Media Diary: At last, some real juice on John Peel

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The Independent Online

By the time of his death Peel was one of the most popular voiceover artists around, but back in the day this was his first high-profile work of this kind. Naturally his venture into advertising was considered scandalous by the legions of alternative music obsessives who spent night after night listening to the likes of Serious Drinking and The Fall - a slight that was overlooked by the time he was seemingly cropping up in every commercial break going.

SUCCESS IN the land of television hasn't dented Sir Alan Sugar's rough-and-ready sense of humour. When Taylor Herring, the independent PR company that successfully masterminded the press coverage for The Apprentice, asked Sir Alan for a citation to accompany the work in an awards pitch, the Amstrad supremo quipped: "Of course - how many k's in 'wankers and fuckers'?"

SUGAR MAY well be getting the clap on the laughometer but he's unlikely to get it off any of his contestants.

Despite being crippled by a print lead time that means it's two months out of date, Esquire magazine has interviewed "Miriam", one of the contestant stars of The Apprentice, who admits that Sugar held little romantic attraction. "Can you imagine anything worse than trying to flirt with Sir Alan? I don't think he's ever been that impressed by anything but money."

THE CELEBRATIONS surrounding the announcement that London had won the 2012 Olympics have been in stark contrast to the rage of Sports Journalist of the Year, Oliver Holt of the Daily Mirror, who has missed no opportunity to voice his fury at the decision.

Of all the hacks who have expressed doubts about the value of a London Olympics, Holt has been the most outspoken, campaigning for Paris with a vigour that may have even impressed Lord Coe.

When GQ magazine launched its sports supplement in April, Holt graced its cover with a 4,200-word demolition of the London bid, accompanied by a cartoon of the Mayor of London dressed in a saggy PE kit and a with a note saying: "Please excuse Ken from games."

As the London bid gained momentum, Holt watched in horror. The day before the announcement he was picking up worrying rumours, and told Mirror readers: "I don't want to believe it's true. I don't want to believe that, even in the free-loading, glad-handing, back-stabbing, pocket-lining, junket-chasing ranks of the IOC, there are enough bottom-feeding scum-suckers to fall for it."

The morning after the announcement he was unrepentant, writing: "We came first in the championship for rhetoric. When it came to making lavish promises, we promised faster, higher, stronger. Through their determination, their zeal and their charm, they managed to defeat a Paris bid that was better than theirs in every way except presentation."

But last week Holt's campaign was starting to wilt. "I haven't got the stomach to oppose the idea of the London Olympics for the next seven years," he graciously promised. "Those of us who believed Paris should have been awarded the Games and that London's victory was a victory for hypocrisy have to move on. That battle's lost."

STYLISH NEW BBC1 controller Peter Fincham chose the impossibly trendy Yauatcha restaurant in Soho to launch his first season to a privileged clutch of media writers.

Much as the coterie of commentators may have wanted to ask searching questions of the new chief, the hacks appeared confounded and bemused as stunning Japanese waitresses flitted among them serving such breakfast treats as "avocado raspberry madeleines", "muesli brownies" and scrambled eggs presented in cocktail glasses.

A LOOK BACK at the 24 June edition of PR Week offers a haunting insight into the darkest fears of press officers and the pressures they can face.

Among those questioned was Stuart Ross, the chief press officer for London Underground, who said: "I have woken in a cold sweat from more than one nightmare about a Tube derailment, massive power cut or terror attack on the Underground. That would mean many long days and nights of relentless, intensive media coverage and weeks and months of further scrutiny after the event."

Ross then added: "I've been sleeping well lately though - no major incidents and London Underground's performance is improving."