King of the Lads battles to save the 'Ginger Effect'

IF YOU see Chris Evans this morning, be gentle. He may be nursing a multi-million pound hangover. The most famous redhead in the country was recently found slumped in a Soho doorway, to the delight of the national press but to nobody's great surprise.

What else should we expect from the King of the Lads, the DJ-turned-media- tycoon whose binges with the likes of Paul Gascoigne and the Gallagher brothers are legendary? The trouble is that such pranks could cost the would-be media tycoon a fortune in lost revenue.

Mr Evans has been sounding out the City about selling shares in his Ginger Media Group, valued at pounds 150m. The company is responsible for his Channel 4 programme TFI Friday and the breakfast show he presents on Virgin Radio, which it owns.

Everything depends on our loving Mr Evans. Ginger's profits are generated by ratings and the premiums advertisers are prepared to pay to be associated with the star. They will last only as long as "the Ginger Effect" - the perception that he is a hip role model for a devoted audience of fashionable young people with money to burn.

Unfortunately, there are signs that those who once worshipped Mr Evans have grown up and gone off him. Lads are passe now. Falling down drunk is out. So is wearing sunglasses after dark, as Mr Evans was when a taxi driver discovered him tired and emotional in Brewer Street earlier this month, with a gash on his arm from broken glass.

It is as though the nation has woken up in bed next to Mr Evans and noticed that last night's dream lover is ginger, weedy and in love with himself.

In April, researchers revealed that young viewers regarded TFI Friday as "naff", comparing it to Blind Date and Noel's House Party. "My dad watches it," said one respondent, while others thought the show was a vehicle for Mr Evans' ego, whichhadn't changed in two years. They damned it as television to do your ironing to.

More recently, a nationwide survey of viewers over the age of 15 found that Mr Evans was the most annoying person on TV, and TFI Friday came third in the poll for "programme you'd most like to see off the air".

Last Thursday, The Stage carried a story suggesting that senior executives at Ginger had discussed hiring a new "A-list" presenter to replace or work with Mr Evans on TFI Friday. It currently gets fewer viewers than Pet Rescue. Meanwhile, Ginger is developing vehicles for other presenters, including a Saturday tea-time show that will star Lulu.

Until now Mr Evans has been able to ignore such bad publicity, but its effects will begin to bite as the autumn approaches and advertising agencies consider where to spend their money in 2000.

In the first full year of Evans' reign Virgin took pounds 27.836m in advertising. That was up pounds 6.8m, an increase of 33 per cent. However, revenue across the commercial radio market as a whole only increased by 18 per cent - a sign that advertisers were prepared to pay more than the going rate to share airtime with the DJ.

If the Ginger Effect is now less potent - or even working in reverse - it could cost Virgin at least pounds 3m.

That will not gladden the hearts of bankers, whose response to the prospective flotation has been cool, despite expected profits of pounds 15m. Money raised by selling shares would be used to buy media businesses aimed at men aged between 20 and 44. Investors, however, will be wary if they think the target audience has gone off Mr Evans.

The DJ grew up on a council estate in Warrington, Cheshire, but now owns a pounds 750,000 apartment in Knightsbridge near Lady Helen Taylor. Earlier this year he blew pounds 1,200 drinking champagne at a lap-dancing club.

While there are no signs of imminent collapse in the empire he is unlikely to listen to any advice about his image - but if he wants to go on living such a high life it may be time to wake up and smell the coffee.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
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.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: QA Technician

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading manufacturer of re...

Recruitment Genius: Office Administrator

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion, an experienced and hig...

SThree: Graduate Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 per annum + commission: SThree: Sthree have an exciting opportunity for...

Recruitment Genius: Plumbing & Heating / Bathroom Trade Counter Sales

£22000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This well established London ba...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat