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Richard Littlejohn
Born Richard William Littlejohn
January 18, 1954 (1954-01-18) (age 56)
Ilford, London
Occupation Journalist, broadcaster, author
Spouse(s) Wendy Bosworth (1974-present)
Children 2 children
Notable credit(s) Daily Mail
The Sun

Richard William Littlejohn (born 18 January 1954, Ilford) is an English author, broadcaster, and journalist. He is noted for his trenchant, right-wing views and currently writes a twice-weekly column for the Daily Mail. Despite his views, in 2001 he claimed to have only voted Conservative once, at the 1992 General Election[1]. He was described by Nick Griffin, the leader of the British National Party, as his favourite journalist. [1] Littlejohn was previously a columnist for The Sun and has also written for The Spectator and London's Evening Standard. Littlejohn earned a place in the inaugural 'Newspaper Hall of Fame' as one of the most influential journalists of the past 40 years. He has been named Fleet Street's Columnist of the Year, Irritant of the Year by the BBC's What The Papers Say awards and "The stupid person's Jeremy Clarkson" by The Guardian.[2]

Although primarily a newspaper journalist, Littlejohn has presented numerous radio and TV shows, and has authored or co-authored several books.

Contents

Journalism

Littlejohn was born in Ilford, Essex in January 1954 and his family moved to Peterborough when he was five. His father was an engineer for British Rail. Littlejohn passed the Eleven-plus, obtaining the highest marks in his year[3]. He attended Deacons Grammar School between 1965 and 1970. He left at 16 to work as a trainee journalist in Peterborough. He worked for local newspapers during the early 1970s. In the mid-1970s, he joined the Birmingham Evening Mail, becoming industrial editor in 1977.

He worked at the London newspaper the Evening Standard from 1979 to 1989, initially as industrial editor, later a feature writer and (in 1988) a columnist. While industrial editor in the early 1980s he was asked to stand as a Labour Party candidate, which he declined.[4] In 1989 he joined The Sun, becoming its most popular columnist. His columns attracted controversy, and he was voted "Irritant of the Year" at the 1993 What The Papers Say Awards.

In 1994, he left The Sun to write for the Daily Mail, contributing columns on news and current affairs (in a similar format to his Sun column), and one on sport. His Mail columns earned him the title "Columnist of the Year" at the 1997 British Press Awards.

In early 1998, Littlejohn became the UK's best-paid columnist when he returned to The Sun to write a twice-weekly column as part of a £800,000-a-year deal.

In May 2005, he re-joined the Mail. Mail editor Paul Dacre praised Littlejohn, adding he was "thrilled" that Littlejohn was "returning to his spiritual home". Littlejohn reportedly earns an annual salary of between £700,000 and £800,000, making him the Mail's highest-paid journalist.

In addition to regular columns, Littlejohn has contributed articles to The Spectator and Punch.

One of Littlejohn's Sun columns - a 2004 skit, entitled "Rum, Sodomy and the Lifejacket", in which Lord Nelson is confronted with political correctness, compensation culture and the nanny state - has been published in newspapers, magazines, and websites with Littlejohn's writing credit removed.[5]

In 2009 he used a local newspaper announcement in which a 'Kate Pong' had given birth to quintuplets named "Beyonce, Barack, Earle and Bobbi' as evidence of social decline, writing: "There’s no mention of a Mr Pong, or any father’s name for that matter." It later transpired 'Kate Pong' was a dog. [2]

Radio

By the end of the 1980s, Littlejohn was known in London for his Evening Standard columns, and was invited to radio programmes as a pundit. From 1991, he worked for the London radio station LBC, standing in for Michael Parkinson on the morning show and Mike Dickin on the afternoon phone-in.

LBC gave Littlejohn his own early afternoon show, Littlejohn's Long Lunch, in August 1992; the programme was a talk show featuring topical discussion, phone-ins, and guests. He later became permanent presenter of the morning show, replacing Parkinson.

Television

After leaving LBC in 1994, Littlejohn was approached by BSkyB managing director (and former Sun editor) Kelvin MacKenzie, and was offered the chance to present a nightly current affairs show on the TV channel Sky News. Called Richard Littlejohn, the show ran for one year and was not a success. Littlejohn expressed his disappointment, claiming that broadcasting regulations would not permit him to present the show in the style of Rush Limbaugh's programmes: "If Sky News could emulate its U.S. sister Fox News... ratings would soon shoot past the Astra satellite. But the regulators won't allow it."

Later in 1994, Trevor Phillips of London Weekend Television hired Littlejohn to host a studio-based talk show entitled Richard Littlejohn Live And Uncut. Phillips produced three series of the programme, which was transmitted only in the London area.

Littlejohn hosted the first series of Channel 4's game show Wanted, a stand-in for Bob Mills).[citation needed] Wanted aired in October 1996 and won a Silver Rose at the Festival Rose d'Or.

During the 1990s and early 2000s, Littlejohn presented shows for Carlton Television, including Sport In Question, Thursday Night Live, Do I Not Like That, Shut Up Shop and Forking Out For The Scots. Additionally, he has appeared on the BBC's Question Time and Have I Got News For You.

As part of a 1997 deal which saw him return to the Sun, Littlejohn hosted a night talk show on Sky One called Littlejohn: Live And Unleashed. It was first broadcast on 21 April 1998.

In early 2003 he returned to Sky News to present Littlejohn, a live talk show initially broadcast twice weekly but later extended to four nights per week. The programme was axed on 8 July 2004.

On 9 July 2007, Channel 4 showed a documentary entitled The War on Britain's Jews?, presented by Richard Littlejohn.

Books

Littlejohn has authored or co-authored:

  • The Essex Girl Joke Book (as Ray Leigh, with Brent Wood, 1991, Corgi Publishing) - a collection of Essex girl jokes, co-written (with "Brent Wood") under the pseudonym "Ray Leigh".
  • The Book Of Useless Information (with Keith Waterhouse, 2002, John Blake Publishing, ISBN 1-903402-79-4) - co-written with Keith Waterhouse, this "stocking filler" book is a collection of "useless" facts, described on the cover as "all you never needed to know and didn't need to ask."
  • The Ultimate Book Of Useless Information (with Keith Waterhouse, 2004, John Blake Publishing, ISBN 1-84454-060-X) - another volume of "useless" facts.
  • Littlejohn's Britain - Publisher: Hutchinson (3 May 2007) ISBN 0091795680 - Described by the Observer as "Lampooning New Labour with polemic, pastiche, parody, satire and savage social commentary."

Controversy and criticism

Criminal record

Littlejohn has a criminal conviction over acts of violence committed in Peterborough in the 1970s.[6]

LBC radio programme

During his time at LBC, Littlejohn was censured by the Radio Authority for breaching broadcasting rules. This culminated in the Radio Authority stating that he "had broken half-a-dozen rules and had incited violence"[7] due to an edition of his phone-in show in which he suggested the police should have used flamethrowers against a group of "militant homosexuals" protesting outside the House of Commons.[7]

On another LBC phone-in he was censured by the Radio Authority for describing the British Royal Family as a "bunch of tax-evading adulterers".[8] Unlike many other Conservative and right-wing commentators, Littlejohn favours abolition of the Monarchy.[9]

The Will Self incident

On a June 2001 edition of Nicky Campbell's show on BBC Radio Five Live, a discussion took place between Littlejohn and Will Self. Both were on the show to promote their novels (Littlejohn's To Hell in a Handcart and Self's How the Dead Live). Campbell cited David Aaronovitch's description of Littlejohn's novel as a "400-page recruiting pamphlet for the BNP". Littlejohn responded (referring to Aaronovitch): "What else do you expect from an overgrown student union leader who used to be a member of the Communist Party?". He later boasted that he would include the quote on the cover of the book when it was reprinted. However, due to poor sales of the original publication, this reprinting has not taken place.

