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“The same thing happened to poor old Reggie Maudling”

Anthony Howard is one of those people who has already lived forever. He’s impossibly permanent. Every time there’s yet another political scandal, a shock resignation, a change of Prime Minister, he’s there. On the TV, on the radio, everywhere, as reassuring as the sound of a whistling kettle or an aspirin fizzing in a glass of water.

“Well, of course, the same thing happened to poor old Reggie Maudling…” “I think the closest example I can think of was George Brown’s attack on Harold Wilson in the spring of 1968…” “We haven’t witnessed this kind of seismic shift in fortunes since the days of ‘Orpington Man’…”

He’s still as insightful and essential as ever, half a century since he began his trade. And to mark the anniversary, he’s doing a series of short talks on Radio 4 called Fifty Years Before The Masthead. They’re wonderfully no-holds-barred yarns, with our man even daring to include mention of – shudder – a close encounter with Michael Parkinson when the latter was busy cultivating a lifetime’s supply of mean-spirited moaning while working as “a proper journalist”.

Let’s hope he’s around for a good few more “worst week ever for the Prime Minister – since the last one!” yet.



  1. Chris Hughes

    June 24, 2008 at 12:08 am

    I love Anthony Howard, he’s a genius. I last saw him on the BBC’s coverage of the Crewe and Nantwich by-election, and when presenter Jon Sopel announced that the result probably wouldn’t be much before 3am, you could see him get visibly animated at the opportunity to spend a couple of hours wheeling out some more cracking anecdotes (and, no doubt, the chance to renegotiate his fee upwards a touch).

  2. Matthew Rudd

    June 24, 2008 at 10:35 pm

    I too think the guy is a star. He turned in a cracking performance on that Andrew Marr-helmed debate thing on BBC Four on Prime Ministers of the 20th Century (“No, not younger – abler!”) alongside brainless miladys like Polly Toynbee and serious political academics like Peter Hennessy. He voted for Thatcher as better than Churchill and did a great job of rubbishing Wilson.

  3. Zokko

    July 26, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    Howard a Tory? Surely not. I always had him down as intelligent!

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