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.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
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: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Guru Careers: Senior Account Manager / SAM

£30 - 35k: Guru Careers: A Senior Account Manager / SAM is needed to join the ...

Guru Careers: Management Accountant

£27 - 35k + Bonus + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Management Accountant is needed ...

Guru Careers: Recruitment Resourcer / Recruitment Account Manager

£20 - 25k + Bonus: Guru Careers: Are you a Recruitment Consultant looking to m...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected