[Update at end of post]
During the libel action brought by Richard “Dirty” Desmond against journalist Tom Bower in 2009, he stated in court and on oath that he did not interfere in editorial matters at any of his papers – those being the Daily and Sunday Express, Daily Star and Daily Star Sunday. Since then, Des has taken over Channel 5, which has secured the rights to reality show Big Brother.
Abandon hope all ye who enter here
As the latest series of Celebrity Big Brother approached, the Desmond press devoted a remarkably generous amount of space to the show, especially so given that the owner of both those papers and Channel 5 did not interfere in editorial matters. But perhaps this was some kind of one-off event: maybe things would revert to other topics when the Z-list slebs had gone.
No chance: today’s Daily Star devotes its front page to blatant and remarkably crude advertorial, telling readers “the lads and lasses aim to flash the flesh and get steamy on TV”, that the contestants include “an African queen desperate for nookie”, and that “most have already promised sexy scenes on camera”. And the Star proclaims itself to be “Your official Big Bro paper”.
Not to be outdone, the Daily Express, although leaving the drooling and voyeuristic part to its even more downmarket stablemate, has made Big Brother its number one TV pick, telling of the ending of Celebrity Big Brother being followed immediately by the start of the “ordinary” version that “It is the first time BB chiefs have pulled off such an amazing stunt”. No shit, Cupid.
All of which can only point to one conclusion: that either editors and hacks at the Desmond titles enjoy an ability to behave telepathically, or that the man described by former Mirror editor Roy Greenslade as having “the worst reputation of any postwar newspaper proprietor, including Robert Maxwell” was committing a remarkably blatant act of perjury in that courtroom.
I wonder which of those is true. Actually, I don’t: Des told the court a whopper of Olympian proportions. But he is rich enough to get away with it. Perhaps.
[UPDATE: former Daily Star man Rich Peppiatt has Tweeted these comments, which confirm the game Desmond is playing, and that he fibbed in court "[the] Daily Star has just become Channel 5's in-house magazine. Free advertising is vastly more important to Desmond than real journalism". Not even former Daily Star owner Victor "Fingers" Matthews would have sunk as low]