You wait ages for a sequel, and then two come along at once
Posted by Adam Macqueen, 30th September 2013

*Blows away dust and cobwebs, has coughing fit*

Hello again.

The companion volume to Private Eye: The First 50 Years, an A-Z is now out, and it’s a thing of beauty. Private Eye: A Cartoon History is a comprehensive catalogue of the best cartoons printed in the magazine from 1961-2013, compiled by cartoonist Nick Newman, with an introduction by editor Ian Hislop. If you’d like to see a preview of some of its contents, click on this link to Waterstones, where you can also buy a copy.

Also out this week is The Prime Minister’s Ironing Board and Other State Secrets by Adam Macqueen, who wrote the 2011 bestseller Private Eye: The First 50 Years, an A-Z. It’s a romp through declassified government documents from the last century, detailing some of the surprisingly intimate correspondence between the royal family, prime ministers of every hue and the civil servants who kept the whole show on the road as their political masters fretted about such vital issues as how to persuade Imelda Marcos that she had to curtsey to the Queen (and not the other way round), whether Clement Attlee would be able to move out of Downing Street in time for Winston Churchill to hold his first cabinet meeting, and whether Prince Charles might be a terrorist.

Sadly,88 one item I couldn’t find room for was this draft of a diplomatic note for Harold Wilson from 1964, complete with an extraordinarily Private-Eyeish turn of phrase:

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*kills self*
Posted by Adam Macqueen, 23rd September 2013

“Among Liberal Democrat MPs, the most popular titles were Private Eye: The First 50 Years, the A-Z of the satirical magazine’s first half century…”

Poll of MPs reading habits here. It came 9th overall.

Happy Christmas…

Amazon up swanee
Posted by Adam Macqueen, 20th December 2011

Amazon are claiming not to have any copies of Private Eye: The First 50 Years in stock till after Christmas.

Waterstones have still got plenty.

McHackey strikes again
Posted by Adam Macqueen, 14th December 2011

Here’s what the Ephraim Hardcastle column in today’s Daily Mail had to say about my appearance at the Oldie Literary Lunch to talk about the book:

Private Eye founder Richard Ingrams, 74, ridicules the £25 book launched to mark the magazine’s 50th anniversary this year, calling it a ‘scrapbook’ full of mistakes rather than a history.

He made his remarks – which will anger Ian Hislop, 51, the Eye editor – while introducing the book’s author, Adam Macqueen, at an Oldie literary luncheon yesterday.

Poor Macqueen looked mortified. Ingrams also claims that Macqueen was instructed not to discuss Private Eye’s finances in his book.

And here’s what I had to say in an email to the column’s editor, former Eye hack Peter McKay, this morning.

Hello Peter,

That really was the biggest load of old bollocks in your column this morning about my appearance at yesterday’s Oldie literary lunch. Richard didn’t say a word about mistakes in his introduction, and I’m hardly likely to take offence at him describing it as a scrapbook when that was exactly how I described the effect I wanted to the book’s designer while we were putting it together. Far from being mortified, I thought his introduction was very funny, and we had a very warm and friendly conversation afterwards (and another one this morning about your piece, as it happens!)

More seriously, I didn’t have any instructions from anyone as to what was discussed in the book, financial or otherwise, and I wouldn’t have accepted the commission if any conditions like that had been put on it. Perhaps you’re getting muddled with your own position – I remember when I interviewed you for the book you talked very entertainingly about the Mail’s own failure to cover Private Eye’s revelations about Lord Rothermere’s tax arrangements.

Still, I suppose I should say thanks for plugging the book…

Yours aye


The book (complete with lots of interesting material about Peter McHackey in the days before he got sacked) is, incidentally, on sale for a limited period on for just £15

And what do points mean?
Posted by Adam Macqueen, 8th December 2011

Yes, prizes.

heather liberty award

Not only did Private Eye win Liberty’s Human Rights “Long Walk” award – as collected by the ever-glamorous hacks Heather Mills and Richard Brooks the other week – it’s also just been presented with the the Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation Award for Services to Cartooning .


Little Atoms. As opposed to, you know, the big ones.
Posted by Adam Macqueen, 29th November 2011

Adam Macqueen was interviewed about the first 50 years of Private Eye, and indeed Private Eye: The First 50 Years on Resonance FM.

You can listen to the show here.

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Cambridge Winter Wordfest: so good we’re doing it twice
Posted by Adam Macqueen, 25th November 2011


Diana Athill (cont. age 94) has dropped out of this Sunday’s Winter Wordfest in Cambridge, so Ian Hislop and I will now be standing in for her in a second session at 1.30pm at the ADC Theatre. Our 9pm talk apparently sold out in half an hour, so if you’d like to come along it might be worth calling the ADC box office quite quickly…

Now either I’ve got to come up with a new set of questions, or he’s got to come up with a new set of answers to keep things interesting…

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Posted by Adam Macqueen, 9th November 2011

Well, Will Self can’t have been that cross about being revealed as the most frequent visitor to Pseuds Corner in Private Eye: The First 50 Years – he’s reviewed the book for the Guardian – to be precise, next Saturday’s Guardian, although they’ve put it online to save you the trouble of having to give them any money for it.

You’ll be pleased to know his review features the words “decal”, “pedagogues”, “pasquinades” and “epigone”.

In other news, Ian Hislop’s appearances on Five Live’s Pienaar’s Politics (about 48 minutes in) and Steve Wright in the Afternoon on Radio 2 (about 1 hr 38 minutes in) in the last few days mean that the Eye‘s anniversary has now been celebrated on every single national BBC radio station except Radio 1, not to mention BBCs One, Two, Online and the World Service.

It’s a bit like Stockholm Syndrome, isn’t it?

Us. Now.
Posted by Adam Macqueen, 3rd November 2011

The National Portrait Gallery exhibition also comes right up to date with one of the photos from this set of all the Eye contributors who regularly work from the office, taken this September by Muir Vidler.

Muir Vidler

Perhaps this – and former Eye hack Sarah Shannon’s very good piece in this week’s The Lady about the many women who have worked at Private Eye – will be enough to convince hacks and twitterers that the place isn’t entirely staffed by public schoolboys.*

L-R, standing: Bridget Tisdall, Hilary Lowinger, Amanda Alcock, Heather Mills, Francis Wheen, Richard Brooks, Craig Brown, Tom Jamieson, Sheila Molnar, Tim Minogue, (up top) Nev Fountain, (horizontal) Richard Ingrams, Ruth Pallasen-Mustikay, Adam Macqueen, Ian Hislop, Andy Murray, Sue Roccelli, Megan Trudell, Mary Aylmer, Nick Newman.
Crouching: Jane Mackenzie, Solomon Hughes, Tristan Davies, Sally Farrimond, Tony Rushton.

*it won’t.

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Yet more exhibitionism
Posted by Adam Macqueen, 31st October 2011

The National Portrait Gallery has a display of Private Eye photos from today until 16 April 2012.

NPG P512(23); 'Private Eye'

The Private Eye team, 1965 (full details here)

They’re mostly by Lewis Morley, who had his studio above Peter Cook’s Establishment Club in the early 1960s. The building was also (briefly) home to the Eye, who camped out in the waiters’ changing room when Cook bought the magazine in 1962. It was in his studio there that Morley took THAT photo of Christine Keeler…

NPG P512(13); Christine Keeler

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