How walk buttoned-up britain come to embrace an annual celebration of the bottom – and how is it enduring in the #MeToo era? that is creator and also several winners define its success


‘I constantly suspected there to be a many of world out there that were happy to check out the back of me’ ... Carol Vorderman, the can be fried champion of behind of the year. Photograph: rear of the year
‘I constantly suspected there were a many of human being out there who were happy to see the earlier of me’ ... Carol Vorderman, the can be fried champion of behind of the year. Photograph: behind of the year

Britain is no a nation renowned because that its bottoms. Californian bottoms space neat, clenched things, compacted in the dust of early-morning hikes. Brothers behinds, by contrast, wobble: our nationwide bottom is the builder’s bum, as patriotic as tea or the Queen. That is unusual, then, that every year the British public confers upon a celebrity the compensation of rear of the year.

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Launched by the PR consultant Anthony Edwards in 1976, rear of the year was originally awarded yearly to the mrs judged by the British windy to have the country most far-reaching posterior. Over time, it has modernised, through Michael Barrymore ending up being the an initial person to success the men’s trophy, in 1986 (although commonly the press ignores the male recipients, who regularly don’t also get their very own photocalls).


Trendsetter ... Michael Barrymore, the very first male winner, and Anneka Rice in 1986. Photograph: Caroline Jeffrey/Rex/ShutterstockIn its very own way, the compensation has become a barometer for how the country feels around itself. Were we, deep in the lads’ mag era, qualm-free about sexualising children (Charlotte Church to be 16 as soon as she winner in 2002)? did the country’s warmth because that Princess Diana lead to Princess Alexandra’s daughter, Marina Ogilvy, coming to be the only royal come win, in 1999? In 2018, it seems we feeling a little weird about the entirety thing. In this post-Weinstein, #MeToo times, it is difficult to think this ritualised objectification that a celebrity’s buttocks still exists. A cloud of hesitation hangs over the rear of the year, so possibly it is unsurprising the Edwards decreases to satisfy in person, citing the push of his job, an overdue novel and “crucial task in regional green-belt politics” (he is campaigning to block plans to build new homes top top a former airfield in Ockham, Surrey, where he lives). That agrees to a call interview, in which the talks about his released novels, including 2002’s Wilson Lacigam’s Bentley, a “tale that the coming of the messiah in the 21st century”, i m sorry is based upon his suffer of owning standard cars. Also on the phone, Edwards remains elusive, perhaps due to the fact that he has actually not been scorched by the fires of windy outrage and wants to keep it that way: he will certainly not disclose his age, that refuses to it is in photographed and also he will not reveal when this year’s winner will be announced.

The idea for behind of the year involved Edwards, the says, as soon as he was contracted to encourage a denim trade present at the Olympia exhibition center in London in the 70s. He believed an accolade for the female behind would focus media attention on the ago pocket the jeans, giving an possibility to promote particular brands. Barbara Windsor won the inaugural award, attract the currently defunct denim brand Sloopy.


Strangely, gloriously erotic ... Shobna Gulati and John Barrowman splash around in 2012. Photograph: behind of the yearWinners need to be UK residents, in the public eye and, says Edwards, “the proud possessor of a possibly prize-winning gluteus maximus”. Pan clubs often marshall votes for the ultimate winner: Edwards credits the wins that Daniel Radcliffe (2015), Carol Smillie (1998) and also Denise van Outen (1999) come organised efforts. The winners room a mix of soap actors (John Altman, 2001; Ryan Thomas, 2008), truth TV contestants (Javine Hylton, 2006; will certainly Young, 2005), popular music stars (Natasha Hamilton, 2003; Gary Barlow, 1997) and the weird wildcard (Alex Best, 2004; Tom Hiddleston, 2016).

I was just 20​​ and not really the comfortable in my own skin.​ i thought: ‘I don’t know just how I feel around this’Natasha HamiltonThe British windy is not over intrigue when it involves picking winners. In 2006, the competition ended up being embroiled in a windy love triangle as soon as Lembit Opik, then a liberal Democrat MP, left his fiancee, the weather referents Siân Lloyd, because that 24-year-old Gabriela Irimia of popular music duo the Cheeky Girls, best known for your 2002 hit Cheeky tune (Touch mine Bum). Rear of the year voters verified solidarity with Lloyd by awarding she the following year’s trophy.Carol Vorderman is indeed the can be fried champion of rear of the year, gift its just two-time recipient, through wins in 2011 and 2014. (“I always suspected there were a lot of of civilization out there that were happy to check out the earlier of me. The now shows up there were even much more than i thought,” Vorderman joked when she gathered her second trophy.)

“It would be pretty to success it twice,” muses the glam rock musician Suzi Quatro, the winner in 1982, reflecting on Vorderman’s successes. “I’ve been told due to the fact that I was about eight or nine that I had actually a quite ass,” she says. “Seriously. Ns remember staring at myself in the mirror, do the efforts to number out why human being were speak that. It offered to be created in critical reviews. World would talk about my backside and also my animal leather suit. So, once I winner the award, i was actually quite proud.”


‘Everything about the photocall was really odd’ ... Siân Lloyd, a winner in 2007. Photograph: Nils Jorgensen/Rex/ShutterstockVictorious rumps readjust with the times, Edwards says. “Rear that the year is fantastic monitor that fashions in human body shape. In 2018, the trend is in the direction of a shapely, well-toned and, above all, proportionate rear.” ours fitness-focused paradigm to be reflected in critical year’s joint winner, Idris Elba, who has “a well-toned, certain rear”, Edwards explains. In the 40s and 50s, rear fashions were rather different. “If there had been a behind of the year award earlier then, that would have actually gone to Jane Russell or Marilyn Monroe.”

Rear that the year has become famous mostly for the trashy-fabulous photocalls, which are a kind of visual metaphor for why britain no longer occupies a place of prestige on the global stage. Typically, the recipient poses, back to camera, hands on hips, when a bank of photographers snap them. Photocalls appear to have been phased out in recent years, though, v the last human to to visit being the soap actor Jennifer Metcalfe in 2016 (she thanked her mommy for offering her a “small belt and huge bum”). Does Edwards battle to acquire winners to to visit the photocalls? He cases not. There was no photocall last year, that says, due to the fact that he had actually “other points to do”.

The tabloids would not it is in happy to watch the earlier of the competition: editor love the photocalls, Edwards says, since they acquire to print photos of obliging women in chop outfits. “As one nationwide photographer stated to me recently: ‘You have the right to rely on the rear of the year award. It delivers every time.’”Lloyd describes her shoot together “probably the weirdest photocall i have attended in mine life”. “It to be unbelievable. I felt favor I was attending the Cannes movie festival. The photographers to be literally six-deep. I’m provided to my confront being photographed, but they desire the back of you because that the photo. Everything about it was yes, really odd.”

A talented extrovert might subvert these conventions, with joyous results. The medical professional Who actor john Barrowman’s high-camp photocall in 2012 was more naff than a Christmas panto, however strangely, gloriously erotic. “Barrowman jumped in a fountain,” Edwards says. “Immediately, human being were in the fountain with him, taking photographs, and there to be this rise of attention – till the wind started to blow and also he gained a little bit chilly and also had to walk change.”

But no everyone think it is a bit of cheeky fun. The atom Kitten singer Natasha Hamilton was at first flattered come be called rear that the year, yet that soon changed. “The location felt a little tongue in cheek,” she says. “But as soon as the truth kicked in, that I had actually to stand and also have my photo taken, the felt uncomfortable. There was a wall surface of paparazzi taking my snapshot and ns was just 20 and not really that comfortable in my own skin. I thought: ‘I nothing know exactly how I feel about this.’” She “put ~ above a mask and went together with it”. However, as soon as the images showed up in the press, she was unhappy. “I just didn’t prefer it. It seemed a tiny bit crass and also seedy. Probably it was period thing,” she claims diplomatically. “I was simply a little bit too young because that it.”

‘It’s quiet good’ ... 1982 winner Suzi Quatro. Photograph: Gered MankowitzStill, she never ever took her award the end of the box. “I was provided a plaque and also I did have it for plenty of years in a box on a shelf, in a earlier room. I never put it up.”

Like their prize-winning backsides, the behind of the year award often tends to follow its winners around. “Every time ns hosting one awards ceremony and get introduced, they cite it. It’s constantly : ‘And proud winner of behind of the year Sian Lloyd!’” Olly Murs, a winner in 2014, agrees. “Let’s just say the it’s something ns will constantly be asked about. It’s absolutely a an excellent conversation starter.”

Although Fiona Bruce, among the 2010 winners, has actually publicly disavowed the trophy, describing she decision to accept it together “the most hypocritical, ridiculous, ludicrous point I’ve ever before done”, most of the winners i speak to regard rear of the year through a mixture the bafflement and an excellent humour. “It’s among the most autonomous of every the awards,” Lloyd argues. “It’s not simply your gorgeous-looking truth TV stars that win, however Carol Vorderman, that won in ~ a ripe old age. Why have to 21- or 22-year-olds constantly win these things?”

How have the right to we account for the ongoing popularity of the competition ~ so numerous years? practically 11,000 windy votes were cast for 2017’s share winners (Rachel Riley and also Idris Elba). “I think the the British public – if supposedly a revolutionary lot of – like continuity. Once something has been walking on a long time, it becomes endearing, favor an yonsei aunt,” Edwards says.

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Despite this, the is complicated to watch a course forward for the competition. Although not without its charm, behind of the year feels to me prefer a product of a different era and one that is incongruous in these much more feminist times. Edwards senses my mixed feelings and also emails me a characteristically eccentric survey adhering to our interview (“Now did you do it filed her copy, would you say it was: pro-ROTY, anti-ROTY, complimentary, scathing, humorous, serious, because that framing ~ above the office wall, food for the shredder, or a step-by-step overview to to win the 2019 trophy?”).

Quatro, for one, would be disappointed if it ended. “It’s a one-off thing, no it? it’s unique.” and also much like Quatro’s bum (“It’s still good,” she says), it is possible that, despite all the challenges, over there is life yet in rear of the year.