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