Ian Burrell's Media Diary

Don't you know who I am, m'lud?

PIERS MORGAN has always been the shy and retiring type, as we all know, but the arrival of his new book seems to have given his publishers the opportunity to drag him reluctantly into the glare of the spotlight.

And so it is that the former editor of the Daily Mirror appears in the pages of Car magazine, describing his motoring experiences ever since Sly Bailey gave him the boot and took away his chauffeur.

"I've become an inadvertent but habitual speeding offender," concludes Piers, whose book Don't You Know Who I Am? has just been published, before confessing that he has been hauled before Marylebone magistrates, banned from driving for six months and fined £600.

Lest you feel sorry for him, he also discloses that, in the past three years, he has "hit a Spaniard at 5mph while watching myself on the car TV" and, moreover, has crashed into a van driver, who told him, "I might have guessed it was you, you ****."

This is Piers's third ban for speeding, and when his case came before the magistrates, they "peered at me like I was Hannibal Lecter". He would have considered his punishment fair, he says, had he not known that a drunk, who had once crashed into Morgan's Mercedes CL350 at 100mph, had been fined less.

"It's enough to make Jeremy Clarkson feel sorry for me," moans Piers, referring to his old brawling partner from the British Press Awards.

CLARKSON, THAT saviour of Roly Keating's BBC2 schedule and John Witherow's dwindling Sunday Times circulation, makes an unlikely appearance in the launch issue of environmental magazine Green. As a hate figure, naturally. His image accompanies an article on green motoring, alongside the observation: "Drive an electric car? I'd rather saw my legs off." That thought should generate a few more Prius sales.

BUT BACK to Piers, the transatlantic teTVar that he now is. There are those among his admirers who think he would have been just the job as editor on Deadline, the magazine-based reality TV show based in the offices of Closer and currently airing on ITV2. The mag is being edited by Janet Street-Porter, but did Andy Zein, the managing director of production company Tiger Aspect, not spare just an incy thought for Piers? "Isn't he Simon Cowell's sidekick clown now?" responds Zein tartly.

OVER IN Piers's old stomping ground of Canary Wharf in east London, rumours continue as to whether star Sunday Mirror columnist and Big Brother housemate Carole Malone will be lured to the News of the World by new editor Colin Myler, her old chum. Malone's new colleague Zoe Griffin has wasted no time in absorbing some of Carole's talent for self-publicity, hiring a London club for her "launch party" and describing herself demurely as "the youngest, hottest columnist out there", alongside a picture of her good self, stretched out provocatively.

AS ENGLAND'S cricket world cup campaign nears its climax, disturbing news reaches us from the Caribbean of the BBC's cricketing adventures in the blogosphere. A not altogether flattering portrait of the nation of Guyana, written by Radio Five Live's Martin Gough for the corporation's website, has caused uproar and front-page news in the former British colony. The local daily newspaper, Kaieteur News, was among the most wounded by Gough's despatch, which compared the local coastline with that of the Lincolnshire resort of Skegness.

"If Mr Gough's parents are alive, then one hopes that they acknowledge that he is an embarrassment to the human race... the serpents and gorillas that live in Mr Gough's mind compelled him to descend to a level of pitiful, sickening and Hitleristic journalism about Guyana," opined the newspaper's page one editorial.

Such were the repercussions of this almost Goodyesque international incident that poor old Jonathan "Aggers" Agnew, the BBC cricket correspondent, found himself questioned in hotel bars in the Guyanese capital, Georgetown, by angry locals inquiring, "Are you Martin Gough?"

IN THE pages of the latest Condé Nast Traveller, Rosie Boycott, former editor of both The Independent and the Daily Express, publicises her charmingly titled new book, Our Farm: A Year in the Life of a Smallholding, by penning a piece on the attractions of hotel porn. So here we have Rosie, in a hotel on America's West Coast, zapper in hand and a choice before her: "Hot, Hotter, Hottest and Red Hot." Moving on....

THE BIGGEST story of the week was the ongoing row over the returning sailors flogging their stories to the press. For a fleeting moment it looked as if the publicists could be in for some pickings as the seamen and seawoman became the latest additions to the celebrity circuit. There was talk that such titans of the business as Max Clifford and John Noel could be making space in their diaries for the likes of Faye Turney and Arthur Batchelor (above left) (who, unfortunately, resembled The Spectator's editor Matthew d'Ancona [above right], preparing for a performance of Oh What a Lovely War). Since then, the tender relationship between service personnel and Her Majesty's press has gone sour and the publicity gurus have made a collective decision to give the sailors a, ahem, wide berth.

BUT MORE media bother for the Ministry of Defence might be brewing, this time relating to the Royal Air Force. It seems the RAF has got hold of this whole branding lark and made itself a bit more fashionable by marketing its roundel (that's a target to you and me). It has taken advice from former BBC music executive Terry Jervis on how to make the target the centrepiece of its merchandising and media activities. The problem is that Ben Sherman, the clothing line much admired by skinheads, has been using the target logo for years and isn't likely to put up the white flag without a fight.

CHARMING PICTURES in the in-house journal of News International show staffers at The Sun keeping in tune with the real world by spending a day in an alternative workplace. So there's editor Rebekah Wade, resplendent in fluorescent gilet, tugging a pallet of boxes across the factory floor at Carphone Warehouse, and there's defence editor Tom Newton Dunn, ahead of his scoop with the sailors, flipping burgers in McDonald's. Arthur Edwards was a postman, managing director Graham Dudman stacked shelves at Asda. With redundancies looming at the currant, what could all of this mean?

i.burrell@independent.co.uk

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