My Mentor: Julian Linley on Mark Frith
'when a story came in he would digest it and break it down into 'Heat' language'
Monday 08 September 2008
Mark Frith and Jo Elvin have been equally important in my career. Without Jo, who gave me my first ever job, I doubt I would be a journalist at all, but it was working with Mark Frith on Heat that really shaped me.
Back in 2000, everyone was talking about the fact Heat was going to fold, so I was really confused why I was being asked to work there. I tried to sabotage the interview by inventing a new section called "Star Style" which would be full of hair and make up and beauty products: everything Heat wasn't.
Mark and I clicked instantly and I got the job as features editor. At first my remit was to make the magazine more female-friendly, which I did with features like "How orange are they really?" and "How old are they really?" Mark was incredibly encouraging and an amazing leader. He had a very clear vision and when a story came in he would digest it, break it down into Heat language and the team delivered it.
The re-launch issue jumped a lot from the 40,000 we had been selling, and when we introduced Victoria Beckham a few weeks later it sold well over 100,000.
I was made deputy editor after six months and our working relationship really started to motor. Watching him that closely was the best training I could get, and we shared a sense of humour and love of Stock, Aitken & Waterman.
Leaving to go and edit First was a difficult decision but I had my own ambitions, and if I had a problem there I would always call Mark and ask his opinion. When I said I wasn't enjoying it, he got me back in to launch the Heat website. I was gutted when he announced he was leaving but I inherited his staff and his way of working and often speak to him about that, but usually our chats have little to do with Heat.
I read his book, The Celeb Diaries, in two hours. It was an amazing walk down memory lane and Mark was very generous with what he said about me. Heat was absolutely his story and other editors might not have credited the other people who were there.
Julian Linley is the editor of Heat magazine.
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