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Last Updated: Friday, 9 April, 2004, 21:47 GMT 22:47 UK
Beckham story is tabloids' dream
David Beckham
David Beckham has called the affair allegations 'ludicrous'

A Sunday newspaper is preparing to unleash what many will see as one of the most coveted tabloid tales of recent times.

As coverage of allegations about David Beckham built into a frenzy this week, the News of the World confirmed it was to publish an interview with Rebecca Loos on Easter Sunday.

Ms Loos alleges she had an affair with the England and Real Madrid footballer, and is reported to have struck a 300,000 deal with the newspaper.

Beckham has called the claims "ludicrous".

Media commentators say the story - which still revolves around unproved allegations - is a tabloid editor's dream because of the celebrity status of Beckham and his pop star wife Victoria.

Negative news always gives much more pleasure to the tabloid newspapers than positive news
Roy Greenslade
Former Mirror editor Roy Greenslade told BBC News Online there had not been a bigger story since the serialisation of Andrew Morton's book about Princess Diana in the Sunday Times in 1992.

"The tabloids had a feeding frenzy on that.

"But with the death of Diana they have elevated the Beckhams into her slot, in the way that they can ramp up their sales.

"They have elevated them, and the Beckhams have elevated themselves, to a dizzying height of fame.

"In British terms they are the most famous couple in the country, whether we like it or not."

That makes the alleged fall from grace even more significant, and the red tops all the more gleeful, said Mr Greenslade, who is a now a media commentator for the Guardian.

"Negative news always gives much more pleasure to the tabloid newspapers than positive news."


He said it was like Diana and Charles all over again, "with Rebecca Loos playing the James Hewitt role".

If the claim that 300,000 is being paid for the interview with Ms Loos' is true, it could well be the highest payment by a newspaper for a single story, he said.

And it would prove that a Beckham story on this scale really is the holy grail for the tabloid press.

This week Independent newspaper columnist Terence Blacker called it "the ultimate Gotcha! moment".

The bubble had to burst at some point
Andrew Parker

"The carefully orchestrated news story about David Beckham's alleged marital infidelity has caused unabashed shudders of joy and amusement throughout the country," he said.

But why do some newspapers delight so much in the misery of the rich and famous?

"It is not the fame of the Beckhams which has caused the gloating so much as the normality... they have retained, even under the insane pressure of public attention.

"The longer they have remained discreet, dignified and good-humoured, the more journalists, acting on behalf of their readers, have longed for the facade to crack," according to Mr Blacker.

'More to come'

It was inevitable someone would make an allegation about one of the Beckhams sooner or later, agreed sociologist Andrew Parker, who has studied Beckham's cultural influence.

"The bubble had to burst at some point," he said.

John Harris, a senior lecturer in sports at the University of Wales Institute in Cardiff, said Beckham had been given "an almost saintly image" by the British press.

The Beckhams "have cleverly built up a branded image, especially overseas", he said.

"Within that, his clean-cut image is very important.

David and Victoria Beckhams
The Beckham's marriage has always been a popular topic for the press
"But a cynic might say that all publicity is good publicity."

So far the man who knows all about publicity - PR guru Max Clifford - has remained tight-lipped about his reported involvement in the sale of Ms Loos' story.

In several newspapers he has hinted he knew of further allegations yet to be aired in the Beckham story.

He told the Daily Mail this week an interview with Ms Loos had become the editors' ultimate goal.

"Everyone will now want to find Rebecca Loos and I'm sure there's a lot more to come."

Only the sales figures for the News of the World this Sunday will reveal whether it was worth the chase.

Beckham 'still a role model'
05 Apr 04  |  Education


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