Nigel Dempster book: 'He seemed determined to prove that he could perform better drunk than his rivals could sober'

A new book chronicling the life of the ‘prince of gossip columnists’, Nigel Dempster, is being serialised in the Daily Mail.

Nigel Dempster and the Death of Discretion was written by Tim Willis and is described by the Mail as the “unexpurgated stoy of the one O-level outsider who became a confidant of the royals despite exposing their deepest secrets”.

Dempster died in 2007 aged 65 and was credited as inventing the modern newspaper gossip column during his 32-year run at the Daily Mail from 1971 to 2003.

The first extract ran in the Daily Mail on Saturday, here’s a snippet:

The writer Clive James once said that Dempster’s revelations of infidelities sent children crying home from school – a charge that Dempster denied, though the Duchess of York confirms she first learned of her par ents’ 1974 divorce through his column.

But whatever dis taste the public affected for the messenger, an increasing number of them couldn’t get enough of his message.

‘He was quite simply the best- known journalist in Britain, possibly the world,’ says Richard Kay, his eventual successor at the Mail.

Extract two delves into Dempster’s own “complicated love-life” and reveals how is drinking led to the end of his second marriage after 25 years in 2003:

Increasingly he seemed determined to prove that he could perform better drunk than his rivals could sober.

He always broke up the day with a bottle of chilled Chablis  –  sometimes two, followed by champagne at El Vino’s in Fleet Street. In his office, he kept an oxygen tank and mask behind his desk, so that he could take a blast and clear his head.

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