As Daily Star features last topless Page 3 model, we chart the tabloid tradition

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·Yahoo Style UK deputy editor
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Samantha Fox (right) rose to fame as a Page 3 girl in the '80s. [Photo: Getty/PA]
Samantha Fox (right) rose to fame as a Page 3 girl in the '80s. [Photo: Getty/PA]

Page 3 models are set to be a thing of the past, as the Daily Star announces it’s parting with the age-old tabloid tradition.

Since April 1, the newspaper has featured models wearing swimwear or underwear - rather than topless.

At the time, editor Jonathan Clark said it was a trial.

Daily Star is always looking to try new things and improve,” he said in a statement. “In that spirit, we've listened to reader feedback and are currently trialling a covered-up version of Page 3.”

A source has since told the Mail Online that the Daily Star will continue its departure from topless Page 3 photos.

Yahoo UK has reached out for confirmation.

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“Page 3 girls have been an important part of Daily Star for decades but times and tastes change,” they said. “We'll still have women on Page 3, they will just now be tastefully covered up.”

The Sun, which pioneered the topless Page 3 tradition, stopped doing so in 2015 following pressure from the No More Page 3 campaign led by campaigner Lucy-Ann Holmes.

Since then, Daily Star has been the only daily print publication featuring a topless Page 3 model.

The Page 3 model history

The Sun newspaper was relaunched in November 1969 by Australian media boss Rupert Murdoch together with editor Larry Lamb.

On 17 November 1970, the paper featured its first nude ‘Page 3’ spread, representing the first time naked women had appeared in a newspaper for entertainment value.

The paper’s circulation almost doubled to 2.5 million within a year of publishing topless pictures.

Finding a balance

The nature of Page 3 changed in the ‘70s and the ‘80s, as editors moved towards a less controversial format.

“Make it cheery not leery” was the policy of editor Lamb, according to the BBC.

Female reporters were also shown the pictures before publication to gauge the response of female readers.

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Lamb’s successor, Bernard Shrimsley, who took over editorship in 1972, changed the aesthetic of Page 3 and called for smaller breasts and less prominent nipples, according to his obituary in The Times.

The Sun’s competitor, the Daily Star, also began publishing its own topless Page 3 during the 70s.

A reformed Page 3

In the mid 80s, the format of Page 3 changed again under the influence of new editor Kelvin MacKenzie.

Model Samantha Fox became known as “a new type of Page Three girl”, according to the BBC: “Who instead of being merely pneumatic had a personality of sorts: brash, tarty, clothes-and-money-mad and the ultimate fantasy girlfriend for '80s Essex Man.”

First calls to ban Page 3

In 1986, Clare Short, a member of Parliament for Ladywood, Birmingham, proposed a bill to ban Page 3.

However, the bill failed and Clare was branded a “killjoy” by The Sun.

Rebekah Brooks joins The Sun

Journalist Rebekah Brooks became deputy editor of The Sun, and became a staunch defender of the Page 3, according to the NY Times.

She even ensured her first Page 3 Girl shared her name – Rebekah.

The .com era

Both The Sun and Daily Star anticipated the rise of internet pornography, launching now-defunct rival websites to feature previous Page 3 models: Page3.com and Megastar respectively.

The end of Page 3?

In September 2014, The Sun owner Rupert Murdoch made his first negative remarks about Page 3, tweeting: “I think [Page 3 is] old fashioned but readers seem to disagree.”

However, it would seem opinion fell against Page 3, as The Sun published its last topless model on 16 January 2015.

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