Sunday Mirror

The Sunday Mirror is the Sunday sister paper of the Daily Mirror. It began life in 1915 as the Sunday Pictorial and was renamed the Sunday Mirror in 1963.[n 1] In 2016 it had an average weekly circulation of 620,861, dropping markedly to 505,508 the following year.[4] Competing closely with other papers, in July 2011, on the second weekend after the closure of the News of the World, more than 2,000,000 copies sold, the highest level since January 2000.[5]

Sunday Mirror
Front page of the Sunday Mirror on 4 September 2016, alleging that Labour MP Keith Vaz had solicited male prostitutes. He resigned as chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee days later.[1]
TypeWeekly newspaper
Owner(s)Reach plc
EditorGemma Aldridge
Political alignmentLabour
HeadquartersOne Canada Square, London, United Kingdom
Circulation217,140[2] (as of November 2022)[3]
OCLC number436610738


Sunday Pictorial (1915–1963)

The paper launched as the Sunday Pictorial on 14 March 1915.

Lord Rothermere – who owned the paper – introduced the Sunday Pictorial to the British public with the idea of striking a balance between socially responsible reporting of great issues of the day and sheer entertainment.

Although the newspaper has gone through many refinements in its near 100-year history those original core values are still in place today.

Ever since 1915, the paper has continually published the best and most revealing pictures of the famous and the infamous, and reported on major national and international events.

The first editor of the Sunday Pictorial, or the Sunday Pic as it was commonly known, was F.R Sanderson.

His launch edition led with three stories on the front page, two of which reported from the front line of the war: "THE TASK OF THE RED CROSS" and "ALL THAT WAS LEFT OF A BIG GUN".

From day one the paper was a huge success and within six months of launch the Sunday Pictorial was selling more than one million copies.

One of the reasons for this early success was due to a series of articles written by Winston Churchill. In 1915, Churchill, disillusioned with government, resigned from the Cabinet. The articles he then wrote for the Sunday Pictorial attracted such high levels of interest that sales lifted by 400,000 copies every time his stories appeared.

A further reason for the paper's success was its political influence. As a popular paper that always spoke its mind, the Sunday Pictorial struck a chord with millions.

Sport was also a key ingredient of the Sunday Pictorial's success. Football, even then, made it onto the front pages, and for many of the same reasons it does today: "WEMBLEY STADIUM STORMED BY EXCITED CUP FINAL CROWDS" dominates a front page from 1923.

Although the paper's early life started with a flourish, by the mid-1930s its success began to flounder. That, however, all changed when the editorship was given to 24-year-old Hugh Cudlipp in 1937. Within three years of taking over he saw the circulation of the paper rise to more than 1,700,000 by the time he went to fight in World War II in 1940.

On resuming the editorship in 1946,[n 2] Cudlipp successfully developed the Sunday Pic to reflect the greater social awareness of the post-war years. In all, Cudlipp edited the title for three long spells. After his final editorship in 1953 he became editor-in-chief and then editorial director of Mirror Group, where he pushed the daily title, the Daily Mirror, to a circulation in excess of five million copies.

Sunday Mirror (1963 to date)

In 1963 the newspaper's name was changed to the Sunday Mirror.

One of the earliest stories covered by the newly named paper was the Profumo affair, which was catastrophic for the government of the day. While frontbenchers involved in sleaze scandals exposed in the British press have often led to reshuffles, contemporary accounts and later research has credited the coverage, associating the involved young socialite to a Russian senior attaché, for triggering the replacement of the Conservative prime minister with another, Alec Douglas-Home. This leader was less popular, and alongside many press reports of scandals in the Macmillan Ministry, this led to the party's election defeat of 1964 and to the establishment of the second Labour government after World War II led by two-time prime minister Harold Wilson.[6]

In 1974, following a succession of editors, Robert Edwards took the chair and within a year, circulation rose to 5.3 million. Edwards remained for a record 13 years, and ended as deputy chairman of Mirror Group in 1985.

By the end of his time in charge Edwards oversaw the introduction of colour to the paper (in 1988). The paper also introduced the Sunday Mirror Magazine which had an extra-large format and was printed on glossy paper. It had the best of big name stories, star photographs, money-saving offers and glittering prizes for competition winners. Today's incarnation of the magazine is Notebook.

In 1992 the Sunday Mirror was criticised and challenged by attorneys of Mel Gibson for reporting what was said in confidential Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

In 2001 Tina Weaver was appointed editor of the Sunday Mirror, a position she held for 11 years until her sacking. Since its launch the paper has had 25 editors in total including current editor-in-chief Lloyd Embley.

