Media: A Family Business

Joy Lodico and Ian Burrell map out the dynasties that rule the world of television, newspapers, advertising, radio and publishing
Click to follow


Starting with Sir Keith Murdoch and his initial stake in the Adelaide News in 1949 creating News Ltd, later News International, the burgeoning empire passed to his son, Rupert, on his death in 1952. Rupert built up News International to acquire newspaper and magazines in the UK and America, and moves into satellite TV, with Sky, and publishing. His son Lachlan, the heir apparent, is deputy chief operating officer for News International and James is chief executive of BSkyB. Lachlan produced the first potential male heir two months ago, in the form of baby son, Kalan.


Head of the Freud dynasty is Matthew Freud, married conveniently to Elisabeth Murdoch, the daughter of Rupert. Matthew's father, Sir Clement Freud, is a writer, a former Liberal MP and panellist on Just a Minute. Matthew's first marriage was to Caroline Hutton, who is now married to press-baiting Earl Spencer. Matthew's sister, Emma, is a TV and radio journalist, and is married to film producer Richard Curtis. Their cousins include Bella and Esther Freud, fashion designer and novelist respectively.


Richard Dimbleby bequeathed his role as the BBC's top presenter to his son David Dimbleby. David's brother, Jonathan, performs a similar role for ITV. David Dimbleby was married to Josceline, a food writer, and their son, Henry, had a stint as a diarist on the Telegraph's Peterborough column. Jonathan's son, Dan Dimbleby, has been working in TV on Jamie's Kitchen. His wife, Bel Mooney, and his daughter, Kitty, write for The Mail on Sunday.


Stanley Johnson's fertile loins have produced six children, the best known of whom is Boris Johnson, the editor of The Spectator. Boris is married to Marina Wheeler, the daughter of veteran BBC journalist Charles Wheeler. Rachel Johnson, the sister of Boris, is a columnist for the Telegraph and married to journalist Ivo Dawnay. Little brother Max Johnson had a promising stint on the Londoner's Diary and is due to return after college. Brother Leo Johnson is a film producer.


Lord Lawson, the former Chancellor, was editor of The Spectator in the 1960s. His son, Dominic, now edits the Sunday Telegraph, while daughter Nigella continues to be a columnist for the Daily Telegraph, as well as presenting her cookery shows. She is married to Charles Saatchi, who with his brother, Maurice, were the kings of advertising in the 1980s. Maurice is married to Josephine Hart, whose first husband, Paul Buckley, was a director of Haymarket Publishing. Nigel's other daughter, Horatia Lawson, has dabbled in journalism and is a documentary producer.


V S Pritchett began as a freelance journalist, before taking up writing, though he continued a Books in General column for the New Statesman. His son, Oliver Pritchett, has become one of the Telegraph's leading comment writers, and his son in turn is Matt, the Telegraph's cartoonist. Matt's Belgian wife, Pascale Smets, is the sister of Benedicte, the wife of Telegraph editor Martin Newland. How cosy.


Channel 4 newscaster Jon Snow is cousin to the BBC's swing-o-meter king Peter Snow. Peter's dishy 26-year-old son, Dan, has been co-presenting Battlefield Britain with his father for the BBC recently.


Michael Grade, the new chairman of the BBC and former Channel 4 chief executive, can thank his uncles for his big break in journalism. At 17, he turned up to be interviewed by Mirror editor Hugh Cudlipp for a lowly sports reporter position in a Rolls Royce. His uncle, Lew Grade, was a showbusiness impresario and TV executive who brought The Saint and The Prisoner to our screens, and brought The Muppets to UK television. Grade's father had been a top theatre agent and his uncle, Lord Delfont, ran First Leisure, once a great entertainments conglomerate, and had been head of EMI. Grade's first wife, Penny Levinson, went on to marry former Telegraph and Evening Standard editor Sir Max Hastings. His third wife, Francesca Leahy, was a publishing executive at Harper Collins.


