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?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine