On this day: Alan Coren dies

October 18 2007: The humorist and writer from Cricklewood


Born in Barnet to a Jewish family, in 1977 he was appointed as the first Jewish editor of the magazine Punch. A pupil at East Barnet Grammar school, he went on to study at Oxford, Yale and Berkeley, California.

Described by some as Britain’s funniest writer, he also wrote for The Times, the Daily Mail and the Sunday Express, and entertained audiences for more than 30 years as a panellist on the Radio 4's comedy The News Quiz.

He wrote more than 20 books, including the two volumes of The Collected Bulletins of Idi Amin, rejected by an American publisher on the grounds of racial sensitivity.

He perhaps didn’t always like being known as Jewish; calling a JC profile when he became editor of Punch “ridiculous” because “I haven't been Jewish for years!"

However in his last book 69 for 1, published posthumously, he wrote: Judaism…has considerable appeal. The soup is good, and you can keep your hat on indoors, thereby making a considerable saving on fuel costs.

“Also, since you will not be allowed to drive on Saturdays, your car will last about 14 per cent longer than gentile ones.”

He was married to anaesthetist Anne Kasriel for 44 years. The couple had two children; the writers Giles and Victoria Coren.

What the JC said about him in 1977:Mr Coren, 39, is well known for his reports of the exploits of President Idi Amin. Less well chronicled is “Sheikh” Coren’s unofficial visit to 10 Downing Street, when, dressed in traditional robes and sunglasses, he was saluted by the constables on duty. “Punch” was once regarded as the journal of quintessential English humour, but Mr Coren believes that if “Punch” is to reflect changes in humour it has to change to be as much Woody Allen nowadays as P.J. Wodehouse

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Last updated: 10:00am, October 18 2010