The A List 2008: The world according to the A Listers


There is hope for this industry of ours while "corkscrew" at least gets a look-in - especially as so many of our respondents specify the Screwpull brand. Further research needs to be done here, however, to determine whether the industry leans towards the lever-action Screwpull favoured by cads and bounders or the traditional type - a corkscrew of genius in that it absolutely refuses to open rubbish bottles of wine. It can't exert traction on plastic corks, you see. As for the dreaded BlackBerry, the ad industry, like so many others, is resigned to the fact that, even at the most genial of social events, there's a certain sort who insist on finding a secluded corner where they can fiddle furtively with their thingmybobs. You know who you are.

Rank Item Votes
1 iPod 41
2 BlackBerry 34
3= Corkscrew 15
3= Sky+ 15
5 Marketing 9


We can't help feeling that what seems to be a growing groundswell of allegiance to the Arsenal Club will prove to be a passing fad. It's hardly ever open, the Pouilly Fuisse is inadequately chilled, the menu unimaginative and they insist on making you park yourself in somewhat cramped and utilitarian seating on a noisy terrace arrangement, outside, even in winter - without a patio heater in sight. Everyone knows the industry's true playground is Soho House. A recent contributor to an online review complained that it was "jammed to the rafters with self-important media types". As if this was somehow a bad thing.

Rank Venue Votes
1 Soho House 28
2 Arsenal 13
3= Century 8
3= Groucho Club 8
3= Home House 8


Astonishing. You can second-guess many of the entries in most of the A List tables. But there's a huge surprise lurking in this one. Winston Churchill? Check. Thatcher? Obviously. Mandela? Yup. Big History stuff. And Gordon Brown? Well, it always pays to suck up to power, doesn't it? But my-oh-my ... Tony Benn? Not so long ago Benn, a puritanical syndicalist and scourge of consumerism, would have been regarded an enemy of the comms industries. On the other hand, he's experienced something of an image makeover since collapsing at the 2005 Labour conference - and the BBC's Daily Politics programme even rated him the UK's all-time political hero. How very curious.

Rank Politician Votes
1 Winston Churchill 27
2= Magaret Thatcher 15
2= Nelson Mandela 15
4 Tony Benn 13
5 Gordon Brown 11


We give you Gates Buffett Jobs Branson and Wife (not Richard Branson's wife, obviously), a forward-looking digital communications consultancy operating in a social networking Web 2.0 sort of space. And it's a nightmarish prospect. Just imagine those lunatic egos round the same boardroom table - though fusty old Warren Buffett would be genial and Wife would surely add tone to the proceedings. The fact that it's "wife" and not "husband" may be further proof, if proof were needed, that the business is still dominated by sentimental old fools of men who consider it clever to hold doors open for (their) ladies. On the other hand, none of the high-powered female executives featured in the A List choose to fantasise about going into business with their other halves. Wonder why.

Rank Partner Votes
1 Steve Jobs 19
2 Bill Gates 11
3 Richard Branson 9
4 The wife 8
5 Warren Buffet 5


Evidence, as always, that senior communications industry professionals don't do commercial radio. Not so as you'd notice. As ever, you suspect that Radio 4's morning news and interview programme, Today, is absolutely central to the A List's listening repertoire - with 5 Live being used throughout the weekend to keep half an ear out for sports updates and results. And, of course, when the A List listens to music, it should ideally be that high-class stuff served up on Classic. (In fact, the A List is probably really listening to Radio 3 but is too afraid to admit it.) Those people who insist on tuning in to the tinny racket peddled by Virgin and Xfm are clearly lowering the tone. Are they really genuine A List material?

Rank Station Votes
1 Radio 4 78
2 5 Live 52
3 Xfm 17
4 Classic FM 10
5 Virgin 9


A Listers exhibit a healthy disrespect for the conventional pieties of climate change. Steve Aldridge sets the tone. How do you off-set your carbon footprint? Answer - tip-toe. Of course, what is for some a healthy independent-mindedness is for others an irresponsible refusal to set a good example. And, of course, it's true that there is much hand-wringing to be found in these pages. There's a also a substantial group in the middle ground who sigh and reflect that they've not done much about their energy consumption habits - and probably never will. But what's a poor A Lister to do? He or she does, after all, drive a big fast car and feels duty bound to go gallivanting round the globe in First and Business. So, really, how does one off-set one's carbon footprint? "Mondays and Fridays," Julie France says, "I walk on water."

Rank Reason Votes
1 Walking 32
2 Cycling 23
3 With difficulty 21


Yeah, yeah ... James Bond. Bow tie, fast car, big pistol. Almost as predictable as the high score for Atticus Finch, crusading lawyer in To Kill a Mockingbird, which, as past A Lists revealed, is the archetypal A Lister book. But actually, this question finds A Listers at their most imaginative, whimsical and least prone to take themselves dreadfully seriously - after all, there's even a certain camp value in picking Bond. It's instructive to note how many cartoon characters are cited and the Simpsons seems a terribly popular source. Groundskeeper Willy gets at least one mention - but it's perhaps telling that Mr Burns tends to be mentioned as fantasy business partner rather than a hero. We are most tickled, though, by the avatar selected by Robert Harwood-Mathews, who likes to imagine himself as "the hairy chap in the Joy of Sex books".

Rank Hero Votes
1 James Bond 12
2= Tin Tin 8
2= Homer Simpson 8
4 Biggles 7
5 Atticus Finch 5


By and large, your average member of the A List tribe hides little. It's all out there, writ large, used for maximum effect - so it's unsurprising that musical abilities are the ones most likely to be regarded as "hidden" talents. Lots of people in the business can draw, many can write and taking a good picture is a common. Plonking away on the guitar or piano is just about exotic enough to count while also playing up a sensitive side - an important consideration for captains of creative industries. As for juggling, we're not sure they're talking balls here. It's surely a metaphor for their busy lifestyles.

