HEADLINER: Loaded co-founder returns to put the lads’ mag back on top - Tim Southwell believes the original blokes’ title needs a boost

This week’s Headliner is brought to you from a pub. Not just any pub; Campaign is in the Stamford, IPC’s den of iniquity in the cultural backwater that is Stamford Street, London SE1.

This week’s Headliner is brought to you from a pub. Not just any

pub; Campaign is in the Stamford, IPC’s den of iniquity in the cultural

backwater that is Stamford Street, London SE1.



And who would be surprised to find that Campaign’s drinking buddy is Tim

Southwell, the new editor of Loaded? He’s a Loaded lad through and

through, always ’dahn the boozer’, chatting up the barmaids and calling

everyone a tosser.



Actually, he’s not. First, the reason we’re in the pub is because he

hasn’t yet settled in to the office he has occupied for little under 24

hours. Second, he has just become a father and, third, apart from taking

selected calls from his constantly ringing mobile phone, he’s

wonderfully attentive, although disappointingly prickly after a day of

interviews. I agree to take only half an hour.



After co-founding Loaded with James Brown (questions about whom he

dodges like a prize fighter) and four years of deputy editorship,

Southwell and Loaded went their separate ways. He started writing

Getting Away With It, a kiss-and-tell book about Loaded, and finally

severed all ties with the title when he turned down the editor’s post in

1997 on Brown’s departure to edit GQ.



Which is why it was all the more surprising when IPC announced last week

that Southwell would replace Derek Harbinson - a former Loaded

sub-editor who sat in the editor’s chair for 17 months - in the top job.

Even though the title put on 20 per cent in circulation under Harbinson,

a more established ideas man was the order of the day.



Southwell explains: ’I never turned my back on Loaded. Even once I had

left, I wrote the book, promoted it and ended up talking about Loaded on

the radio, television, promotions, everything. I found myself

passionately supporting it and that rekindled all the stuff from the

past.’



Southwell knows he has a job to do. My nervous shuffling of the piece of

paper on which I had written the sensitive questions - hasn’t Loaded

gone a bit flat? Isn’t morale low? - is unnecessary as he launches into

an unprompted critique of the title. ’It’s quite depressing and bland -

a caricature of itself. I’d love to get hold of it and put a rocket up

its arse; get it back to what it was.’



He also thinks Loaded has suffered as new men’s magazines have come on

to the market and, in turn, as the more established titles have altered

their approaches accordingly to include a few well-oiled cleavages.

’It’s not very clever, is it?’ he sneers. ’They’ve devalued the

market.’



His rivals are kinder towards him than he is to them. Piers Hernu,

Front’s editor and an ex-Loaded hack, is polite. ’It was a good move for

IPC, appointing Tim. He has lots of energy and vision and can only make

the title better. There are enough readers out there for both of us, so

I wish him well.’



Relaxed by the cosy pub and charmed by Southwell giving me a fag every

time he lights one, I ask: ’Do people expect Loaded editors to get

pissed all the time and steal their women?’ I immediately wish I hadn’t.

’The evolution of the ’Loaded lad’ is nothing to do with Loaded,’ he

bristles.



’We don’t nick other people’s birds - that’s just bloody anti-social and

a really sad perception. We’re not making a magazine for Campaign or the

Guardian.’ Ouch, I’ll get my coat. ’They can’t believe that Loaded is a

successful working-class magazine, so they make these crass

statements.’



Southwell’s main goal is to make the magazine more glamorous, starting

with getting the ’nobodies’ off the cover and the ’geezers’ on it. And

plans for international expansion are high on the agenda. ’Loaded should

be launched in every country in the world,’ he proclaims. Developing

licensed products is also on the cards - annual awards, perhaps -

although Southwell wants to think about it for a while.



We now have company as Adrian Pettett, Loaded’s publisher, joins us with

his beer. He nudges Southwell and addresses me: ’It’s great he’s

back.



He’s really going to turn it around.’ Southwell looks endearingly

embarrassed.



The three of us sit and drink for a while, dissecting this month’s

magazine and talking about the current search for an ad agency. My

allotted half an hour has turned into four times that. But then,

slightly fuddled by badinage and Budvar, I blink and they’ve said

goodbye and scarpered. I have a sudden urge to jump into a Union Jack

bikini.



THE SOUTHWELL FILE

1988        Zine, co-founder

1989        Midweek, writer and sub-editor

1990-1      Record Mirror, Revolution, NME, freelance writer

1992        Smash Hits, news editor

1993        Loaded, co-founder

1997        IPC, special projects editor

1998        Author of Getting Away With It and freelance journalist

Nov 98      Loaded, editor



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