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(Illustration by Michael Daley)

From September to next January the British Museum will mount an exhibition with the modest title I Object: Ian Hislop’s Search for Dissent. The editor of Private Eye has selected 100 objects from the museum’s collection which tell the story of dissent from ancient times to the present day, ranging from an ancient Mesopotamian object right up to a pink knitted “pussyhat” as worn in the American anti-Trump demonstrations of January 2017, which turns out to have been “newly acquired” just for the exhibition. The show is, however, unlikely to feature any emblem of dissent from liberal orthodoxy, such as an item from the Leave campaign in the Brexit referendum.

Who could be more suitable for this task, you might think, than the editor of Britain’s foremost satirical magazine? Well, almost anyone, really. For Hislop long ceased to be the embodiment of dissent and is now a pillar of the liberal establishment, while his magazine is a far cry from the gadfly that delighted in mercilessly mocking politicians and public figures of left, right and centre, broke exclusive news stories, and recounted gossip from society’s inner circles that Fleet Street dared not publish.

Hislop likes to have his cake and eat it. While the Eye regularly mocks the BBC (not a difficult task), Hislop earns a small fortune from the corporation as one of the two regular panellists (along with Paul Merton) on BBC2’s Have I Got News For You?  The series has now been running for an extraordinary 28 years and Hislop has appeared in every single programme, although these days he does little more than pull faces at the other guests’ sallies. But nobody at the BBC seems willing to pull the plug, although the series has long outstayed its welcome. Hislop has also made several well-received TV documentaries for the BBC and the upcoming British Museum show will be accompanied by three Radio 4 programmes — hosted by Hislop, of course.
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July 12th, 2018
12:07 PM
OK, but what is the point Robert Low is trying to make? Does he expect Ian Hislop to change the way our country is governed by means of a mere satirical yet still popular magazine? Or is this a thinly veiled attempt to hide his jealousy that this so-called 'overrated' editor is more successful than he could ever hope to be? I say 'live and let live' Robert. I judge Ian Hislop by the circulation of private eye which is currently 246,628 and in my eyes that suggests that even if you think he is 'overrated' the 246,628 don't and that's what counts at the end of the day. Your 'opinion' is just an opinion but the 'fact' is Ian Hislop is still popular and the high sales of Private eye stand as conclusive proof.

Observer of the Scene
July 11th, 2018
9:07 AM
Hear, hear! Private Eye reflects its editor: smug, right-on and completely unfunny. One might wish Richard Ingrams back at the helm, if it were not for Ingrams' toxic antisemitism.

June 30th, 2018
11:06 PM
Much as I agree with the article it should never be forgotten that Hislop gave us "A Room of My Own by Bobby Sands"

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