Noting that two rival magazines – Valentine and Boyfriend – were selling approximately half a million copies each per week, Thomson released Jackie in 1964, with Cliff Richard on the cover of issue #1.
Designed to appeal to 14-15-year old girls in the transitional stage between childhood and becoming a young woman, Jackie cost just 6d and was packed with horoscopes, life advice, true love stories, quizzes, pop features and beauty and fashion tips.
It looked like the magazine came from the heart of trendy London – but even though the official address of the magazine was in Fleet Street, it was actually produced in the Scottish town of Dundee.
The first editor of Jackie was ex-RAF aero-engine fitter Gordon Small. The chap responsible for the magazine’s layout was a former RAF cook, and the man responsible for managing the fiction content was an ex-rifleman from the Royal Scots.
The magazine sold well from the start, but things peaked in the early 70s with sales hitting over a million copies a week – five times more than any teenage magazine sales today.
Free gifts were regularly given away with the magazine – hair clips, bangles, combs, keyrings and sometimes, even makeup.
One of the most popular pages was ‘Cathy & Claire’ which answered readers’ letters and gave advice on growing up in general and boys in particular. The answers, though, were extremely chaste and conservative, and the subject of sex was never really discussed.
In 1974, Jackie introduced the ‘Dear Doctor’ column to assist readers with their more intimate questions (mostly about periods and bosoms).
Jackie was full of romantic photo stories, all leading up to the magic snogging moment (anything below the waist was out of bounds, and sex was a complete no-no). Newsreader Fiona Bruce famously began as a Jackie photo model.
Jackie was something of a fashion bible for British girls, offering tips for looking good on a shoestring budget. It was also one of the first magazines which printed colour posters of teenybopper superstars like Donny Osmond and David Cassidy.
After a decade of gradual decline, readership fell to a paltry 50,000 a week by the early 90s. The world was changing and Jackie – and DC Thomson – simply refused to change with it.
And so in 1993, Jackie disappeared from the magazine racks forever.
The girls who relied upon Jackie as teenagers now buy the reissued annuals for the nostalgia value – as memories of a different age, a different pace of life, and a magazine that genuinely tried to help.