Media families; 8. The Junors

Sir John ('Mail on Sunday' columnist) begat Roderick (former 'Daily Telegraph' leader writer) and Penny (television presenter and biographer); she married James Leith (author, freelance journalist and restaurateur) and they begat Sam Leith ('Mail' diarist)

Why oh why does Sir John Junor (78) still write a column for The Mail on Sunday? Has he not run out of opinions yet? Or does his journalistic longevity stem from the curious combination of the bland and the offensive that characterises his work? I don't know, as the Sage of Auchtermuchty might write - and often does.

But I do know (another Junor favourite) that the family tradition will survive when Sir John retires, thanks to his famous daughter Penny, her husband and her eldest son. Her brother, Roderick, has abandoned the profession, having been a leader writer on The Daily Telegraph and an occasional speech- writer for Lady Thatcher.

Roderick was actually the subject of a recent news story - not very Junoresque, as they tend to appear as subjects only in celeb-type features. Stopped for drink-driving by Surrey police, Junor junior claimed the family was the subject of a vendetta because Sir John was given to criticising Plod in print.

He certainly showed his old man's flair when asked to take a breath test by responding "Dit rien" and adding that: "Norman French is the original English language, as you are well aware."

But before considering the younger generations, we should examine Sir John's illustrious career, built around the Beaverbrook papers, which included 32 years as editor of The Sunday Express and 16 as its main columnist. But despite the history, Sir John was wronged by Express Newspapers and poached by The Mail on Sunday, where he continues to opine on politics and showbiz, sometimes in the same paragraph:

"What woman in her right senses would really want to end up in her 50s looking like Goldie [Hawn]? Wouldn't it be infinitely preferable to lead a completely chaste life and end up looking like Teresa Gorman?" asks Sir John. "Or, again, would it?"

Or, perhaps, looking like his only daughter, "TV's Penny Junor", presenter of The Travel Show on BBC 2, who was described by one colleague as "the thinking man's Jill Dando". Certainly she seems wildly popular with the tabloids, wheeled in on a regular basis for feeble celeb features - her shopping trolley, for example, was "simplicity and harmony", according to a psychologist for The People.

Penny is also the biographer (separately) of Prince Charles and his ex- wife (the cruel say hagiographer), and of John Major and his ex-boss, Mrs T. But despite a book described (by a rival royal writer) as "slavishly sycophantic", Penny managed to alienate both Waleses, prompting what she describes as the two disasters of her professional life.

The Junor book so angered Diana that she collaborated with Andrew Morton (who made the millions Penny would have liked), while an article she wrote in Today defending Prince Charles after the Morton book so annoyed the heir that he axed Penny from the documentary-interview they had planned and picked Jonathan Dimbleby instead.

These setbacks aside, Penny has done pretty well in her career - so much so that in 1993 her husband James Leith (brother of Prue) gave up work as a restaurateur to look after four children and several pets. True to Junor form, he turned this experience into a media event, writing a book called Ironing John.

He now freelances occasionally as a food writer - his oldest son, Sam, recalls a series "on different vegetables for The Guardian" - and book reviewer. Sam, too, has joined the family business and, aged 22, is working as an assistant to Peter McKay, who writes the "Ephraim Hardcastle" diary column in The Daily Mail.

This completes the circle, for the young McKay was brought to London many years ago by ... Sir John Junor. Sam observes that Private Eye has already noted the symmetry gleefully, in the style that blends McKay and Junor senior: "Isn't life grandy and dandy?"

Emma Daly

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West, performing in New York last week, has been the subject of controversy as rock's traditional headline slot at Glastonbury is lost once again
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Life and Style
Drinking - often heavily - is a running theme throughout HBO's Game of Thrones adaptation
food + drink
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Database Executive - Leading Events Marketing Company - London

£23000 - £25000 per annum + 25 days holidays & pension: Ashdown Group: Databas...

Recruitment Genius: Publishing Assistant

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for a...

Guru Careers: Graduate Account Executive / Digital Account Executive

£20k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Graduate Digital Account Exec ...

Guru Careers: Print Project Manager

Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: A Print Project Manager is needed to join one...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living