Media: `Private Eye' readers outflank Diana threat

Britain's best-known satirical magazine was pulled from newsagents' when it attacked the reaction of press and public to the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. Paul McCann, Media Correspondent, reveals how readers are trying to ensure it can continue to speak out.

Postal subscriptions to Private Eye have doubled following the banning of the magazine by newsagent chains in the aftermath of the death of Diana, Princess of Wales.

Readers seeking to make sure they can get the magazine in future, no matter what it prints, are lining up for home delivery while others have donated thousands of pounds because they are worried that its loss of sales on the Diana issue could jeopardise its future.

The magazine's editor, Ian Hislop, estimates that one-third of the magazine's usual 180,000 sales were lost because of the censorship by newsagents, but he is returning readers' cheques "because things aren't quite that bad".

Three days after the Princess's death, Private Eye's front cover targeted what it saw as the public's hypocrisy in buying newspapers that they were then blaming for her death.

The magazine's famous "speech-bubble" cover showed crowds outside Buckingham Palace trying to get hold of a newspaper containing pictures of Diana's crashed car.

This was deemed "inappropriate" by T&S Stores and Alldays, two large regional retail chains, which banned the magazine outright. WH Smith first pulled the magazine then allowed their individual managers to decide whether or not to sell the Eye or to keep it under a counter out of sight.

"We pointed out to Smiths that they had been making money from selling tabloids printing pictures of Diana just hours before her death," said Mr Hislop. "So it was rather hypocritical of them not to put the Eye on their shelves. The fact is that is that this supposed deep grief expressed itself in terms of self-righteousness."

"We've doubled the usual number of subs [subscriptions] we sell in the two weeks since the banned issue," added Mr Hislop. "Because it is the only way to ensure that you get your copy."

The magazine also ran a biting leader from its fake newspaper, the "Daily Gnome", apologising on behalf of the British press for having in the past portrayed Diana as: "A neurotic, irresponsible and manipulative troublemaker," and that the press only realised after her death that she was, "in fact the most saintly woman who has ever lived". The "Daily Gnome" leader column expressed the British press's "sincere and deepest hypocrisy".

The Eye has received an "enormous" amount of post because of its Diana issue with some correspondents accusing the magazine of being "grossly offensive" and worse. But the magazine insists that the positive letters have outweighed the negative by 10 to one.

"There was a range of targets on offer in that issue," said Mr Hislop. "We took on the hypocrisy of the public, which was risky. But most of it was the overwhelming bilge being pumped out by the media."

Private Eye was removed from a small number of newsagents in the early Nineties for running the headline "The Fuck Stops Here" when President Bill Clinton's sexual fidelity first became a political issue.

An entire issue was once pulped on the instructions of lawyers working for Lord Parkinson, the current chairman of the Conservative Party.

Private Eye later managed to overturn the injunction and ran Lord Parkinson on the front cover with "I've stopped the buggers printing" coming out of his mouth.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
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.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Ashdown Group: Editor-in-chief - Financial Services - City, London

£60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power