Name: John Appleby Job: Health systems programme director, King's Fund Style: Everyone's fave economist - except Number 10's, perhaps. His 'precision'analysis showed up the flaws in Tony Blair's pledge - sorry, aspiration - to raise the share of GDP spent on health to EU levels, and was apparently seen as 'unhelpful'by the on-message brigade. But what's £5. 6bn between friends? Others say he's 'charming', even 'a heart-throb', and 'gives academics a good name. . .

entertaining, well-informed'. Youthful mien has him dubbed 'the Harry Potter of health economists'. But Harry, age 43, says boyish looks are 'a problem at work'. Son of an art teacher and an architect, he paints and makes chairs on days when the Treasury health team hasn't collared him for a chat.

Background: Researcher, then district health economist at South Birmingham HA - 'they asked me to write my own job description and give myself a title'. Later ran National Association of Health Authorities'central policy unit, under Philip 'Lord'Hunt. Said by observers to have got 'frustrated'when NAHA started 'muzzling the more effective campaigning stuff ', such as its annual economic survey of the NHS. But he says Chris Ham at Birmingham Uni's health services management centre 'just phoned me up and I thought: 'academe - why not?''Went to the University of East Anglia, when it tried the phone-call trick. Joined King's Fund in 1998, where Prince Charles asked what he did. 'I am a healthy communist, 'deadpanned Mr A. 'It is an old joke, 'he admits.

Future prospects: Fun at the King's Fund - until one of those phone calls comes along. And the Appleby Index of evidence-based value is waiting to happen.