Media Lifeline: Heat magazine

To some, it's the place to go for your Big Brother and Z-list gossip; to others, it's simply a 'filthy piece of shit'

1999: Heat, the brainchild of the Emap veterans David Hepworth and Mark Ellen, launches as an urbane and sophisticated popular culture weekly aimed at both men and women. It's given a lavish launch budget in excess of £4 million.

2000: Heat's initial sales target had been set at 100,000 but it fails to get anywhere near that - and at one stage its weekly circulation is rumoured to be around 20,000. Hepworth had handed what was rapidly becoming a thankless task as launch editor to the former Q editor David Davies, who deftly made way for the deputy editor Mark Frith, a former Smash Hits editor, in 2000.

2003: Frith turns Heat into a gossip title focusing on the Big Brother end of the celebrity spectrum. Within four years it is selling more than 500,000 copies a week. But its style is not to everyone's taste - Ewan McGregor calls it a "dirty, filthy piece of shit".

2007: The title is arguably slow to make the most of its brand across new platforms. True, Heat Radio had launched in 2003, but its web brand heatworld.com, edited by Julian Linley, launched as recently as May 2007. The print version ploughs on though - and Frith and the mag create controversy late in the year. A front-page sticker mocking the disabled son of Katie Price is branded "the lowest point in British journalism" by one commentator.

2008: With sales of the print product, now owned by H Bauer, declining (though still above 500,000), Frith decides to call it a day, revealing that he's planning to write a book called The Celeb Diaries. It will draw on his knowledge of the life and times of a veritable galaxy of stars and promises to dish the dirt on the likes of David and Victoria Beckham, Jude Law, Amy Winehouse and ... McGregor.

Fast forward ...

2010: The bottom now having fallen out of the celebrity market thanks to the New Puritanism of an austere post-recession world, Heat begins resorting to all sorts of desperate stunts in an attempt to push its circulation above the psychologically important 100,000 mark. One such stunt sees guest editor McGregor asking former celebrities what they think of the celebrity author turned TV gameshow host, Frith.