List of people and organisations frequently parodied by Private Eye

List of people and organisations frequently parodied by Private Eye

This is a list of some of the people and organisations most frequently or famously used as a source of humour or target of insult by the British satirical magazine Private Eye. The nicknames coined for them by the magazine have become part of the daily vernacular of Londoners. [cite book|title=London: City Guide|author=Martin Hughes, Sarah Johnstone, Tom Masters, Neil Setchfield|pages=391|url=|isbn=1741040914]

The Royal Family

*Queen Elizabeth II is often referred to as "Brenda", and the Prince of Wales as "Brian".cite news |last=Sullivan |first=Andrew |authorlink=Andrew Sullivan |url= |title= God Help the Queen |work=The New York Times |date=5 October, 1997 |accessdate=2008-05-21] This is a result of the 1969 BBC documentary "Royal Family", after which the magazine gave each member of the Royal Family working class nicknames, as though they were characters in a soap opera. The Duke of Edinburgh is "Keith", the late Princess Margaret was "Yvonne" and the late Diana, Princess of Wales was dubbed "Cheryl".

Prime Ministers

*Harold Macmillan was Prime Minister when the magazine began publication. His popular soubriquet was "Supermac". This nickname was coined in the 1950s when the cartoonist Vicky of the "News Chronicle" first depicted Macmillan dressed as the comic-book character Superman. The original intention was a put-down, but the image came to be seen as an affectionate portrait in the "you've never had it so good" (a misquote) era. By the time Private Eye began publication, Macmillan had been mistreated by the newspapers for years. He had been parodied in his presence by Peter Cook when he attended a performance of the revue "Beyond the Fringe". The pressure of events such as the 1962 Cabinet reshuffle often dubbed the Night of the Long Knives, the 1963 Profumo Affair and the controversy surrounding the succession, which involved, principally, R.A. Butler and Quintin Hogg, provided much material for satire and parody.
*Sir Alec Douglas-Home, Macmillan's successor, was heavily lampooned after Scottish newspaper "The Aberdeen Evening Express" accidentally used a photograph of Douglas-Home to illustrate a June 1964 story about a Scottish Baillie named Vass. The "Baillie Vass" episode gave the magazine an initial opening to exploit, but the image of an aristocratic earl who was obviously ill-at-ease on television, then emerging strongly as the primary medium for political communication, made the Prime Minister an easy and regular target. "Private Eye" thereafter affected to believe that 'Home' had been unmasked as an impostor, a position it maintained until Home's death in 1995.
*Harold Wilson was the first elected Prime Minister to receive the "Private Eye" treatment from scratch, as it were. Calling him "Wislon", partly because of its sinister sound, but mainly to avoid retribution in the libel courts, the Eye portrayed him as a relentless chancer, climber and self-promoter, for whom being Prime Minister was infinitely more important than anything he might achieve in the office. In a retrospective for "The Life and Times of Private Eye" the editors compared him to David Frost, who was always accused by the "Private Eye" crowd of sharing these same motivations, though it has been suggested this was more to do with Peter Cook's jealousyFact|date=November 2007 when Frost became the star of television satire while Cook, who felt himself a better candidate, was tied up with Beyond the Fringe in the United States.Fact|date=November 2007 Wilson's name tended to be preceded by expressions such as "sensitive", "versatile" and particularly, "pragmatic", suggesting that he would keep changing his positions to please those around him. In later years, after the jailing of the fraudster Emil Savundra, he was referred to as "Wilsundra". One front cover parodied the horror movie Willard, with a Wilson-faced rat, and the title "Wislard". A major part of "Private Eye's" assault on Wislon was the celebrated "Mrs Wilson's Diary", supposedly the memoirs of his wife, written in the style of the then-popular radio drama series "Mrs Dale's Diary". More seriously, the magazine was a major outlet for MI5 smears in the 1970s [Lobster Magazine 17] .
*Edward Heath gained the nickname "The Grocer" from his role in negotiations over the EEC food policies during the Macmillan/Home administrations. When elected Prime Minister himself, he was portrayed as a hopeless waffler, mostly interested in sailing his yacht "Morning Cloud", and ignoring the alleged corruption of colleagues such as Reginald Maudling. Heath's unusual status as a bachelor Prime Minister also gave rise to homosexual innuendo.
*The Falklands war and the high levels of unemployment in 1980s Britain were the two subjects for which Margaret Thatcher received most criticism.Fact|date=November 2007 She was also the subject of an ironic piece where she was described as "bewitching... sexual and political power combine to create the perfect woman."Fact|date=November 2007