In 2012 the Sunday Mirror broke the world exclusive that one of the two Moors murderers,[n 3] Ian Brady, had died but been resuscitated, brought back to life against his will.[7]

The Sunday Mirror also ran a campaign to make Twitter take action to prevent paedophiles using it to contact each other and trade obscene pictures. As a result of this story and others, Twitter agreed to make changes to its policies.

A former Sunday Mirror investigations editor, Graham Johnson, pleaded guilty to intercepting voicemail messages in 2001. Johnson is the first Mirror Group Newspapers journalist to admit to phone hacking. He voluntarily contacted police in 2013.[8]


The Sunday Pictorial[9]
1915: F. R. Sanderson
1921: William McWhirter
1924: David Grant
1928: William McWhirter
1929: David Grant
1938: Hugh Cudlipp
1940: Stuart Campbell
1946: Hugh Cudlipp
1949: Philip Zec
1952: Hugh Cudlipp
1953: Colin Valdar
1959: Lee Howard
1961: Reg Payne
The Sunday Mirror[9]
1963: Michael Christiansen
1972: Bob Edwards
1984: Peter Thompson
1986: Mike Molloy
1988: Eve Pollard
1991: Bridget Rowe
1992: Colin Myler
1994: Paul Connew
1995: Tessa Hilton
1996: Amanda Platell (acting)
1997: Bridget Rowe
1998: Brendon Parsons
1998: Colin Myler
2001: Tina Weaver
2012: Alison Phillips
2016: Gary Jones
2018: Peter Willis
2020: Paul Henderson
2021: Gemma Aldridge

Cultural change in perspectives towards homosexuality

Reflecting strongly prevailing cultural views across the papers across the generations, in 1952, the Sunday Pictorial ran a three-part series entitled "Evil Men" promising an "end to the conspiracy of silence" about homosexuality in Britain. "Most people know there are such things – 'pansies' – mincing, effeminate, young men who call themselves queers (...) but simple decent folk regard them as freaks and rarities." The Sunday Pictorial compared homosexuality to a "spreading fungus" that had contaminated "generals, admirals, fighter pilots, engine drivers and boxers".

In April 1963, under its new title, the Sunday Mirror published a two-page guide called "How to Spot a Homo" which, inter alia, listed "shifty glances", "dropped eyes" and "a fondness for the theatre" as signs of being gay.[10]

In December 2012 before MPs voted on whether or not to legalise same-sex marriage, the paper reported, "Cameron and Clegg ruin progressive moves by making it illegal for Anglican church to conduct gay marriage ceremonies" in one of its campaign articles entitled "Gay marriage is jilted: Vicars lose chance to join 21st century".[11] This sided with organisations such as Stonewall in supporting the move, and against the more traditional majority of decision makers in the established and catholic churches, as well as in Judaism and the main forms of Islam.


  1. The UK-based parent company, Reach plc also owns the Sunday People.
  2. After a distinguished war service, see Hugh Cudlipp
  3. Also described in the paper as Britain's most notorious prisoner


  1. "Keith Vaz quits as Home Affairs Committee chairman". BBC News. 24 September 2017. Retrieved 6 September 2016.
  2. "Sunday Mirror - Data". Audit Bureau of Circulations.
  3. Ponsford, Dominic (15 December 2017). "ABCs: Increased bulks help Telegraph become only UK newspaper to increase circulation in November". Press Gazette. Retrieved 5 February 2018.
  4. Ponsford, Dominic (23 January 2017). "Print ABCs: Seven UK national newspapers losing print sales at more than 10 per cent year on year". Press Gazette. Retrieved 28 January 2017.
  5. Sweney, Mark (26 July 2011). "Sunday Mirror tops 2m sales". The Guardian.
  6. "JohnnyEdgecombe". The Daily Telegraph, UK. 4 October 2010. Archived from the original on 12 January 2022. Retrieved 4 October 2010.
  7. Wright, Simon (6 October 2012). "Moors murderer Ian Brady DIED for several minutes and was brought back to life against his wishes". Sunday Mirror.
  8. "Mirror reporter admits phone hacking". BBC News. 6 November 2014.
  9. Butler, David; Sloman, Anne (1975). British Political Facts, 1900–1975 (4th ed.). London: Macmillan. p. 383. OCLC 222874732.
  10. Sandbrook, Dominic (2006). Never had it so good: A history of Britain from Suez to the Beatles. Abacus Books. p. 601. ISBN 978-0-349-11530-6.
  11. Nelson, Nigel (16 December 2012). "Sunday Mirror". 16 December 2012. Mirror Group. Retrieved 15 March 2013.
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