Thursday, November 23, 2006

Nick Clarke 1948-2006

Lots of tributes across both the blogosphere and of course the BBC tonight for Nick Clarke who has lost his battle against cancer, aged 58.

Apart from listening to his mellifluous tones picking apart the big political story of the day on The World at One for nine years - the programme was pretty well required listening for lobby hacks - my most lasting memory of Nick will be of the time he actually interviewed me, in the course of my "15 minutes of fame" back in October 1998.

For those unaware of the story, the previous day I had attended a regional lobby lunch with the then Bank of England Governor Eddie George as the main guest. In the course of it I secured from him the devastating admission that he regarded lost North-East jobs as an "acceptable" price to pay for beating inflation in the overheating South.

It caused a major political furore at the time and Clarke was one of a number of broadcasters who followed-up the story for their programmes. I got the impression he was a bit sceptical about whether George really had said it, but he was unfailingly courteous nevertheless.

As I have said before on this blog, I am not a huge fan of the John Humphreys style of interrupting interviewing, but Nick Clarke was the very antithesis of that.

I rated him alongside PM's Eddie Mair as the best BBC radio journalist of his generation and there is no doubt he will be sorely missed.

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skipper said...

Agree with every word- great loss to broadcasting nad nation's political culture. As tenacious as Paxo without the rudeness or arrogance.

Anonymous said...

I agree that Nick Clarke will be sadly missed. I only learnt today that he and Eddie Mair used to have an office which they shared.

I don't agree with you about Paxo or Humphrys I'm afraid. JH can be a bit over the top occasionally, but I think he only does this with those who are using 'media training' type gamesmanship to avoid answering his questions.

Likewise with Paxo - his approach is just a reaction to interviewees trying to use an interview as a party political broadcast, or to pass on the 'lines to take' the spin machine have given them.

Obviously I don't know Paxo or JH personally, but they do sometimes respond courteously to my emails.

And anyone who saw Jeremy Paxman interviewing George Carman QC a short while before he passed away [also suffering from cancer] would have seen a very different person.

That said, Nick Clarke did have a very rare gift - I wish I could remain as unruffled as he was able - I daresay I'd never be as brave.