Michael Heseltine: Playboy ruined my first magazine

Michael Heseltine, the former deputy prime minister and co-founder of Haymarket publishing group, has admitted Playboy ruined his first major magazine.

Heseltine founded the group with friend Clive Labovitch, and, in the early 1959, it acquired magazine Man About Town, later known as About Town, then Town.

‘In one way it was a mistake to have bought it because it was a rotten magazine,’Heseltine told CNBC’s The Leaders, to be broadcast tomorrow night at 10pm, with repeats on Saturday and Sunday.

‘It was a trade magazine publishing house producing a consumer magazine of very ordinary quality.

‘We thought we could turn it into a – the nearest equivalent would have been Esquire or GQ – and we did actually turn it into a fantastic product.

‘We sold a lot of advertising, but we couldn’t sell any copies. The reasons we couldn’t sell the copies is because this coincided with the appearance of magazines like Playboy, with Hugh Heffner’s publishing empire.

“In the end the advertisers overcame their views about nudes and they went to Playboy as well.”

Heseltine also talked about avoiding bankruptcy in 1962 by securing a bank loan.

‘He [the bank manager] said, ‘What have you got?’,’said Heseltine.

‘I said, ‘I have a car, a watch and a house’ and he said, ‘I’ll take the lot’ and I got the £87,000 or £82,000 that I needed.

‘Having said that he got up, offered me his hand and said, ‘I’ll say goodbye now because I’m retiring from the bank in half an hour’s time’.

‘That was the last time I ever saw him.”

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