Rank Talent Votes
1 Playing an instrument 12
2 Cooking 8
3 Singing 6
4 Patience 5
5 Juggling 4


Nowhere is the industry's split personality more apparent than it its choice of newspapers - its senior players are uncompromising in their pursuit of business nous, thus their adherence to the Financial Times; but it remains as important to grab some of the "creative" badge values bestowed upon you when you carry a copy of The Guardian. Still, it's all highbrow stuff. The Express and the Mail have always been held beneath contempt by the A List but it's interesting to note how unfashionable the red-tops have also become. Perhaps the A List elite has given up pretending they're in tune with the common people. It helps to explain the poor showing (Sunday Times aside) of the Murdoch press on this list.

Rank Newspaper Votes
1 The Guardian 50
2 The Sunday Times 24
3 Financial Times 15
4 The Observer 12
5= The Daily Telegraph 11
5= The Independent 11


The A List is bang in the middle of the market that The Week has captured for itself. It's a magazine for "time poor" movers and shakers who want an executive summary that will deliver them the big picture double quick time. And actually, The Economist fulfils that sort of function too, though it demands a lot more time and thought of its readers. The biggest surprise, arguably, is the appearance here of Private Eye, a magazine that has always delighted in kicking lumps out of the media and ad industries, cruelly exposing airs and graces and mocking pretensions. Its presence here is perhaps the measure of a less flamboyant, more introverted industry these days - one that is now more aligned to the magazine's cynical world view. As for Campaign's placing - yes, it's true that flaterry will get you everywhere, but third place? Is that the best you could do?

Rank Magazine Votes
1 The Week 30
2 Private Eye 16
3 Campaign 13
4 Vanity Fair 10
5 The Economist 8


At least the A List admits it watchesTV these days. It used to be terribly fashionable to say you didn't watch television, not really. Too busy, see. Now that everyone has a Sky+ box there's no escape. Or excuse. And clearly, most people in the business are, in a very real sense, Jack Bauer. It's all go, isn't it? Come to think of it, it, this is an alarmingly macho line-up. Guns, football, violence, fast cars, the mob, Jeremy Clarkson, more guns. The list's only saving grace is a piquant flavouring of calamitous honesty courtesy of Larry Curb Your Enthusiasm David - perhaps, would they but dare to admit it, a choice that's more truly representative of the A List mindset than Bauer or Tony Soprano.

Rank Show Votes
1 24 20
2 Match of the Day 12
3= Curb Your Enthusiasm 11
3= Top Gear 11
5 The Sopranos 9


The newspaper industry will be more than a little concerned that, despite high-profile relaunches and new multiplatform strategies, none of the major UK publishing brands makes it on to this list. On the other hand, the sites in our top five are pretty much the usual suspects the world over. There is, possibly, one surprise omission - but then the A List could hardly boast of its social networking credentials when it spends so much of its time sending round memos telling employees not to waste their working days on Facebook. Which is rich, when our table reveals just how many A Listers have a cosy sideline trading on eBay.

Rank Website Votes
1 bbc.co.uk 49
2 ebay.co.uk 19
3 google.co.uk 13
4 youtube.co.uk 12
5 wikipedia.org 9



- I breathe less. Olivier Altmann

- I have never driven a car in my life. This frees me up to destroy an area of rainforest the size of Wales every weekend, should the mood take me. Trevor Beattie

- Always switch the lights off in the Gulfstream. Stephen Miron

- I switch off the television when Manchester United and Liverpool are playing. Chris Hayward

- I insist on walking to my car every morning. Andrew Hirsch

- Don't be silly. John Mayhead

- I drive my Aston Martin slowly. Jeremy Miles

- Make the children run behind the car. Marcus Rich


- A lobster farm, the group Led Zeppelin and their entourage including groupies at their peak, and a neverending bar. Wayne Arnold

- Woolly hat, football and an apostrophe. Jim Carroll

- A copy of the Daily Mail, a match to light it with and a Cumberland sausage to cook over the flame. Peter Bazalgette

- An Argos catalogue, a Corby trouser press and a huge bag of cement to build a timeshare. Tony Cullingham

- My cello, The Bible, a small portable altar. Paul Lawson


- The spatula. David Bain


- Platinum spatula. David Bain

- My girlfriend's right boob. Sam Ball

- A 2,700-year-old Phoenician ring. Steve Harrison


- The Tufty Club (never got around to cancelling). Stuart Smith


- Malcolm McLaren. Greg Grimmer


- I once rescued a trapped horse from a rising tide and we were both almost drowned. Fernando Rodes Vila


- Crystal Tipps on a bad hair day. Linda Smith


- Attila the Hun. Guy Zitter


- Thin layer chromatography. Will Collin

- I can drive a 42-ton Leopard tank. Nicolai Fuglsig

- I can eat three jars of gherkins in one sitting. Phillipa Brown

- I can swallow a sword. Derek Morris

- I can play Stairway to Heaven on the bagpipes. Ewan Paterson

- I can make the giant rocket go off at Tetris. Stevie Spring


- I'm a Catholic girly swot. Helen Calcraft


- Peeling potatoes in a toy factory. John Poorta

- Tea lady at the Old Bailey. Two hundred cups in the morning and 200 in the afternoon, wearing high heels. Laura Gregory

- Diamond mine forman. Alex Kuropatwa

- Overseeing the Pedigree Chum Diarrhoea Panel. John Shaw