End of ladettes as Sara Cox is dropped from breakfast show?

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The Independent Online

Sara Cox, the last of the ladettes, was axed from Radio 1's breakfast show yesterday and replaced by the lads' icon Chris Moyles.

The decision follows a collapse in the breakfast show's weekly audience, which has slipped below 10 million for the first time.

The programme haemorrhaged 500,000 listeners in the three months to June and the performance was denounced by the BBC as "poor". Pressure on Cox increased when former Radio 1 breakfast show favourite Noel Edmonds criticised her style as "coarse and unpleasant".

Yesterday, Moyles greeted his appointment by describing himself as "the saviour of Radio 1".

The presenter was reprimanded by BBC governors in 2000 for making "ill-judged" sexually explicit comments at 10am and BBC1 bosses censured him for persuading women to undress in the studio.

But Radio 1 controller Andy Parfitt said: "In a market that is getting more competitive by the month, I think Chris is going to be just what our audience is looking for."

Cox had been contracted to the breakfast show until April next year but will give way in January. By way of consolation, she will take over Moyles' afternoon programme.

In a statement yesterday, she said: "I have had a great time doing the breakfast show over the last few years but I have to say the thought of finally being able to have a lie-in is extremely appealing."

The rejection of Cox's brash style marks the demise of the ladette culture that emerged in the mid-Nineties.

Television and music stars such as Denise Van Outen, Zoe Ball, Gail Porter and Nicole Appleton embraced the tomboy image of hard drinking and hard partying, setting a trend that was followed by young women around the country.

Yesterday Lindsay Frankel, acting deputy editor of Company magazine, which sells to 20-something women, said the ladette was now a thing of the past.

"It was cool at the time, to be one of the lads and bit lary," she said, "but now that's seen as a bit Faliraki. It's a bit icky; a bit grubby." She said American television stars are the new role models for young British women.

"It was seen to be very cool for Zoe Ball to have a pint in one hand and a fag in the other and hanging out with the lads," she said, "but now our readers aspire to be Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City, rather than Zoe Ball or Sara Cox."

The concept of the ladette came to the fore in the summer of 1996, when the European football championships came to England and created such a frenzy it became socially unacceptable for anyone, male or female, to fail to express a passionate interest in the so-called beautiful game.

A Radio 1 spokesman denied that Ms Cox (once criticised for saying that the Queen Mother "smelt of wee") was a ladette at all and described her as "an extremely engaging and witty" broadcaster.

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