On Monday she was a marketing manager from Swindon. Yesterday she had become Britain's newest tabloid icon

A 22-year-old marketing manager returned home to Wiltshire last night having been herself marketed in the most direct manner imaginable by two of the nation's raciest rival newspapers.

On Monday she was anonymous but by this morning Melinda Messenger's face, and most of her body, are recognisable to millions of readers of the Sun and Daily Star, which have this week fought an unprecedented battle to each claim her as their own.

Ms Messenger is now being hailed as "The Sun's Page Three Girl for the Millennium" and "The new Sam Fox".

But it was the Daily Star that first exclaimed "ooh-aah" and propelled the former flight attendant to prominence, having talent-spotted her on a poster for a West Country double glazing firm.

As brickies and bus drivers the length and breadth of Britain were muttering "Thanks a Mel-ion" on Tuesday morning, the Sun's West country correspondent Chris Pharo was taking Ms Messenger under his wing and whisking her over to his paper's headquarters at Wapping, east London, to meet the editor and strip down for the first of a series of exclusive shoots.

The Sun may have been a little slow off the mark this time, but it soon eclipsed the Star with its much bigger cheque book. Melinda went topless for the first time on its legendary Page Three on Wednesday.

The previous day executives from the paper took their new "super babe" to a "sparkling movie premiere party" for John Cleese's new film Fierce Creatures, where she was snapped "wowing" Cleese, Michael Palin and Angus Deayton.

The Sun's deputy editor Neil Wallis - standing in for editor Stuart Higgins yesterday - was cooing with delight as Ms Messenger discussed the potential for a long- term relationship with his downmarket rag.

"Have you see her? She's the most amazing glamour find we've seen in years. I really do think she could be the next Sam Fox and as you know Sam Fox is almost part of the English language now."

Warming to this theme, Mr Wallis went on: "Sam and Melinda are similar. Both are fresh-faced, natural and actually very intelligent as well. Sam didn't have O-levels and stuff like Melinda, but she was a smart girl."

Equally smart is Paula Jones, the London-based modelling agent, who signed up Melinda Messenger on Monday, having first interviewed her a month before the Star picture appeared.

"She was nervous about giving up her job and I never push girls into this since I don't have a crystal ball," she said.

"But, as soon as the Star ran its feature, the situation changed and it was obviously time to start talking to her seriously about the job."

Paula Jones is confident that her newest client will make a pretty packet not just posing for the Sun but in advertising and personal appearances. The time is right, in her opinion, for English roses to grab back the limelight from international supermodel.

"Our pretty little English girls have been pushed to the back a bit in recent years as foreign models like Claudia Schiffer have been feted. But now is the time to come forward and say: `Listen, you don't have to go to America and pay a million dollars for Cindy Crawford when you can have me, Melinda from Swindon'."

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
Highs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
New Articles
i100... with this review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
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 General

Cover Supervisor

£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam