Media: Kelvin: from top yob to top job: S J Taylor, who once felt the Sun editor's boot, knows why he had to quit

Even before Kelvin MacKenzie resigned as editor of the Sun, it was the end of an era. Kelvin's departure simply brought the fact home in one succinct gesture.

Once or twice in the past few months, I've actually picked up the Sun and thumbed through it before tossing it aside. My reaction? 'Been there, done that.'

And in fact I have. I ate, drank and wrote tabloid for two years of my life; there is very little about the tabs I don't know. I could turn over a few doorsteppers myself, if I were that kind of girl. But I'm not, and they must have sensed that, or they would never have given me the insider information they did for my book, Shock] Horror] The Tabloids in Action (Corgi Black Swan, 1992).

I am also one of a handful of outsiders who have been invited to meet MacKenzie in person in his office - for the singular experience of being kicked out of it. So I know Kelvin. And despite the ritual humiliation I was subjected to, I have a lot of time for him.

Kelvin MacKenzie pushed language to the outer limit of its vulgarity quotient. Under the influence of his terrible genius, the Sun, like great literature, worked on all levels. Intellectuals and boors alike gorged on its pages; for a while there, if you didn't know what outrage Kelvin had perpetrated recently, you didn't know much.

All that came crashing down in 1991, with the demise of the Press Council and the creation of the Press Complaints Commission. It was then that the national newspapers began fully to understand that if they didn't 'put their own house in order', Parliament would do it for them.

Exactly how serious matters had become was evident last November when the Daily Mirror received public censure for publishing photographs of the Princess of Wales, taken without her knowledge in a London gym. It was a caper that a decade ago would have seemed like great fun. Now even the tabloids were registering bitter complaints about the unethical conduct of the Mirror.

The event demonstrated that, even in a worst-case scenario, the national press could indeed put its own house in order. But for free spirits such as MacKenzie, it signalled the end of the Street.

But there is always BSkyB, an unregulated medium bounced off a satellite somewhere outside the powers of Parliament. Somebody somewhere is going to have to figure out how to regulate the skies, but that's going to take time. Meanwhile, where has Kelvin gone? To BSkyB, of course.

He is the latest and the best-known editor seconded from the tabloid press to tabloid television by Rupert Murdoch. First there was Steve Dunleavy, metro editor at the New York Post when Murdoch owned it, who became producer and star of a popular show at Fox Television. Another skilled journalist from the Post was Peter Fearon, thought to be the model for Peter Fallow in Tom Wolfe's Bonfire of the Vanities. He too was enlisted in the cause of tabloid TV - a genre that has changed the face of television in the US and is no doubt destined to become a dominant force here as well. And Wendy Henry, former editor of the News of the World under Murdoch, recently left her post as editor of a supermarket tabloid in Florida for the greener pastures of Fox Television.

A master of the emerging technology, Murdoch is moulding satellite to his own specifications. It is a repeat on a grand scale of what he managed to accomplish with the British press.

'Bloody television,' MacKenzie once said. 'They'll get you on and then say, 'Why are you such a scumbag?' '

It is one of those strange ironies that he has been chosen to become managing director of BSkyB. Questions as to whether he has the moxie to make the transition from top yob to executive status are moot. But more than any other tabloid type, MacKenzie possesses the common touch.

Any mogul planning to rule the skies need look no further than Kelvin MacKenzie. And Murdoch hasn't.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Robert De Niro has walked off the set of Edge of Darkness
news The Godfather Part II actor has an estimated wealth of over $200m
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
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 Media

Ashdown Group: Junior Business Systems Analyst - High Wycombe - £30,000

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Junior Business Systems Analyst role...

Guru Careers: Talent Manager

£30-35k (P/T - Pro Rata) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienc...

Sauce Recruitment: New Media Marketing Manager - EMEA - Digital Distribution

£35000 - £45000 per annum + up to £45,000: Sauce Recruitment: The Internation...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing / PR / Social Media Executive

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A thriving online media busines...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower