Katie Price: The rise and fall of a glamour model

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Image caption,
Price with fiance Carl Woods arriving at court on Friday, before her sentencing

Katie Price was spared a prison sentence at a court hearing on Friday, after she admitted breaching a restraining order forbidding her from contacting her ex-husband's fiancee.

The former glamour model was instead handed an 18-month community order at Lewes Crown Court to carry out 170 hours of unpaid work.

It follows a difficult period for the reality-TV star, which has also seen her declared bankrupt and found guilty of drink-driving.

But the 44-year-old's recent problems are in stark contrast to the 2000s, when she was one of the most popular and successful celebrities in Britain.

Back then, fans could buy into the Katie Price brand in many ways - wear her perfume, work out to her fitness DVD, listen to her album or read one of her autobiographies.

"When I was growing up, girls that I went to school with idolised her," says Sarah Packer, senior showbiz reporter for the Mail Online and a former writer for the Sun's Bizarre column. "They wanted to have hair extensions and fake tan. And she was probably one of the first to make a big deal out of having a boob job and that becoming the reason she was famous."

Price was a hugely successful model, regularly appearing on the Sun's Page Three and in men's magazines. "And not only that, but women related to her because she was also a mother," Packer says.

"We followed her career. We saw her romance blossom with Peter Andre on I'm A Celebrity. It felt like we knew her personally somehow. She was always in the press so she just became someone we were used to seeing."

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Image caption,
Katie Price and Peter Andre became a couple after meeting on ITV's I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!

Price climbed to the top of the fame ladder before the advent of social media. She utilised her relationships with print, broadcast and online media outlets and was happy to share all aspects of her life.

Jamie East, broadcaster and creator of daily news podcast The Smart 7, ran the celebrity-gossip website Holy Moly for much of the 2000s, when Price's career was at its peak.

"She was kind of a dream for a celebrity journalist back then," he says, "because Katie Price is many things - stupid is not one of them. And she knows that if she delivers the goods, she will be written about.

"So it was kind of the perfect storm from our point of view. She went everywhere - she would go to the opening of an envelope. She always turned up dressed ridiculously so you could guarantee to get at least 10 pictures to create a gallery out of it and she gave good quotes as well.

"She just didn't care - she knew she had a limited shelf life in terms of her body and her brand and she milked it for all it was worth and was happy to play the game."

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Image caption,
Price launched her own range of nutrition products in 2017

But then, the public perception of Price began to change. And while her visibility in today's celebrity landscape might remain high, negative stories about her financial and legal struggles have seen her fall out of favour somewhat.

"The best way to have a good reputation is to behave well," says Tim Maltin, a specialist in reputation management and chief executive of Maltin PR.

"And I think some of the things that have caused Katie Price's popularity to come off its peak, which started I think when she split from Peter Andre, are things like the drink-driving, which is endangering the public and endangering herself.

"Part of her brand has been the slightly chaotic nature of her life - but equally, if she wants to become more popular, then she should think about her fans and what she stands for.

"And there are a lot of positives in what she stands for - being a strong independent woman, being a good mother to her disabled son, being an entrepreneurial woman, being someone who's come from quite a difficult background who's done well for herself."

Image source, Stephen Mark Perry
Image caption,
Price began modelling under the name Jordan, in 1996, after she was signed to her first agency, Samantha Bond

Price's split from Andre, and the start of her next relationship, with Alex Reid, came at a time when the media industry, and the climate around celebrity, was starting to transform.

"A couple of things happened," East says. "The public mood towards celebrity changed. We wanted something a bit more wholesome - it was all '#BeKind'. And Katie stopped becoming an image of 'it doesn't matter where you come from, you can still achieve your dream, become a millionaire.' And instead what happened was she started chasing her tail a bit.

"If you had to pick a moment where it all went wrong, I think Alex Reid was probably that moment. I just think that, for all the nonsense and the naffness, Peter Andre and Katie Price were clearly in love and it was a genuinely sweet coupling via reality TV."

The gradual change in Price's public image "wasn't conducive with endorsing pony equipment for 10-year-old girls", East suggests. "Commercial sponsors backed off pretty quickly. And then what happens is it's a race to the bottom in terms of trying to cling on to the endorsements and money."

Packer suggests the change in Price's appearance has also played a role. "The surgery is part of her downfall," she says.

Image caption,
Price has earned respect for her relationship with son Harvey (pictured on BBC Two's Victoria Derbyshire programme in 2019)

Price was declared bankrupt in 2019. "Her outgoings were unbelievable," East recalls. "I spent a day at her house - and just the staff and the set-up, you can easily see why she burned through so much money pretty quickly.

"Once that starts to decline and the level of work you're being offered declines, you start to chase different types of press. Before you know it, you're in this pretty miserable cycle."

Price has remained in the public eye and still commands a great deal of respect, thanks to her relationship with her son who has learning disabilities, which has been the subject of two recent BBC documentaries. "The mother that she is to Harvey is so commendable," Packer says.

But the drink-driving conviction, followed by the breach of the restraining order forbidding her from contacting the fiancee of her ex-husband Kieran Hayler, has seen public affection fade.

"What happens with me is things build up and build up and then I cause more damage," Price told ITV's Lorraine in February. "It's like I've got a self-destruct button sometimes.

"I am so tolerant, so patient - but there are certain people that rile me." Seemingly aware her actions had put her reputation at risk, Price started having therapy. "There are so many good things happening for me at the moment and I don't want to ruin it," she said.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Katie Price (pictured in 2007) was a "celebrity journalist's dream" during the 2000s, Jamie East says

In the fast-moving world of celebrity, it can be hard to hold on to your popularity for a sustained length of time. But Maltin says there is a way back into the public's heart for Price.

"The British public loves to forgive," he says. "If you look at Elton John, for example, he's been through so many ups and downs and he's still a much loved and respected figure."

The entertainment world loves a comeback story and Price could write off her difficult few years as a necessary step on her journey. "People like a narrative arc," Maltin says. "They actually like to see their heroes trip and fall."

Packer, however, thinks a return to the levels of success she had before will be difficult. "I don't know if she will ever have that same level of popularity," she says. "Right now people are just fascinated by her because there are so many ups and downs.

"But I don't think we've tired of her. Working at the Sun and the Mail, I analyse all the traffic on the website, and she is still the most popular celebrity you can write about, whatever she does."

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