Entertainment & Arts

Memorial held for TV globetrotter Alan Whicker

Lord Grade and Michael Palin
Lord Grade and Michael Palin paid tribute at the memorial service to Alan Whicker

Friends and colleagues of Alan Whicker have paid tribute to the veteran TV globetrotter who died last year.

Sir Michael Parkinson and Monty Python star Michael Palin were among the guests at a memorial service at the Grosvenor Chapel in London's Mayfair.

Former BBC boss Michael Grade described Whicker as "one of the corner stones of the golden age of British television".

Whicker died in July 2013 after a TV career lasting nearly six decades.

He was best known for Whicker's World which ran from 1959 to 1988 on both the BBC and ITV.

"Alan Whicker belonged to that very exclusive club of gifted individuals who over so many decades consistently delivered memorable programmes for what is more usually such a transitory medium," Lord Grade said.

"He had that unmistakable voice with its delicate inflections so easily mimicked, eyebrows that could speak a thousand words when raised slightly at the right moment... and an unerring instinct to know when to listen."

Whicker's dapper dress sense - which included his trademark smart blazer and tie - made him one of the most recognised figures on television.

Alan Whicker died at the age of 87 in July 2013

Palin, who spoofed Whicker in a Monty Python sketch, said Whicker was "a towering figure" in the world of television.

He said Whicker had the "enviable ability to deliver introductions and summings up that were as crisp and precise as the clothes in which he delivered them".

Palin recalled how he had been the fourth person the BBC had asked to present travel series Around the World in 80 Days, the first choice having been Whicker.

"I was later told - apocryphally I'm sure - that the reason he turned it down was that the BBC, in soliciting the great man's services, had taken him out to lunch at the Pizza Hut in Shepherd's Bush.

"Alan didn't do Pizza Hut."

Sir Michael Parkinson said Whicker had "inspired an entire generation of young journalists" to seek a television career.

"He never let celebrity cloud the business of being a proper journalist," he added.

Whicker's long list of famous interviewees included Peter Sellers, Joan Collins, the Sultan of Brunei and notorious Haitian dictator 'Papa Doc' Duvalier.

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