Ian David Hislop (born 13 July 1960) is an English journalist,
satirist, writer, broadcaster and editor of the magazine Private Eye.
He has appeared on many radio and television programmes, and has been
a team captain on the
BBC quiz show
Have I Got News for You
Have I Got News for You since the
programme's inception in 1990.
1 Family and personal life
2.1 Private Eye
2.2 Television and radio work
2.3 Religious views
2.4 Political views
4 External links
Family and personal life
Hislop was born on 13 July 1960 in Mumbles, Swansea, to a Scottish
father, David Hislop, from Ayrshire, and a Channel Islander mother
born in Jersey, Helen Rosemarie née Beddows.
Hislop did not know his grandparents. His paternal grandfather,
David Murdoch Hislop, died just before he was born. His maternal
grandfather, William Beddows, was originally from Lancashire.
When he was five months old, Hislop's family began to travel around
the world because of his father's job as a civil engineer. During
his infant years, Hislop lived in Nigeria, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and
British Hong Kong. When Hislop was 12 years old his father died;
his mother, who was born in
Jersey and had left for Wales in her late
teens, died when he was 32 years old. On his return to Britain he
was educated at Ardingly College, an independent boarding school,
where he became Head Boy, and began his satirical career directing
and appearing in revues alongside Nick Newman.
Hislop and Newman's association continued when they attended Oxford
University together, later working together at
Private Eye and on a
number of comedy scriptwriting jobs. Hislop applied to read
Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford, but changed to English
Literature before arriving at Magdalen College. His
included Bernard O'Donoghue, John Fuller and David Norbrook. While at
university, Hislop was actively involved in student journalism, and
relaunched and edited the satirical magazine Passing Wind. He
graduated with a BA in 1981.
Hislop married Victoria Hamson on 16 April 1988 in Oxford. They have
two children, both born in the
London borough of Wandsworth: Emily
Helen (born 1990), who read English at Brasenose College, Oxford, and
William David (born 1993), who read History at Jesus College,
Oxford.[not in citation given] They live in Sissinghurst.
Hislop's wife has a career as an author, and in 2010 Hislop played a
small role in the Greek television series The Island, which was based
on his wife's bestselling novel. The series premiered on 11 October
2010 on Greece's Mega television channel.
Hislop enjoys visiting art galleries and museums, and has collected
antique cutlery for over three decades.[not in citation given]
At Oxford, Hislop revived and edited the magazine Passing Wind, for
which he interviewed Richard Ingrams, who was then editor of Private
Eye, and Peter Cook, then the majority shareholder. Hislop's first
article appeared in 1980 before he sat his university finals. A parody
The Observer magazine's "Room of My Own" feature, it described an
IRA prisoner on the dirty protest decorating his cell in "fetching
brown". Hislop joined the publication immediately after leaving
Oxford, and became editor in 1986 following Ingrams's departure. This
met opposition from Eye journalists Peter McKay and Nigel Dempster,
who attempted a revolt against Hislop with the former taking Peter
Cook out for lunch in an attempt to dissuade him from appointing
Hislop. Cook, reportedly drunk after the lunch, instead announced
Hislop was "welcome aboard". The new editor, dismissive of society
gossip, sacked both McKay and Dempster from the magazine without
As editor of Private Eye,
Ian Hislop is reputedly the most sued man in
English legal history, although he is not involved in as many
libel actions as he once was. A libel case was brought against
Private Eye and Hislop in 1986 by the publisher Robert Maxwell after
the magazine accused him of funding Labour leader Neil Kinnock's
travel expenses as a means of gaining a peerage. After the case
Hislop quipped: "I've just given a fat cheque to a fat Czech". After
his death in 1991, Maxwell was revealed to be an extensive fraudster,
illegally drawing on his companies' pension funds; his last writ for
libel against the Eye and Hislop was about this "malicious" and
Another libel case in May 1989 threatened the magazine's continued
existence when it was ordered to pay £600,000 in damages following an
action for libel by Sonia Sutcliffe, wife of the Yorkshire Ripper,
Peter Sutcliffe. Hislop told reporters waiting outside the High Court:
"If that's justice, then I'm a banana." The award was dropped to
£60,000 on appeal.
In an interview with
Third Way Magazine
Third Way Magazine in 1995 he explained his
intentions in his work: "Satire is the bringing to ridicule of vice,
folly and humbug. All the negatives imply a set of positives.
