Media families: 17. The Corens

Alan Coren (humorist) married Anne (eye doctor), and begat Giles (columnist and author) and Victoria (columnist

Writing a funny article is not all that difficult. Writing two is more than twice as hard, and to keep them coming week after week, without the standard flagging, is one of the toughest tricks to pull in journalism. Alan Coren is among a handful of writers who know how to do it. His sharply observed wit has delighted readers, listeners and viewers for 35 years - and he has been public-spirited enough to pass on the knack to his children.

For a large portion of his career he was associated with Punch, the venerable humour magazine. He began writing for it in 1962 when, aged 24, he was in the United States on a Harkness Fellowship, studying American literature.

Returning to Britain in 1963, he married Anne Kasriel, now a consultant at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London. The same year he joined the staff of Punch, becoming literary editor, then deputy editor, and editor in 1978. He began to establish a reputation as a TV critic and humorous columnist on The Times and the Daily Mail. The funny columns began to be recycled into funny books, and he wrote the "Arthur" series of books for children.

Quitting Punch, he briefly became editor of The Listener, the BBC's cultural magazine. Already dying on its feet through lack of investment, it folded soon after he was replaced in 1989. From that moment, he decided to give up going to the office. "When I got to 50 I thought I'd had enough of corporate life," he explains. So he developed his career as a freelance columnist and broadcaster.

His weekly Times column, chronicling the oddities of life in the north London district of Cricklewood, began in 1988 and is still running. He is a stalwart on Radio 4's The News Quiz, appears every weekday afternoon on Call My Bluff on BBC1, and writes for several magazines.

"Broadcasting is a hobby, not my first area of expertise," he says. "Writing is what I do best. Then you paste them all together and you generate books." One such, The Alan Coren Omnibus, appeared in the spring; another, A Bit on the Side, is due in the autumn.

His son, Giles, was born in 1969. After gaining a first-class honours degree at Oxford, he joined the literary department of The Daily Telegraph and then became a feature writer on The Times, as well as writing a satirical column about shopping in its Saturday magazine. Eventually he found that the disciplines of a newspaper office were not especially to his taste, and left The Times last year after a spectacular falling-out with an assistant editor that is still the talk of the Wapping wine bars. Now he writes for The Telegraph again and has collaborated on a book with James Dyson, the visionary inventor. Called Against the Odds, it will be published this month.

Victoria Coren was born in 1972. By the time she was 14, she was writing a column for The Telegraph on ... what it was like to be 14. Two years later she produced a precocious book called Love 16 (it should have been Love 15, a neater title, but the publisher failed to bring the book out before her birthday).

By their very nature teenage columns cannot be sustained indefinitely, and Victoria did well to make hers last seven years, especially since she too was busy getting a First at Oxford. Since then she has contributed to several other national papers and is writing a novel.

Is Alan surprised - flattered, even - that his children have chosen to follow his trade? "I'm delighted that they're successful because they're very good. They're smart and charming. They both wrote well from an early age, I suppose because they grew up in a house where a lot of writing was going on - that, coupled with the genes.

"Had they gone into journalism and not been any good at it, that would have been a shame. They haven't realised their potential yet, but they're on their way to realising it and I'm very pleased for them." Neither is married, so no third-generation wits are yet in the production line.

When Alan started in journalism his father told him he was mad, because there were few outlets and not much money in it. "He was right in those days, but nowadays it's a big industry and if anybody wants to go into the media and makes a fist of it, they can make good money."

Speaking of which, does either of the children yet earn more than be does? Silly question. "Nobody earns more than I do"

Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv'The Last Kingdom' embraces politics, religion, warfare, courage, love and loyalty, say creators
Sport
Sergio Romero saves Wesley Sneijder's penalty
world cup 2014But after defeating the Dutch, Lionel Messi and Argentina will walk out at the Maracana on Sunday as underdogs against Germany
Sport
Scoreboard at the end of the semi-final World Cup match between Brazil and Germany at The Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte
Sport
'Saddest man in Brazil' takes defeat with good grace, handing replica trophy to German fans
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
peopleThe Game of Thrones author said speculation about his health and death was 'offensive'
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman and Lauren O'Neil in Jamie Lloyd's Richard III
theatreReview: The monarch's malign magnetism and diabolic effrontery aren’t felt
News
Glamour magazine hosts a yoga class with Yogalosophy author Mandy Ingber on June 10, 2013 in New York City.
newsFather Padraig O'Baoill said the exercise was 'unsavoury' in a weekly parish newsletter
Extras
indybest
News
people'She is unstoppable', says Jean Paul Gaultier at Paris show
Sport
Alexis Sanchez and apparently his barber Carlos Moles in Barcelona today
football
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has her magic LSD brain stolen in this crazy video produced with The Flaming Lips
video
Arts and Entertainment
In his own words: Oscar Wilde in 1882
theatreNew play by the Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials - and what they reveal about the man
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Unless films such as Guardians of the Galaxy, pictured, can buck the trend, this summer could be the first in 13 years that not a single Hollywood blockbuster takes $300m
filmWith US films earning record-breaking amounts at the Chinese box office, Hollywood is more than happy to take its lead from its new-found Asian audience
News
The garage was up for sale in Canning Place Mews for £500,000
newsGarage for sale for £500,000
Life and Style
tech
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

ERP Business/ Implementation Analyst

£40000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: This is an e...

Business Intelligence Program Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: BI Project / Program Manager BI Project...

Radian6/Social Media/Digital Analyst

£250 - £300 per day: Progressive Recruitment: LEAD DIGITAL ANALYST - CONTRACT ...

Head of Technology - London - Up to £70K + Benefits

£60000 - £70000 per annum: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Head of Technology -...

Day In a Page

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
10 best girls' summer dresses

Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

Westminster’s dark secret

Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

Naked censorship?

The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil