Page 3

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Page 3 was a British tabloid newspaper tradition of publishing an image of a topless woman on the third page, the vast majority of whom are glamour models. The concept is known to have helped launch the careers of many famous British models, such as Samantha Fox, Linda Lusardi, Jordan, Maria Whittaker, and Kathy Lloyd.

The concept originated as an occasional feature in The Sun in 1970, designed to compete with the Daily Mirror, which was publishing pictures of women in lingerie and bikinis. By the mid-1970s, The Sun had made Page 3 a prominent feature. This led the Daily Mirror and Daily Star to also publish topless women to compete with The Sun. By the 1980s, the Daily Mirror removed images of topless women from its publications, citing them as "demeaning to women". However, in 1988 a new satirical publication, Sunday Sport, entered the market and began featuring topless women as a softcore publication. Following the success of Sunday Sport, a sister softcore newspaper, Daily Sport, was launched in 1991.[1]

In 2011, the parent company of the Daily Sport and Sunday Sport entered administration. The Daily Sport ceased publication and remained only as a website.[2] However, Sunday Sport would continue with new editions, alongside new sister softcore publications Midweek Sport and Weekend Sport.[3]

In August 2013, the Irish edition of The Sun discontinued its topless Page 3 feature, only showing clothed glamour models, citing differences in British and Irish culture.[4] In January 2015, after 44 years, the UK edition of The Sun also began showing only clothed models or celebrities, though would continue showing topless models on until March 2017.[5] The Daily Star amended its policy in April 2019, only showing clothed models, but they are still scantily clad and referred to as Page 3 girls.[6]

As of late 2019, there are still topless models who feature in editions of Sunday Sport, Midweek Sport and Weekend Sport, though these publications feature softcore pornography throughout the entire publication (except in the sport pages), rather than just the third page.[7]

The feature generated heated debates throughout its history, stemming from critics' concerns of it being demeaning to women and easily accessible to children. There were unsuccessful efforts to create legislation to remove the feature, notably by Labour Party MP Clare Short. The No More Page 3 campaign was launched in 2012. Many defenders often characterised it as harmless fun, as when former Sun editor Dominic Mohan told the Leveson Inquiry into press standards, in February 2012, that Page 3 was an "innocuous British institution, regarded with affection and tolerance by millions".[8] By the mid 2010s, many deemed the feature as "old fashioned".[4]


Beginnings and early years[edit]

When Rupert Murdoch relaunched the flagging Sun newspaper in tabloid format on 17 November 1969, he began publishing photographs of clothed glamour models on its third page in a move intended to help the paper compete with its principal rival, the Daily Mirror, which was printing photos of women in lingerie or bikinis.[9] The first edition featured that month's Penthouse Pet, Ulla Lindstrom, wearing a suggestively unbuttoned shirt. Page 3 photographs over the following year were often provocative, but did not feature nudity.

Whether it was editor Larry Lamb or Murdoch who decided to introduce the Page 3 feature is disputed, but on 17 November 1970, the tabloid celebrated its first anniversary by publishing a photograph of 22-year-old Singapore-born model Stephanie Khan in her "birthday suit" (i.e. in the nude).[10] A sub-editor misread her name as Stephanie Rahn, a German surname. Sitting in a field, backlit by the sun, with one of her breasts visible from the side, Khan was photographed by Beverley Goodway, who became The Sun's principal Page 3 photographer until he retired in 2003.[11][12] Lamb thought the models featured should be "nice girls": he believed "big-breasted girls look like tarts".[13] Page 3 was intended to be "breezy, not sleazy"; Chris Horrie wrote in 1995 it was intended as comparable to the naturism of Health and Efficiency magazine rather than top-shelf pornography titles.[14]

Page 3 was not a strictly daily feature at the beginning of the 1970s.[15] The Sun only gradually began to feature Page 3 models in more overtly topless poses, with their nipples clearly visible. The feature, and the paper's other sexual content, quickly led to The Sun being banned from some public libraries. The first such decision was taken by a Conservative council in Sowerby Bridge, Yorkshire, but was reversed after a series of local stunts organised by the newspaper and a change in the council's political orientation in 1971.[16][17]

The feature is partly credited with the increased circulation that established The Sun as one of the most popular newspapers in the United Kingdom by the mid-1970s.[18] In an effort to compete with The Sun, the Daily Mirror and Daily Star tabloids also began publishing images of topless women. The Daily Mirror stopped featuring topless models in the 1980s, deeming the photographs demeaning to women.

After the mid-1990s[edit]

The Sun made some stylistic changes to Page 3 in the mid-1990s. It became standard to print Page 3 photographs in colour rather than in black and white. Captions to Page 3 photographs, which previously contained sexually suggestive double entendre, were replaced by a simple listing of models' first names, ages, and hometowns. After polling its readers, The Sun in 1997 instituted a policy of featuring only models with natural breasts.[19]

In June 1999, The Sun launched its official Page 3 website,, which featured the tabloid's daily Page 3 girl in three different poses, including the photograph published in the printed edition. On 1 August 2013, coinciding with the launch of the subscription-based website Sun+, the official Page 3 website became accessible only to Sun+ subscribers.

Before a change in the law in 2003, British tabloids sometimes featured 16- and 17-year-old girls as topless models. Samantha Fox, Maria Whittaker, Debee Ashby, and others posed topless for newspapers including The Sun when they were 16. The Daily Sport was even known to count down the days until it would feature a girl topless on her 16th birthday, as it did with Linsey Dawn McKenzie in 1994. After 2003, the legal age for topless modelling was raised to 18.

During her tenure as deputy editor of The Sun, Rebekah Brooks argued Page 3 lowered the newspaper's circulation because women readers found the feature offensive. When she became the tabloid's first female editor in January 2003, she was widely expected either to terminate the feature or to modify it so models no longer exposed their breasts. However, Brooks changed her position and became a staunch advocate of the feature.[12][20] She later wrote an editorial defending Page 3 from its critics, calling its models "intelligent, vibrant young women who appear in The Sun out of choice and because they enjoy the job".[21] Guardian journalist Hadley Freeman in 2005 accused Brooks of having "played up" Page 3 by introducing the "News in Briefs" caption (a paragraph attributing the newspaper's editorial views to the Page 3 model).[22][23] The caption was removed in June 2013 when David Dinsmore took over as editor.[24]

Controversies and campaigns[edit]

Critics usually considered Page 3 to be demeaning and objectifying to women, a form of softcore pornography[25] that was inappropriate for publication in a national newspaper readily available to children. Some campaigners sought legislation to have Page 3 banned. Others, wary of calling for government censorship of the press, sought to convince newspaper editors and owners to voluntarily remove the feature or modify it to no longer depict a topless female model.

A YouGov survey in October 2012 found marked differences in attitude toward Page 3 among readers of different newspapers. 61% of Sun readers wished to retain the feature, while 24% said the paper should stop showing Page 3 women. However, only 4% of Guardian readers said The Sun should keep Page 3, while 86% said it should be abolished. The poll also found notable differences by gender, with 48% of men overall saying that Page 3 should be retained, but just 17% of women taking that position.[26]

Political campaigners for legislative action against Page 3 included Labour Party MPs Clare Short and Harriet Harman, Liberal Democrat MP Lynne Featherstone, and Green Party MP Caroline Lucas. The Sun has responded to such campaigns with mockery. When Short tried in 1986 to introduce a House of Commons bill banning topless models from British newspapers, The Sun branded her "killjoy Clare".[27] When Short renewed her campaign against Page 3 in 2004, The Sun superimposed her face on a Page 3 model's body and accused her of being "fat and jealous".[21] The Sun also branded Harman a "feminist fanatic" and Featherstone a "battleaxe" because of their stances against Page 3.[28]

In August 2012, Lucy-Anne Holmes, a writer and actress from Brighton, began a grassroots social-media campaign called No More Page 3 with the goal of convincing The Sun's editors to voluntarily remove Page 3 from the newspaper. Holmes stated she began the campaign after noticing that despite the achievements of Britain's women athletes in the 2012 Summer Olympics, the largest photograph of a woman in the nation's biggest-selling newspaper was "a massive image of a beautiful young woman in her knickers".[29] Holmes further argued Page 3 perpetuated the outdated sexist norms of the 1970s, portrayed women as sex objects, negatively affected girls' and women's body image, and contributed to a culture of sexual violence against women and girls.[30] Some commentators, such as Kira Cochrane in The Guardian, were supportive of Holmes' goals[31] although commentators in publications such as the Telegraph and New Statesman criticised the campaign, calling it "censorious" and "sinister".[32][33]

At the Liberal Democrats party conference in September 2012, former MP Evan Harris with the support of others, lent support to Holmes' campaign by proposing a party motion to "[tackle] the projection of women as sex objects to children and adolescents by restricting sexualised images in newspapers and general-circulation magazines to the same rules that apply to pre-watershed broadcast media".[34] However, party leader and deputy prime minister Nick Clegg distanced himself from the motion. In an October 2012 radio interview, Clegg said he did not support a legislative ban on Page 3, believing government in a liberal society should not dictate the content of newspapers. "If you don't like it, don't buy it ... you don't want to have a moral policeman or woman in Whitehall telling people what they can and cannot see," Clegg stated.[35]

The Leveson Inquiry heard arguments for and against Page 3. Representatives of women's groups (including Object and the End Violence Against Women Coalition) argued Page 3 was part of an endemic culture of tabloid sexism that routinely objectified and sexualised women. The inquiry also heard testimony from Sun editor Dominic Mohan, who argued Page 3 was an "innocuous British institution" that had become a "part of British society".[36] The Leveson report concluded arguments over Page 3, and the representation of women in the tabloid press more generally, raised "important and sensitive issues which merit further consideration by any new regulator".[37]

In February 2013, Rupert Murdoch, chairman and chief executive of News International, parent group of the Sun, stated on social-networking site Twitter he was considering replacing Page 3 with a "halfway house", whereby Page 3 would feature clothed glamour photographs but not bare breasts.[38]

In June 2013, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas defied parliamentary dress code to wear a T-shirt bearing the slogan "No More Page Three" during a House of Commons debate on media sexism. Arguing The Sun newspaper should be removed from sale in Parliament until it dropped the feature, she said: "...if Page Three still hasn't been removed from The Sun by the end of this year, I think we should be asking the government to step in and legislate." Culture minister Ed Vaizey responded by stating the government did not plan to regulate the content of the press.[39] Later that month, newly appointed Sun editor David Dinsmore confirmed he would continue printing photographs of topless women on Page 3, calling it "a good way of selling newspapers".[40]

In August 2013, citing "cultural differences" between the UK and Ireland, Paul Clarkson, editor of The Sun's Irish Republic edition, announced he would no longer print images of topless models on Page 3. The Irish Sun now features images of glamour models with their breasts covered.[41][42] The No More Page 3 campaign called the decision "a huge step in the right direction", and thanked Clarkson "for taking the lead in the dismantling of a sexist institution", and called on Dinsmore to follow suit with the newspaper's UK edition.[43]

The hopes of campaigners were further raised when Rupert Murdoch, in his Twitter feed in September 2014, suggested the Page 3 feature was "old-fashioned". Eighteen months earlier on Twitter Murdoch had suggested it might be better to show "glamorous fashionistas" (i.e., clothed models).[44] Murdoch affirmed that the feature would eventually end in an interview for India Today magazine in 1994. While defending it from criticism, he said: "But show it to me in any other newspaper I own. Never in America, never in Australia. Never. Never. Never. It just would not be accepted."[19][25]

End of the feature[edit]

The feature in the British newspaper was reported as having been scrapped in 2015 with the edition of 16 January supposedly the last to carry the feature, after a 20 January article in The Times, another Murdoch paper, said a decision had been made to end Page 3 in the present incarnation.[19][45][46]

On 22 January 2015, after an absence of six days, The Sun returned to publishing shots of topless female models. A notice appeared in the issue: "Further to recent reports in all other media outlets, we would like to clarify that this is Page 3 and this is a picture of Nicole, 22, from Bournemouth. We would like to apologise on behalf of the print and broadcast journalists who have spent the last two days talking and writing about us."[47] In the evening of 21 January, Dylan Sharpe, head of public relations at The Sun, wrote on social media: "I said that it was speculation and not to trust reports by people unconnected to the Sun. A lot of people are about to look very silly".[48]

The apparent ending of the feature gained much attention in the British press. Clare Short thought the dropping of topless photographs on Page 3 of The Sun "is an important public victory for dignity."[49] As Caroline Lucas explained in an article for The Independent: "So long as The Sun reserves its right to print the odd topless shot, and reserve its infamous page for girls clad in bikinis, the conversation isn't over."[50] Business minister Jo Swinson criticised the newspaper, saying the decision to replace topless models with women in bikinis did not go far enough.[51] After the re-appearance of a topless Page 3 model after nearly a week's absence, Lucy-Anne Holmes wrote on social media: "So it seems the fight might be back on."[48]

The edition of 22 January saw the return of a topless Page 3 model, but this revival has turned out to be a one-off.[52] The Sun continued to run the Page 3 website, featuring multiple topless shots of a different model on a daily basis until 29 March 2017.[53] Circa September 2018, the Page 3 website was taken down and the website's URL made to redirect to The Sun website.[54]

The Daily Star discontinued its own topless glamour feature in April 2019, when it decided its models would no longer appear with their breasts exposed.[55]

Notable Page 3 models[edit]

Born 1991 onwards

Born 1986–1990

Born 1981–1985

Born 1971–1980

Born 1961–1970

Born 1951–1960

Born 1941–1950

Other newspapers[edit]

  • In January 2015 the Daily Star announced its intention to continue its Page 3 feature.[56] By the time of the newspaper's 40th anniversary in 2018 it was still publishing a photograph of a topless model on Page 3 every day[57] but in April 2019 the feature's models ceased to be topless.[55]
  • On 24 January 2015 the Daily Mirror responded to the publicity surrounding The Sun by publishing a montage of blue tits, great tits and coal tits on its Page 3.[58]
  • The Sunday Sport, a weekly tabloid newspaper established in 1986 which copied the Page 3 format and included additional topless images, was still in production in 2020.[55]
  • The Sydney Sun tabloid published a weather girl on page three, always in a swimsuit and generally a bikini (summer or winter).[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Daily Sport owner in administration". Belfast Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 8 December 2019.
  2. ^ Sweney, Mark (1 April 2011). "Daily Sport and Sunday Sport cease publication after parent company folds". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 8 December 2019.
  3. ^ "Sunday Sport returns in full colour". Printweek. Retrieved 8 December 2019.
  4. ^ a b "Murdoch: Page 3 'old fashioned'". 10 September 2014. Retrieved 8 December 2019.
  5. ^ O'Carroll, Lisa; Sweney, Mark; Greenslade, Roy (20 January 2015). "Page 3: The Sun calls time on topless models after 44 years". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 8 December 2019.
  6. ^ Waterson, Jim (12 April 2019). "Daily Star covers up its Page 3 girls, signalling end of tabloid tradition". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 8 December 2019.
  7. ^ "Sunday Sport Online | Your favourite Newspaper in full, online!". Retrieved 8 December 2019.
  8. ^ "Full text of 'Dominic Mohan second witness statement'". 7 February 2012. Retrieved 19 June 2019.
  9. ^ La Monica, Paul (2009). Inside Rupert's Brain. Penguin. ISBN 9781101016596.
  10. ^ "Who was Stephanie? A 35yr riddle solved".
  11. ^ MacArthur, Brian (11 July 2003). "Charge of the online heavy brigade". The Times. London.
  12. ^ a b Jessica Hodgson (13 July 2003). "Rupert's golden girl basks in glow of brighter Sun". The Observer. London.
  13. ^ "Obituary: Sir Larry Lamb". The Daily Telegraph. 20 May 2000. Archived from the original on 23 January 2009.
  14. ^ Horrie, Chris (14 November 1995). "Another 25 years or bust!". The Independent.
  15. ^ Greenslade, Roy (2004). Press Gang: How Newspapers Make Profits From Propaganda. London and Basingstoke: Pan. p. 250.
  16. ^ Peter Chippindaler and Chris Horrie Stick It Up Your Punter: The Uncut Story of the Sun newspaper, London: Pocket Books, 1999 [2005], p.47-8
  17. ^ Horrie, Chris (17 November 2000). "Flirty not dirty at 30". BBC News. London.
  18. ^ Keeble, Richard (2009). Ethics for journalists. Media skills. Taylor & Francis. p. 205. ISBN 978-0-415-43074-6.
  19. ^ a b c Addley, Esther (23 January 2015). "The Sun's Page 3 is surviving on nothing but a necklace and a wink". The Guardian.
  20. ^ Leonard, Tom (14 January 2003). "Sun's first woman editor to keep Page Three Girls". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  21. ^ a b Byrne, Ciar (14 January 2004). "Sun turns on 'killjoy' Short in Page 3 row". The Guardian. London.
  22. ^ Freeman, Hadley (16 June 2005). "Ladies of the press". The Guardian.
  23. ^ Ditum, Sarah (26 June 2013). "Good riddance to News in Briefs, the nastiest part of Page 3". New Statesman. Retrieved 1 September 2013.
  24. ^ Waugh, Paul (25 June 2013). "Politics Home (The Waugh Room): Page 3 girls lose their voice". Politics Home. Dods Monitoring. Archived from the original on 29 June 2013. Retrieved 1 September 2013.
  25. ^ a b Mary Braid (14 September 2004). "Page Three girls – the naked truth". BBC News.
  26. ^ "Survey Report" (PDF). YouGov / The Sun Survey Results. YouGov. Retrieved 23 August 2013.
  27. ^ Assinder, Nick (12 May 2003). "Profile of Clare Short". BBC News.
  28. ^ Newton Dunn, Tom (15 May 2010). "Lib Dems 'to Ban Page 3' Beauties". The Sun.
