Book Review: ‘It’s OK! I’m from the Daily Mail: Tales of a Foreign Correspondent’ by Richard Shears

As foreign correspondent for Britain’s Daily Mail, Richard Shears has seen and done many remarkable things. As a memoirist, though, Shears shares his extraordinary life experience in a collection of ‘tales’ whose punch is dulled exactly where the Daily Mail has profited – it globe hops, it investigates, it’s the kind of sensational the masses lap up, but it’s also written with an objectivity that leaves many questions about the deeper truth. On book’s close, all the reader knows is that Shears – and this is the sole motif with which he tries to unify the book (and his life?) – has been extremely lucky.

But like all good tabloid journalism, there are genuinely exciting and scandalous moments to be had (by?). Throughout, Shears appears as a lucky and plucky PI: see him stake out fraud and philanderer (and British MP) John Stonehouse, then tail him and his mistress to a remote rural lookout where he snaps the lovers’ kiss in a photo that leads to Stonehouse’s eventual arrest. Its thrills, it’s true, are undeniable.

Still: though such stories, in no short supply, are full of intrigue and daring-do, close calls and timely coincidences, the events recounted seem nowhere near as phony as Shears’ own self-representation. Is he really just the unwitting recipient of some whiz-bang fortune and a jolly good time to boot? There is ruthlessness here, and for all his efforts at likeability, Shears lets slip on the odd occasion: witness, for example, Shears snaffle a former Miss India from under an old friend’s nose, then convince her to renege on her contractual agreement with the old friend’s paper, a rival to the Mail. Shears should really give himself more credit.

In short: those looking for no more than a ripping yarn will probably enjoy It’s OK! For those after the real scoop, though, ‘It’s OK’ is precisely how you’ll feel about this book.


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