Media: Headliner - Former ladette aims to bring breath of fresh air to the BBC/Gill Hudson is at the helm of the Beeb’s new women’s glossy, Lisa Campbell says

’I would love to work for me,’ declares Gill Hudson, new-product development manager for BBC Worldwide’s lifestyle division and editor of its new women’s glossy, Project Urma.

’I would love to work for me,’ declares Gill Hudson, new-product

development manager for BBC Worldwide’s lifestyle division and editor of

its new women’s glossy, Project Urma.



This is said without a hint of irony but, after just five minutes in her

bubbly company, you can see she has a point. Add to this her unusual

work ethic - ’a focus on hedonism’ - and there’s no argument.



Hudson explains: ’You can get things out of people by scaring them, but

you get more if you have fun. I have found that the best features

meetings are when you have a laugh - that’s when you come up with the

bonkers stuff.’



And she has come up with some bonkers stuff in her time, particularly

during her editorship on Company: ’I was responsible for bringing sex

back into magazines. At the time, Aids was big and it was all the awful

tombstone stuff, so everyone was sticking to nice relationship

features.’



So Hudson invited readers into her home to reveal all for her ’loose

talk’ features. ’My God, it was dirty stuff,’ she says.



Then came Maxim where she pushed the boundaries further by putting tits

on the cover - the first mainstream men’s magazine to do so, she

claims.



It’s certainly a colourful background and one seemingly at odds with the

more conservative BBC.



So can we expect Auntie to exchange her bloomers for something a little

sexier? ’The BBC has given me much more freedom than I ever

expected.



Because people have grown up with the BBC, like the NHS, everyone has an

opinion on it, but that opinion is out of date. The BBC can be funky,’

Hudson says.



Details concerning the launch in the autumn are scarce. It will be a

lifestyle magazine for ABC1 women and, according to Hudson, it will be

’ageless’. The usual PR blurb about it being ’unlike anything out there’

is the only other statement the BBC will give.



Hudson drops one other snippet. ’The stuff I’m working on will make the

BBC be seen in a very different light. It will obviously have a BBC

element to it but it will not be what you expect. No-one will be able to

accuse the BBC of not having balls or vision after this. It’s about

moving the whole genre ahead,’ she claims.



But how do you sell an ’ageless’ proposition to advertisers? ’We have a

hook,’ she smiles knowingly. In a vain attempt to glean more, I ask

Hudson whose idea it was and where it came from.



’My head,’ she answers. ’We have done research but for good magazines to

stand a chance, they have to have a personality behind them. If you

depend on a focus group, you shouldn’t be an editor in the first

place.’



Hudson denies that her sex-heavy editorial background will drive a new

ladette magazine and is quite affronted by the question: ’I’m more

flexible than that.’ She does, however, admit to being bored with the

existing women’s market, which hopefully means the BBC won’t be adding

to the existing superficial and sex-saturated stuff.



Whatever the format, the move is a risky one for the BBC. Its last

venture in this sector, Family Life, lasted just ten issues. And, as the

ABCs show this week, the women’s market is as ferocious as ever. Isn’t

the BBC being a little ambitious?



’If you’re looking for an easy ride, you shouldn’t be in the media,’

Hudson says. ’Of course it’s going to be tough, but when I joined Maxim

there were six people and no heritage. I was a 40-year-old woman trying

to tap into the minds of 26-year-old males who would shag anything with

a pulse - so I know tough.’



Her first job in journalism was as the editor of the Women’s Institute

magazine, Home and Country - a job she accepted with no experience at

the age of 25. ’You have to be like a managing director now. You’re

expected to be a brilliant manager, sales person, writer, oh, and then

they say: can you launch a website while you’re at it?’



But the Beeb obviously has confidence in Hudson, putting her in charge

of a raft of new launches throughout the year. Her lips are firmly

sealed on what these may be, and unfortunately she will not be persuaded

otherwise.



Despite her success, Hudson remains down-to-earth and looks at home in

the BBC canteen with her mug of Typhoo. A single mum, Hudson’s spare

time is dedicated to her six-year-old daughter, rather than nights out

at the Groucho.



’I’m a magazine editor and I live in London, but I’m not completely Ab

Fab yet - though I live in hope,’ she says.



THE HUDSON FILE

1980

Home and Country (Women’s Institute), editor

1984

Cook’s Weekly, editor

1985

Fitness, editor

1987

Company, deputy editor, rising to editor

1990

New Woman, editor

1994

Dennis Publishing, head of development

1999

BBC Worldwide, new-product development manager

2000

Project Urma, editor



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