Certainly in this country, you only go round saying, ‘That's wrong,
that's corrupt’ if you have some feeling that it should be better
than that. People say, ‘You satirists attack everything.’ Well, we
don’t, actually. That's the whole point."
In April 2017, Hislop won the
London Press Club's print journalist of
the year award; in his acceptance speech he said that Private Eye
obtaining its best ABC sales figures since the magazine's launch 55
years earlier proved that "journalism is A, worth doing, and B, worth
paying for both in terms of paying journalists and the public paying
up for it".
Television and radio work
Hislop's television debut was on the short-lived
Channel 4 chat show
Loose Talk in 1983, an experience he disliked so much that he included
it on his list of most hated items when he first appeared on the BBC
show Room 101. Hislop, usually in partnership with Nick Newman, was a
scriptwriter on the 1980s political satire series Spitting Image, in
which puppets were used to depict well-known figures, mostly
politicians. He even had a puppet of himself, which sometimes
appeared as a background character in sketches.
Hislop has been team captain on
Have I Got News for You
Have I Got News for You since it began
airing in 1990. He is the only person to have appeared in every
episode of its run, even filming an episode in the seventh series in
spite of suffering from appendicitis (he had discharged himself from
hospital immediately before the show).
With regular writing partner Nick Newman, Hislop wrote the
BBC Radio 4
series Gush, a satire based on the first Gulf War, in the style of
Jeffrey Archer. With Newman he also wrote the family-friendly
My Dad's the Prime Minister and in the early nineties
Dawn French vehicle Murder Most Horrid. Hislop and Newman
wrote the Radio 4 series The News At Bedtime, a satire on fairy tales
which aired over the 2009 Christmas season. The series starred Jack
Dee as 'John Tweedledum' and
Peter Capaldi as 'Jim Tweedledee'; the
two present the "news of the day" in the world of fairy tales, while
arguing with each other as did their namesakes.
Hislop has also presented serious television programmes. These include
School Rules, a three-part
Channel 4 study on the history of British
education; an edition of the BBC's Who Do You Think You Are?, in which
he attempted to trace his ancestry, and Not Forgotten, a four-part
Channel 4 detailing the impact on British society of the
First World War. A further programme, Not Forgotten: Shot at Dawn, was
broadcast in January 2007, and a sixth episode, Not Forgotten: The Men
Who Wouldn't Fight, featuring the stories of conscientious objectors
such as Ronald Skirth, was aired on 10 November 2008. He also
presented one episode of the BBC's Great Railway Journeys, in which he
travelled in India ("India East to West" from Calcutta to Rajasthan).
In May 2007 he presented a programme on
BBC Four, Ian Hislop's
Scouting for Boys, celebrating Robert Baden-Powell's book which
inspired the Scout movement. (He is also an Ambassador for The Scout
Ian Hislop chats to a resident at Nightingale House, London, in 2008.
He has also written and presented factual programmes for Radio 4 about
such subjects as tax rebellions, female hymn composers, scouting and
patron saints of Britain and Ireland. In 2007 he became the only
person to make a second guest appearance on Room 101. He has also been
a comedy screenwriter for Harry Enfield.
Hislop has presented several programmes for
BBC 4, dealing with topics
such as the
Beeching Axe and the role of the Poet Laureate. The
Ian Hislop Goes off the Rails, about the Beeching Report and
its impact on the British railway network, was first aired on 2
October 2008, and achieved the second highest audience to date for any
BBC Four programme (and the highest for a documentary) with 1.3
million viewers. The latter, Ian Hislop's Changing of the Bard,
launched the May 2009
BBC 4 Poetry season, and Hislop recounted the
history of the post from the first official holder, John Dryden, to
the then recently announced first female, first Scot and first openly
bisexual laureate, Carol Ann Duffy. His series on Victorian social
reformers, Ian Hislop's Age of the Do-Gooders, aired on
beginning on 29 November 2010. His programme on the history of banks,
When Bankers were Good, first aired on
BBC Two in November 2011, and
dealt with famous bankers from history, such as the Rothschilds, the
Gurneys and the Lloyds, as well as 19th century philanthropists and
reformers such as
Charles Dickens and Elizabeth Fry.
He has also appeared on Question Time. In one edition he made an open
attack on Jeffrey Archer, who had been imprisoned for perjury, when
his wife, Mary Archer, was a fellow panellist. She was noticeably
angry that the matter had been raised and harangued Hislop after
the recording had finished. In another he criticised
the premise of capital punishment, something which had been advocated
by a Conservative panel member Priti Patel, and more recently has
discussed Britain's vote to leave the European Union.
