Posted: May 24th, 2021
KEN IRWIN WRITES: I recently realised that I must now be the oldest writer contributing to the Mirror. I joined the paper in 1958 when I was 23 and stayed for 31 years. Then, after leaving to set up my own freelance showbusiness news and features agency in the North, I continued writing almost daily for the Mirror and the rest of the Nationals for more than 15 years as a freelance, until I reached pensionable age.
But I have never really retired. I am now 86, which means I’ve been working for the Mirror for 63 years. So this must make me the longest-serving journalist in Mirror history.
When I moved from Manchester to the Mirror’s London office in Holborn to join Clifford Davis on the TV staff, we had the great Donald Zec and iconic columnist Cassandra (Bill Connors) sharing an office next to us on one side, and the legendary Marje Proops in her office on the other side. They were the great names of Fleet Street and it was my privilege to work alongside them. During my time, the Mirror overtook the Daily Express circulation and became the biggest selling daily newspaper in the world, selling more than five million copies a day.
I’ve been lucky. I’ve had a smashing life, including a marriage which lasted 63 years, until my wife died two years ago. And being a Mirror man for more than 63 years puts the cherry on the cake for me.
It’s great even today to get the occasional call from the paper commissioning a piece from me. And it helps me keep my hand in.
Looking back over my career of 70 years, I’ve had a ball. I’m often reminded that I was the infamous TV critic who said that Coronation Street wouldn’t last. [It’s been on TV for 61 years, and still going strong. Ken is pictured, below, with Jean Alexander, who played Hilda Ogden.]
I was once banned from a TV studio by Ken Dodd; thrown out of his dressing-room by Bruce Forsyth for asking awkward questions; arrested in Rome and put in the Vatican jail with actor Derek Nimmo; played golf with the first man to play golf on the moon; been busking on Oxford Street with the Goons Spike Milligan, Peter Sellers and Harry Secombe, just for a laugh; had a spell as a regular judge on ITV’s top talent show New Faces; and was sued for libel in the High Court for calling Ken Barlow boring.
But it’s all been fun. And I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.