Rise and (partial) fall of a sofa shagger
The BBC deserves no credit for parting company with Giles Coren. It was too little, too late.
A short history of wankers: As a Times obituary celebrates a drunken, misogynist 'icon', Giles Coren keeps up the tradition... (Nov 29, 2020)
Mr Disgusting speaks: Giles Coren hates his readers and the feeling should be mutual, (Jan 21, 2021)
The Subtweet & Unsackable: Giles Coren’s preposterous privilege means he can drink forever in the last chance saloon... (Jul 22, 2021)
In a since-deleted Esquire article from 20161, Giles Coren went into explicit and excessive detail about his teenage passion for fucking a hole in his family’s sofa. Of course, his relatives then had to sit on the results:
I fucked that thing like crazy for the whole of one long summer afternoon, until it was so full of splosh it could have given birth to a whole shopful of half-human seating solutions. And then all I had to do was turn it round so that the hole didn't face out into the room and nobody would ever know. Except — oh, fuck! — the back of the cushion was lined with canvas. It was a one-way cushion. I had no option but to lay it back the way I had found it and hope for the best.
That evening, when the family gathered in the telly room after supper to watch Dallas, I was naturally relieved when nobody sat back directly onto my special friend and got a tell-tale spaff-tattoo on the back of their shirt.
That spunk-stuffed sofa is a passable metaphor for Coren’s entire career. He has been “fucking that thing” for over 30 years, the rest of us forced to share the room with his bitter emanations and the juvenile pride he has at producing them.
When Coren is confined to The Times or whatever glossy monthly magazine wants to further debase itself by commissioning his copy, you’re at least not obliged to pay for him. But his stint at the BBC meant his noxious narcissism was publicly subsidised and most egregiously so on Amazing Hotels. In Coren’s own words, it meant he was able to “go on holiday with Monica Galetti six times a year at the licence payer’s expense.”
On 20 July, Coren — in tabloid parlance — took to Instagram to announce that he wouldn’t be doing another series of Amazing Hotels because of “a knee-trembling new television series [commission] that has the potential to be by far the best thing I’ve done on telly.” For legal reasons, I’m not able to suggest what I think is the best thing Giles Coren could do on television.
It is understood Mr Coren's position had become untenable following a brutal Twitter row almost exactly a year ago today, which began with the death of female journalist Dawn Foster — and ended with complaints to the independent press watchdog.
“It is understood” is, of course, newspaper code for someone wanted this made clear but didn’t want to/couldn’t put their name to it. Later in the same piece, another BBC source delivered one of the greatest quotes to ever appear in a British newspaper:
We are now looking for a replacement for Giles. The person has to be as unlike Giles Coren as possible.
It’s a credo that commissioning editors and writers across the world should take to heart: “Be as unlike Giles Coren as possible.”
The problem is the BBC said nothing when Coren mocked Dawn’s death almost exactly a year ago. The Times also stayed silent, issuing “no comment” responses to journalists, and limiting its response to locking down the comment sections beneath Coren’s pieces, as Private Eye reported at the time:
… the backlash against his remarks about Foster was so severe that an urgent missive went out at 8.30 that evening from The Times’s night editor to all staff on the paper’s website: “Sorry for the mass email. I’ve been asked to ensure comments are on pre-mod for all Giles Coren pieces from now on please, including reviews, until told otherwise.
Coren leaving Amazing Hotels gives the impression of consequences, but he gets to leave with an official BBC statement that praises him (“We’re sorry to see Giles go and would like to thank him for his contribution over four successful series.”) and framing the news in his Instagram post as the BBC’s “beautiful way [of going] about this changing of the guard.”
That line illustrates the PR soft-soaping at work, while the Mail+ story is the BBC having it both ways. It avoids having to publicly stand up to Coren while still getting credit for sacking him, despite having done nothing of the sort. And it hired him in the first place.
In the years running up to and during his time as the co-presenter of Amazing Hotels, Coren wrote a racist screed about Polish people in The Times, created a sock puppet to abuse people who criticised him, fantasised about murdering, killing and then fucking a neighbour’s child for playing the drums, baselessly accused another journalist of being a paedophile and threatened to stab him, wrote an article about going on holiday with his three-year-old daughter in which he called it “the sexiest holiday [he’d] ever had”, wrote another about his four-year-old son, berating him as “a fat little bastard” and a “chubby fucker”, was accused of racism during the production of another BBC show, of course, and gloated about Dawn’s death.
The Mail’s version of last year’s events is unsurprisingly deceptive. It refers to a “Twitter row” and says:
Mr Coren had sparked a backlash after posting tweets apparently celebrating the death of Ms Foster, who had been critical of his career and previous comments.
Miss Foster had accused him getting his job as a Times restaurant critic and columnist because of his famous father Alan, so Coren retaliated online.
There was no “apparently” about it; Coren tweeted…
When someone dies who has trolled you on Twitter, saying vile and hurtful things about you and your family, is it okay to be like, ‘I’m sorry for all the people who loved you, and any human death diminishes me, but you can fuck off on to hell now where you belong’?
When someone dies who has trolled you on Twitter, saying vile and hurtful things about you and your family, is it okay to be like, ‘I’m sorry for the people who loved you, and any human death diminishes me, but HA HA HA HA HA HA’?
His “retaliation” was a cowardly attack hours after Dawn’s death had been announced. And the ‘trolling’ that the man who used Twitter to fantasise about child murder and to threaten stabbings was wailing about? Dawn tweeted in 2018:
Giles Coren a prime example of how the “if I’ve heard of yer da, I don’t need to hear from you” rule holds for almost every man bar Jesus.
But also, as Sarah M and Sarah Woolley have pointed out, Dawn and Coren had only interacted once on Twitter: When she challenged his repeated attempts to minimise the allegations against a man accused of harassment and predatory behaviour.
Of course, a vastly reduced chance of seeing Giles Coren on your TV screen is a good thing. But I’m cautious of premature celebrations. The threat of another show is there and Coren continues to be promoted heavily by The Times, comfortably ensconced with two weekly columns and an unlistenable podcast series.
As I wrote last year, Coren is the Keyser Söze of shitheads. He says or does something appalling, disappears for a while, then returns pretending it never happened or worse that he was the victim all along. His role is to titillate readers with bigotry delivered under the thinnest layer of irony and public schoolboy chuckling; keeping the Overton Window of awfulness flung wide open.
In a column from October 2021, that now seems like a preemptive strike, Coren wrote:
After all, as a middle-aged, middle-class, white, heterosexual, cis-gender, public school-educated British male of small “c” conservative bent, I have had to accept that my days in the media are numbered. I may well hold on for a while to the columns and TV shows that I already have, but nobody is going to be offering me any new and exciting opportunities now, when there are so many important cultural, gender and lifestyle quotas to be filled by more diverse candidates.
He didn’t believe a word he was writing but you can expect to see him rehash those sentiments in the next few weeks, but he gave a more honest assessment of himself in that Esquire ode to wanking:
… I can sometimes get a surge of low self-esteem from other channels. From not having enough money, from having TV shows cancelled, from colleagues winning prizes and old friends writing good books, but sex is always there at some level, and my brain goes right to it. I get an email from Channel 4 saying, "We're going with another presenter" and I think, "Fuck! I'm a shit TV presenter. I'm shit at everything.
If only that onanism-enabled self-reflection could last. Perhaps even Giles Coren might realise that the best thing to do is “be as unlike Giles Coren as possible”.
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