In 2003 he was listed in
The Observer as one of the 50 funniest acts
in British comedy. Hislop also has a career as an after-dinner
speaker and awards presenter, working for several speaker bureaux.
Ian Hislop's Stiff Upper Lip: An emotional history of Britain,
about how a meme for repression of emotions spread through British
culture, began on 2 October 2012 and ran for three episodes on BBC
Beginning on 9 April 2014, Hislop presented a three-part
series Ian Hislop's Olden Days.
In 2016 he presented The Secret of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, the
personal and creative story behind the symphony. Later in the same
year, Hislop gave the prestigious George Orwell Lecture at London's
In Caroline Chartres's book Why I Am Still an Anglican, Hislop opens
his chapter by saying "I've tried atheism and I can't stick at it: I
keep having doubts. That probably sums up my position." In 1996,
Hislop presented an award-winning documentary series for Channel 4
about the history of the Church of England, called Canterbury Tales.
His other works include the four-part
BBC Radio 4 series The Real
On 4 September 2009, Hislop appeared at "The Gathering", organised by
the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, at Canterbury Cathedral
to discuss religion, society and journalism, among other issues, in
front of an audience of about 1,000.
Hislop has been highly critical of all major British political parties
for over 20 years. Appearing on Question Time on 18 September 2008, he
praised Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman
Vince Cable for his
analysis of the ongoing economic and financial crisis, and apparently
expressed support for the Liberal Democrats, jocularly stating "I'm
standing for them."
In a 2009 "Five minutes with" interview with
Matthew Stadlen for BBC
News, Hislop stated that if he were required, "at the point of a gun",
to stand in an election for any British political party, he would
stand for the fictional "
Vince Cable for Treasurer Party". After
the formation of the coalition government in 2010, Hislop remarked in
an interview, "I like the idea of this coalition neutralising the
loonies on both sides".
He has also been highly critical of the leadership of the European
Union, calling for a referendum on UK membership in a 2003 recording
of Have I Got News for You. However, referring to Britain's vote
to leave the
European Union (Brexit), Hislop said on Question Time
that "after an election or a referendum, even if you lose the vote,
you are entitled to go on making the argument". A joke on the
Private Eye titled "BREXIT LATEST" mocking the reaction to
Brexit received "fifty or so" letters of complaint in the next
issue. Hislop mocked this, saying that "There was one [letter]
from a vicar, too, who told me that it was time to accept the victory
of the majority of the people and to stop complaining. ... I wrote
back and told him that this argument was a bit much, coming from a
church that had begun with a minority of 12", referencing the Twelve
Disciples. He has expressed dismay over the level of public debate
in the aftermath of Britain's vote to leave the EU and the election of
Donald Trump, describing it as
Orwellian in nature, saying that "one
is unsure whether to feel relieved at the sense of déjà vu or
worried about the possibility of history repeating itself, not as
farce, but as tragedy again."
Debrett's People of Today 2005 (18th ed.). Debrett's. p. 769.
^ a b c d e f "Who Do You Think You Are? with Ian Hislop". Who Do You
Think You Are?. 2004-11-09. BBC.
^ a b c d e Moss, Stephen (23 September 2011). "Ian Hislop: satirist
in chief". London: The Guardian.
^ a b "Home from Gnome".
Oxford Today. 2009.
p. 56. [permanent dead link]
^ "Marriages and Births England and Wales 1984–2006".
Findmypast.com. Archived from the original on 31 August 2009.
Retrieved 28 April 2010.
^ Pattison, Jo (4 November 2009). "Victoria Hislop's
BBC Kent. Retrieved 21 November 2009.
^ "What the world thinks
Ian Hislop (Comedian)". YouGov. Retrieved
^ a b Ben Summerskill "Has Piers now got news for Ian?", The Observer,
1 September 2002
^ a b c Ciar Byrne (23 October 2006). "Ian Hislop: My 20 years at the
Eye". The Independent. London. Retrieved 28 November 2010.
^ a b "Ian Hislop: Provocateur in the public eye". London: The
Independent. 30 April 2011.
^ Andrew Williams (4 December 2006). "60 Seconds: Ian Hislop". Metro.
Retrieved 28 November 2010.
