Monday 2 August 2021

The Whicker Man

 This blog is not going to let the centenary of the birth of Alan Whicker go unmarked. The great journalist and broadcaster, famous for his suave manner, slick phrase-making, highly distinctive delivery, clipped moustache, glasses and blazers, had a hugely successful career that spanned sixty-odd years and, in Whicker's World, much of the globe. He was a gift to impressionists and easily spoofed – most famously in the Whicker Island sketch on Monty Python – and he was quite happy with that, even though he had an impressive body of serious TV journalism behind him. I must admit I never took much notice of him until, in 2004, he came out with an extraordinary series, Whicker's War, in which he recounted his wartime experiences. As a member of the British Army's Film and Photo Unit in Italy, he filmed the landings at Anzio, and was one of the first to enter Milan, where he took into custody an SS general and his men, along with a trunk containing their payroll money and huge amounts of foreign cash. Whicker was also responsible for taking the British traitor John Amery into custody after his arrest by Italian partisans. Whicker's War vividly described these events and many others, as Whicker looked back on his war, often in sadness and sometimes in anger (particularly about the conduct of some American generals). It was a brilliant, eye-opening series, and (as I was writing about TV at the time) I gave it a rave review. Much to my surprise, I subsequently received a cheerily grateful postcard from Whicker, and this was followed by a failed attempt at meeting face to face (I couldn't get away from the office, alas, so never experienced the famous Whicker charm at first hand), and even a Christmas card, bearing an image of a well-muscled surfer with Whicker's face superimposed. We shall not, needless to say, see his like again. 

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