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28 April

In the headlines

Richard Sharp has resigned as chairman of the BBC after a damning report found that his appointment broke corporation rules. The former banker’s failure to disclose that he had helped Boris Johnson secure an £800,000 loan was a clear “conflict of interest”, said Adam Heppinstall KC, who led the inquiry. “Spoilsports”, says The Sun, after rail union bosses announced a fresh wave of strikes targeting the FA Cup final, Epsom Derby and Eurovision. Train drivers will walk out on 12 May, 31 May and 3 June, which will also affect Beyoncé’s London tour dates and a Test match at Lord’s. American TV host Jerry Springer has died aged 79. The Jerry Springer Show was “the most controversial and boundary-pushing talk show in history”, says BBC News. Memorable guests during its 27-year run included a Missouri man who married a pony, and a mother-daughter dominatrix duo who brought their sex slave on to the stage.


To celebrate World Penguin Day on Tuesday, The Atlantic has put together a gallery of top penguin pics. They include a gentoo leaping from the water on to Antarctica’s rocky shoreline, a king penguin failing to blend in with a large crowd of chicks, a group of Adélies diving off an iceberg off Paulette Island, and an emperor penguin snuggling its chick on Snow Hill Island. See the full selection here.


When the former Lib Dem leader Paddy Ashdown gave me a copy of his memoirs, says Rory Stewart on The Rest is Politics, I was disappointed to see there was no inscription in the front. But when I turned to my own name in the index, I found a specially written message: “I thought you’d look here first, love Paddy.”

Inside politics

If you want a metaphor for Canada, says Jen Gerson in The Globe and Mail, look no further than 24 Sussex Drive, “the official and now-abandoned residence of the prime minister”. Built in 1868, the home has an “unparalleled location” in Ottawa. But behind its “ostensibly sturdy stone facade”, the dilapidated interior is “no longer fit for purpose”. Current PM Justin Trudeau refused to move his family there back in 2015, and now, amid reports of a chronic rodent infestation, the place has become totally “uninhabitable”. Official residences aren’t just a “perk of office” – they’re a way of “expressing a country’s dignity and sense of self”; of telling the world exactly who you are. Alas, “24 Sussex is no exception”. We’re “an unserious country, luckily situated, that has glossed over our decline”.


Blackadder has always been popular with Britain’s armed services, says The Oldie. Blackadder Goes Forth, the sitcom’s First World War series, used real squaddies from the Royal Anglian regiment as extras in the opening titles. Many military positions in the first Gulf War in 1991 were officially named after its characters, like the Blackadder Lines and the Melchett Lines. “At one point in the 1990s, more than half the regimental goats in the British Army were called Baldrick.”

On the way out

Twinings has replaced its iconic lapsang souchong tea with a cheap knock-off called Distinctively Smoky, says The Daily Telegraph. Customers aren’t happy. One compared the taste to “stale cigarettes”; another said it was like “sipping a swimming pool after a chemical incident”. Legend has it that the real lapsang souchong – Winston Churchill’s favourite brew – originated in the 1600s, when locals in China’s Wuyi mountains were fleeing an invading army. With no time to let their tea leaves dry naturally, they stuck them over fires to accelerate the process – giving the tea its “smoky aroma”.


It’s Gough Island, a British territory in the middle of the southern Atlantic Ocean, which is looking to hire a “field officer” to keep an eye on wildlife. Since the rocky outcrop has no airport, or anything really, getting there involves a seven-day boat ride from South Africa. The only company will be six other RSPB researchers who work there, and eight million birds. The job, with a salary of around £25,000, involves long days tracking seabirds, usually in driving wind and rain. If that sounds like your cup of tea, apply here.


quote 28.4.23

“Classic FM: for people who like classical music, but only if it’s been on an advert.”

Alan Partridge