David Banks: It was Rupert Murdoch who loved Page 3. Are they really going to pension it off?

Former Mirror editor David Banks on how the boobs took on a life of their own this week

Ian West/PA Wire Rupert Murdoch
Rupert Murdoch

The editor of The Sun will wake up with a horse’s head in his bed this morning.

It’s either the Palermo Pony on his pillow or a telephoned warning from the growling capo di tutti capi, riding his executive jet somewhere between LA and Sydney, that if he crosses The Boss again he’ll sleep with the fishes.

Either way, he’ll get the message. Page Three is deemed to be doomed and no illegitimate son of The Sun can outgun a son of the manse (did you know Rupert Murdoch’s grandfather was a Scots Presbyterian minister?)

Unless, that is, there’s a quid in it. If sales drop when White Van Man shops even further downmarket in search of soft porn in his newspaper the News Corp king will abandon principles to protect his UK financial principal.

It was Rupert himself who ordered an unconvinced founding editor to “go ahead and do it every day” when he saw the ‘joke’ pin-up page produced by legendary layout artist Vic Giles on a fateful day in 1970. Murdoch, master media manipulator, is a marketing genius who realised there were millions to be made if he put naked beauties on Britain’s building sites.

From that day forward outraged feminists parked their tank tops on his lawn. Woman’s Hour sent a reporter to interview the ‘male chauvinist pig’ Pat Chapman whose Page Three ‘titter’ puns and nudge-nudge innuendo so enraged the lady lobby, only to be met by a charming PATSY Chapman!

The woman who was the industry’s most revered cheesecake caption writer went on to become editor of the sexy, salacious News of the World. Her first act was to quietly drop the Sunday’s Page Three, a move which went unnoticed by the paper’s five million readers and by every media pundit.

It was a sensible move then, and maybe one whose time has come for The Sun. A move, moreover, that maybe only a woman with Patsy’s pedigree could make. After all, wasn’t she the sub-editor who mourned the retirement of the most famous Page Three Girl, Samantha Fox, with a cracked gravestone bearing the words:

In Loving Mammary

Samantha Fox

1981-1988

Breast In Peace

They don’t pen pithy obituaries like THAT any more! Unsurprisingly, it brought down the Church’s holy wrath and at least one call for Patsy’s excommunication (a first, even for a Sun sub).

Ironically – and, for me, sadly – the demise of Page Three coincided almost to the day with the death of my great friend and colleague Mickey Ouzman, art editor of The Sun for 30 years or more who spent much of that time ‘improving’ photographer Beverley Goodway’s pin-up pictures.

Touching up the Page Three girls, you might say. . . thanks for the mammary, Mickey.

:: Who on earth, demanded ’Er In Bed, was Denise?

I stopped, halfway to the bathroom, rubbed my eyes and marvelled at the fact that I had started yet another day on the wrong foot.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I protested. “Are you talking about the barmaid at the Red Lion?”

Well! Talk about ‘light the blue touchpaper...’ “Hers was the first name you spoke this morning!” roared the Good Lady. “You were sat there moaning ‘Oh Denise, Denise.’ So what’s going on?”

Reader, I was stunned. My mouth had got me into trouble even half-asleep. “Nothing’s going on,” I wailed. “I’m an old man.” And then it came to me. . .

I’d been sitting on the side of the bed rubbing some life into my aching legs, tried to stand and sank back in some pain. That’s when I said it:

“Oh, the knees! The knees!”

Well, we had to laugh. . .

:: Farmer Morebottle’s last visit to the ladies’ hair salon in Wooler cost him his Kevin Keegan bubble cut.

“The girl had just finished trimming one side when there was a power cut,” he wailed. “I told her to carry on, so she did. When the lights came back on all she said was: ‘Oh, bloody ’ell!’

Now he’s wandering around as shame-faced as a newly-shorn shearling.

david_banks@hotmail.com

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