Evening Standard’s orange ghosts from the past

Loads has already been said about the relaunch of the Evening Standard – the free copy I got hold of yesterday seemed okay, but it’s still full of crap about toffs and didn’t really feel worth 50p. That said, the first edition of the Standard on any day always feels a bit insubstantial, but at best it felt like evolution and not the revolution that’s so badly needed there. Still, former editor Veronica Wadley throwing her toys out of the pram over the paper’s “sorry” ad campaign gave those in the know a laugh. Her weird comment about her successor – “as for Geordie Greig, well, Etonians have a history of collaborating with the KGB” – says more about the alternative planet her newspaper lived on in her time there than anything else in her statement.

But one other thing leaps out of the new paper – not the fact that it looks like some hybrid of Docklands freebie The Wharf and The Independent, not the over-sized masthead, not the relegation of Eros to the leader column, but… that colour. Orange. Everybody forgets, and I had to try a few Google searches before I could confirm this, but one other London newspaper used orange in the 1990s. And it tanked.

In July 1994, five years before Metro made its debut on London’s streets and 12 before The London Paper, Tonight was launched. It was free every night, and had an orange masthead. In fact, it used to call London “the Big Orange” as a gimmick, and had orange-clad distrubution squads outside mainline stations. It was a fairly run-of-the-mill re-hash of what’d been on the wires that day, politically neutral, but without much else to commend it. It was supposed to appeal to the London commuter “who doesn’t buy the Evening Standard”, which then cost 30p and had a sale of 500,000.

What happened to Tonight? Well, I don’t recall any particular action taken by the Standard against the title – unlike seven years previously when it got all the guns out to kill the London Daily News. Tonight continued for about a year, then became a weekly, then vanished. Does anybody know any more?