  29. ^ Cochrane, Kira (10 March 2013). "No More Page 3 campaigner Lucy-Anne Holmes on her battle with the Sun". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 August 2013.
  30. ^ Holmes, Lucy (20 September 2012). "Exclusive: We've seen enough breasts – why I started the No More Page 3 campaign". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on 23 September 2012.
  31. ^ Cochrane, Kira (11 September 2012). "Could this campaign to stop Page 3 succeed?". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 August 2013.
  32. ^ O'Neill, Brendan (12 September 2012). "The censorious campaign against Page 3 is driven by the oldest and most foul form of snobbery". The Daily Telegraph.
  33. ^ Robbins, Martin (3 October 2012). "The sinister campaign against Page 3". New Statesman. Archived from the original on 30 January 2013. Retrieved 23 February 2013.
  34. ^ "Liberal Democrats Autumn Conference: Conference Extra 2011" (PDF). Liberal Democrats. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 June 2012. Retrieved 23 August 2013.
  35. ^ Watt, Nicholas (12 October 2012). "Rupert Murdoch hints at Page 3 replacement in The Sun". The Guardian. London.
  36. ^ BBC, News: video (7 February 2012). "Sun editor Dominic Mohan defends Page Three (video footage from The Leveson Inquiry)". London: BBC. Retrieved 23 August 2013.
  37. ^ "An inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press" (PDF). The Leveson Inquiry. HMSO. Retrieved 23 August 2013.
  38. ^ "Rupert Murdoch hints at Page 3 replacement in The Sun". London: BBC. 11 February 2013.
  39. ^ "Caroline Lucas in Page Three T-shirt protest during debate". BBC News. 12 June 2013.
  40. ^ Halliday, Josh (26 June 2013). "Sun's Page 3 photos of topless women will stay, says new editor". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 July 2013.
  41. ^ Greenslade, Roy (8 August 2013). "The Sun's Irish edition drops topless Page 3 pictures". The Guardian. UK. Retrieved 8 August 2013.
  42. ^ Slattery, Laura (8 August 2013). "'Irish Sun' ditches bare breasts on Page 3". The Irish Times. Ireland. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
  43. ^ Reynolds, John (8 August 2013). "The Sun's Page 3 under renewed pressure after Irish cover up". The Guardian. UK. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
  44. ^ Martinson, Jane (10 September 2015). "Rupert Murdoch says the Sun's page 3 is old fashioned". The Guardian.
  45. ^ O'Carroll, Lisa; Sweney, Mark; Greenslade, Roy (19 January 2015). "The Sun calls time on topless Page 3 models after 44 years". The Guardian.
  46. ^ Bill Gardner (19 January 2015). "The Sun drops Page 3". The Daily Telegraph.
  47. ^ "The Sun brings back Page 3". The Daily Telegraph. 20 January 2015.
  48. ^ a b Quinn, Ben; O'Carroll, Lisa (22 January 2015). "The Sun brings back topless women days after apparent end of Page 3". The Guardian.
  49. ^ Clare Short; et al. (20 January 2015). "The panel: Is the Sun's scrapping of Page 3 topless models a victory for women?". The Guardian.
  50. ^ Lucas, Caroline (20 January 2015). "Page 3's demise should be celebrated, but it doesn't mean that we're not still stuck in the past". The Independent.
  51. ^ "Page 3 Replacing Topless Models With Bikinis Not Far Enough, Says Equalities Minister". The Huffington Post UK. 20 January 2015.
  52. ^ Greenslade, Roy (6 March 2015). "The Sun suffers big sales fall without Page 3 – but don't rush to conclusions". The Guardian.
  53. ^ Page3 Website July 2018, archived from the original on 24 July 2018, retrieved 9 October 2018
  54. ^ Page3 Website September 2018, archived from the original on 25 September 2018, retrieved 9 October 2018
  55. ^ a b c Waterson, Jim (12 April 2019). "Daily Star covers up its Page 3 girls, signalling end of tabloid tradition". The Guardian – via
  56. ^ "Daily Star: 'Proud to continue the great British page 3 tradition'". The Guardian. 21 January 2015. Retrieved 20 January 2021.
  57. ^ Roy Greenslade (28 October 2018). "Fallen Star: how the tabloid with dreams of being a leftwing Sun fell from grace". The Guardian.
  58. ^ Maisie McCabe (23 January 2015). "Daily Mirror publishes its own tits on its Page 3". Campaign.


  • Perry, John (2005). Page 3 – The Complete History Laid Bare. News International Newspapers The Sun. ISBN 9781845792299.

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