The Game kicks off as Times starts 'rant' slot

Dummy of the Game: devoted entirely to football

The Times’s new Thunderer column, which makes its debut on Monday along with the new sports supplement, will give writers the opportunity to have a rant about anything they like.

Topics might range from politics to parking meters. The only criteria for the column, which replaces the axed op-ed diary, is that it is "beautifully written, heartfelt and passionate", said editor Robert Thomson.

A range of staff writers and well-known people from all over the world, not necessarily journalists, will be able to give vent to their feelings in the 650-word slot. "It will be written by Mr, Mrs, Ms and Mademoiselle Angry.

"It’s a very convenient format. You don’t have to put both sides of the argument either," said Thomson.

"Part of it is going to be waking up in the morning realising there is an issue and knowing that we have a gallery of writers who will have strong opinions about it. It can range from feeling that Tony Blair has never done anything more stupid in his life, to being furious about the design of the new Jaguar."

The old diary with its clock logo was "too mannered", Thomson believes. Its days were clearly numbered after the introduction of Andrew Pierce’s People column, which mops up political and showbusiness gossip in a regular slot on page six.

Thomson feels that it didn’t make sense to have two diaries. The old one had a spell in the T2 section where earlier deadlines made it difficult to keep it fresh, before going back to the op-ed pages.

The positioning of People "breaks up the news pages" while the new Thunderer column will give the op-ed pages "extra immediacy".

Diary editor Jack Malvern is moving on to the arts section as a writer and reporter Patrick Kidd has been given a new and better contract spanning foreign and features.

"The old diary hadn’t been around for 200 years. It’s only about 20 years old. The new column will have a completely different feel," said Thomson.

The Times’s new sports section, also launching on Monday, will be the only newspaper standalone section devoted entirely to football. Called The Game – "two halves and a whole lot more" – it has an edgy, modern look designed by Tomaso Capuano who joined the paper recently from the Financial Times.

A second new section is still a closely guarded secret, but it is thought to be some sort of property supplement being masterminded by another former FT colleague of Thomson’s, Anne Spackman.


By Philippa Kennedy

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