Ian Hislop’s philosophy at Private Eye

Private Eye editor Ian Hislop is interviewed by Al Murray on Chain Reaction

Private Eye editor Ian Hislop is interviewed by Al Murray on Chain Reaction

Comedian Al Murray – the ‘Pub Landlord’ – interviewed Private Eye editor Ian Hislop in the latest episode of BBC Radio 4’s Chain Reaction yesterday. It’s worth catching up online to hear the team captain on Have I Got News for You discuss the cut and thrust of British politics, making social history documentaries and his editorial philosophy on the satirical magazine. He sees his job as to:

Make jokes about what people know and then tell them things they don’t know.

He knows the cartoons are as important as the words and has a strong feel for history and the influence of Punch (and where that satire giant went wrong). As well as his long-running career in print satire – he has been Private Eye editor since 1986 – Hislop wrote with Nick Newman for Harry ‘Loadsamoney’ Enfield, basing the ‘Terribly Nice But Dim’ Tim character on a public school friend, as well as Spitting Image (‘It took us 11 years but we got Thatcher out!’) in the 1980s.

One of the many covers in Private Eye's battle to expose Robert Maxwell

One of the many covers in Private Eye’s battle to expose Robert Maxwell

What’s it like being sued? Private Eye‘s tribulations on this front are legendary, one resulting in Robert Maxwell launching Not Private Eye as a form of revenge, both for the corrupt media tycoon and many other ‘victims’ of the satirical fortnightly.

Hislop says he has faced 40 libel cases and won just one.

He is particularly vociferous about the Sonia Sutcliffe case, in which a jury initially awarded damages of £600,000, which would have added up to £1.5m  with costs.

That resulted in the reaction: ‘It that’s justice, I’m a banana.’  The damages were lowered on appeal. The case then sparked a change in British law so that damages are no longer set by juries.

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One Response to “Ian Hislop’s philosophy at Private Eye”

  1. Magazine titles: what’s in a name? | Magforum blog Says:

    […] mention of Private Eye editor Ian Hislop included his editorial philosophy on the satirical magazine. He sees his job as […]

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