Self agreed with Aaronovitch's comments, said that he had read half of Littlejohn's book, which he described as "a kind of Tom Sharpe for the far right". Littlejohn said that he should "read the book in its totality", to which Self retorted "Why?... Does it turn into Tolstoy at page 205?". Littlejohn's response was: "No it doesn't turn into Tolstoy. I don't set out to be Tolstoy. It is a much more complex book than that".[10] In the same interview, Littlejohn enquired of Self, who is a recovering addict; "You are not still on heroin are you?".[10]

Attitude to homosexuality

The Diary column of The Guardian newspaper annually documents the results of a "Littlejohn audit" [11] — a count of the number of references Littlejohn makes to homosexuality in his columns.

In the past year's Sun columns, Richard has referred 42 times to gays, 16 times to lesbians, 15 to homosexuals, eight to bisexuals, twice to 'homophobia' and six to being 'homophobic' (note his scornful inverted commas), five times to cottaging, four to 'gay sex in public toilets', three to poofs, twice to lesbianism, and once each to buggery, dykery, and poovery. This amounts to 104 references in 90-odd columns — an impressive increase on his 2003 total of 82 mentions. There is, alas, no space for us to revisit the scientific study which found obsessive homophobes more responsive to gay porn. But Richard, we're begging you: talk to someone.
Marina HydeThe Guardian [11]

Littlejohn has claimed he is opposed to discrimination against homosexuals. In his Daily Mail column on 10 October 2007, he said, in reference to British society in the 1970s: "Though homosexuality wasn't exactly my idea of a night out, I thought it outrageous that gays were subjected to discrimination in areas such as employment, housing and pensions."[12] However Johann Hari provided quotes from Littlejohn's writing at the time showing he had linked homosexuality to paedophilia and that he had joked about gay-bashing.[13] Ben Summerskill in the Guardian, and Brian Paddick in Attitude reflecting on a dinner he had with Littlejohn, have suggested Littlejohn talks so much about the subject because he is a repressed homosexual.[14]

Johann Hari

Journalist Johann Hari described Littlejohn's writing as "far-right propaganda". He accused him of lying about benefits paid to asylum seekers.

In 2004, Hari appeared as a guest on Littlejohn's Sky News programme and challenged his claims that an asylum seeker could claim hundreds of pounds per week, stating that the true figure was £37.77. He later wrote: "I asked Richard how much a single asylum seeker is given in benefits each week. You'd think that a journalist who writes about asylum twice a week would, of course, know something so incredibly basic. His response was clear. He snapped: 'I have no idea'."[15]

Hari published an article on his website in June 2005, stating that it was a "provable fact" that Littlejohn was a "racist and homophobe". The article cited Littlejohn's views on the Rwandan genocide[16], of which he wrote: "Does anyone really give a monkey's about what happens in Rwanda? If the Mbongo tribe wants to wipe out the Mbingo tribe then as far as I am concerned that is entirely a matter for them." He similarly pointed to his comments about Gypsies in the wake of the Tony Martin case, which prompted Littlejohn to write: "He [Martin] had every reason to hate them. He and his neighbours had been terrorised by them for years."). Citing Marina Hyde's article (see above), Hari also accused Littlejohn of being obsessed with homosexuality, of joking about gay-bashing and the murder of homosexuals, and of comparing homosexuality with paedophilia and extreme fetishes. Littlejohn has not taken up Hari's invitation to sue.[16]

In a review in the New Statesman in 2007, he furthered his criticisms, writing that "He obsessively talks about cottaging, lubricants, 69ers... I think about gay sex much less than Richard Littlejohn - and I am gay. Every problem circles back to sodomy in his mind, as he panics: 'Soon we'll have gay men going door to door, like Jehovah's Witnesses, trying to convince us to convert.' This isn't bigotry. It's a psychiatric disorder."[17] In 2008, Hari brought attention to an article in which Littlejohn described Barack Obama as "uppity".[18]

In response to these criticisms, Littlejohn has dubbed him "Dirty Hari" and said he suspects Hari finds him sexually attractive.[19]

Criticisms of murdered prostitutes

On 19 December 2006, after the Ipswich murders of five women, Littlejohn described the victims as "disgusting, drug-addled street whores" and their deaths as "no great loss".[20] He added that for prostitutes, "death by strangulation" is "an occupational hazard"[20] stemming from their "free will".[20]

Personal life

Littlejohn is a keen football fan and since the late 1960s, has been a supporter of Tottenham Hotspur football club. He starred in his own football video, We Woz Robbed.[21] In 1965, he turned down a scholarship at Oundle School[22] on the grounds that they didn't play football, and went to grammar school instead.

