My Life in Media: Ben Todd

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The Independent Online

Ben Todd, 34, is the editor of ZOO, the weekly lads' magazine peddling nipples and news from supermarket shelves. ZOO was launched by Emap three years ago to compete with IPC's Nuts. Todd was appointed editor in February, after a decade covering showbiz on the red tops. It was Todd who first published the rumours of marital problems in the Beckham household, and that the McCartney divorce had turned nasty, in the Sunday Mirror. Married, with two children, he lives in Crouch End, London.

What inspired you to embark on a career in the media?

I wanted to be a rock star when I was at university. We were called K-Track and signed to Factory Too Records. Liam Gallagher watched us play The Haienda, but then NME labelled us the "Northside of the mid-Nineties" which wasn't a compliment! So, I decided to go to journalism college instead.

When you were 15 years old which newspaper did your family get, and did you read it?

My parents moved to Devon when I was young and the only possible daily newspaper that could be delivered to our Exmoor village was the Western Morning News. Whenever they ventured into town, they bought The Guardian. I went to boarding school age 11 and we had, over seven years, virtually every broadsheet and tabloid delivered at one time or another. I even remember the "house" getting Today for a while.

And what were your favourite TV and radio programmes?

Match of the Day, then The Big Match when ITV got rights to live football in the mid 1980s. Minder, Brookside and The Tube were also musts back then.

Describe your job?

Girls, sport, bloke news, entertainment, comedy, cars, style and gadgets.

What's the first media you turn to in the mornings?

Radio 5 Live. I go to sleep with it on; I wake up with it on. It's a bit of a family tradition that my wife still finds hard to fathom.

Do you consult any media sources during the day?

Loads obviously. I have a look at Sky News as soon as I get in and look through all the papers and all the mags. On the internet from the BBC News, to Liverpool Football Club's official site (not strictly for work) and if there are showbiz stories breaking in the States I look at

What is the best thing about your job?

It's different every week.

And the worst?

Victoria line in rush hour.

What is your Sunday paper? And do you have a favourite magazine?

I tend to look at every Sunday paper. Magazines-wise, FHM, Private Eye can still be brilliant at times and I sometimes have a sneak look at my son's Match magazine.

How do you feel you influence the media?

ZOO tells the rest of the media what young men are thinking about what's making them tick.

What's the proudest achievement in your working life?

Becoming ZOO editor. And being lucky enough to break exclusive stories on stars during my careers including the Beckhams and Paul McCartney amongst others.

And what's your most embarrassing moment?

Admitting to Russell Crowe that I hadn't actually watched the movie Gladiator when I met him and, as he told me at the time, it had "been top of the box Office in Britain for seven weeks, mate". All of which happened with Meg Ryan in the background the night it became known they were having a fling.

Name the one career ambition you want to realise before you reach retirement?

I've not decided yet.

Who in the media do you most admire and why?

All the people I've worked for over the years have had a big influence on me. In particular, Peter Hill, my editor at the Daily Star. Tina Weaver and her then deputy Richard Wallace when I went to the Sunday Mirror and my first boss Janice Turner, who was at the time editing That's Life! magazine.

What would you do if you didn't work in the media?

Be a) footballer b) rock star c) own a restaurant in southern France.

The CV

1996 Joins That's Life! magazine and meets his future wife, Caroline

1998 Joins News of the World as a reporter

1999 Moves to the Daily Star as deputy pop editor; later promoted to showbiz editor

2001 Appointed group showbiz editor at Express Newspapers

2003 Promoted to assistant editor (showbiz) at Sunday Mirror

2005 British Press Awards shortlist for Showbiz Reporter of Year

2007 Becomes editor of ZOO