Maggie Brown...On the sun under Rebekah Wade

Maggie Brown...On the sun under Rebekah Wade

ON Monday, David Yelland severed his last tie with The Sun at a farewell Party held in his honour. But already his five- year editorship seems a distant grey dream.

Rebekah Wade, who took over on January 14, will soon face the judgement of the Audit Bureau of Circulation circulation figures. She will pass with flying colours. Sales of The Sun are said to be up. The worm's eye view of this journalist after touring newsagents is that The Sun is often selling out.

Interest in the paper has also risen sharply. Wade's Sun is a lot less staid. It has rediscovered a sense of pithy outrageousness and "talking point" journalism, which plays well in pubs and workplaces.

Yelland saw the soaraway Daily Mail as his enemy. Wrong. Wade seems to be rounding on the Daily Star, the threat from below.

With "Rebekah from Wapping", Wade put paid to feminist prattle she would dump Page 3. Her topless girls have got a bit artier and saucier - one last last week relied on a tiny handbag to preserve her modesty.

And there are plenty of headlines along the lines of "Call the Phwoar Brigade" (firemen rescue woman trapped in kinky cuffs at Ann Summers).

Rupert Murdoch has once again trained an editor with flair. It was sensible to make her clock up experience at the News of the World before transferring the skills six days a week.

Further, note how quickly the right editor, in tune with  a paper's core values, can take it by the scruff of the neck and drive it forward.

This is why tabloids can be so addictive to work for.

The big change is that Wade has adopted a more sharply-defined right-wing agenda. In this, she is leaning for advice on Trevor Kavanagh - The Sun's savvy political editor. Murdoch has made clear his backing for Tony Blair's "brave" support of Bush. The Sun needed no prompting there anyway. But Wade also has confidence in her own buzz social issues, led by the war on paedophiles.

For my 20 pence, I'd say The Sun's front page of January 21 - "Sling Your Hook" - on Finsbury Mosque cleric Abu Hamza, is the most memorable of any so far this year. ("The Sun says drive him out from this land of milk and honey.") But it was last week's special edition published in France, lampooning President Chirac as a worm, which presaged a return to the slapstick of Kelvin MacKenzie's Sun.

It was bang in his old Sun "hop off you frogs" tradition.
A new century, but Mr Punch and John Bull are alive and well. But was it misjudged? Well, if you're a regular Sun  reader you'll know the paper had been warming up with daily Chirac jibes, such as: Q. What's the difference between toast and frenchmen? A. You can make soldiers out of toast.

Its rabble-rousing attacks on asylum seekers - "Asylum  meltdown, end this madness" - combined with a readers' poll are, surely, more problematic.

But the bigger issue is whether the paper is out of touch with its mass market readership? I suspect not. When British troops go into action, Wade is gambling the country will rally behind them.

But so much for the serious stuff! What keeps me turning the pages of Wade's Sun are the headlines. My favourite so far is "Suckingham Palace", heading a piece about James Dyson's purchase of Dodington Hall.

Further, its version of Mr Men behaving badly - the new cast to reflect the sad side of Britain today, (Mr Asylum seeker, Mr Albanian Gangster) - was, itself, instantly parodied by The Guardian's G2.
That's when I knew it had regained its former bounce.

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