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Last Updated: Friday, 19 October 2007, 12:25 GMT 13:25 UK
'He was very, very funny'
Alan Coren
Coren was a panellist on The New Quiz for almost 30 years
Journalist Francis Wheen talked to BBC News 24 about humorist and broadcaster Alan Coren, who has died aged 69.

It is very, very sad, and it has been quite sudden.

Last year he nearly died, he had this dreadful flesh-eating bug, but he recovered from that and he was back to his old, dapper, chirpy self.

We thought the threat had passed, but then he was diagnosed with cancer and declined quite quickly.

It is still a great shock, and a great loss because he was the only original surviving member of The News Quiz.

He had been doing it for more than a quarter of a century, and it is hard to imagine the programme without him.

Off-stage and on-stage he was very, very funny, but although he was very funny, he always regarded himself as journalist rather than a comedian.

'Hold his own'

In the early days of The News Quiz everyone on it was a journalist, but in recent years there have been more comedians and stand-up comics, and he would occasionally grumble about that in a jokey way.

As I was the only other journalist left who would appear regularly, he would say: 'Francis, you and I have to cling together. All these comedians are coming in and they are going to make it impossible for us because we can't be as funny as them.'

But he said this in a mocking way because he knew perfectly well he could hold his own.

The comedians who came in over the last 10 or 15 years, like Jeremy Hardy and Linda Smith, became very fond of him. They regarded him as uncle figure.

Linda in particular would take great pleasure in teasing him, she would say: 'Yes, yes, Mr Coren, the nurse will be along in a minute with your medication' and things like that.

He would make a joke about being the grumpy old man in the corner who had been there since the dawn of time.

He loved it and he loved them.

Broadcaster Alan Coren dies at 69
19 Oct 07 |  Entertainment
An interview with Alan Coren
07 Mar 07 |  Politics Show


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