'Heat' editor quits as circulation falls

With celebrity magazines continuing to fall sharply in popularity, Mark Frith, editor-in-chief of the weekly Heat, is resigning. It was reported that he is leaving to write a book.

Frith, who has headed the glossy gossip title for eight years, has signed a deal to write a diary of the years he spent encouraging sometimes obsessive popular interest in the likes of the Beckhams, Amy Winehouse and Geri Halliwell. He said he will also include more political tittle-tattle, including an alleged row with Gordon Brown at Downing Street. He will leave the magazine in May.

His resignation comes as the celebrity magazine market is shrinking. Frith joined Heat as deputy editor in December 1997 when it was still in development and took over as editor in January 2000. He took the title from sales of 65,000 to more than half a million.

Heat helped to promote a fascination with celebrity epitomised by Channel 4's Big Brother, a show to which the magazine still devotes a lot of space. This year, however, Channel 4 has decided to rest the spin-off Celebrity Big Brother, in another signal that enthusiasm for "celebs" is dwindling.

While Heat has spawned many imitators, the latest round of circulation figures released earlier this month showed that the celebrity weekly market was in sharp decline. Heat's circulation alone fell by 11 per cent to 533,034.

Launched by Emap, Heat, along with that publisher's other consumer titles, was recently taken over by Bauer. It quickly decided to suspend Heat's fellow weekly First.