A Polar Bear Ate My Head: Misadventures in magazines
Paul Merrill

A Polar Bear Ate My Head: Misadventures in magazines

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.

Book Details:

  • Author: Paul Merrill
  • On Submission
  • Rights Sold
    • ANZ: Random House
    • UK: Thistle

Paul Merrill

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...
More about Paul Merrill

Book Reviews

  • "  Hilarious - and your boy will love it too."
    Cosmopolitan
  • "A brilliant lid-lifting expose…Frank, funny and enlightening ."
    ZOO
  • "Memorable… rich comedy."
    Bookseller & Publisher
  • "A very entertaining book. What he does well is deliver a fun read while still offering the research and business insights that go into launching and running a new magazine.  Full of anecdotes and insider gossip. 9/10."
    Encore Magazine
  • "Straight up the funniest book I've ever read - and I haven't read many books."
    Aussie rules legend Warwick Capper
  • "  This insider's look has the air of Toby Young's How to Lose Friends and Alienate People."
    Melbourne Weekly
  • "  Such a funny book - we loved it, and so did everyone in the office. You've really GOT to read it. "
    WSFM Breakfast
  • "  A fascinating read… plenty of guffaw-inducing episodes ****"
    Melbourne Times
  • "  Enjoyable tales of misadventure in magazine land… he rises to the challenge with admirable gusto."
    Northern Weekly
  • "  Very witty…a charming self-deprecating voice. Well worth a read."
    The Melbourne Age
  • "A Polar bear Ate My Head is a must read! Very funny - go buy it."
    Max Markson
  • "I loved it – a cracking read."
    Andy Franks 2RRR, Sydney
  • "Pick of the week - Shocking, hilarious, surreal and inspiring ****"
    The Manly Daily
  • "I loved this book. So many incredible stories that I was laughing at nearly ever page. Just wonderful – hilarious, witty, but also very honest and touching."
    Robert Salisbury, RNB Radio, Sydney
  • "The best book ever written about the excesses and weirdness of the media. Every page is laugh-out-loud funny."
    Will Storr
  • "A thoroughly entertaining book. Very, very funny."
    Mike Welsh, 2CCC, Canberra
  • "A extremely good read… packed with hilarious stories."
    Steve Murphy, Power FM, SA
  • "A bloody good book…all about shennnanigans and shagging. Forget 50 Shades of Shite – buy this!"
    Zooweekly.com.au
  • "Genuinely funny, I loved it…a terrific read."
    Adam Straney 2ST Nowra
  • "Unleashes the offbeat…You’re guaranteed a laugh a page."
    Launceston Examiner
  • "Australia's funniest author. Everyone should read A Polar Bear Ate My Head, it's brilliantly funny. You'll never look at teaspoons the same way."
    Kara Byers, Foxtel
  • "A very entertaining book!"
    Crikey.com