Cooking in Prison

We asked another squadron of journalists to tell us about the most excruciating pitches they’ve ever sent.

joe bishop

I spent about a year trying to convince VICE to let me spend an entire working day in the toilet.


eva wiseman

Many years ago, when I was an intern at The Face, I was really excited to be invited in to meet the then features editor of Vogue. I sat beside her desk while she continued working, and awkwardly reeled off some ideas. I don’t think she made eye contact once, but the worst bit was the email I received from her when I got home, which simply said, ‘NO THANK’.


mark blacklock

Couldn’t interest anyone in my spoof restaurant column by an imagined psychotic sushi chef.


helen barrett

A comment piece on the joy of ashtrays.


kyle macneill

Ranking All 21 Named Megabus Coaches by Banter.


mark o’connell

I pitched a piece about underground storage facilities to Esquire, and from the email it’s clear I found it fascinating but I can’t fathom why now.


lauren gilmour

Ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day, a PR asked if I was interested in any ‘inspiring and feel-good Holocaust stories’. Can’t say I’ve ever felt good when reading about the Holocaust, it must be said.


kieran morris

Pitched, organised and very nearly ventured out to the Belgrade Derby, where the plan was to just ‘sit with the Partizan ultras and see what happens.’ Snow cancelled the trip at the last minute, and both my editor and my mum were then able to say what a stupid idea they thought it was.


ian martin

There was a time – 2012? 2013? – when every three weeks or so I’d be contacted by a journalist to ask if I fancied writing a piece on the subject of ‘Is Satire Dead?’ Then one day someone called from the Guardian. As a joke, I asked if they’d be interested in a piece entitled ‘Are Articles Like This One Asking If Satire Is Dead, Dead?’

A three-second silence followed, then: ‘could you get something to us by close of business tomorrow?’


harriet fitch little

In March 2020 I pitched the FT Arts editor a weekly column (to be written by me) on ‘how the pandemic was affecting the arts’. 


rich pelley

I once not only pitched but also went ahead with a medical trial at the gastrointestinal department in Sydney where I had a tube stuck up my nose, which I had to push up an inch an hour, until three days later it came out of my arse. I got paid for the trial but the magazine eventually turned it down.


josh kaplan

While working at The Tab I successfully pitched ‘meet the girls who live alone at uni’, which I published under a co-byline with another (male) editor. One of the girls was so offended that she published a blog saying she pitied me. 


róisín lanigan

When I worked at i-D I once pitched ‘Soup: Now chic?’


stephen collins

I  once did a cartoon for the cover of a dentistry trade magazine. They were going to a convention at a conference centre in Liverpool. ‘So, lots of Liverpool things, and lots of teeth things bursting out the conference centre; a football, and a toothbrush, a drill, some teeth, the river Mersey, the ferry on the river Mersey, the Beatles, and the Beatles are all giants, and they’re brushing their teeth…’ I’m ashamed to say I actually drew this image.


gus carter

I did once try to do ‘Adventures in the Ketaverse’, i.e. taking ketamine with a VR headset on.


charlotte ivers

At the work summer party I got drunk and insisted to my boss that I should do a long read on a cultural history of Mr Brightside and what it means to the British psyche. But she told me ‘We are obviously not doing that.’ And she also told me The Killers aren’t cool. 


luke mcgee

I’ve had lots of podcast ideas based on puns that never got made. Like a Taylor Swift dietary and nutritionist show ‘look what you made me poo’.


louis staples

I once pitched: ‘And Just Like That Should Deepfake Samantha’.


sophie elmhirst

A selection from the notes app on my phone (some of which I have actually said out loud to an editor). Blair gets four question marks because I think I’ve pitched a profile of him every year for the last decade. Weirdly no one ever says yes. I don’t know what sexy debt means.

Has someone ever bought a village?

Hair removal

Relationship with your local shop


It is now impossible to get lost


Dog grooming

Sexy debt

Actual second coming?


joel golby

I always wanted to throw a melon off a motorway bridge. 


hussein kesvani

When I was starting out and Noisey was a thing, I pitched a piece in defence of DJs in rock bands, (eg. Linkin Park, Incubus etc) and why more bands should have them, and that DJ Lethal was actually a genius. The editor sent me a reply immediately just saying ‘nope’.


hannah tindle

Waist Down Dressing: The 2021 Rise of the Novelty Bottom Half

After endless zoom calls showcasing our top halves, we want our bottom halves to shine. Enter: the novelty bottom half. Think: trousers, tights, skirts. Personally, I’ve bought a pair of pink rose print ones from Saks Potts, some very gaudy vintage Moschino capri pants, and sheer ones with a face printed on it. What do you think?


archie bland

I don’t know if it’s a pitch exactly but a very long time ago I asked my then boss if I could have permission to take MDMA on Channel 4 along with Lionel Shriver and a priest as part of an ‘experiment’. He forcefully and very wisely refused.


kev kharas

Someone once sent me ideas to try and secure an internship which included taking a lethal dose of LSD, being brought back to life via defibrillator, and then writing it up via a blog.


elle hunt

All spelling errors reproduced as in the original email. Understandably this was a pass (and in hindsight smacks of some pandemic-related mania). But I have to say, I’d still read the hell out of it.

hiya! betewen the life-size cardborad cutout of ana de armas being chucked after her split from ben affleck, and the margaret thatcher cut-out in dec, and the pete davidson cut-out i found on the street in nov IM THINKING WE’VE GOT A TREND BABY

Would you be interested in a short feature exploring who makes these lifesize cardboard cut-outs, what figures you can buy and WHY people buy them, what they do with them and how they dispose of them – especially the bespoke ones?

you can buy them on amazon – could contact sellers and past buyers and also speak to some people who have had their own custom made.

anecdotally i want to say they have gone up during the pandemic but i have no proof of this.

hope you are well xxx


ava santina

I was convinced that in order to cover Scottish independence properly I should be sent to an oil rig off Aberdeen. The press officer I was dealing with had to quietly explain to me that one woman with 200 men who had been locked up on an oil rig for three months was a mental idea. 


philip womack

I once pitched an article comparing The Apprentice to Greek tragedy, in which I would talk of hamartia and the deus ex machina and so forth. It was to a national newspaper. They didn’t take it.


 tom lamont

Dear Marvin,

I’m a writer at the Guardian. I cover all sorts. For my next project, I want to write something about a Love Island contestant. Not one of the contestants who won, or who came away with praise, prize money, promo deals. Instead one of the people who had a less obviously successful time on the island. Didn’t meet anyone special. Went in for a bit, went home, while the show carried on without them. You came to mind.

What it’s like, waiting around before you join the action? What it’s like, having to leave before you’ve had a full experience? I’d like to pick apart some of the weirder or funnier aspects of participation. Also any regrets or reliefs it might have left you with.

If there’s an agent or representative I should contact, feel free to point me in that direction.

All the best,


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