MEDIA PROFILE: Late starter leading the way - Ed Needham, editor, FHM

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.

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

in.’



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

profile.



’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

industry.



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

teaching.



’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.’



HIGHLIGHTS

1994

Freelance journalist

1996

Deputy editor, FHM

1997

Editor, FHM



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