In his sensible suit and thick, studious specs, Ed Needham could
pass for the English teacher and translator he used to be. But today the
33-year-old is the newly-crowned PPA editor of the year, steering the
good ship FHM to its fourth year of soaring sales - up 76 per cent
year-on-year - making it by far the biggest circulation men’s magazine
in the UK with monthly sales of 644,110.
’I’m proud of it,’ Needham says. ’FHM is irresistible at the moment
because it’s so huge. It makes our job easier in terms of access, but
also means we’re bombarded with people and products we aren’t interested
What FHM man loves, he says, is gadgets and trivia: he’s a 26-year-old
who wants a funny, sexy, useful magazine. ’We’d never do straight
profiles, but gadgets of any variety are instant winners - it’s not
enough to be a food mixer, it’s got to be a remote control mixer that
can skin a rabbit,’ he says.
Needham however, confesses that he doesn’t fit the FHM readership
’I’m not an FHM reader at all. I never watch telly, never go to pubs,
don’t go to clubs, you get bored with all that,’ he says. ’But you don’t
have to live the life to know about it.’ Instead, Needham’s idea of a
grand night out involves playing poker, ’from dusk to dawn and winning
every round’, going to the football and eating out, ’for the chance to
get drunk with friends rather than for the food’.
His job, he says, is to steer a young team to produce the mag
day-to-day, while he spends increasing amounts of time running a small
There are two annual fashion awards. A new twice-yearly fashion
magazine, FHM Collection launches in autumn, more foreign editions are
in the pipeline and there’s masses of unexploited potential in the FHM
website, he says.
This from a man who claims he had no ambition at his Cambridgeshire
school. ’I wasn’t exactly miserable there, but it wasn’t much fun
either,’ he admits.
Lured by the idea of a year in the US, he read American Literature at
Sussex University and after graduation lived and taught in northern
Spain and later Barcelona for the best part of seven years. Barcelona
was booming and Needham loved every minute but he had no passion for
’I wanted to be a journalist but thought I’d left it too late. I had it
in my head that the door slams shut at 30, so I promised myself that I’d
try and make a go of it by then,’ he says.
He came back to England for six months, did some freelancing ’with
moderate success’ and returned to Spain for another six months. When he
returned to England again, he wrote for 90 Minutes, Girl About Town,
numerous women’s weeklies, and FHM, where a friend, Phil Hilton (now
editor of Men’s Health) was features editor. ’He just loves the
magazine,’ says Hilton. ’Ed knows exactly what his readers want - he’s
been with them so long.’
However, Needham hates the suggestion that his age and lifestyle make
him a bit wrinkly to be editing FHM. ’Why do you say that?’ he asks.
’There’s always this ignorant dismissal of it as a lads’ magazine, this
superiority that it’s just about tits and football. But it’s not about
that, it’s funny and it’s packed with information.’
Deputy editor, FHM