Guy Adams' Media Diary
Meet Wapping's answer to Raffles
Monday 14 August 2006
Difficult though it is to feel anything but deepest sympathy for the News of the World's troubled royal editor, this may be a suitable time to wonder what "prison nickname" Clive Goodman might acquire, should he end up spending an extended period of time at Her Majesty's pleasure.
With at least half an eye on his Dickensian dress-sense - think three-piece suits, fob chains and the occasional monocle - colleagues at Wapping have jokingly dubbed him "Raffles," after the gentleman thief of Victorian London. Despite the mildly snobbish connotations of that name, it is to be hoped that Raffles Goodman would command a degree of reverence from prison inmates schooled in the proud history of their profession.
He has, however, already acquired a longstanding professional nickname. Since leaving the employ of Nigel Dempster in the early 1990s, Goodman has been known among fellow royal hacks as "The Eternal Flame." This owes nothing to Mr G's brightness or dazzling charm (though in fairness he's not un-acquainted with both), but instead to the fact that Goodman is famed for refusing to leave his office to follow the royal circus. Or as one colleague puts it: "Clive is called the eternal flame, because he's never gone out."
His apparent reluctance to accept invitations stems from the first time he attended one of the Prince of Wales's cocktail parties. Upon meeting Goodman, and being told that he worked at The News of the World, the heir to our throne asked: "Did you have to un-learn English to go there?"
Even by royal standards this was a sneering and puerile line of questioning, and Goodman has devoted the remainder of his career to returning fire. I trust he will feel inspired to continue from the comfort of the witness box.
THE OTHER big casualty of last week was Charles Allen, whose resignation from ITV was greeted by a press release from that broadcaster's head of publicity, Saskia Wirth, headlined: "Charles Allen - I take full responsibility for ITV's woes."
This extraordinary document attempts to create the impression that Allen has admitted sole responsibility for the "problems ITV has been going through." By way of evidence it carries an approved quote from the man himself. Unfortunately, and this may be a mere detail, Allen's quote does not exactly run to an admission of "full responsibility". Instead, he notes: "The role of the chief executive is to take the bullets in the creative community when it doesn't go well."
I do hope that ITV isn't attempting to apply PR topspin to the chaos of their chief executive's departure. Any such chicanery would not only be deeply unpleasant, it could add a few zeroes to any additional farewell cheque Allen may now feel entitled to.
A FAVOURITE for Allen's old job, meanwhile, is his great nemesis Greg Dyke, distinguished as both the inventor of Roland Rat, and, of course, a former columnist in this section.
You will recall that Dyke abandoned his former support for the Labour party after being taken to the proverbial cleaners during all that unpleasantness over Gilligan, Kelly, Hutton and co. Now there are moves afoot to convert him to a new political cause.
Specifically, gossips at Liberal Democrat party HQ reckon that Dyke, one of the great Londoners of recent times, the former head of London Weekend Television and currently chief of Brentford FC (even if he does support Manchester United) is being sized-up for a tilt at the party's currently vacant nomination for the London Mayoral election of 2008.
Dyke himself isn't so sure. He's never "come out" as a Lib Dem supporter, has received no formal approach from the party, and tells me that "it's extremely unlikely" that he would ever mount a Dick Whittington-style bid for election. Still, as rumours go, it's a cracker, and I think we'll all agree that the former BBC DG would eat Ken Livingstone and his rivals for breakfast.
HERE'S A starter for 10: which London Evening Standard columnist last week contacted a complete stranger from a rival title, in order to arrange a blind date?
Her email makes a touching commitment: "Don't worry. I will not name you in my column, or even mention you under an elaborate pseudonym. You are quite safe, I promise. Though I'd like to think there's no loss of dignity in dating me."
Strangely, this brassy approach succeeded, and I gather that the happy couple will meet this evening, some time before 8pm. And they said the age of romance was dead, eh?
THE "THAMESswimmer" Lewis Pugh invited Her Majesty's press corps to attend a photo-call at Downing Street, following the completion of his 200-mile journey from Gloucestershire to Southend. Tony Blair initially agreed to appear at the event, at which Pugh would present him with a letter highlighting various environmental issues.
But at the last minute, the PM's press office telephoned to impose a condition on his appearance. Pugh would only be allowed to meet Blair if he agreed to swap his swimming trunks (Speedo "packet-bashers") for Bermuda shorts. He was also required to don a T-shirt.
This ruined a perfectly decent photo-op. Picture editors, who had banked-on a money shot for their early editions, are mighty annoyed and believe - wrongly, I'm sure - that Blair was attempting revenge for the uncharitable coverage that his wife's holiday swimwear has received in sections of the gutter press.
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