The Daily Mirror
and Marje Proops. Was it racism?
Some years ago I used to help judge the Bride of the Year
competition organised by the Daily Mirror. The whole event was largely
masterminded by the late Marje Proops, the paper's agony aunt and she, I and one
or two `celebrities' would turn up at some smart London location and inspect the
finalists. I was never quite sure what I was doing there, for although I was
then a fairly regular contributor to the paper I had no official status. But it
was a fairly `fun' day and everyone (even the losing finalists) seemed to treat
it all rather well. The brides all got their picture in the paper.
remember well that one year the finalists included a very lovely bride who stood
out from the other contestants. She was black. I thought that she seemed an
excellent choice and was arguing her case when Marje took me aside.
can't choose her,' Marje told me quietly.
`Why not?' I asked, innocently.
`She's black,' said Marje.
I was stunned and didn't quite know
what to say. After a moment I murmured something about having noticed this.
`Does it matter?' I asked.
`Oh yes,' replied Marje sternly. `We couldn't
possibly pick a black girl.' She frowned. `The readers wouldn't like
`Then what is she doing here?' I asked.
`It looks good,'
replied Marje, soothingly. `Makes it clear to everyone that we aren't being
However much the newspaper's policy may have changed since
then, this was certainly the Daily Mirror's policy as practised by a
woman who was to many people the face and voice of the paper at the time. This
all happened as recently as the late 1970s and early 1980s.
from `Living In A Fascist Country' by Vernon Coleman, available from all good
bookshops and from the shop on this website.