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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Alan Coren
Born 27 June 1938
Paddington, London, England
Died 18 October 2007 (aged 69)
London, England
Occupation Humorist and writer

Alan Coren (27 June 1938 – 18 October 2007) was an English humorist, writer and satirist who was well known as a regular panellist on the BBC radio quiz The News Quiz and a team captain on BBC television's Call My Bluff. Coren was also a journalist, and for nine years was the editor of Punch magazine.


Early life

Alan Coren was born into a Jewish family in Paddington, London in 1938.[1][2][3] The son of a builder and plumber, Coren was educated at East Barnet Grammar School before getting a scholarship to Wadham College, Oxford, where he got a First in English. After taking a Master's degree[4][5] he studied for a doctorate in modern American literature at Yale and the University of California, Berkeley.[4] He considered an academic career but decided instead to become a writer and journalist.[2] He began this career by selling articles to Punch and was later offered a full-time job there.[5] At this time he also wrote for The New Yorker.[4] Succeeding John Cleese, in 1973 Coren became the Rector of the University of St Andrews and remained so until 1976.[4]


In 1966, he became Punch's literary editor, and went on to become deputy editor in 1969 and editor in 1978. He remained as editor until 1987 when the circulation began to decline.[6] Unsurprisingly, during the week in which he took over the editorship, the Jewish Chronicle published a profile of him. His response was to rush around the office, waving a copy of the relevant edition, saying: "This is ridiculous - I haven't been Jewish for years!".[7]

From 1971 to 1978, Coren wrote a television review column for The Times and a humour column for the Daily Mail from 1972 to 1976.[2] When he left Punch in 1987, he became editor of The Listener, continuing in that role until 1989.[4] From 1984 Coren worked as a television critic for the Mail on Sunday until he moved to the Sunday Express as a humorous columnist, which he left in 1996.[4][6] Known as the "Sage of Cricklewood", where he lived, his columns always contained humour and criticism. From 1975 to 1982 Coren wrote comic essays, such as Golfing for Cats and The Cricklewood Diet and from 1976 to 1983 wrote the Arthur series of children's books.[4] In 1989 he started a column in The Times, which he continued for the rest of his life.[8]

In 1977, while writing for The Observer, Tatler and The Times, Alan Coren began his broadcasting career when he became one of the regular panellists on BBC Radio 4's new satirical quiz show, The News Quiz.[5] In 1978 he wrote The Losers, an unsuccessful sitcom about a wrestling promoter starring Leonard Rossiter and Alfred Molina.[2] He continued on The News Quiz until the year of his death. From 1996 to 2005 he was also one of two team captains on television's Call My Bluff.

During his life he wrote nearly 20 books, many of which were collections of his newspaper columns.[4] One of Coren's most successful, The Collected Bulletins of Idi Amin, was a collection of his Punch articles about Amin, was rejected for publication in the United States on the grounds of racial sensitivity.[4][5] These Bulletins were later made into a comedy album, The Collected Broadcasts of Idi Amin with John Bird. His other books include The Dog It Was That Died (1965), The Sanity Inspector (1974), All Except The Bastard (1978), The Lady from Stalingrad Mansions (1978), Rhinestone as Big as the Ritz (1979), Tissues for Men (1981), Bumf (1984), Seems Like Old Times: a Year in the Life of Alan Coren (1989), More Like Old Times (1990), A Year in Cricklewood (1991), Toujours Cricklewood? (1993), Alan Coren's Sunday Best (1993), A Bit on the Side (1995), Alan Coren Omnibus (1996), The Cricklewood Dome (1998), The Cricklewood Tapestry (2002) and Waiting for Jeffrey (2002).[2][4][6] Coren's final book, 69 For One, was published late in 2007.[4]

Later years

In May 2006, Alan Coren was bitten by an insect that gave him septicaemia which led to his developing necrotising fasciitis.[4][9]

He died from cancer in 2007 at his home in North London.[3][8] Survived by his wife Anne (née Kasriel), whom he married in 1963,[2][7] and their two children, Giles and Victoria, who are both journalists,[8] he was buried in Hampstead Cemetery.[3] An anthology of his writings, called The Essential Alan Coren - Chocolate and Cuckoo Clocks and edited by his children, was published on 2 October 2008.[10]

External links


Academic offices
Preceded by
John Cleese
Rector of the University of St Andrews
1973 – 1976
Succeeded by
Frank Muir


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Alan Coren (1938-06-272007-10-18) was an English humorist, journalist and broadcaster. He was for many years a frequent contributor to Punch, which he edited from 1977 to 1987. He regularly appeared on The News Quiz and Call My Bluff, and had a column in The Times.

His children are Giles Coren and Victoria Coren.


  • In the days when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look out of the windows be darkened, I know one boy who won't be sweating. I intend to raise my coffin-lid briskly, throw a few things into an overnight bag, and, whistling something appropriate, prepare to meet my Maker.
    • "Bye Bye Blackbird, Hello Mortal Sin", The Dog It Was that Died (1965)
    • The first half of the quote is Ecclesiastes, 12:3
  • Disneyworld…is a historical reconstruction as sanitised as the Kremlin's, and a future vision as uncognisant of contemporary pointers as Peter Pan's. It is a magic carpet under which everything has been swept.
    • "Suspended Animation", Tissues for Men (1980)
  • Does not even the most sexually democratic of us, among which number I unquestionably count myself, not choke back the tiniest sob at the sight of poor old Denis stumbling along behind, struggling pitifully to hold his trilby on, as the PM strides across Goose Green with the wind managing only to make her hair look more Medusan, and the very mines praying she will not crush them under-heel?
    • "Subordinate Claus", Bumf (1984)

The Sanity Inspector (1974)

  • A long, soft sigh, one of those very Italian sighs that express so much, that say "Ah, signor, if only this world were an ideal world, what would I not give to be able to do as you ask, we should sit together in the Tuscan sunshine, you and I, just two men together, and we should drink a bottle of the good red wine, and we should sing, ah, how we should sing."
    • "Let Us Now Phone Famous Men"
  • The word "souvenir" has, of course, slightly extended itself in meaning until it now denotes almost anything either breakable or useless; but even today, ninety per cent of the items covered by the word are forgettable objects in which cigarettes can be left to go stale.
    • "And Though They Do Their Best To Bring…"
  • Since Switzerland has nothing else to identify it…and since both its national products, snow and chocolate, melt, the cuckoo clock was invented solely in order to give tourists something solid to remember it by.
    • "And Though They Do Their Best To Bring…"
  • Having lost the last war, they are currently enjoying a Wirtschaftswunder, which can be briefly translated as "The best way to own a Mercedes is to build one."
    • "All You Need To Know About Europe", Germany
  • Strictly speaking, the land does not exist; it is merely dehydrated sea.
    • "All You Need To Know About Europe", Netherlands
  • Apart from cheese and tulips, the main product of the country is advocaat, a drink made from lawyers.
    • "All You Need To Know About Europe", Netherlands
  • I rang room service, and asked for a bottle of Perrier, because while I was asleep someone had come in and carpeted my throat.
    • "The Night We Went To Epernay By Way Of Tours-sur-Marne"

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