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200 ShortLists later

After 49 months, here's a recap

200 ShortLists later
31 October 2011

Over four years ago, when we sat — a tiny team — with one phone, three computers and and (occasional) visiting rat in a rented office just off King’s Cross, the idea of writing a 200th issue was a lofty ambition. We didn’t know what was ahead, whether the commuting men of this country would accept us and welcome us into their bags or simply walk on by, climb aboard their train and play I Spy on their own.

Thankfully, it turned out to be the former, and we have been delighted to find that you have consistently enjoyed our weekly missives. So much so that many of you write in to tell us, which is great. And a very select few of you turn up at the door. Which is unusual. But the fact remains that you are the reason we do this. So thank you, ShortList readers — thanks to you, we’re getting bigger all the time and finding our way into more of your bags every Thursday. And as a celebration, we’re going to relive our favourite moments…

ShortList is go — Issue 1

The date: Thursday 20 September 2007 The ambition: to become the biggest and best-loved men’s magazine in the UK. The feeling: unfettered, and slightly delirious, excitement (mixed with a little apprehension). On a diet of two-day-old pizza and bleak cheese sandwiches from the café next door, we sent our first issue into the world. It was a nerve-wracking time, but we ploughed on, and good job we did, eh?

Pete sets guitar alight — Issue 71

When we were offered time to interview and shoot Pete Doherty in March 2009, we felt inclined to say yes. We didn’t think he was going to set fire to his guitar. In fact, we didn’t think he was going to turn up at all — but good things come to those who wait. But after that, the shoots came thick and fast. Most notably, Doctor Who’s Karen Gillan (issue 156) chose us for her first men’s magazine shoot, we travelled to Vancouver to catch up with Simon Pegg (issue 162), and we tested the boundaries of brinkmanship waiting for The Strokes’ Julian Casablancas to recover from flu (issue 167). It took him three days.

And the winner is…

Awards: we’ve won a few. But when our very own Danny Wallace (below) won the Professional Publishers Association (PPA) Columnist Of The Year 2011, we did feel a touch misty-eyed. And while Danny’s trophy no doubt takes pride of place on his mantelpiece and is definitely not used as a doorstop, we have a fair few in our own cabinet. The highlights? Our editorial director Phil Hilton collected Launch Of The Year from the 2008 BSME Awards; Adrian Clark, ShortList’s style director and editor of our biannual style bible ShortList MODE, won a lauded P&G Beauty And Grooming Award last June; our games expert Jonathan Pile collected a Games Media Award last week (with ShortList winning for the third year in a row); while former editor Terri White bagged BSME Editor Of The Year in 2009.

ShortList: The Election Issues — 115, 116 & 117

Spring was in the air. New buds were emerging. Lambs were gambolling in the fields. And down in SW1, three political parties were scrapping to get their hands on the No10 keys (and, reportedly, the right to redesign the kitchen). We weren’t going to let our chance pass to ask this country’s potential leaders important questions, such as, ‘How will you rescue the economy?’, ‘Should the rich be taxed more?’ and ‘Do you like the smell of linoleum?’ They all acquiesced and we published a three-week run of interviews. Beat that, Newsnight! Oh…

You’re Hired! Lord Sugar guest edit — issue 146

We were smiling on the outside. We were quaking on the inside. Was Lord Sugar going to bawl us out of our own office? Would he floor us with his pithy comebacks? Would “bladdy” be his most commonly-used adjective? The answer to all of these questions was, thankfully, no. But he doesn’t suffer fools, so there were a few ‘tense’ moments (ShortList: “Can you give us your top 10 business tips?” Lord Sugar: “No. I hate being asked that”). We got on well enough, though, for this year’s Apprentice candidates to visit us, tasked with creating a new freemium magazine in episode seven.

A Letter from Danny…

I will never forget the day that I was asked to come in to meet a man whose name I don’t remember in a building I think was in London.The man was tall, or short, and I will never forget that he was wearing clothes of some description, literally all over his body.“This is our secret project,” he probably said, possibly leaning over a desk with one finger to his lips, or not. “It’s called ShortList.”

I am being facetious. I remember it well. The man’s name was [editorial director] Phil Hilton and he was proud of his secret project. He and a talented team of writers and designers had been locked away for several months in Islington, developing a high quality men’s mag that bucked the trend of girls’n’booze’n’girls. That kind of thing would be saved for his spare time.

Straight away, I knew it was special, because straight away I knew that I wanted to read it. Phil asked me to write a column for the first issue. I did, and I’ve ended up writing one for every single issue since. And I love doing it. It’s one of my favourite jobs ever, because it doesn’t feel like a job. It feels like telling a bunch of friends a story down the pub. Two hundred times.

So congrats to ShortList on another milestone. Congrats on being Europe’s biggest men’s magazine. Congrats on the many awards. And I’ll see you in the pub. Where I will tell you another 200 stories, until the day you ask me to stop so that you can tell one instead.

Danny x

David Brent’s big comeback — issue 183

It was a long shot and we knew it. But as the 10th anniversary of The Office approached, there was only one man we really wanted to see: David Brent. How would Ricky Gervais react to a request to resurrect a character that he’d laid to rest years earlier? With a cackle and a barrage of excited ideas for the forthcoming shoot, that’s how. He didn’t even balk when we said that he’d have to grow his goatee back. And he bloody loved his cake.

The 200th issue goes to print

It’s been a 200-issue wait, but finally we gained an audience with the mighty Johnny Depp. We prepared ourselves for a fame-crazed lunatic, loaded on prescription pills with a malicious habit for one-word answers. We needn’t have. He was an absolute gent — humble, charming and remarkably grounded with an unbelievable back-catalogue of anecdotes, as you’ve no doubt already read. Not only that, Ralph Steadman — Hunter S Thompson’s illustrator of choice — drew us our own gonzo cover to mark the moment. A joyous high point for our 200th edition. Thanks for reading. Here’s to many, many more…