The Oldie seeks new editor after death of Alexander Chancellor: 'He could commission anyone and made people raise their game' - Press Gazette

The Oldie seeks new editor after death of Alexander Chancellor: 'He could commission anyone and made people raise their game'

The Oldie is looking to recruit a new editor after the sudden death of Alexander Chancellor on Saturday aged 77.

Chancellor had just completed the 25th anniversary edition of the magazine when he died of heart failure. The next edition, due out in three weeks’ time, will feature a tribute to him by his friend Craig Brown.

Tributes are also expected to be made at The Oldie of the Year awards in London next Tuesday.

Oldie Publisher James Pembroke said: “The extraordinary thing about Alexander was he had such a breadth of journalistic friends that he was able to commission virtually anybody for The Spectator back in the 1970s and 1980s and for The Oldie now.

“People raised their game for him because he was such a lovely man and people loved being his friend.

“He was completely irreverent and hated pomposity.”

Chancellor was editor of the Spectator from 1975 to 1984 and according to Harry Mount, writing on the title’s website, ” he was responsible for giving the magazine the amusing, anarchic, clever but readable feel it has today”.

He took over as Oldie editor following the acrimonious departure of founding editor Richard Ingrams.

Pembroke said: “He mitigated the departure of Richard Ingrams. The circulation went up under him. Richard had created a very strong magazine, it is a great credit to them both that Alexander was able to maintain the standard.”

He said monthly circulation of The Oldie increased under Chancellor from 46,000 to 47,000.

“Many people thought circulation would drop after Richard Ingrams went. He had a very different style of editing. Richard believed that everyone could write and didn’t believe in commissioning pieces.

“Alexander couldn’t understand that. He felt you had to ring up writers and say ‘I’ve got this great idea, can you write about it?’

“Richard was very keen for readers to send in pieces. Alexander believed in journalism and felt very much that this should be done by professional journalists.”

The Evening Standard diary paid tribute to Chancellor yesterday saying: “The Spectator was in freefall when Chancellor took over as editor in 1975.

“An ex-Reuters correspondent, he knew nothing about editing print but his mischievous personality transformed the failing title from busted flush to a funny, cynical must-read, notably pairing Taki’s High Life jet-set antics with Jeffrey Bernard’s Low Life chronicle of vodka-soaked Soho despair.”


Author: Dominic Ponsford

Dominic Ponsford is the editor of Press Gazette