The Spectator

Readers see red as the 'Daily Mail' talks up Brown
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Coverage in The 'Daily Mail' of the Gordon Brown project is causing anxiety among the paper's big brains. On Tuesday it ran a front-page story, "Brown woos the Tory heartlands", after his conference speech, followed on Wednesday by front-page headline "Women voters turn to Brown". The leaders have been more reflective, although Brown still earned the compliments of being "formidable", "steady" and 'high-minded'. My man at the 'Mail' says disaffected readers, furious at the trumpeting of a Labour Prime Minister, have started writing letters threatening to cancel their subscriptions etc. Some have been passed on to proprietor Lord Rothermere, who is also thought to have grave reservations about the lurch left.

Good week for

Billie Piper fans... and indeed there were quite a few. Over 1.8 million tuned into see Piper in various states of undress in the new series 'The Secret Diary of a Call Girl', a drama based on the blog of call-girl Belle de Jour. It also gave ITV2 a peak it hasn't seen for a while, with it achieving the highest viewing figures for a non-terrestrial channel commission for the whole year.

Bad week for

Channel 4... which saw its weekly all-hours audience share slump to 7.4 per cent in the week of 17 September, the lowest in 15 years. Channel 4 executives argued that actually it was 7.7 per cent if one incorporated their new time-shift channel, 4+1, into the figures. In 2006, Channel 4 was achieving an average of 9.8 per cent audience share, without having to repeat its shows an hour later.

Alton's school-run worries

With tomorrow's relaunch of the 'Evening Standard', there is further (unsubstantiated) chatter that 'Observer' editor Roger Alton has been approached about taking over the editorship. He has been offered it more than once. When first approached, in 2002, just before current editor Veronica Wadley took over, he expressed the hope that, despite the early starts, he could still take his daughter to school. To which, editor-in-chief Paul Dacre reportedly said: "Your chauffeur will do that."

Political editor pulls rank

Alice Thomson and Rachel Sylvester, the well-regarded political interviewing duo at 'The Daily Telegraph', are in high dudgeon. All set to interview Education Secretary Ed Balls, they were told at the last minute that new political editor Andrew Porter would be doing the political interviews from now on. Porter managed to get Balls to "admit" that standards had gone up under Labour. Thomson and Sylvester, both unhappy with the paper's pro-Gordon agenda, might now find their talents better used at 'The Times'.

Labour shines on 'The Sun'

The stunt cooked up by 'The Sun' to let poster vans loose in Bournemouth was not an unqualified success. Police pulled over one of the vehicles and found that it was not properly up to date with all its paperwork. The lorry was duly impounded. Still, News International executives were feted like mad in Bournemouth. For Gordon Brown's speech, Les Hinton, Rebekah Wade and, curiously, showbiz writer Dominic Mohan were shown to VIP seats on the conference floor.

Shaken to the core

Ashley Highfield, the BBC's director of new media and technology, has come in for a lot of flak over the BBC's new download iPlayer service being unavailable to fashion-conscious Apple Mac users. At the Hospital Club last week, Highfield related with amazement how there had even been a protest over it at White City. However, any suggestion that he's Apple-phobic may be misplaced. He was flashing around his new iTouch, like a faithful Steve Jobs disciple.