It must be one of many surprising lockdown career shifts out of all of the thousands.

Flora Connell was set for superstardom in her One Eleven band. She’d supported Bryan Ferry, the Roxy Music legend at the Royal Albert Hall and was about to embark on a tour of America when Covid-19 struck.

Yet today finds her back home in the Cotswolds feeding the chickens… and working for her father.

Surprisingly, the dramatic shift in heart rate has nothing to do with virus.

Rather, while the world gets back to normal and concert venues open up, the 31-year-old has turned her back on showbusiness for a very different mission – an innovative news service designed to cut through the lies and contradictions of the internet.

Flora Connell, 31, (pictured) was set for stardom with her band One Eleven and was about to embark on a tour of America when Covid-19 struck. Now she has turned her back on showbusiness and has teamed up with her father Jon Connell to create a news website

Flora Connell was 31 years old and had a star-making career with One Eleven. She was just about to begin a US tour, when Covid-19 descended on her. Now she has turned her back on showbusiness and has teamed up with her father Jon Connell to create a news website

Flora, dismayed over the incessant fear-mongering that was the Internet, created The Knowledge along with Jon Connell, her father, who is the entrepreneur behind The Week, a hugely popular global magazine.

This resulted in a father-daughter web site. The website offers all you could need to know about the current world events in small chunks.

They aim to educate as well as entertain. And to declare war on ‘doomscrolling’, the obsessive hunt for bad news that has fuelled so much of the web and social media in the past two years.

As Flora found during lockdown, the internet can be a hostile and confusing place, even for ‘digital natives’ – younger people who have grown up using computers and smartphones.

With limited time, she began to try to find a way out of this mess.

Promising ‘all the week’s wisdom in one place’, The Knowledge is ‘like having a GPS for the internet – a signpost telling you which way to go’, explains Flora.

‘The idea was to arm people with the information they need to join a conversation. It should give them something interesting and witty to say at a dinner party.’ Even the name is smart. The Knowledge, of course, is also the name of the training for London’s black cab drivers who must commit to memory the whole street plan of the city, and its famous landmarks.

Flora is now working in an office, the first time she’s done so in her adult life. She says that she no longer has plans to get back together with her band.

‘One minute I was on stage at the Royal Albert Hall and the next I was back home feeding the hens and sitting in front of the fire.

‘But in a way, starting The Knowledge is not too dissimilar to starting a band,’ she says. ‘When you first tell people you’re doing it, they all think you’re mad. It’s a risk.’

Jon, her father and the driving force behind this project, finds all of these sounds familiar. Many people lined up to confront him when he quit his job as the Deputy Editor of The Sunday Telegraph to start The Week.

The Duke of Edinburgh was one of his critics. He is a close family friend. Jon was a friend of Prince Charles from Gordonstoun School in Scotland.

Flora (pictured right) teamed up with father, Jon (left) to create The Knowledge, which offers everything you might need to know about current world events in bite-sized chunks. Their mission is to entertain as well as educate

Flora (pictured at right) was inspired by her father Jon (left), to start The Knowledge. It provides all you could need to know in digestible chunks about current world events. Their aim is to entertain and educate.

‘Prince Philip had come up to my cousin’s estate in Scotland to compete in a carriage driving competition. When I told him of my plan, he said, “No, no, no. We need you at the Telegraph!” ’

Jon ignored the Duke, and continued to push on. To fund half his start-up costs, he sold the London home of his family. The rest he left to his family and close friends.

Felix Dennis became an investor in The Week, and the magazine gained many loyal fans around the world.

Out of the 2,750 readers who signed up for The Week in 1995 there were 700 that still had their subscriptions 20 years later. With its succinct summary of the past week’s news, it drew in more than 200,000 readers in the UK and nearly 600,000 in the US.

In August, Dennis Publishing, which also owns Country Life, bought The Week outright for £300 million.

Jon is optimistic that this digital news service will surpass his previous successes.

‘I love The Week, but however much I like it, there is a gap in the digital market,’ he says. ‘Just 25 years ago, we were living in a sea of newspapers and the internet scarcely existed. Today, it’s a totally different world.’

He is 69 years old and shows no signs of slowing down. As he walks around the Cotswolds estate, noting things that are of particular interest, ‘There’s the lake where we would go swimming in the summer, that way is the old manor house…’

Jon and his wife Alexandra live in a renovated former laundry – now very much a country mansion – near the pretty village of Lacock.

The family of Flora’s mother – Lady Alexandra Moncreiffe Hay – has been linked to the area for generations. Another family link to the area is colonial East Africa, and its notorious Happy Valley group. Flora’s great-grandfather on her mother’s side was Josslyn Hay, shot dead in Kenya in what became known as the ‘White Mischief’ murder. Her great-grandmother was Lady Idina Sackville who became known as ‘the bolter’ for leaving her children behind to head to Africa.

(Lady Idina inspired the character of The Bolter in Nancy Mitford’s comic novel Love In A Cold Climate, who was played by Emily Mortimer in the recent BBC TV adaptation.)

As you might expect from such a family, the walls are full of gold-framed paintings, family photographs and some mementoes of Jon’s time as a Washington correspondent for The Sunday Times, when he interviewed President Ronald Reagan.

The family home was full again for the first time in years during lockdown as Flora and her older brother Ivar, Alexandra’s son from a previous relationship, returned home.

Flora is happy to needle her father, saying: ‘Dad was ready for lockdown for years before it happened because he has been stockpiling his whole life!

‘The cupboards are full of bags of Scottish oats and enough Marmite to last a decade.’

But the result of many hours of lockdown walks and debating was The Knowledge – a project now funded by DMG media group, which also publishes The Mail on Sunday and the Daily Mail.

‘I told him it had to be Daily not Weekly and it had to have an app,’ explains Flora. ‘He didn’t even know what an app was.’

‘I do now,’ he interjects, brandishing his mobile. ‘I’ve got more on my phone than you now!’

Flora is also having to adapt. Flora is also having to adjust after a long career in the music business.

One of her earlier roles, for example, was working in a studio for the artist Prince – which entailed ensuring his personal ping-pong table was always ready.

‘I heard a banging noise at the back of the studio one day and it was Prince knocking on the door with his cane,’ she recalls. ‘He’d managed to get himself locked out in his purple cravat by the bins.

‘I think I’m good at adapting and changing so this makes sense. There are parts of working in an office that I adore and other parts that make me want to rip my clothes off and run off down the road.’

Jon says: ‘We take what we do seriously. There’s an intellectual rigour there. But we don’t take ourselves seriously and that’s the key.’

The app’s recent days have seen both punchy opinions and pithy stories.

It has covered everything from the moment that President Joe Biden was caught napping at COP26 (‘Is “sleepy Joe” too woke?’) – to a succinct summary of the Government’s U-turn on the former Cabinet minister Owen Paterson and a piece about Professor Kathleen Stock, who was hounded out of Sussex University by trans activists. It also features sections on money, property, and sport as any other current affairs magazine.

There’s a ‘From the archives’ section, too, recalling earlier interviews with people back in the news today.

Then there is the ‘heroes and villains’ segment. Last week, the heroes included ‘hungry baleen whales’, which have been found to eat three times as much as previously thought – the equivalent of 80,000 Big Macs a day in krill – and in doing so trap and lock away vast amounts of carbon.

Who are the villains? The standout was Jayne Rivera, a fitness model and social-media influencer who pulled sultry yoga poses in front of her dead father’s coffin. She has since deleted her social-media posts.

‘The internet is such a confusing place,’ says Flora. ‘We can learn about anything we want in a flash, but it can destroy people’s lives. We’ve created a world within a world.

‘Everybody needs help navigating their way through it, otherwise it’s exhausting. What we’re doing is searching in all the dark corners to direct people to the Crown Jewels.’

As Jon puts it: ‘One of my former colleagues in magazines said to me: there’s so much to read out there, you can never finish it. But at the end of our five-minute newsletter it says, “That’s it. You’re done.”

‘And people tell me that’s what they love – the feeling that they have accomplished something.’

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