheese, for God's sake.

HOLY minimalism is back. Mark you, according to Mike Spring of Hyperion Records it hasn't left us since 1982, which was when the music and poetry of the 11th-century nun, Hildegard of Bingen, first burst upon an astonished music scene.

In those prehistoric days the music, interpreted by Emma Kirkby and Gothic Voices, was available only in LP form. A Feather on the Breath of God, which I personally find both affected and uninviting, won all the possible awards and, says Spring, tapped an audience well beyond the usual classical music buffs.

The holy mother was reissued as a compact disc a few years later. But now, says Spring: "She's getting bigger all the time." The disc has just re-emerged into the classical music charts in this country and has found a new audience in the United States. This, apparently, is what Spring calls "the West Coast market; the alternative market, people who want music to relax by. And of course," he adds, "she's something of a feminist icon.'' If only she'd been black, she might have made it into the pop charts.

Rock around the ad

UNTIL Fiona Ryder came along it was simply an advertiser's dream: a young, free-spending, captive audience in relaxed mood. Then the former commercials producer realised that the crowd waiting for the stars at pop or rock concerts, or simply whiling away the hours between shows, was the perfect realisation of that dream.

At a UB40 concert at the improbably named Milton Keynes Bowl, Ms Ryder flashed her first ads on screens between the acts. This year they will be watched by the hordes at three leading festivals and by fans following Rod Stewart and East 17 on their national tours.

Of course the adverts will vary: names such as Coca-Cola and Nike are likely to predominate for the sub-teenagers at the East 17 tour, with slightly more up-market offerings for the rather older group worshipping at the Stewart shrine. But Ms Ryder would not confirm that she would be advertising Zimmer frames at th dansants.

ALFRED Doll-Steinberg is best known as possibly the most vocal of all the critics of the management of Lloyd's. But he is also one of the more obvious beneficiaries of that alleged ill wind, the slump in sterling.

He started his business, British Tours, 35 years ago as a piece of harmless undergraduate fun. But over the years he and now his son Jason have continued to provide individual, multilingual, expert, all-singing, all-dancing guides for some of the better-heeled tourists visiting this country.

Most of them are foreign executives with predictable needs, taking a few hours off to visit the Tower of London or the Chelsea Flower Show.

More interesting are the many visitors anxious to look for their roots - the company even solved one tricky problem: a South African looking for his brother's birthplace from a pretty minimal clue. "It had a good view of Cardiff docks and the street name had royal connections."

This year the rootsmongers have been reinforced by former GIs anxious to relive the Good Old Days when, as was said at the time, they were "overpaid, oversexed and over here".

But of all the clients my favourite are the tourists from countries famous for intensive farming, such as Denmark and Holland, who want to see pigs. That's easy. Every guide in the Doll-Steinberg stable knows that Britwell Salome, a picturesque hamlet just south of Oxford, is a good place to find the porcine hordes.

Paperback riders

LONDON TRANSPORT has just added a new twist to the endlessly fascinating guessing game: what is the person next or opposite to you on the Tube reading? You can now tell if they're likely to be Gold Card holders, that is people who have paid an exorbitant sum for an annual travel card. LT has just come up with its first promotion for the card in the form of a free offer (though there's a catch: you have to pay what seems a not- inconsiderable £1.95 for postage and packing). The offer is one of Penguin's top 10 paperbacks, which include the usual run - a TV tie-in (Edith Wharton's The Buccaneers), the book of a trendy film (Philadelphia), the obligatory PD James and the inevitable Peter Mayle - Hotel Pastis, guarenteed to make passengers thankful they're in London and not living beyond their means in over-priced, overpraised Provence.

And no funnies please about how the longest novel will be the favourite for travellers on the Northern Line.

LONDON lawyers are now as omnipresent as their American counterparts. Their latest venue is in Montserrat, a tiny but perfectly formed Caribbean isle.

And no, the lawyer involved, Paul Kinsella of Lawrence Graham, is not setting up a tax-avoidance scheme. He's helping a German investor to tap the island's only natural resource - its natural spring water. The venturer is hoping to sell 40,000 gallons a day of the melliflously named Emerald Spring Water by early next year.

The only catch, or so it seems to me, is that there are lots of similar springs on the island, and the mean-minded tourist will only have to take one of Emerald's (recyclable) bottles and fill up with the almost identical water from a neighbouring spring.