The Spectator

Crick and 'The Guardian': diplomatic relations resumed
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The Independent Online

For someone who vowed never to speak to 'The Guardian', Michael Crick was surprisingly chatty when the paper asked him about Benazir Bhutto, a contemporary at Oxford (they overlapped for one year). In 2003, the maverick reporter turned 'Newsnight' political editor declared a five-year ban on any contact with the Guardian group after one of its titles, the 'Manchester Evening News', refused him access to its archives for his biography of Sir Alex Ferguson. But despite the moratorium not being due to end until October, Crick couldn't resist the opportunity to chip in to the tide of tributes to Bhutto. "I ended my ban some time ago," he explains when I call. "It would be quite difficult for me to keep it going as my partner is the daughter of a former 'Guardian' editor."

Good week for

Thom Yorke. After severing ties with EMI, his band Radiohead is on course to top the album charts with its independently produced 'In Rainbows'. The album has already been released online, when fans were asked to pay whatever they thought it was worth. The industry has been nervously watching the experiment, likely to shatter traditional relationships between bands and record companies.

Bad week for

Channel 4. The 'Big Brother' bubble appears finally to have burst. Less than half the audience of last year's 'Celebrity Big Brother' tuned in to watch the opening of this year's beanfeast, which features a different celebrity each week acting as Big Brother, holding sway over a house of non-celebrities. Just three million viewers tuned in on Thursday night, 13 per cent down on the 7.1 million, 28 per cent share enjoyed last year. For the first time, only the first instalment of 'CBB' will be shown on C4; the rest of the series will be aired on digital sister channel E4. The nation shrugs.

One door closes ...

Farewell, then, to Jasper Gerard, an early casualty at 'The Observer' under new editor John Mulholland. Unkind hacks said Gerard, an ex-'Sunday Times' diarist, had been over-promoted when he was given a full-page column at the 'Obs' by his champion, the outgoing Roger Alton. The first to predict he would not survive Alton's departure was the 'Evening Standard' Londoner's Diary, whose editor, wolf-in-schoolboy's-clothing Sebastian Shakespeare, has already offered Gerard a shift on his pages.

... and others may open

Speaking of Roger Alton, newspaper editors are understandably a little twitchy that this old pro is knocking about Fleet Street. And well they might, given the hints in his latest 'New Statesman' diary. "Being unemployed would be absolutely fine if you knew that, say, in nine months you'd land a dream gig somewhere," he opines. Alton also uses the slot to puff 'Echo Beach', ITV's new drama, which happens to star his teenage daughter, Hannah. As a promotional piece for the Altons, it's two for the price of one.

Playing it by the book

Hats off to Ian Irvine, formerly of this parish, who has been appointed literary editor at the 'New Statesman'. Irvine will be taking over the post previously occupied by Rachel Aspden. "He looks like Mark Lawson but is even brainier and has read more books," says a friend. "When you walk into his house, you have to battle your way past all the books Ian has read." In his days at the 'IoS', Irvine was often to be seen reading as he wandered the corridors. Sounds like just the man for the job.

Priced out of W8

What cruel irony. 'The Hill' magazine, a glossy monthly aimed at Notting Hill's Boden classes, has been forced to move out of the area, where property prices are continuing their skywards march. Now that the lease on their offices in Notting Hill Gate has expired, staffers have been forced to shuffle off to Olympia, along with several other titles in the Archant Life group. Much of the magazine is dedicated to ads for multi-million-pound houses on the hill, which must rankle a wee bit.

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