Paul Callan

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This article is about the British journalist. For the television character, see Miracles.

Paul Callan (born 13 March 1939) is a British journalist and editor who has worked on many national newspapers.

Contents

Early career

Despite an early setback when caught imitating his editor, who affected a phony upper class English accent[1] Callan first reached prominence as editor of the "Londoner's Diary" in the Evening Standard in the 1960s, and subsequently raised establishment eyebrows with the sharply written Daily Mail diary column. He achieved a succession of scoops, and was largely responsible for training up a generation of gifted young journalists, notably the irreverent gossip columnist, Nigel Dempster.[citation needed]

Callan himself later moved to the mass circulation the Daily Mirror where he wrote the "Inside World of Paul Callan" column which broke a number of major stories embarrassing to their subjects.[citation needed]

Celebrity interviews

Tiring of the gossip columns, Callan moved over to the celebrity interview. Callan's amiability and nose for a story made him a favourite of actors and publishers alike, and he has interviewed virtually every major Hollywood star in the last forty years, and members of the ordinarily tight-lipped British royal family.

He is credited with the shortest interview ever published. Meeting the reclusive Greta Garbo at the Hotel du Cap Eden Roc near Cannes, Callan got as far as, "I wonder . . " before Garbo cut in with, "Why wonder?", and stalked off. The story ran across a full page in the Daily Mail.

Access to the great and the bad was enhanced by his marriage in 1973 to the prominent New York journalist, Steffi Fields, who moved over from being London correspondent of the fashion bible Women's Wear Daily to the position of news editor of the London bureau of the NBC television network.

Radio

Callan and the writer (later national newspaper editor) Janet Street-Porter are credited with inventing a new form of radio, albeit unintentionally. At the launch in 1973 of the London Broadcasting Company, or LBC, the pair were pitched as co-presenters of the breakfast show.[2] The intention was to contrast the urbane Callan with the less couth Street-Porter, whose accents were respectively known to studio engineers as "cut-glass" and "cut-froat".

In the event friction between the ill-assorted pair led to an entertaining stream of one-upmanship that became required listening for many Londoners. The programme was the first in the UK to combine interviews with celebrities and heavyweight political figures on the same show, blurring the line between classic British comedy and analysis of international affairs.

Innovation

In parallel with David Frost's approach to television Callan has since developed a technique known as "news colour" in which a hard news story is reported in a feature style. It has the effect of placing the reader as if he is actually witnessing the story, and is now taught in journalism school.[citation needed]

As one of the last representatives of old Fleet Street he cuts an unmistakable figure, clad in pinstriped suit and trademark spotted bow tie regardless of geography or climate. In 1991 he moved to the Daily Express where he combines feature writing with news colour as well as contributing regularly to the comment pages. Callan is also a familiar face on television, remembered as a brilliant and frequent contributor to the What the Papers Say programme.

Callan is also known for his acerbic book reviews despite being described by the critic Clive James as "having the literary sensibilities of a vampire bat".[3]

Personal life

His daughter, Jessica, worked on the Daily Mirror's 3 am column.

Notes

  1. ^ "How do you get a job in journalism? Our experts are first with the news". The Daily Telegraph. 12 September 2003.
  2. ^ Media UK's LBC page
  3. ^ James, Clive. "The Queen in California". Observer. 6 March 1983. Accessed 23 October 2006.

Further reading