Other politicians

*Jeffrey Archer, the former Conservative MP for Louth, Lincolnshire, who was Deputy Chairman of the party under Margaret Thatcher and later served time in prison for perjury, is usually referred to as "Lord Archhole". The Eye has also occasionally levelled criticism at his wife, the "fragrant" Mary Archer.
*Reginald Maudling was one of the Eye's prime targets in the Heath administration. The volume of criticism rose following news about his role in the Real Estate Fund of America, with its connections to the Mafia and even to friends of Richard Nixon. His fondness for fine dining led him to be caricatured as a "bloated voluptuary", usually dressed in a nightshirt and sleeping cap, waking only to eat. The constant sleeping was used as a symbolic motif regarding his perceived inaction over the Ulster situation when he was Home Secretary. A famous cartoon in the Eye following Bloody Sunday, showed Maudling and another, the bubble from the other reading "Six-and-a-half brace", with Maudling replying "Not bad for the time of year". This cartoon played a part in the flaying which Maudling received in the media and elsewhere over his lethargic handling of the episode. Another Eye item featured a spoof dictionary and its definition of the verb "maudle" ("to prevaricate, procrastinate etc.").
*Ian Paisley (or occasionally his Spitting Image puppet) has featured on the cover of "Private Eye" several times. [cite web | url=
| title=Ian Paisley on the cover of Private Eye | accessdate=2007-06-15
] He is also referred to on the front cover of Issue 202 (12 September 1969), which showed the young Bernadette Devlin flashing her knickers, the balloon reading "This should get a rise out of Paisley". He is usually referred to in connection with events in Northern Ireland, whether or not he was directly involved in the issues raised. On the 1967 Christmas record, "The Abominable Radio Gnome", the announcer says, "And now a comment from Father Palsy", (to a Protestant, a gratuitously offensive Catholic mode of address) to which the response, in a camp Ulster accent, is, "Begorrah, bejabers and sod the Pope" ("begorrah and bejabers" are phrases only used by stage and comic-book Irishmen, though the phrase "sod the Pope" recurs regularly in "Private Eye" references to Ian Paisley). Consistent with the "Eye" treatment of Mohamed Fayed and his affected name, "Private Eye" seldom calls Paisley "Reverend" (he is, but only in the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster, in which the Paisley family has always had the predominant influence) or "Doctor" , since his doctorate is an honorary degree awarded by Bob Jones University of South Carolina, a fundamentalist Christian institution in the US. This is part of a wider "Private Eye" dislike for Bob Jones University and similar US institutions, which it often compares with McDonald's, which calls its principal training establishment "Hamburger University".
* The former Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett was named Rosa Klebb, after the villain of the James Bond film "From Russia With Love", whom she is said to resemble. [cite news |last=Stringer |first=David |url= |title=Britain Gets First Female Foreign Secretary |work=Associated Press |publisher=The Washington Post |date=5 May, 2006 |accessdate=2008-05-21]

Prominent figures

* Lord Goodman, a member of Harold Wilson's close circle, was a favourite target, usually referred to as Lord "Two Dinners" Goodmancite news |last=White |first=Michael |authorlink=Michael White (journalist) |url= |title=Goodman, rotund fixer who stole a round million |work=The Guardian |date=19 January, 1999 |accessdate=2008-05-21] or Lord Badman. The Eye saw him as a latter-day Cardinal Richelieu, the power behind the throne, especially when the Conservatives held power. From the negotiations over the status of Rhodesia, to his central role in many sources of public money, such as the Arts Council, to the many high-profile lawsuits his firm filed, including those against the Eye itself, [cite news |last=Brivati |first=Brian |url= |title=Prey for Blessed Arnold |work=Times Higher Education |date=29 January, 1999 |accessdate=2008-05-21] the magazine regarded him as the true ruler of the country. One cartoon showed him as a spider at the centre of a web of money and influence. Another demonstrated his apparent role in making sure that money always found its way to the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, seen as an elite institution catering mainly to the upper crust, when the public money was intended to bring art to the masses. Goodman's obesity and hangdog looks made him easy to ridicule.


*Mohamed Al-Fayed is routinely referred to as "The Phoney Pharaoh" or "Mohamed Al-Fugger". Much humour is derived from his mispronunciation of the word "fuck" as "fugg", and conspiracy theories concerning the deaths of his son Dodi Al-Fayed and Princess Diana. He is also referred to simply as "Mohamed Fayed" on the basis that the 'Al-' was added to his name by Fayed himself.
*Richard Branson, the Virgin entrepreneur is a frequent target for his train services (whose reliability is often called into question) and his capacity for self-publicity. He is usually referred to in the magazine as 'Beardie'.


