John Walsh's Media Diary

'Little Britain' on ITV? No, but yeah
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The Independent Online

THE ROLLING STONES' opening concert at the Red Sox stadium in Boston picked up acres of nostalgia and rock-snob condescension, and the image of 62-year-old Michael Philip Jagger prancing across the giant stage like a senescent turkeycock dominated the Telegraph's front page. The Daily Express decided to ask what everyone else was asking - how the devil does the old boy do it? - and offered an answer. Just one look at the accompanying picture (right) explained all. How do you look so slim? You eat only one pasta meal a day. You cut back on alcohol and drink lots of water. Then you get the nice lady at the Express picture desk to air-brush the living daylights off your torso until even your waistcoat seems to disappear.

HOW JUDGEMENTAL we've become about the strapping Taff chanteuse, Charlotte Church. The poor girl must feel she has a score of tabloid-shaped parents, wagging their fingers and saying, "Don't even think of going out looking like that, young lady..." After months of ticking her off for drinking 10 double vodkas a night (Ms Church's obliging invention for a gullible reporter), they're now expressing horror about the costume she wears in a video for her new record, "Call My Name". The well-known Carmelite nun Sue Carroll in the Daily Mirror called her "Harlot Church," and complained about Carlotta "writhing provocatively in front of the camera ," while making out that she wants to be judged only "on her talents". "Talents for what, might I enquire?," Carroll concludes, in the tones of a Blackpool landlady folding her arms beneath her bosom. Meanwhile Heat magazine, not usually a prudish organ, fainted dead away ("Grown-up Charlotte makes rude video") at the sight of the opulent songbird's costume. "In her most revealing music promo to date, the star appears in a corset, knickers, stockings and suspenders - and little else!" Little else? Guys, that's four items of clothing - if she were wearing any more, she'd be a target for the Metropolitan police.

MORAL GUARDIANS turn up in the damnedest places. The autumn issue of Viewpoint, the super-glossy, £25-a-throw, quarterly magazine produced by The Future Laboratory, was saved from disaster this week by a courier. The theme of the issue was "Changing sexual roles" and featured raunchy stunts with brothel madames, cats, burlesque performers and rubber willies. With all the smut flying around, you might have missed the discreet photo-shoot of a couple of Islamic women sitting in a park, wearing burqas and holding hands. The accompanying text discussed their lesbian affair. That, thought the Viewpoint people, couldn't offend anyone, could it? Rather clearer-thinking was the DHL biker who came to courier the stuff from London to the mag's printers in Germany. He took one look at the girls in the park and flatly refused to touch the pages, saying (quite rightly) they would cause enormous offence. He refused to take the magazine until it switched the canoodling zealots for a more neutral image.

DHL - the couriers who like to say "Hang on a minute..."

I EXPECT YOU thought the classic tabloid constituents - unignorable headlines, sex, sport, breasts, crime, freakish-looking people and sordid behaviour - got started in the 1960s, didn't you? But no, they were at it in the 16th century. You couldn't walk down Pudding Lane in the 1590s without having a churl thrust into your hand a "broadside" or single-sheet newspaper. "Broadsides," a penny a time, could feature news, proclamations, ballads, folk music, dialogues, stories, speculation about the size of a well-known actor's organ, you name it. A stack of them are going under the hammer at Bonhams auction house on 20 September. Buy one and you'll feel the same breakfast-time frisson as your great-great-great- etc-grandpa when he read about the Pig-Faced Lady of Manchester Square ("Her body and limbs are of the most perfect and beautiful shape, but her head and face resembles that of a pig.") Marvel at "The Buxome Batchelor," an 18th-century equivalent of "My Sizzling Night With Girl Aloud". Recoil with horror from the gruesome report on how the homicidal Wainwright brothers persuaded a friend to carry a parcel, containing a human head, through London. Drug mules, even in those days. And Max Clifford was hardly in long trousers...