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

Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind-the-scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
News
Winchester College Football (universally known as Winkies) is designed to make athletic skill all but irrelevant
Life...arcane public school games explained
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
peopleAsked whether he was upset not to be invited, he responded by saying he was busy with the Emmy Awards
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
peopleBill Kerr appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour and later worked alongside Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
News
news It's not just the world that's a mess at the moment...
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £45000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Key featuresA highly motivated ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel you sales role is li...

Head of Marketing (Online & Offline, Media, Digital, Strategy)

£85000 - £100000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Marketing - Slough, Berkshi...

Administration Assistant / Office Assistant

£18 - 20k + Bonus: Guru Careers: An Administration Assistant / Office Assistan...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone