When ! was launched 25 years ago, it revolutionised the magazine industry. Our first issue featured an unprecedented in-depth interview and photoshoot with Princess Anne at Buckingham Palace, setting the tone for respectful yet glamorous coverage of royalty, high society figures and Hollywood stars.
Nothing remotely similar existed in the UK at the time – celebrity interviews were confined largely to newspapers, with little in the way of lavish photo spreads. “It was the first time that celebrities had been photographed in virtually every room of their house and often with their children,” recalled !“s first (joint) editor Maggie Koumi. “It was the intimacy of seeing them sitting on their sofa or in their bathroom – in the bath even – readers felt they were in their house.”
!“s pages were soon filled with everyone from Bette Davis, Elizabeth Taylor and Gregory Peck, to the Duchess of York, the Dalai Lama and Paula Yates. We also pioneered the celebrity wedding exclusive – we”ve covered the nuptials of stars including David Bowie and Iman, Barbra Streisand and James Brolin, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes.
We have also become known for our celebrity baby exclusives. In 2006, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie gave ! the photos the world had been waiting to see – the first images of their daughter Shiloh Nouvel. In 2008, they shared the adorable images of their twins Vivienne and Knox. Christina Aguilera, Celine Dion, Cindy Crawford and Jerry Hall have also chosen ! to share the first photos of their newborn babies.
While ! is known throughout the world, it had modest beginnings in Spain. Antonio Sanchez Gomez and his wife Mercedes, launched a magazine called HOLA in Spain from their living room.
“Theirs was the first of our many love stories,” said Eduardo Sanchez Perez, grandson of Antonio and editor-in-chief of the ! Group. “The magazine they created together was a ” to the world” – a picture window into the lives of the greatest screen idols and the brightest stars.
“Then, 25 years ago, their son Eduardo also fell in love – with Great Britain, this incredible country, with its fine history of journalism, and, of course, with the iconic Diana, Princess of Wales, who inspired our magazine”s beginnings.”
! is now published in 24 countries and 11 languages – and the younger generation of royals, including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, regular feature on our front covers.
Last week, Queen Rania of Jordan sent a letter of congratulations to Eduardo. “I have no doubt that the coming years will only hold even more success for the magazine and all its dedicated and creative team members,” she wrote.