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
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
peopleReports that Brand could stand for Mayor on an 'anti-politics' ticket
News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
peopleReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
News
Voluminous silk drawers were worn by Queen Victoria
peopleThe silk underwear is part of a growing trade in celebrity smalls
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
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

    Maths Teacher

    £110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

    Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

    £40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

    ***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

    £30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

    ***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

    £35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

    Day In a Page

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

    Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

    The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
    Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

    Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

    The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
    DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

    Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

    Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
    The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

    Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

    The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

    The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
    Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

    Paul Scholes column

    I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
    Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker