Friday, July 04, 2008

Charles Wheeler (1923-2008)

Charles Wheeler's death has just been announced. I was a big fan.

A couple of years ago I was at an "Oldie Of The Year" lunch at Simpsons-In-The-Strand. As the gathering was dispersing I noticed Wheeler hunkering down in the bar with Beryl Bainbridge, Alan Coren and Barry Cryer, intending no doubt to stay there all afternoon and put the world to rights.

I would love to have joined them. Now that they're short two members maybe I can.


  1. Anonymous10:14 pm

    Yes, me too. I remember him covering the fall of the Berlin Wall for an OB with Jeremy Paxman which was crazy but very enjoyable. Used to love watching him way back in the day when he was on Newsnight. A true Man of Honour. Rest In Peace, sir.

  2. Presumably Wheeler's replacement will be a young media studies graduate who'll agree to dress up as a camel to explain the Middle East peace process.

    (What a brilliant pub gathering! It reminded me of Larry Adler recalling his doubles tennis matches with Chaplin, Garbo and Dali).

  3. Keith Waterhouse in the Mail today makes a good point. And here (thanks to copy & paste) it is:

    Starling's nest
    Among the many qualities that made the veteran broadcaster Sir Charles Wheeler ‘the reporters’ reporter’ was that when he asked a question, he waited for the answer.
    It is a lost art. Particularly on Radio 4 news programmes, which can be like listening to a nest of starlings. It has become a rare experience to hear any interviewee’s answer uninterrupted.
    The girlie interviewers, in particular, seem more interested in making clever-clever points than in seeking information.
    Quite rudely, they will barge into an interview in mid-sentence in order to put another smartypants question which, in its turn, will go only half-answered.
    Then, as the interviewer follows the BBC line on Europe or global warming or whatever, comes the inevitable ‘But surely’ — as in ‘But surely the number of dead whales is a wake-up call if ever there was one’ — as blatant an exercise in question-begging as you are ever likely to hear.
    Until the next time. The best advice I ever heard about radio interviewing was from Ed Murrow — another broadcasting legend.
    It was: ‘When you’ve put your question and have your answer, don’t say anything.
    Radio hates a vacuum and so your interviewee will then give you a supplementary answer, which this time will be what you wish to hear.’ I offer this to the Radio 4 starlings’ nest with compliments.