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November 18, 2019updated 30 Sep 2022 8:36am

Sun readers pick ‘Freddie Starr ate my hamster’ as tabloid’s best splash as charity giveaway marks 50 years

By Freddy Mayhew

Sun readers have voted “Freddie Starr ate my hamster” as their favourite front page from the newspaper’s 50 years in print under Rupert Murdoch, which it is celebrating this week.

One in five voted for the 1986 splash that claimed the comedian had eaten a live hamster in a sandwich. Starr called it “the greatest piece of publicity I’ve ever had”, but later denied the story.

The top-selling tabloid has also marked its 50th milestone with a £1m year-long giveaway, inviting readers to nominate charities for a chance to share in the prize pot.

Editor Tony Gallagher said: “The Sun is famous for serving up stunning front pages.

“We don’t just dish up the day’s news: we want to delight, amuse, surprise and inform, as well as grab people’s attention.

“After 50 years and nearly 16,000 editions, The Sun’s clever headlines, eye-catching splashes and agenda-setting scoops mean it remains Britain’s best-selling paper.”

Readers also voted for the following front pages, published in yesterday’s Sun on Sunday, in their all-time top ten:

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1992 – If Kinnock wins today will the last person to leave Britain please turn out the lights (16 per cent)

2013 – The Son – (15 per cent)

1990 – Up yours Delors (13 per cent)

2009 – Don’t you know there’s a bloody war on? (11 per cent)

1998 – Zip me up before you go go (nine per cent)

2006 – How do you solve a problem like Korea? (six per cent)

2018 – Schadenfreude (five per cent)

2000 – I’m only here for De Beers (three per cent)

2010 – Sunny outlook in many areas but depression over Heathrow as shower drifts in from South Africa (2 per cent)

The Sun was relaunched on 17 November 1969 after Murdoch bought the paper from Hugh Cudlipp. Under editor Larry Lamb it became the best-selling daily newspaper in the country.

Today it launched The Sun 50 Reader Fund campaign, which offers to uphold the pledge made on its relaunch to be a “paper that cares about the people” and “about the kind of world we live in”.

Nominations will be welcomed from readers across the UK, with particular focus on six charitable areas: children and young people, health and wellbeing, veterans, emergency heroes, international aid, and animals and the environment.

They will then be longlisted by The Sun’s editorial team before approaches are made to the charities to apply for funds of between £2,000 and £20,000 – or even more – for a specific project.

Sun columnist and TV presenter Jane Moore will front the campaign. She said: “Since 1969, The Sun has been the people’s paper.

“Standing up for ordinary folk, and shining a spotlight on the extraordinary things they’re capable of achieving for themselves, their loved ones and their communities.”

“Across the last five decades The Sun has proudly championed the causes its readers care about – from finding forever families for vulnerable children to changing the law to ensure victims of domestic abuse are provided with safe accommodation.

“The Sun 50 Reader Fund is undoubtedly going to create a whole new generation of inspirational stories as readers nominate the charities that have touched their lives.”

The final recipients will be chosen by a panel of famous faces from The Sun, including Moore, agony aunt Deidre Sanders, political columnist Trevor Kavanagh, legendary royal photographer Arthur Edwards, executive editor Dan Wootton, The Sun’s general manager Jo Bucci, and Help for Heroes spokesperson Derek Derenalagi.

Rebekah Brooks, News UK chief executive, said: “For 50 years The Sun has been at the heart of the nation’s conversation.

“As the people’s paper, it has never relented in campaigning against injustices, holding the powerful to account and giving a voice to the voiceless. Always with some fun and wit along the way.

“I’m excited that The Sun celebrates its 50th birthday as it began, celebrating ordinary people doing extraordinary things.”

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