Analysis: Something for the Weekend ; Leading Magazine Publishing Consultant Peter Jackson Casts His Eye over the Best and Worst of the National Newspapers' Saturday and Sunday Supplements

Article excerpt


The wider, deeper page size gives a slabby look to opening features on the likes of Julian Clary ('Dad worried when I preferred to dress my Action Man in Cindy Toy clothes') and Robert Kilroy- Silk ('Cold blue eyes set in the midst of fading looks'). But the big, big format comes into its own with the Seven Days broadcasting guide which makes most paid-for listing titles look as drab as Yellow Pages. They merely make the information available. Using every square inch of the extra acreage to display attractive panels and background featurettes, Weekend 'sells' all the glamour and drama of the coming week's TV (even if it's pretty much the same as last week).


Saturday magazine demonstrates how weekend supplements have become the chat shows of publishing " nobody shows up unless they have something to plug. So we have stand-up comic Jenny Eclair plugging her new stage show, illusionist Alistair Cook and Channel 4 presenter June Sarpong plugging their new TV series plus Julian Clary (again) plugging his new book. 'The publisher wanted more sex.' Jennifer Garner gains the cover as Ben Affleck's new girlfriend but makes clear in the third paragraph of the interview that the last thing she wants to talk about is loverboy Ben. She prefers to discuss her latest TV series on a minor digital channel.


With minimum colour to brighten the greyness of black ink on less than dazzling newsprint, the Review suggests a sober gent with his head set firmly on his shoulders " but facing the wrong way. From the cover story on an Edwardian poem influencing our national identity to The Strange Death of Tory England (by way of reviews of a Truffaut retrospective and a half-century-old play by Arnold Wesker) looking back on what's gone long before is preferred to the current scene.. Discussion of The Sensual History of English football disdains David Beckham's sex appeal, favouring the theory that the beautiful game was a Victorian invention to alleviate masturbation.


There's an off-the-shelf feeling about The Times Magazine " the image of so many pre-packed items thrown into the trolley there's little room for anything fresh and surprising. There are no fewer than 20 regular features and resident columns. So after being lectured by Dr Feelgood on the Science of Happiness, assured by Coolhunter that thigh-length socks are in and instructed by Food Detective on how to track down organic eggs, we're fortunate that space has been found for interviews with Sean Penn (plugging his new film) and the inevitable Kilroy-Silk. 'I'm still culturally, if not economically, working class.' Oh, and he's got a new TV programme coming up.


After paying due Telegraph homage to the Camilla nuptials with a Hello!-style picture spread of commoner gels who have landed royal hubbies, we get some serious words. Plenty of them " 4,500 of them on 'super-diva' Mariah Carey (plugging her new album), 3,000 on training a new species of detective, 4,500 on the shameful childhood of a New York gossip columnist and 3,000 on the last days of jazzman Miles Davis. All presented with cool elegance, if little impact. For that you turn to the Food and Home section where there are five pages of exuberant photography illustrating, of all things, a collection of Brazilian recipes. Deep-fried black-eyed beans, anyone?


It's called How to Spend It and they're not kidding. Amid luscious ads offering an array of international luxury brands that would make Rodeo Drive look like a suburban high street, the beautifully crafted editorial is full of ideas for recycling platinum plastic. Here's a vintage Bugatti pedal car for pounds 35,000 (electric assisted) for junior. For madam, a printed silk dress and chiffon cape at pounds 1,825. For the health-conscious tycoon, a pounds 1,395 DIY Automated External Defibrillator for on- the-spot revival from a heart attack. …