List of regular mini-sections in Private Eye
The following is a list of regularly appearing mini-sections appearing in the British satirical magazine Private Eye. These are mostly based on clippings from newspapers sent in by readers, often for a cash fee.
Comparing numerical figures relating to a current event with others that make the event seem comical/bizarre/despicable.
Highlighting the often unnecessary use by rolling news programmes of outside broadcasts of reporters speaking to camera simply as an alternative to having a studio-based commentary.
Examples of journalists employing the cliché "x is the new y", e.g. "Black is the new brown", "Basel is the new St Tropez" and so forth. Even after a recent trend for certain journalists to preface their remarks with "At the risk of appearing in Private Eye...", remarks of this kind have not prevented many such journalists from receiving entries in the column, and Ian Hislop, editor of the Eye, was quoted himself in one issue.
Listing pompous and pretentious quotations from the media. At various times different columnists have been regular entrants, with varied reactions. At one point in the 1970s, Pamela Vandyke Price, a Sunday Times wine columnist, wrote to the magazine complaining that "every time I describe a wine as anything other than red or white, dry or wet, I wind up in Pseud's Corner". Around 1970, editor of the Radio Times Geoffrey Cannon regularly appeared because of his habit of using "hippie" argot out of context in an attempt to appear "with it" and trendy. Simon Barnes, a sports writer on The Times, has been regularly quoted in the column for many years. The column now often includes a sub-section called Pseuds Corporate, which prints unnecessarily prolix extracts from corporate press releases and statements.
A sub-section of the letters page devoted to pedantic corrections of or additions to previous articles or readers' letters. This has included several letters on the use of the apostrophe in "Pedants'", which has variously appeared as "Pedants", "Pedant's" or "Ped'ants Corner". It was renamed in 2008 as "Pedantry Corner" after the suggestion of a reader.
Just Fancy That!
Spot comparing what individuals or newspapers have said about particular subjects at various times to reveal contradictions, corruption and hypocrisy.
Comparing two famous individuals who look alike; frequently the two have an ironic connection too which is pointed out by the reader who submits the piece. The captions relating to the two individuals are also swapped around, implying that even the magazine cannot tell which individual is which. The sender often finishes with the phrase "might they perhaps be related?" and/or "I think we should be told." This feature was copied by the American Spy magazine in its "Separated at Birth?" section. On one occasion, Robert Maxwell successfully sued the Eye for printing a made-up letter 'lookaliking' him with one of the Kray twins. Although the comparison was deemed an artistic interpretation and not amenable at law, the facts that (a) the letter had been composed by Richard Ingrams and (b) that the magazine often hinted (correctly, as it turned out) that Maxwell was a crook, were taken as proof of defamatory intent.
Bizarre, ignorant or otherwise humorous answers to questions given by contestants on British television and radio quiz shows, compiled by Marcus Berkmann. This section has been criticised by some as reflecting the Eye staff's penchant for ridiculing those they consider less educated than themselves. Occasionally, Dumb America, Dumb Ireland, Dumb Australia and other countries are also featured.
Order Of The Brown Nose (O.B.N.)
Highlighting the behaviour of those who have allegedly been sycophantic to those in authority, particularly in media and politics, such as Phil Hall, former editor of the News of the World (owned by Rupert Murdoch) declaring Rupert Murdoch "the world's greatest living journalist."
Reader-submitted feature recording humorously pretentious quotations from thespians and other theatrical celebrities. The term 'luvvie' already existed as a derogatory noun for pretentious, overblown, narcissistic people of an artistic or dramatic bent. The column was briefly renamed Trevvies for several issues in the mid-1990s after Trevor Nunn described use of the term as offensive “as calling a black man a ‘nigger’”.
Collection of gaffes from radio and TV perpetrated by sports commentators and sportsmen, featuring inconsistencies, mixed metaphors, or pretentious and ludicrous statements, such as "and he's missed the goal by literally a million miles" or "if they played like this every week they wouldn't be so inconsistent". This feature originally specialised in quotes from British sports commentator David Coleman, for whom the column is named, but expanded to quotes from others, notably including Murray Walker. The name of this feature has since spawned derivative terms in unrelated fields such as "Warballs" (spurious references to the September 11, 2001 attacks), "Dianaballs" (overly sentimental references to Diana, Princess of Wales). Any other subject can be covered, as long as it is appropriately suffixed by -balls, such as Tsunamiballs.
Quoting amusing misprints from newspapers or unintentionally funny examples of journalism, this section appears throughout the magazine. These often feature misprinted TV guides, such as a reference to a programme called "It came from outer space" with a picture of David Cameron speaking in the House of Commons. Common inclusion in this section gave The Guardian a reputation for common typographical errors, earning it the nickname The Grauniad.
Pictures sent in by readers showing contradictory, ironic, amusing, scatological, or just plain daft images; for example, a temporary "Polling Station" sign situated next to a "Do not sit on the fence" notice; an Indonesian restaurant named "Caffe Bog" and so on.
Instances of companies adopting an unimaginative buzzword by claiming to provide 'solutions' where a simpler phrasing would seem more appropriate, such as describing cardboard boxes as "Christmas Ornament Storage Solutions".
An occasional series devoted to unusual callousness in public, such as a former neighbour of Jill Dando remarking that, "the shooting left a horrible atmosphere here for a while. It made you aware of all the terrible things that go on. But I don't think it has affected house prices."
Subtitled with meaningful and viable scenarios at this moment in time. Recording the nonsense rampant in "on the spot" interviews beginning in the 1970s, as television news coverage went live outside the studio, leading to unrehearsed speeches which naturally tended toward currently fashionable clichés (for example, instead of "there is a siege", "we have an ongoing siege situation").
A column giving examples of especially convoluted and impenetrable jargon from the BBC. Named for former Director-General of the BBC John Birt, who was particularly associated with that kind of language. Nowadays extracts are almost always taken from BBC job adverts or press releases announcing senior BBC appointments. The column features an illustration of a Dalek, a reference to Dennis Potter's 1993 James MacTaggart Memorial lecture where he described Birt (alongside Marmaduke Hussey) as a "croak-voiced Dalek."
- ^ Sir Trevor Nunn brings Gone with the Wind to the West End The Times, April 13, 2008
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