Bust-up over The Sun's Page 3 Girls

Bust-up over The Sun's Page 3 Girls

Platinum-blonde Michelle Marsh became famous in Britain for two things: her left one and her right one, and both, apparently, entirely natural.

Like hundreds of other attractive British women, Ms Marsh, who has now retired from her job as a glamour model at the ripe old age of 32, launched her career with The Sun, the country's top-selling newspaper, whose Page 3 is adorned every single day with a young topless model wannabe.

The "Page 3 Girl" has become a national legend: The Sun has gone as far as registering the concept as a trademark.

But the institution has come under renewed attack from activists who say it is time to stop this soft-core porn.

A petition asking The Sun to abolish it has just passed the historic mark of 200,000 signatures, and is rapidly gaining support among British politicians.

Even Mr Rupert Murdoch, the octogenarian media tycoon who owns the newspaper, has hinted at a possible rethink.

Founded in the early 1960s as a respectable broadsheet for Britain's working class, The Sun was facing bankruptcy when Mr Murdoch bought and saved it by applying the formula which earned the mogul billions: a large dose of gossip, low-level sensational journalism and at least one pair of mammary glands on display daily.

The idea of using pin-ups to boost circulation is not exactly new: The Daily Mirror frequently published photos of women in skimpy lingerie. But while the Mirror still tried to pretend that the pictures were related to articles about fashion, The Sun dispensed with such niceties altogether.

The first Page 3 Girl, Stephanie Rahn, also known as Stephanie Marrian, made her debut on Nov 17, 1970. Then 20, she was actually a German, who was born in Singapore.

The decision to feature a "lovely" a day caused an uproar. MPs threatened the newspaper with prosecution for obscenity.

Provincial libraries banned the paper. But Page 3 carried on, launching the careers of many celebrities, including Samantha Fox, who appeared in The Sun on her 16th birthday.

It is debatable whether the daily topless picture was directly responsible for The Sun's phenomenal circulation jump, from 800,000 copies sold each day when Mr Murdoch purchased the paper in the late 1960s, to a peak of 4.7 million copies a day by the mid-1990s, when the paper became the best-selling English-language title in the world.

It is much more likely that snappy journalism, tight budget controls and an uncanny ability to understand both the preoccupations and aspirations of its readers have contributed far more to the paper's success.

More about

Purchase this article for republication.



Your daily good stuff - AsiaOne stories delivered straight to your inbox
By signing up, you agree to our Privacy policy and Terms and Conditions.