Diary

Spanking news

Omitted from The Express's story about Paul Johnsons' affair last week was a full description of his mistress, "freelance journalist" Gloria Stewart. Ms Stewart made her name with despatches from the Paris riots of 1968 for the New Statesman, but lately she has put her hand to more salacious stuff, not to mention Johnson's bottom. Last year her byline appeared on a News of the World story exposing former minister Jonathan Aitken's affair with s&m mistress Paula Strudwick. Considering Looneybin's close friendship and repeated defence of Aitken, it is strange he should have carried on seeing Stewart after this betrayal.

Sargeant Monster

Competition to be the most pompous part of the BBC is fierce, but BBC News managed a good bid last week when it took news supremos Tony Hall and Mark Damazer 48 hours to decide that political correspondent John Sargeant could be a guest on Have I Got News For You. Apparently they were worried about damaging his diginity - forgetting, perhaps, that a man who has monstered most leading politicians can probably look after himself. As he did.

Missing Murdoch

What a busy man that Chris Evans is. And how attractive to women. Or as The Sun put it more bluntly, Why do all the loveliest girls fall for pounds 30m star Chris Evans? (A Mrs Merton question if ever I heard one). The paper carefully chronicles the blonde lovelies that Chris has been snapped with - Anthea Turner, Melinda Messenger, Kylie Minogue, Ulrika Jonsson - but strangely omits one particular blonde babe that he has been photographed with on more than one occasion, the very lovely Elisabeth Murdoch, daughter to Rupert. Strange how these oversights happen.

Virgin turf

Talking of Chris Evans, the top two floors of the media drinking haunt Soho House were closed on Wednesday for a Virgin Radio strategy meeting. What important decisions could be being taken that required such secrecy ... it seemed no more than a quiet place in which to watch Chelsea in the Cup Winners' Cup final.

Hello, where's the cheque?

Hello! celebrated its 10th anniversary last week, virtually unchanged since it launched. For journalists, however, this continuity can be draining. One showbusiness hack recalled last week the time he interviewed Clint Eastwood and his second wife for the magazine and was given the scoop that they were expecting a baby. He dutifully filed a few thousand words on their joy and waited for the cheque. Hello! was not so pleased. He had omitted to mention where their wallpaper and furnishings came from.

C4 caught in a trap

A rueful smile must be playing on the lips of Mark Galloway, commissioning editor for education at Channel 4 - until he left suddenly last month. His show The Tourist Trap, which spies on holiday-makers, is attracting a healthy four million viewers, putting it in the channel's weekly Top 10.

Classic Paxman

What a modest chap Jeremy Paxman (right) is. Receiving his Royal Television Society award for Interview of the Year last week, he explained how he came to ask Michael Howard the same question 14 times. Apparently he had an editor speaking into his ear at the time, telling him that the next item on Newsnight was not ready. Paxman couldn't think of anything else to ask, so just kept on and on at Howard about his over-ruling the director- general of the Prison Service until he had created what is now a classic piece of television.

Paul McCann

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