The Neighbours factor: why teens prefer all things Australian: 'Sugar' magazine could be the biggest thing out of Oz since Jason and Kylie. Tamsin Blanchard reports

FIRST there was Neighbours and Home and Away; now there is Heartbreak High: Australian soaps are required after-school viewing for British teenagers. The teeny soaps (in Australia, Neighbours has always been seen as a children's rather than an adult show) are the new children's TV classics. The appeal of the Down Under soaps is straightforward. They have more good-looking teenagers than Brookside, EastEnders and Coronation Street put together. Australia knows how to entertain its teens.

Now a new magazine, Sugar, is tapping into the Australian way with teenagers. Launched last week, Sugar is modelled on the hugely successful Girlfriend, the fastest- growing magazine in Australia, read by 60 per cent of teenage girls. The formula is about to become the biggest export from Oz since Kylie and Jason.

'The difference between Girlfriend and Sugar is like the difference between Neighbours and Brookside,' says Kathryn Brown, the magazine's editor. 'In Australia it is all sunshine and bikinis, while here it is rain and jumpers.' Brown (at 30, the oldest member of the magazine's staff, the youngest being 22) comes direct from a five- year stint as editor of Girlfriend.

On both sides of the world, the priorities of teenage girls - or 'young women' as Sugar calls them - are revealed to be the same: boys, fashion, beauty, sex (if they are not having it, they are at least finding out all they need to know about it) and gossip. But the Aussie formula has been adapted to suit the British teenager. So gone are the blond, blue-eyed surfer hunks who leave a trail of swooning girls. Gone also are the constant references to model Nicky Taylor and her younger sister, Chrissie.

British girls might follow Neighbours avidly but, according to Ms Brown, they do not idolise plastic people, preferring less glamorous icons such as Bjork, Drew Barrymore and Winona Ryder. Keanu Reeves, Brad Pitt and Ethan Hawke are favourite pin-ups. (Reality Bites was not a film for Generation X but Generation T for teenage. Our teenagers are a sophisticated bunch.)

The Australian formula covers the same ground as its British competitors, Big, Just Seventeen and Looks, but as Ms Brown points out, 'it has a different tone and sense of humour. It's more grown-up'. And it is not exclusive - the theory goes that anyone can be part of the friendly Sugar gang.

The glossy, 98-page magazine looks sophisticated, despite its bright-and-busy design. There is the inevitable pin-up inside (Ryan Giggs) and the usual gossip about supermodels, but also real-life features - the sort of thing you might find in a teenage version of Marie Claire.

We showed the first issue of Sugar to Miako and Cecilia, two streetwise 13-year-olds from London. Cecilia had already heard of it and identified with the girl-next-door models on the cover. On average the two girls get between pounds 2 and pounds 5 pocket money a week, including money earned babysitting and helping with domestic chores, and spend it on clothes, make- up, accessories and magazines (they usually buy Smash Hits and Just Seventeen). Sugar was an instant hit with them.

'We like the real-life stories about teenagers,' said Cecilia. She liked the fashion, too: 'I'm going to shorten my rather long kilt now.' The picture of their 'desperate heart-throb' - Keanu Reeves - was the best they had seen, although they both hated the Ryan Giggs pin-up and the interview with the pop group East 17.

Above all, the magazine has a healthy sense of humour. A picture of Baywatch star Pamela Anderson with dimples on her thighs has the caption: 'Reassuring spot.'

Kathryn Brown aims to build her readers' self-esteem. 'Respect yourself and he will too,' says one article, which goes on to urge 'Get angry, girl]' and to give advice on 'how not to be a doormat'. Sugar even poses the question, can 'nice girls' get HIV?

Miako and Cecilia think they should be told.

(Photograph omitted)

News
Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’
news

New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

News
people
News
people
Voices
Left: An illustration of the original Jim Crowe, played by TD Rice Right: A Couple dressed as Ray and Janay Rice
voices

By performing as African Americans or Indians, white people get to play act a kind of 'imaginary liberation', writes Michael Mark Cohen

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Hand out press photograph/film still from the movie Mad Max Fury Road (Downloaded from the Warner Bro's media site/Jasin Boland/© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
films'You have to try everything and it’s all a process of elimination, but ultimately you find your path'
Arts and Entertainment
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films
books

New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site this morning

News
people

Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch at the premiere of The Imitation Game at the BFI London Film Festival
filmsKeira Knightley tried to miss The Imitation Game premiere to watch Bake Off
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Mobile Developer (.NET / C# / Jason / Jquery / SOA)

    £40000 - £65000 per annum + bonus + benefits + OT: Ampersand Consulting LLP: M...

    Humanities Teacher - Greater Manchester

    £22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: The JobAt ...

    Design Technology Teacher

    £22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Calling al...

    Foundation Teacher

    £100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: EYFS Teachers - East Essex...

    Day In a Page

    The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

    The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

    Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
    The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

    Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

    Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
    Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

    Fall of the Berlin Wall

    It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
    Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

    What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

    Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
    A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

    Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

    Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
    Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

    'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

    A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

    Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

    The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
    Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

    Paul Scholes column

    Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
    Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

    Frank Warren column

    Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
    Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

    Adrian Heath's American dream...

    Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
    Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

    Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

    Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
    Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

    A Syrian general speaks

    A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
    ‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

    ‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

    Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
    Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

    Fall of the Berlin Wall

    History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
    How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

    Turn your mobile phone into easy money

    There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes