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Paper Monitor

13:29 UK time, Monday, 18 December 2006

A (belated) service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

The endless round of seasonal partying has left Paper Monitor a little the worse for wear, hence today's tardiness.

PM readers will be familiar with the concept of the "news carnival" - a state where such an unlikely set of factors collide in a story to create the illusion it is surviving on perpetual motion.

While the weekend's revelations about the romantic attachments of Lib Dem MP Lembit Opik don't quite hit the high watermark set by, say, John Major's affair with Edwina Currie, or Steve McFadden and Ross Kemp both allegedly being thwacked by their respective partners, it's a pretty meaty tale.

To anyone who has been residing for the past 48 hours on a planet other than Earth (in which case, be warned, fanatical stargazer Mr Opik will doubtless have you in his sights), the story runs thus: ITV weathergirl Sian Lloyd has broken off her protracted engagement with said quirkily-named MP after he ran off with one half of the failed reality TV chart-topping Romanian identical twin duo the Cheeky Girls. (Point of order: that number one song, We Are the Cheeky Girls (Touch My Bum), was later voted the worst record ever.)

But the unlikely mix of trashy low-brow and Westminster politics guarantees it a place in just about all the papers, from the Mirror (headline: Cheek to Cheeky) to the Telegraph (Sian Lloyd's MP fiance runs off with Cheeky Girl). The Independent even runs a leader on the story, concluding that the pair's east European background means they might well have bonded over the issue of EU enlargement. Phnarrr.

Of course the unspoken subtext to all this... what makes it a story that is more than the sum of its apparent parts is: how does a middle-aged, bespectacled politician who looks like the missing Proclaimer bag a nubile young pop singer. Keep an eye on the papers' features pages this week for stories along these lines.

Two other points that PM wishes to make before it slopes off for a hangover-blunting bite to eat:

1. The Indy's graphic rendering of the new strain of the killer MRSA superbug looks nothing like the one on the front of the Times.

2. It's Monday, it's the Daily Express and (Lord Stevens' report or no Lord Steven's report) it's a Princess Diana splash.

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