Spending time with Maggie de Beer, helping promote her autobiography – “The Fabulous Dreams of Maggie de Beer” - has led me to pondering. Would it be fair to say that she and her fellow “Page Three Girls” became the founders of the modern celebrity circus in 1970 when they were persuaded for the first time by The Sun to take off their tops in a national newspaper?
Was that the moment when the concept of “being famous for being famous” first took root, when someone merely had to look sexy in front of a camera to start being treated as a VIP?
Of course the Sixties witnessed many meteoric and fleeting success stories, but those celebrities had usually sung a hit song, taken a photograph for the cover of Vogue or invented a new hairstyle. When glamour modelling went legit and the media started to write about the girls as well as showing their pictures it discovered the public’s surprising willingness to be intrigued, a fascination which survives forty years later with the likes of Katie Price and reality show contestants. I doubt if Maggie and the other girls had any idea they were changing society forever when first persuaded to whip their tops off for the boys.