BBC Radio 4

    Norman Painting, 1924 - 2009

    Head of Interactive, Radio 3

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    Editor's note. I asked Vanessa Whitburn, Editor of The Archers, for some words about Norman Painting, who died today:

    The sad news about the death of Norman Painting is only a few hours old; and already messages of love and condolence have been pouring in from friends and fans alike. They are a tribute to the man who made the part of Phil Archer very much his own; and has been an integral part of The Archers for almost 60 years.

    My own memories of Norman are of a colleague, and a trusted friend. In the 1970s, when I was a rookie producer, I remember him taking me out for a meal, to talk to me about what it was like being an actor, and on 'the other side' of the mic. It was a generous gesture for someone like me to be given such a master class by one of radio's biggest stars - and his advice stays with me today.

    I take such comfort from the fact that Norman got his wish, and continued playing the part for which he was so well loved, right up until the end of his life. Norman was with us at The Mailbox only two days ago, recording with Patricia Greene, transforming studio 9D into the kitchen at Glebe Cottage. Norman was always glad to be in studio, and it is testament to his love of his work that, however he was feeling, once the script was in his hand, he became Phil Archer. He and Paddy even enjoyed a joke about the mischievous side of Phil and Jill's relationship, with Norman insisting that he was still scared of Paddy whenever he thought Jill was being a little too fierce!

    The Archers - actors, production team and fans, will miss Norman terribly. I am thankful for his wonderful contribution to the programme, and also for his friendship over many years.

    Vanessa Whitburn is Editor of The Archers

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