Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

Farewell to the iconic Weekly News after 165 years

Post Thumbnail

As the final edition of The Weekly News hits the streets, Gayle Ritchie looks back the iconic publication’s 165 year history

Billed as the “paper with the feelgood factor”, The Weekly News has been lifting the spirits of loyal readers for 165 years.

Alas, all good things must come to an end and so it is that this week marks the demise of the iconic publication.

The 5,600th – and final – issue of the paper is on sale now.

At its peak, in the 1970s, the newspaper sold nearly 1.5 million copies weekly.

Readers loved the paper’s blend of inspirational stories, homely features, celebrity interviews, nostalgia and cartoons.

One of its biggest fans was Sir Ken Dodd.

The comedian once told Sean Connery: “I like The Weekly News. It is a family paper and as someone in the public eye I am always happy to be in it.

“It never stabs people in the back and that’s very rare these days. That’s the really good thing about The Weekly News – you can trust it”.

Ken Dodd was a big Weekly News fan.

First launched on May 12 1855, The Weekly News has continuously published through the Crimean and Boer Wars, two world wars and the Spanish flu pandemic.

The publication evolved from being a conventional weekly newspaper into a lighter format, with the focus on features, nostalgia and cartoons.

When W & DC Thomson was formed in 1886, The Weekly News was one of two papers – along with The Courier – which passed into the company’s ownership.

It is one of only seven titles in DC Thomson’s history to sell more than a million copies weekly at its peak – fourth in the league table behind Dandy, Beano and The Sunday Post.

It is a family paper and as someone in the public eye I am always happy to be in it. It never stabs people in the back and that’s very rare these days. That’s the really good thing about The Weekly News – you can trust it.”

The final issue is a celebratory, specially-extended edition.

In it, writers past and present reflect upon their lives – from interviewing US President Bill Clinton to meeting Hercules the bear.

Hercules the bear at the Powrie Bar in 1988 with mine host Tom Lees and Andy Robin.

One writer recalls memories of feeling a knife getting a bit too close to his ear during a circus assignment, and another of driving a 55-ton tank.

And many adventures are remembered – from being involved in a Sea King helicopter rescue operation to being banned by Sir Alex Ferguson.

“As the years have gone by, and competition and different forms of media has increased to levels that were scarcely believable even in the 1980s when I joined this paper straight from school (and stayed ever since!), it has been increasingly difficult for The Weekly News to make ends meet,” reflects editor Billy Higgins.

“That’s why we made the decision to close the paper at the end of May.”

Billy Higgins, the editor of The Weekly News.

The closure isn’t linked to the coronavirus pandemic.

Rather, it was decided that May 2020 – the newspaper’s 165th anniversary – was the right time to call it quits.

Big changes

“A lot has changed in 165 years,” says Billy.

“When The Weekly News launched way back in May 1855, it was a national miscellany news-sheet, primarily for working people or ‘artisans’ as it called them.

“It was the time of the Crimean War, of Florence Nightingale, of Queen Victoria on the throne (in the 18th year of her reign), of Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston’s first term as prime minister, of post boxes being introduced to London’s streets.”

The front page of the very first edition of The Weekly News in 1855.

Billy joined the paper in 1983 as an office junior and worked his way up to being in the captain’s chair as editor.

“I remember the first story I ever subbed in 1984,” he says. “I changed the phrase ‘soccer thugs’ to ‘football hooligans’! The boss said I did a good job.”

“A big change happened in my first year – we moved from hot metal (which I loved) to computerisation with a bizarre intermediate stage whereby we printed out text and pictures and they were literally cut and paste into a page (plate). That was plain weird.”

Billy loved getting the opportunity to complete the paper’s planned goodbye via the last four issues which each featured Weekly News archive material.

These recalled interviews with some of the biggest names in showbiz – from Barbra Streisand to George Clooney, Norman Wisdom to Cilla Black, and Ken Dodd to Sean Connery.

Joan Collins in May 1954.</p> <p>

There were also interviews with Joan Collins from 1961, Pat Phoenix from 1966, and an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at Princess Diana bringing up baby Prince William from 1983.

The final edition also paid tribute to the 10 greatest icons in Weekly News front-page history.

These included Marilyn Monroe, John Wayne, the Queen, Princess Diana, Elvis, Cliff Richard and Coronation Street star Pat Phoenix.

Princess Diana.

But Billy says choosing just 10 icons was a tricky task: “I wanted to include Florence Nightingale, Cilla Black and even a Dalek from Doctor Who!”

In-depth access

Another special aspect of The Weekly News was that it had great, in-depth access to icons like Doris Day and Joan Collins, when they were really big names.

“The paper had four weeks worth of interviews with Doris Day,” says Billy.

“It also had a fantastic relationship with Coronation Street. And there were insiders talking about the Queen.

“There was also Black Bob, the paper’s iconic (fictional) Border Collie from Selkirk. Everybody loved him!”

Marilyn Monroe.

Billy, who has been with The Weekly News for 37 years, cut his journalistic teeth on tasks such as compiling the paper’s 10-minute crossword, collecting his elders’ expenses and filling up glue pots from the “glue pond” in the basement and being dispatched to buy bags of sugar for the twice-daily cuppas.

He also had to learn numerous acronyms, such as FLAG (Fits Like A Glove, for stories that were neither long nor short – a fair achievement in pre-computer days).

There was also WOB, which was white lettering on a black panel, NIBs for News In Briefs, MP for My Problem, LS for Love Story, and MTF for Meet The Family.

A career highlight for Billy includes being in charge of the front page for more than 30 years, which equates to more than 1,500 covers.

“I also edited our summer specials for 10 years, which were really the forerunners of the ‘feelgood’ ethos of the main paper.

“And, of course, it was my privilege to have been in the captain’s chair for the final voyage.”

Elvis Presley was one of the Weekly News icons.

The final, bumper edition, boasting a Sergeant Pepper collage-style front cover, includes a record-breaking number of cartoons – 36.

There are six pages of puzzles, plus The Great Weekly News Not In The Pub Quiz, 165 Years, 165 Questions.

There’s also an extended sports section featuring the 10 top sports stars of all time.

“I’d like to thank all our readers for their loyalty to the newspaper over the years,” says Billy.

“Some have been Weekly News fans since the 1940s, and we are hugely grateful to them for sticking with us to the end.”

Coronation Street actors Liz Dawn and Bill Tarmey often featured in The Weekly News.