Jonathan Harmsworth, the 4th Lord Rothermere, presides over Britain's largest family media empire. DMGT has interests in the internet and radio, as well as its stock papers the Daily Mail, the Evening Standard, and Metro. Jonathan inherited the empire from his father, Vere Harmsworth, the 3rd Lord Rothermere. Great, great uncle Lord Northcliffe set the ball rolling with the purchase of the London Evening News in 1894, followed by the establishment of the Daily Mail and the Daily Mirror. On his death, his brother, Lord Rothermere, took over and the interests passed down the male line, with the 4th Lord Rothermere taking over in 1997. Rothermere's cousin, Vyvyan Harmsworth, is director for corporate affairs at DMGT.


Lord Deedes, the former war correspondent and Telegraph editor, fathered Jeremy Deedes, who was chief executive of the Telegraph until the Barclays takeover last year. Jeremy's two sons have also caught the bug. Henry Deedes works on the Spy desk at the Telegraph, and George works for the rival DMGT in advertising.


Anna Wintour, the editor-in-chief of American Vogue, is the daughter of Charles Wintour, whose firm-handed 17-year editorship of the Evening Standard provoked one unhappy staff member to daub "the Wintour of our discontent" on the wall outside his office. Charles later became managing director of the Daily Express. Patrick Wintour, the youngest of Charles' four children with Eleanor Baker, was labour correspondent on The Guardian before becoming political editor of The Observer and is currently chief political correspondent of The Guardian.


Alexandra Shulman OBE, the long-standing editor of British Vogue, is the daughter of Milton Shulman, who for 40 years was the theatre critic of the Evening Standard. Jason Shulman, Alexandra's brother, has worked as an art director on such magazines as Harpers & Queen, the Harvey Nichols Magazine and the Sunday Telegraph Magazine and is now an artist and sculptor.


Woodrow Wyatt, Lord Wyatt of Weeford, was the author of the Voice of Reason column on the News of the World after he switched from being a long-serving Labour MP to a Thatcherite Tory. His daughter, the Hon Petronella Aspasia Wyatt, has been a star writer on the Daily Telegraph and a deputy editor of The Spectator, more recently writing a column for that publication called Singular Life whilst being romantically linked to its married editor, Boris Johnson.


Alasdair Milne, the former director general of the BBC who was appointed during the Thatcher years but is apolitical, is the father of Seumas Milne, formerly labour correspondent for The Guardian and champion of the far left, and now comment page editor on the same paper. Seumas's sister, Kirsty, worked as a staff writer on the New Statesman and later at The Scotsman. She is now studying at Harvard.


Luke Johnson, the chairman of Channel 4, who made his fortune from the Pizza Express restaurant chain, is the son of the right-wing columnist and author Paul Johnson, a former editor of the New Statesman whose work appears in the Daily Telegraph. Luke's brother, Daniel, has enjoyed a long career at The Times, including a stint as the paper's Bonn correspondent. Their sister, Sophie, is a multimedia person who worked for The Sunday Times and the Sunday Telegraph before going into television and writing storylines for soaps.


Alan Coren, the columnist for The Times, has worked as editor of Punch and columnist for the Daily Mail. His son, Giles Coren, is food critic for The Times and daughter Victoria is a columnist for The Observer.


The eight Delaney siblings have made their surname legendary in advertising. Tim is chairman of Leagas Delaney. Barry is founder of Delaney Lund Knox, where Gregory is chairman. Simon, meanwhile, directs ITV's Cold Feet.


Wally Olins, co-founder of Wolff Olins and chairman of Saffron, is father of Rufus Olins, managing director of Haymarket Management Publications and former Sunday Times journalist. His brother, Ben, is former editor of The Guardian supplement The Guide and Hotdog magazine.


Peter Preston, the former editor of The Guardian and now a columnist for that newspaper and The Observer, is the father of Ben Preston, the deputy editor of The Times.