We spoke to former editor of Jackie magazine to discuss the new musical, her career and if she has any advice for budding journalists out there…

The Theatre Hub: You left University to pursue a career as a writer for the magazine, how was that experience for you and did you feel scared at the time to take the risk and leave?

Nina: I bailed out after a year of university to do just that. I’d always wanted to be a journalist. It was journalism I liked the idea of and working for a magazine. I was absolutely thrilled to start with Jackie.

The Theatre Hub: How did it feel to have the title of Editor Jackie? 

Nina: I worked on Jackie for 12 years 1966-1978 and was made Editor in 1974. I was delighted. For me it was a huge achievement looking back because in the history of the publishing magazine, there had been no female editors. At the time 95% of the magazines within the company were staffed by women but there had been no editors. So to do that was something that a girl appreciates. It felt like the glass ceiling had been cracked. I felt very honoured and very proud. 

The Theatre Hub: After working there you went on to have a fantastic journalistic career within publications such as The Sun, Sunday People, The Daily Mirror etc, you’ve also had a colourful career in broadcast within both TV and Radio, for young broadcast journalists striving for the same career, do you have any advice for them?

Nina: Be curious. Listen to what people say. Osborn everything around you. Read as much, look at as much, watch as much, talk as much as you possibly can so you know what you are.

Be inventive, be creative and have fun. 

The Theatre Hub: Back to Jackie, when they said to you, we want to make this musical, how did you feel and how much involvement do you have within it?

Nina: Well there was a first version of the musical about three years ago in Dundee and I was absolutely astounded. I’ve never heard of a musical about a magazine. To make a musical out of Jackie was amazing. Unfortunately I didn’t get to see that version but thought it was terrific so when I met the London producer in a very odd circumstance it was brought about kind of by Elton John. 

I met Elton within a year of starting at Jackie when he was in his twenties and we got on like a house on fire. By sheer coincidence, the morning that we met he had recorded a demo of a single called Nina. It was really out of the blue. We kept in touch throughout the years, he had a manger called John Reid and I bumped into him at a Radio 2 event in September a couple of years ago. I haven’t seen Elton or his husband in years and he said “oh we must have tea, I’m living at the Dorchester at the moment” and I did. We caught up on old times and then a week later the phone rang and he said here’s someone I think you should talk to. His name was Douglas ENTER SIRNAME, the London producer of Jackie The Musical, so he kind of played computer dating with us if you like. He said I’d love to have you involved, if you don’t know about magazines who does?. It’s been fantastic to watch it come together. I’ve loved being apart of it. I’ve done a lot with my career with print and broadcast and now decades later, it’s now theatre. To be able to go to rehearsals and then watch Arleene Phillips choreograph with all of the dancers, it was just bliss. To see it coming together. They made me editor and chief which doesn’t usually exists in the theatre. I’m a kind of consultant mascot mentor and it’s such great fun.

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