In 1974 he married Wendy Bosworth in Peterborough. They have two children, Georgina, born in 1975, and William, who was born in 1979.

References

  1. ^ Daily Telegraph - 2001
  2. ^ Littlejohn's Britain by Richard Littlejohn, John Crace, The Guardian, 15 May 2007, retrieved 3 June 2009
  3. ^ Daily Telegraph - 2001
  4. ^ David Rowan: The Times: Interview - Richard Littlejohn Sky/The Sun
  5. ^ Is Littlejohn's Column Turning Into A Saga?, Press Gazette, 03 June 2005
  6. ^ Summerskill, Ben. "Review: Littlejohn's Britain by Richard Littlejohn". Features section. The Observer. pp. 25. http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2007/jun/10/society.politics. Retrieved 2009-07-02. 
  7. ^ a b Why I'll never give up the day job British Journalism Review, Vol. 13, No. 3, 2002, pages 65-70, "During one of the interminable age-of-consent debates, a gang of militant homosexuals kicked lumps out of a young police officer outside the Commons. I happened to remark on air that the police should have turned the flame throwers on them"
  8. ^ Why I'll never give up the day job British Journalism Review, Vol. 13, No. 3, 2002, pages 65-70, "Another censure arrived when I described the royals as 'a bunch of tax-evading adulterers'. Who, with hindsight, would argue with that?"
  9. ^ Richard Littlejohn's exclusive webchat Mail Online
  10. ^ a b Self v Littlejohn BBC. 15 June, 2001
  11. ^ a b Hyde, Marina (2004-11-10). "Diary". The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/diary/story/0,,1347351,00.html. Retrieved 2007-11-23. "A nagging feeling that, to some, anything to do with homosexuality remains fascinatingly transgressive forces us to conduct the annual Littlejohn audit." 
  12. ^ "Richard Littlejohn". Daily Mail. 2007-10-04. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/columnists/columnists.html?in_article_id=485714&in_page_id=1772&in_author_id=322. Retrieved 2007-11-28. 
  13. ^ Hari, Johann. "Richard Littlejohn: Racist and Homophobe". http://www.johannhari.com/archive/article.php?id=631. Retrieved 2009-07-02. "In 1995 in the Daily Mail, he took to joking about gay-bashing" 
  14. ^ Summerskill, Ben. "Review: Littlejohn's Britain by Richard Littlejohn". Features section. The Observer. pp. 25. http://books.guardian.co.uk/reviews/politicsphilosophyandsociety/0,,2099373,00.html. Retrieved 2009-07-02. 
  15. ^ Johann Hari - Archive
  16. ^ a b Johann Hari - Archive
  17. ^ Johann Hari - Archive
  18. ^ Hari, Johann (2008-08-16). "Did Richard Littlejohn really call Barack Obama 'uppity'?". Open House. The Independent. http://blogs.independent.co.uk/openhouse/2008/08/did-richard-lit.html. Retrieved 2009-10-17. 
  19. ^ Hari, Johann (2007-06-28). "Both Mark Steyn and Richard Littlejohn think I fancy them.". http://www.johannhari.com/archive/article.php?id=1148. Retrieved 2009-10-17. 
  20. ^ a b c Littlejohn, Richard (2006-12-18). "Littlejohn: Spare us the 'People's Prostitute' routine...". Daily Mail. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/columnists/columnists.html?in_article_id=423549. Retrieved 2009-07-01. 
  21. ^ "Richard Littlejohn's We Woz Robbed". amazon.co.uk. http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00004TXC8. Retrieved 2009-10-17. 
  22. ^ Daily Telegraph - February 20, 1999

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