My Life In Media: Marie O'Riordan

'I stand in for Mariella Frostrup at The Observer, and I fantasise that I can also be her occasional stand-in for her frequent dinners à deux with George Clooney'


Marie O'Riordan, 48, is the editor of Marie-Claire, which sells 330,000 copies every month – second only to Glamour in the women's market. The magazine is currently celebrating its 20th year in print and the anniversary issue will be available in July. Born and raised in Dublin, O'Riordan remains a fan of Irish literature and music. She lives in south London with her partner, Ben.

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

Mainly my lack of qualifications to do anything else. An arts degree in English literature and history generally guarantees either teaching or "something in publishing". Luckily, my short trial as a teacher in Dublin didn't appeal so the offer of a "free bed" (the floor) from my younger brother meant that a one-way Ryanair flight to London was duly purchased. I used to fancy the more esoteric world of book publishing, but the magazine world took a chance on me when the bookish sorts didn't.

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

The Irish Times and the Irish Independent. Apart from The Sunday Times, it was very rare for Brit papers to be consumed by Irish families in the Seventies. Now, of course, British tabloids are very successful in Ireland.

And what were your favourite TV and radio programmes?

Growing up in a household of six men, it was inevitably Match of the Day. If I was being indulged, Parkinson was allowed. RTE's famous The Late Late Show was probably the all-time favourite, enabling, as it did, both generations to sit around arguing about how crap it was that week.

Describe your job.

Everything in the world that I like doing and I'm getting paid to do it. Researching and producing an eclectic mix of glamour and grit on a daily basis. Mixing with hugely talented, original and enthusiastic people (with only the occasional bore) and generally in very swanky venues. The fun and excitement of editing for a smart, female readership is infinite as the boundaries are constantly changing.

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

Radio 4's Today programme (5 Live still hasn't won me over), quickly followed by marieclaire.co.uk.

Do you consult any media sources during the day?

Of course – every major British newspaper online and in print; myriad TV channels; millions of websites. Oh, and all my competitors as well as lots of American magazines. How do I ever get anything done?

What do you tune into when you get home?

Radio 4. Its sheer variety and sense of fair play makes me love everything about this country; BBC television channels – one to four – ditto. Channel 4 and E4 – I reckon it's what my readers tune in to. Sky News, too – it really is a superb news channel, especially for breaking stories.

What is the best thing about your job?

Working on a worldwide brand that everyone seems to love and admire. Also, the people on my team and the clever geniuses I meet in the worlds of fashion, beauty and politics.

And the worst?

Having to engage in the size double zero debate. Glossies are respectful and adoring of the female body – it's the weekly magazines and the tabloids that perpetuate criticism of body size.

How do you feel you influence the media?

Marie-Claire tends to be first on the speed dial of any TV or radio news producer when there is any woman-led news item or during election time when political parties decide to address the issue of appealing to women. So I guess this makes us pretty damn influential.

What's the proudest achievement in your working life?

Our recent "eco chic" issue, which firmly established our "fashion with heart" credentials in the eyes of our 21st-century consumers.

And what's your most embarrassing moment?

Interrupting a conversation between Noel Gallagher and Bono at an awards ceremony to explain to Bono that I was a long-lost ex-colleague of his wife's from 20 years ago. He was charming, and then asked if I wouldn't mind if he returned to his chat with Noel. My ears are still burning as I recall it.

What is your Sunday paper?

The Observer. I am Mariella Frostrup's "agony aunt" stand-in when she has babies and takes holidays. Being invited to substitute for such an intellectual beauty has bought my loyalty for life. I fantasise that I can also be her occasional stand-in for her frequent dinners à deux with George Clooney. I'll keep you posted...

Name the one career ambition you want to realise before you retire.

Replacing Oprah. I hear her ratings are slipping and a gobby white Irish woman is just the ticket.

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

Run an orphanage or a children's charity.

Who in the media do you most admire and why?

Kirsty Wark. I am in awe of her ability to be so intellectually brilliant at the same time as looking so effortlessly glamorous.

The CV

1986: Joins more magazine as production editor

1994: Appointed editor of more

1996: Moves to edit Elle

1999: Becomes group publishing director of Emap Youth Market, looking after Bliss, J17, Look and Minx magazines

2001: Joins IPC Media as editor of Marie-Claire. O'Riordan has since overseen two major redesigns and launched marieclaire.co.uk, as well as putting the first man on the magazine's cover – David Beckham

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
news
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
New Articles
tvChristmas special reviewed
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Sport
sport
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Brand Marketing Manager - Essex - £45,000 + £5000 car allowance

£40000 - £45000 per annum + car allowance: Ashdown Group: Senior Brand Manager...

Guru Careers: .NET Developer /.NET Software Developer

£26 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: We are seeking a .NET Developer /.NET Software ...

Guru Careers: Graduate Marketing Analyst / Online Marketing Exec (SEO / PPC)

£18 - 24k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Graduate Marketing Analyst / Online Marketing...

Guru Careers: Technical Operations Manager

£Neg. (DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Technical Ope...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all