IoS 1000th issue: 1995-1996, Peter Wilby

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

The North Pole was melting, civil servants were being paid too much and the Prime Minister couldn't put a foot right. Sound familiar?

When I look back through the archives to a period when nobody had heard of a derivative, New Labour had just been invented and the internet was barely a rumour, the surprise is that so many of the themes are familiar. The Government was in deep trouble and there was talk of leadership challenges to the prime minister: "Poor Mr Major, he just can't get anything right," was the headline on Alan Watkins' column. MPs were mired in sleaze. We forecast a global stock-market collapse, fretted about the possibility of identity cards, revealed that 23 "fat cat" civil servants and quango heads earned more than £100,000 a year, and warned that polar ice was melting.

Other stories became bigger in the years after I left the editor's chair. Patrick Hosking, then our business editor, warned of dire consequences from the growing movement to demutualise the building societies and suggested we shouldn't trust City institutions with our savings ("Who's minding your money?" was the headline.) We disclosed that British Gas would get a multi-million-pound bonanza from plans for a millennium jamboree on a site it owned in Greenwich, south London.

And there was the one that got away. The news desk offered an exclusive about the "millennium bug" – the theory that all the world's computers would go haywire, causing banks to seize up and planes to fall to earth, because their time-code programs couldn't cope with a change from 999 to 000. I rejected it as an obviously ridiculous scare story. I had to wait four years, during which the bug became the talk of the age, to be proved right.

Then, as now, the IoS had a small team, glittering with talent: Neal Ascherson, Allison Pearson, Blake Morrison, Geraldine Bedell, Geoffrey Lean, Nick Cohen, Charles Nevin and Paul Routledge were among our writers when I took over. I recruited Decca Aitkenhead and Andy Beckett, later award-winning journalists, then at the very beginning of their careers. When Thomas Hamilton massacred 16 small children and their teacher in Dunblane, Cohen was the only reporter available. His Sunday piece, we agreed, far surpassed those written by teams of seven or eight sent by our rivals.

Aitkenhead later gave a front-row account when Julie Burchill began a much-publicised affair with another woman. (The woman happened to be her flatmate.) And Catherine Pepinster, now editor of the Catholic paper The Tablet, revealed to the world the late Harold Pinter's affair with Joan Bakewell.

The mid-1990s were a strange, unsettling time for newspapers, as they struggled to cope with the growth of 24-hour news outlets. Managements changed editors as often as their shirts. After 17 months, I was fired by David Montgomery, chief executive of the Mirror Group, then the joint owners. He wanted, he said, someone metropolitan, sophisticated and fashionable. Since I was none of those things, I replied, he was right to look elsewhere. Bizarrely, I was by then the fourth-longest-serving editor of a national newspaper.

Click on the image above to see Peter Wilby's selection

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film Ridley Scott reveals truth behind casting decisions of Exodus
News
Andy Murray with his girlfriend of nine years, Kim Sears who he has got engaged to
peopleWimbledon champion announces engagement to girlfriend Kim Sears
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden and Edwina Currie are joining the I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! camp
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Roisin, James and Sanjay in the boardroom
tvReview: This week's failing project manager had to go
Life and Style
Fright night: the board game dates back to at least 1890
life
Life and Style
fashion
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

h2 Recruit Ltd: Graduate Consultant - Sales Recruitment - £35k ote

£18000 - £25000 per annum + £35k ote: h2 Recruit Ltd: Looking for your first s...

Recruitment Genius: Advertising Media Sales - Print, Online & Mobile

£19000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This publishing house has been ...

Recruitment Genius: Web Designer

£20000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Award winning Peterborough base...

Langley James : PHP Developer; Linux, MySQL, MVC, GIT; Blackfriars; £40k

£35000 - £40000 per annum + progression, upskilling: Langley James : PHP Devel...

Day In a Page

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

When two worlds collide

Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?