^ Steve Lohr "Britain's Maverick Mogul", New York Times, 1 May 1988
^ "On this day – 24 May 1989: Yorkshire Ripper's wife wins damages".
BBC News Online. 24 May 1989. Retrieved 28 November 2010.
^ Martin Wroe (March 1995). "Is Nothing Sacred?". Third Way. 18 (2):
12–15. ISSN 0309-3492. Retrieved 28 November 2010.
^ Ponsford, Dominic (27 April 2017). "Paywall plea from Witherow as
Times titles take newspaper of the year double at
London Press Club
awards". Press Gazette. London. Retrieved 28 April 2017.
^ "Five minutes with Ian Hislop".
BBC News. 30 December 2008.
Retrieved 28 April 2010.
^ "The News At Bedtime". British Comedy Guide.
^ Ronald Skirth; Jon Snow (16 April 2010), Duncan Barrett, ed., The
Reluctant Tommy: An Extraordinary Memoir of the First World War,
Macmillan, ISBN 978-0-230-74673-2
^ "Young film-makers launch new
Scouting movie to thank
^ "Radio 4 programme on patron saints of Britain and Ireland".
Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 28 April 2010.
^ "You ask the questions (Such as: Ian Hislop, you look like a gnome.
Why do people find you sexy?) – Profiles, People". London: The
Independent. 24 May 2000. Archived from the original on 8 December
2010. Retrieved 28 April 2010.
^ Leigh Holmwood (3 October 2008). "Overnight ratings for 2 October
2008 from The Guardian, 3 October 2008". London: Guardian. Retrieved
28 April 2010.
^ "The best of Question Time".
BBC News. 4 August 2004.
^ Helyer-Donaldson, Rachel (23 September 2011). "Furore as Priti Patel
urges return of death penalty". The Week UK.
^ a b "Ian Hislop: 'Remainers are entitled to go on making the
argument'". Question Time. 8 July 2016. Retrieved 14 December 2016 –
^ "The A-Z of laughter (part one)". London: The Observer. 7 December
2003. Retrieved 17 December 2006.
BBC Two –
Ian Hislop's Stiff Upper Lip – An Emotional History
of Britain". BBC.
^ "The Orwell Lecture 2016: Ian Hislop". YouTube. 2016-11-15.
^ Chartres, Caroline (2006). Why I Am Still an Anglican: Essays and
Conversations. Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 99.
^ "The Real Patron Saints".
BBC Online. BBC. Retrieved 28 April
^ Creswell, Matt (2 September 2009). "Archbishop to debate with
Private Eye editor". Religious Intelligence. Archived from the
original on 29 November 2014.
^ Beavan, Ed (11 September 2009). "Door is closing on Church's foot,
says Williams". Church Times. Archived from the original on 25 March
^ "18 September 2008". Question Time. 18 September 2008. BBC.
^ "Five minutes With Ian Hislop".
BBC News. 30 December 2008.
Retrieved 28 April 2010.
^ Grice, Elizabeth (30 November 2010). "Ian Hislop: Humorist,
historian –he's a national treasure". London: The Telegraph.
Retrieved 9 April 2014.
^ "HIGNFY S25E04 – Alexander Armstrong, Mark Steel & Phil
Hammond". Have I Got News for You. Season 25. Episode 4. 2003. BBC. 1.
Retrieved 20 May 2015.
^ "Stop Bashing Brexit".
Private Eye (1432). Pressdram Ltd.
November–December 2016. p. 22.
^ a b Hislop, Ian (5 December 2016). "The age of outrage". New
Statesman. Retrieved 14 December 2016.
Debrett's People of Today
Ian Hislop at the British Film Institute
Ian Hislop on IMDb
Ian Hislop interview (Evening Standard, archived using the Wayback
"There's no place like Gnome". Profile by Nick Greenslade. The
Observer. 22 October 2006.
Ian Hislop interviewed by Ciar Byrne for The Independent, celebrating
his 20th year as editor of Private Eye.
"Ian Hislop: satirist in chief". Stephen Moss. The Guardian. 23
Editor of Private Eye
1986 – present
Private Eye TV
Battle for Britain
E. J. Thribb
Prime Minister Parodies
St Albion Parish News
The New Coalition Academy
Frequent targets of parody
Not Private Eye
"Tired and emotional"
Anyone for Denis? (1982, TV version)
Coach and Horses, Soho
List of winners of the Sir Hugh Casson Award
Paul Foot Award