Alan Coren Remembered

by Harry on October 28, 2007

The News Quiz tribute to Alan Coren will be here for the rest of this week. That unpleasant (and unfair) joke about the Beatles dying in the wrong order rears its head with respect to former editors of humourous magazines.

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11.03.07 at 6:22 am



riffle 10.29.07 at 12:44 am

As an American interested in, but not knowledgable, about this kind of thing, could I impose on you to explicate a bit? The only other humorous magazine editor (not ex- yet, I believe) is Ian Hislop.

If you don’t mind being a bit more direct, could you tell us who you’re referring to and why?


harry b 10.29.07 at 12:54 am

Oh, alright, though CB would do it better. I like Hislop, and he’s my generation, not Coren’s. The person I’m thinking of is Richard Ingrams, who was, apparently, not a friend of Corne’s. He was a predecessor of Hislop’s at Private Eye who is older than Coren, was never funny, and has some very dodgy attitudes (eg I’ve read stuff of his that struck me as straightforwardly anti-semitic, and I should add that I am not very sensitive to anti-semitism).

Hislop’s a doll, in my view


riffle 10.29.07 at 1:18 am

Thank you!

I’ve been pretty positively disposed to Hislop, too (the little I’ve seen of his work), so glad to know he’s not the one you’re referring to.

As for Ingrams, never heard of him–thankfully, it sounds like


Dave 10.29.07 at 6:59 am

Ingrams was/is also an unapologetic homophobe. ‘Pooves’ feature quite heavily in his vocabulary. I expect it wouldn’t be too hard to find evidence of casual racism, too.

Meanwhile, what’s unfair about saying the world would be a more interesting place if Lennon and Harrison were still here, in place of the two musical nonentities that survive?


dsquared 10.29.07 at 9:20 am

Graydon Carter is also an ex-humour magazine editor and has not really been either use or ornament for quite a while.

I think that calling Paul McCartney a “musical nonentity” is perhaps flying in the face of the opinion of a lot of people who might be thought to have a good idea, including John Lennon and George Harrison.


Chris Williams 10.29.07 at 10:20 am

Never mind the discussion about that unfortunate aside. Hurry to the listen again page, for it includes one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard, Coren’s ‘Ballroom dancing’ story. It’s towards the end if you’re short of time.


Tim Worstall 10.29.07 at 10:32 am

Ingrams not a friend of Coren’s? A very mild formulation. Ingrams hated him and Punch. One of his motivating drives was to take Private Eye past Punch.


belle le triste 10.29.07 at 11:06 am


The Witch from Next Door 10.29.07 at 3:10 pm

It’s before my time so I don’t remember, but according to Wikipedia, Coren and Ingrams were the original team captains of the News Quiz.

If they really did hate each other, that must have given it a bit of a frisson.


John M 10.29.07 at 3:16 pm

Richard Ingrams has some decidedly reactionary views but Private Eye under his editorship was truly funny. Hislop is just a bit too priggish to be a good editor of a satirical magazine, I think.


magistra 10.29.07 at 5:32 pm

The running joke on the News Quiz during the Ingrams-Coren years was the hopelessness of Richard Ingrams at answering the questions. He always acted surprised that he might be expected to have read any newspapers, in contrast to Alan Coren, who knew the most obscure stories. I suppose it was really the classic English thing of Gentlemen v Players.


josh 10.30.07 at 8:03 pm

As far as Coren’s attitude to Ingrams goes: in Coren’s (wonderful) brief memoir of his undergraduate years (included in the volume My Oxford, and which I paraphrase from memory), there’s brief mention of a bunch of oafish former public schoolboy undergrads who discovered that they could make each other fall down laughing by uttering certain epithets (which are no longer acceptable to print, even when quoting); he adds that they went on to found an undergraduate humour mag — Parson’s Pleasure — to provide an outlet for this past-time, and subsequently went on to found PRivate Eye, where they had gone ‘from weakness to weakness’.

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