*Nigel Dempster, a former gossip columnist for the "Daily Mail" and "The Mail on Sunday", received much attention, especially in the Grovel gossip section, including a picture of him "in flagrante" with an admirer. It was later revealed that he was the major contributor to Grovel at the time. He is referred to in the Eye as "Nigel Pratt-Dumpster", "Humpty Dumpster", or "Former GLE (Greatest Living Englishman) Nigel Dempster".
*Peter Hitchens's nickname "Bonkers" was popularised by the "Eye".
*Derek Jameson, a former tabloid journalist, was renamed "Sid Yobbo" for the manner of his speech and his populist attitudes.
*Paul Johnson, the conservative polemicist and historian, was once a regular target and was referred to as "loonybins". During the Sixties, the US President Lyndon Baines Johnson was dubbed "Loony Bins Johnson", and the nickname has been applied to other Johnsons. Targeting Paul Johnson was once a favourite tactic of deputy editor Francis Wheen, but deprecating references to Johnson predated his involvement in the "Eye" by some years. References to Johnson are now rare.
*Piers Morgan, former editor of the "Daily Mirror", is still a regular target. He is usually referred to as Piers "Morgan" Moron, as if Moron was really his surname, and Morgan merely a nickname.
*Andrew Neil, Scottish broadcaster and journalist, is usually referred to as 'Brillo Pad'. For some years during the 1990s, a picture taken of him aside a young, attractive Asian model featured in nearly every issue; it still appears on a not infrequent basis today.
*Peregrine Worsthorne, the former editor of The Sunday Telegraph, is consistently referred to as 'Sir Perishing Worthless'.
*Peter McKay, a Scottish journalist, was a regular target with variants of a story of his attempts to seduce junior female members of staff. Usually referred to as "McLie" or "McHackey", McKay was the editor of Punch magazine when it was relaunched by Mohamed Fayed as a Private Eye spoiler in 1996.
*Johann Hari is a frequent victim of the 'Hackwatch' column, which documented Hari's threat to sue a contributor to an internet blog who criticised him. [ [ Bloggers defy Britain's tough libel laws. - By Michael Weiss - Slate Magazine ] ]

Entertainment and media

*Lady Antonia Fraser, once an actress but now a biographer and wife of Harold Pinter, who was brought into the public eye by her high-profile divorce, and remained there due to her views on sex, was lampooned in the Eye as Lady Magnesia Freelove.
*Sir Paul McCartney is one of the rock music stars whose activities are most often reported and attributed to "Spiggy Topes" (a generic parody of various ageing rock musicians and their tabloid excesses). In his case the attribution is to "Sir Spigismond Topes".


*"The Guardian" is known as "The Grauniad", due to its reputation for misprints. After a rebrand where the paper's logotype became lowercase, this became "the grauniad" (minus caps). This is one of many "Eye" nicknames to have transcended into mainstream popular culture.
*"The Daily Telegraph" is either "The Torygraph" (for its support for the Conservative Party), "The Hello!graph" (for its sensationalist coverage of vacuous celebrity news), or "The Telavivagraph" (for its unwavering support for Israel, particularly the Likud party, and its connection with those with a vested interest in Israel's prosperity, particularly Conrad Black and Barbara Amiel). The "Eye" has more recently coined the name "The Maily Telegraph", or "The Daily Mailograph", to mark the hiring of a number of ex-"Daily Mail" employees and a perceived shift towards more tabloid-style content.
*The "Daily Express" was called the "Titsbychristmas" in 1978; afterward it became the "Daily Getsworse" or the "Daily Getsmuchworse", and recently the "Daily Sexpress", since its owner, Richard 'Dirty' Desmond, also owns or owned several pornographic magazines and satellite pornography channels. Currently the paper is lampooned as "The Di-ly Express", due to the perceived obsession of the paper with conspiracy theories regarding Diana, Princess of Wales and her death in 1997, and the volume of weekly, front-page coverage it has devoted to her.
*"The Independent" (widely called the "Indy") is described as the "Indescribablyboring", while its sister paper, "The Independent on Sunday", is known as the "Sindie".
*"The News of the World" is known as "The Screws of the World", "The News of the Screws", or simply "The Screws".
*The "Daily Mail" is usually spoofed for its obsession with property prices, asylum seekers and scare stories, and is sometimes referred to as "The Daily Lie". In one cartoon in 2004 the magazine published a Mail-style, scare-story cartoon of a newspaper whose headline was "what kind of society lets the Daily Mail be published EVERY DAY?"
*"The Daily Mirror" is known as "The Moron", a pun both on the "Eye"'s nickname for former Mirror editor Piers Morgan (often written as Piers "Morgan" Moron), and former Conservative Chancellor Ken Clarke's description of the "Mirror" as "a paper read by morons" in an education debate in 1988.

ee also

*Recurring in-jokes in Private Eye


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