The bizarre and hilarious story of the launch of ZOO magazine and the surreal events that followed.
Paul Merrill was handed £10 million to unleash a radical new periodical format on an unassuming and skeptical nation. The events that ensued are alternately disastrous, laughable, unexpected, shocking and extraordinary.
Caught up in the mayhem are, among others, Tony Blair, Donald Trump, Will Ferrell, Cheryl Cole, Leo Sayer, Mo Mowlam Arnold Schwarzenegger, Oprah Winfrey and Christopher Lee. As the magazine lurches from one scandal to another, a tribal leader invades the office, a woman is offered £30,000 to show a nipple and a four-legged chicken nearly causes a diplomatic incident with Israel.
The story charts Merrill’s early days as a hapless local paper reporter to his days editing Chat, where he searches for Britain’s Sexiest Short Man, Randiest Nanna, Ugliest baby, Hottest Fat Bloke and Sexiest Mixed Race Couple.
The moral majority are outraged when he launches ‘Teen Mum of the Year’ and even less impressed when he gives away a divorce as a competition prize. He gets sued by Bono for publishing a nude pic and then by a competition winner after a prostitute unexpectedly turns up.
After Chat, the story moves on to ZOO where a childish prank costs him personally £10,000, his star columnist quits after one issue and he offends all of Manchester with a Harold Shipman stunt.
After two years in charge, he is forcibly removed to Australia where things become even more ridiculous, death threats are issued and dwarfs basted.
Told with breathtaking honesty, and self-deprecating humour, this is a must-read book for anyone interested in the extremes of the popular press, or in the cult of celebrity. If you thought the News of the World behaved badly, then you haven’t been exposed to the outrageous, but always funny, goings on at ZOO.
Author of A Polar Bear Ate My Head, his memoir of his years as a magazine editor both in the UK and Australia, Merrill now writes full-time. His next books, comedy guides to grandparenting and fatherhood, are to be published by Random House Australia next year.He was an award-winning women’s magazine editor when he was inexplicably chosen for the biggest magazine launch in British history. When the weekly men’s titles, ZOO and Nuts burst onto the market, they transformed the magazine landscape and thrust Paul stumbling haplessly into a bewildering and surreal world in the full g...
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