Early life and career
The son of John, a tailor’s pattern cutter, and his wife Alice, a homemaker, Shrimsley (previously Shremski) was born in London to a Jewish family who had migrated to the UK. Educated at Kilburn Grammar School, along with his brother, Anthony, Shrimsley was evacuated to Northampton from London during the war, but had to go the police for a release as their guardians mistreated them. After leaving school, he became a messenger at the Press Association in London.
After a year, he was taken on as a trainee at the Southport Guardian in 1948 where he remained, apart from his National Service in the Royal Air Force, until 1953. After spells at the Manchester offices of both the Daily Mirror and the Daily Express, plus a brief period in the Daily Mirror's London headquarters, Shrimsley was appointed as the editor of the Liverpool Daily Post in 1968.
Appointed as deputy editor of The Sun newspaper in 1969 shortly before its relaunch as a tabloid, Shrimsley was recommendation to new owner Rupert Murdoch by Larry Lamb, his immediate superior. The circulation of the paper doubled to 1.6 million in the first year. Shrimsley served in the same role until 1972. He became editor of The Sun that year. At The Sun he once asked for the photograph of a Page 3 model to be altered: "Nipples too fantastic; make nipples less fantastic". Years later in an interview, he said they "looked like a couple of plastic coat pegs".
Remaining in that post until 1975, he took over the equivalent job at The Sun's Sunday sister title, the News of the World. During his time as editor of the News of the World, which was then still a broadsheet, its circulation declined by a million. Murdoch was urged by Shrimsley to re-launch the paper as a tabloid, a change which was not taken up by Murdoch at the time. Shrimsley ceased to be editor of the News of the World "by mutual agreement", according to an announcement from News Group Newspapers, in late April 1980.
Bernard's younger brother, Anthony (1934–1984), was political editor of three national newspapers (the Sunday Mirror, The Sun and the Daily Mail) and editor of Sir James Goldsmith's short-lived news magazine Now!.
Later life and career
Shrimsley was taken on by Associated Newspapers in 1980 to launch The Mail on Sunday, but Lord Rothermere, the chairman of Associated, did not discuss the appointment with David English, the editor of sister title, the Daily Mail, who made Shrimsley's job difficult. English refused permission for any Mail writer to work for the new stablemate. Following the launch in May 1982, The Mail on Sunday's initially projected circulation of 1.25 million, was not reached after ten issues, and Shrimsley was replaced. English succeeded him in July.
His former Murdoch colleague, (now Sir) Larry Lamb, was now editor of the Daily Express. He choose Shrimsley as the title's assistant editor, a post he held between 1983–86. After Lamb left the Express, Shrimsley served as the associate editor during 1986–96. He advised Sir James Goldsmith's Referendum Party during the 1997 general election, and wrote editorials for the Press Gazette from 1999 until 2002. He continued to write articles for the publication subsequently. Meanwhile, he had become the chair of the Press Council and served on the D-notice committee advising the media on stories concerning national security.
Shrimsley wrote three novels after his retirement: The Candidates, Lion Rampant and The Silly Season (2003). The Silly Season, wrote Roy Greenslade in The Guardian, is a "fine piece of satire" about tabloid journalism which contains "considerable wit and verve". It contains "a thinly veiled portrait" of former Sun editor, Kelvin MacKenzie, combined with elements of the "self-publicising egoism" of Piers Morgan, then editor of the Mirror.
Shrimsley married Norma Porter in 1952 (died 2009); their daughter Amanda was a feature writer for the News of the World. He died on 9 June 2016, aged 85. His nephew and niece Robert and Emma are in the newspaper business. In the 2015 final of University Challenge, his grandson Ted Loveday correctly answered 10 Starter questions as a member of the team from Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge who won that year.
- Childs, Martin (16 June 2016). "Obituary: Bernard Shrimsley, journalist and author". The Scotsman. Retrieved 8 May 2017.
- Greenslade, Roy (10 June 2016). "Bernard Shrimsley, the perfectionist who edited three national papers". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 June 2016.
- Shrimsley, Robert (25 August 2017). "The meaning of Rupert Murdoch". Financial Times. Retrieved 3 January 2018.
- "Bernard Shrimsley, newsman – obituary". The Daily Telegraph. 14 June 2016. Retrieved 3 January 2018.
- "Bernard Shrimsley". The Times. London. 11 June 2016. Retrieved 11 June 2016. (subscription required)
- Horrie, Chris (14 November 1995). "Another 25 years or bust!". The Independent. Retrieved 3 January 2018.
- "News of the World editor to go". The Times. London. 25 April 1980. p. 2. Retrieved 11 June 2016. (subscription required)
- "Mr Anthony Shrimsley". The Times. London. 6 November 1984. p. 18. Retrieved 11 June 2016. (subscription required)
- Ford, Richard (28 October 1981). "May launch for new paper". The Times. London. p. 2. Retrieved 11 June 2016. (subscription required)
- "Mail on Sunday editor quits". The Times. London. 6 July 1982. p. 2. Retrieved 11 June 2016. (subscription required)
- Morris, Sophie (9 May 2005). "Inside Story: The ex-editors' files". The Independent. Retrieved 10 June 2016.
- Greenslade, Roy (20 December 2003). "Red-hot red top". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 June 2016.
- Mayhew, Freddy (10 June 2016). "Former Sun and News of the World editor Bernard Shrimsley dies aged 85: 'A real newsman' who 'loved journalism and journalists'". Press Gazette. Retrieved 10 June 2016.
| Deputy Editor of The Sun
| Editor of The Sun
| Editor of the News of the World
| Editor of the Mail on Sunday