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30 pearls of wisdom

Blog | Jun 28, 2022

On our pearl anniversary, we’ve raided The Oldie’s brimming archive


God speed to the Old Un!

Terry Wogan on our 1992 launch


I am so looking forward to contributing to The Oldie. I see it as a truss for the brain, a surgical stocking for the soul and a Zimmer frame for the mind.

Beryl Bainbridge, Oldie theatre critic


1. Inveighing against the ignorance, idleness, stupidity, dishonesty and sexual incompetence of the young.

2. Insulting the young in any and every manifestation.

3. Insulting the old who seem to be deferring or otherwise sucking up to the young.

4. Promoting the idea of ‘age fascism’, whereby the young are automatically seen as inferior.

5. Denouncing new things, new ideas, modernism in any form, especially anything proposed in the name of youth or by someone under the age of 40.

Auberon Waugh’s initial suggestions for his Oldie column, ‘Rage’


Ideal toyboy material. Drop-dead handsome, sexually depraved and wonderfully funny. I prefer him without his turban.

Jilly Cooper on Lord Byron


Bye all!

My ideal last words – Anthony Hopkins


Spencer Tracy – The greatest screen actor. I met him once in Hollywood and wouldn’t leave him my number. Mad? No. Married.

Honor Blackman


Foolish and misguided young people are still making the pilgrimage to Soho. Perhaps they think that Dylan Thomas is still propping up a corner of the French pub. He isn’t, he is dead and Soho is in its hideous death throes.

Jeffrey Bernard


Shall we go up to my bedroom and read the Guardian together?

Chat-up line to Anne Robinson by a policy adviser to two Prime Ministers


Surface Yorkshire grit concealing a raging romantic.

Barry Cryer on J B Priestley


At the end of our interview, she wrinkled up her nose and said, ‘Shall I get my kit off, Gyles?’ Now that’s my idea of a pin-up.

Gyles Brandreth on Melinda Messenger, the Sun’s ‘Page 3 Girl for the Thrillennium’


I generally read theatre reviews as a prophylactic measure to inoculate myself against the risk of seeing the performance.

Edward Enfield


I don’t know why, but this young lad has always had a strange effect on me. He makes me really get in touch with the woman in myself. He makes me feel like I’ve been to paradise but I’ve never been to me. I want to discipline him – soon.

Dawn French on Jimmy Krankie


I follow in the footsteps of two notorious Catholic converts, Graham Greene and Evelyn Waugh – the first a ferocious womaniser, the second a terrible snob. I admit to both of these faults.

Wilfred De’Ath


I don’t shun them. I simply have no interest in them.

Quentin Crisp on women


I like to play villains best – bastards. I don’t look like a villain, you see, so it’s quite nice.

Leslie Phillips


Tommy Cooper – funny. Eric Morecambe – funnier. Wilson, Keppel and Betty – funniest.

Ronnie Barker on his comedy heroes


Philip Larkin told me that were it not for his job as a librarian, he would long ago have killed himself.

Miriam Gross


Are there at least 20 people in your address book who are dead?

A telltale sign you’re an oldie


The ultimate idol. He called interviewers ‘Sir’: the combo of courtesy and cool is a killer.

Joanna Lumley on Elvis


I’ll let you in to a secret about why I like painting either houses and streets or the sea. I can’t draw trees at all.

L S Lowry to a 12-year-old A N Wilson


I have no regrets. Things are regrettable. I am not a French singer!

Peter O’Toole


Fragrant? I wouldn’t say no to a closer sniff.

Sir Les Patterson on Mary Archer


I want to apologise to him on behalf of the Old Bailey.

John Mortimer on Oscar Wilde


The wages of gin is breath, as Oscar would have said.

Lord Alfred Douglas to Donald Sinden


Where is the pleasure of traipsing through the fields with 30 pretty boring-looking people in bobble hats?

Richard Ingrams’s rant about ramblers


Don’t print I’m mad!

Ronnie Kray to Duncan Campbell


The long, heavy, dark-blue towelling dressing gown I’ve worn for years.

Alec Guinness’s ideal shroud


In Who’s Who, they have an impressive satire or bullshit monitor on the team, as my attempt to add my appearance on the Bernie Clifton Show to my list of achievements was disallowed.

Roger Lewis


The absurdity of dress codes. Where do they come from? Fashion may decree but, in the end, class dictates.

Raymond Briggs


The downside of having these seven new older friends was that I was going to lose them early in my life. I was not long out of my teens and they were my dream oldies.

Ian Lavender on his Dad’s Army co-stars