Media families: 16. The Lee-Potters

Jeremy Lee-Potter (doctor) married Lynda (columnist) and begat Emma (journalist and novelist), Charlie (radio presenter) and Adam (reporter)
Click to follow
The Independent Online
"The First Lady of Fleet Street" is OK with Lynda Lee-Potter. "The Voice of Middle England" is not. "I don't even know what that means," she squeals. "It's a lazy, sloppy description of anyone."

Lynda Lee-Potter celebrated her 30th anniversary at the Daily Mail last month with a lavish party thrown for her at the Savoy by her editor Paul Dacre and proprietor Lord Rothermere - although the Europhile Lord rather upstaged his star columnist by using the occasion to announce his decision to join the Labour benches in the Lords.

Even though the anniversary should probably have focused her memories of joining the Mail, Mrs Lee-Potter is vague about how she made the switch from unknown actress to journalist. "I don't quite know. Someone asked me to write something and it happened imperceptibly."

Within five years of this ordination she was asked by editor David English to take over the column of a previous First Lady of Fleet Street, Jean Rook, who had defected to the Express.

"I was told by a friend you can only write a column for two years, but I seem to have hung on for 25. I can only write it by being honest and true to my own opinions. People aren't idiots: if you foist an opinion on them that you don't believe yourself they will know."

Despite her claims, much of Mrs Lee-Potter's style seems informed by the waspish views of the Tory housewives in the shires. She dislikes single mothers, she dislikes political correctness. She dislikes Fergie and indeed much of her criticism is of other women. "I never worry about hurting people's feelings," she says. "If you have that anxiety you really shouldn't be doing this job."

In 1957 Lynda Higginson, as she then was, married up-and-coming doctor Jeremy Lee-Potter, son of an air marshal. Dr Lee-Potter became a media star himself thanks to his job as chairman of the council of the BMA at the time of the government's first wave of health reforms. He picked up even more headlines when he took early retirement in 1995 in protest against Conservative health policies. He has just published a book denouncing the effects of the Conservatives' NHS reforms.

Dr Potter comes from a long line of doctors but his wife's genes must have proved stronger. All three of their children have ended up journalists, but the queen bee of High Street Ken dismisses any charge of nepotism: "I have never picked up the phone to get any of them a job. I think it is just that they grew up in a household where their mother was in the business. Simple as that."

Most high-profile of her progeny is Charlie Lee-Potter, 37, currently a presenter on Radio 4's PM evening news programme. She hit the headlines during the election by skewering Michael Heseltine when he showed his ignorance of John Major's offer of a free vote to MPs on a single currency. Big sister Emma, 39, was a journalist on the Evening Standard, the Sunday Express and Today until she left to have two children and write a novel about journalism with the unfortunate title Hard Copy.

Adam Lee-Potter, 29, has been a news reporter in the Manchester office of The Sun for the last two years. Adam put in his time on the Newcastle Journal, neatly proving his mother's point about nepotism. Indeed, considering some of the things Lynda Lee-Potter has said about some people, it might be considered more surprising that her offspring managed to get jobs at all.