King and Boling continue to try to ‘out scoop’ each other, usually by printing royal scandals. The Diana “Squidgy’ tape was startling at the time, but is soon trumped by the toe-curling awful recording of Charles and Camilla. Diana’s death is depicted at the end of the episode, making both editors wonder how much guilt they should feel.
Nene King is increasingly loud, shrill and aggressive, so much so I’m surprised Kerry Packer tolerated her. Her husband’s death and a growing dependance of drugs only made things worse.
In contrast, Boling remains very controlled, even when under pressure as Woman’s Day starts to overtake the sales of New Idea and she separates from her husband.
I remember standing at a newsagent days after Diana’s death and looking at the magazines. Every cover, without exception, carried her image, and I did feel some guilt at being part of the demand for stories about her. It’s a guilt Nene turns back on the audience, saying to camera, “don’t forget, you wanted her, you wanted them all”, and it’s true: magazines run what people will buy – if we stop buying they’ll run something else.
A brilliant montage over Cruel Sea’s searing track The Honeymoon is Over alternates magazine covers with images of the famous and infamous: Shane Warne, the Kardashians, Michael Jackson, Anna Nicole Smith, Amy Winehouse, Lindsay Lohan, Rebecca Brooks and Rupert Murdoch, among others.
The show closes with Nene’s protegee, Beth, being interviewed for a role at the News of the World and admitting to an ambition to become editor. Her experience in Australia probably meant she was well suited to that particular paper, which later closed after phone hacking scandals.
The simultaneous glorification and vilification of celebrities continues, and I wonder if even the closure of News of the World and the Levison and other enquiries will stop it.