UK satire's scourge of power: Private Eye hits 50

Thu Oct 20, 2011 10:01am EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - It appears once every two weeks on cheap-looking paper covered in dense, small print. It is full of jokes yet its subject matter tends to be deadly serious.

In an age of instant news and almost-as-instant views, Britain's top satirical magazine "Private Eye" is going strong at the ripe old age of 50, a milestone it reaches on Tuesday.

Underlining Private Eye's status as a national institution, the Victoria & Albert Museum has dedicated an exhibition to it and a new glossy history has been published.

Editor Ian Hislop, also a television celebrity for his appearances on comedy quiz shows, takes pride in the magazine's survival when so many people have predicted its demise.

"We're a fortnightly publication and people said 'you're finished - where's the instant reaction?'," he told Reuters in a recent telephone interview.

"But if you are out every two weeks, you've got time to get it right and come up with an angle and a view that people find more interesting. In one way you do get a definite advantage."

One recent example was the bestselling edition that appeared following the phone hacking scandal which rocked Rupert Murdoch's media empire and prompted the closure of the News of the World tabloid newspaper.

The cover featured the word "GOTCHA!" in large bold print above a photograph of Murdoch flanked by his son James and Rebekah Brooks, a key executive who was forced to step down.   Continued...