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WITH A FOREWORD BY SIR DAVID ATTENBOROUGH
“Huw Wheldon was a most remarkable man, and his son Wynn has written a remarkable book about him in the great tradition of books by sons about their fathers. Huw’s impact at the BBC and the Arts in the country in the 20th Century was immense. He was a brilliant man, serious and funny at the same time, and able to interview on television some of the greatest artists of the 20th century. This is a bold portrait of a man and an age and the son who has spent half a lifetime getting to know him.” Melvyn Bragg
“I don’t think I have ever known anyone who gave so much pleasure and reassurance, marvelous feeling, to his friends.” Kingsley Amis on Huw
Huw Wheldon was one of the most important and influential media figures of the last century. He ran BBC television from 1968 to 1976, a period described by many as the Golden Age of television, with programmes such as Civilization, Alistair Cooke’s America and The Ascent of Man, Steptoe and Son, Till Death Us Do Part and Dad’s Army. He was an extremely visible and articulate evangelist for the BBC as “one of the major institutions of the Western world”. As a highly regarded presenter, his interviews with figures such as Orson Welles, Alfred Hitchcock and Robert Graves have been recognized as exemplary.
Kicking The Bar is a portrait, not a history. It begins in 19th century Wales, examining Wheldon’s forebears, specifically his father, mother and grandfather, describing the strong protestant ethic that would inform his career.
The book examines Wheldon’s childhood, grammar school education and time at the London School of Economics, before tackling his service and experience in the Second World War.
Using Wheldon’s war letters the book uncovers the major influence his experiences during the war played in the development of his personality. He landed by glider in Normandy and was awarded the Military Cross on D-Day, his first day of combat. He was wounded at the crossing of the Rhine and passed through Belsen days after its liberation. The book traces Wheldon's work from his time with the Arts Council, working on the Festival of Britain, until he joined the BBC.
At that stage BBC Television was still living in the shadow of BBC Radio, but society was changing and a new generation of television makers was seeing the opportunities of this extraordinary new medium. Wheldon was their champion.
Wheldon, initially a Press Officer, was keen to make programmes. He presented the children’s talent show All Your Own. Ground-breaking programmes such as Men in Battle (with General Sir Brian Horrocks), Orson Welles’ Sketchbook and Portraits of Power (with Bob McKenzie) followed. It is, however, the arts magazine programme Monitor, in which he gathered around him a team of all the talents, including John Schlesinger, Ken Russell and Melvyn Bragg, that has fixed his reputation.
The 1960s, in broadcasting, as in the culture as a whole, saw tumultuous change. The author was a child, the father was overseeing the liberalisation of BBC Television, burying Auntie.
Kicking the Bar offers unique insight into Wheldon’s relationship with his wife Jacqueline, a novelist, and there are frequent personal reminiscences on the part of the author, describing his own relationship with his father. The book concludes with a moving chapter describing the final months of Huw Wheldon’s life.
“Monitor was and still remains the one and only experimental film school and Huw Wheldon was its presiding genius.” Ken Russell
Wynn Wheldon was born in London in 1958. He has worked in cultural exchange, politics, publishing and broadcasting. He has had poetry and prose (fiction and non-fiction) published in many magazines and newspapers, and currently reviews books for The Spectator. His short stories have won prizes, and his poetry pamphlet Tiny Disturbances published in 2012. Among the many 'ty bach' (Welsh, meaning ‘small room’) books he has authored, he is most proud of The Father and Child Companion and Porches. He is the lyricist for the Jack Rabbit Project and a founder member of the Elbow Room Writers Collective. He is married, has three adult sons, and lives in north London.
My father tapped me gently on my upper arm with the back of his hand.
“There you are,” he said. He was pointing to a paragraph in the Daily Telegraph in which he was described as “legendary”. He was clearly chuffed. I’ve no recollection of what the article was about, just Dad’s chuffedness. However, he then asked me whether really one ought to be dead in order to be legendary. I very likely ummed and ahhed, and may have pointed out that he wasn’t dead. Still, I have the distinct impression that despite being chuffed he was also a little discomposed. But only a little.
To be a legend in one’s own lifetime is usually the hyperbolic lot of sportsmen and pop stars, or occasionally individuals known to select coteries (Patrick Leigh Fermor, for example, and I recently saw Adam Phillips described as “the legendary psychologist”), but there it was in black and white, ungainsayable.
So what is the legend that my father inhabits?
I wanted to call this book “Drunken with the Wine of a Noble Aim”, but it is rather mouthful, and perhaps doesn’t chime quite with the times. My father was occasionally drunk when a young man, but I never saw him so. People often thought him tipsy, but he was naturally ebullient, and could seem unnaturally cheerful. Was he then “Drunken with the Wine of a Noble Aim”? Speaking at its opening, this pentameter was part of an entreaty uttered by my great grandfather, a Presbyterian minister, to the first pupils of Wrexham Grammar school. It was what he wanted them to be. It was what he would have wanted his grandson to be. And I think it is what that grandson was close to being - a legend drunk on the wine of a noble aim.
TAKEN FROM CHAPTER 6: WE WERE COWBOYS
In the November before Orson Welles’ Sketchbook, Dad had been the producer in Downing Street for a special programme celebrating Winston Churchill’s 80th birthday. Donald Baverstock, another inspiring Welshman in Talks, who was producing a news programme called Highlight and who would go on to become Editor of Tonight and eventually Controller of BBC1, suggested that the programme take the form of a party. Grace Wyndham Goldie, the overall producer, agreed. The great and the good from around the world would make toasts to the great man. The hope was that Churchill would respond. No-one knew whether he would or not. Dad, Lord Ismay and Wyndham Goldie planned for three endings to the programme. Years later HPW told his own version of the Churchill story to Frank Gillard.
- 12th October 2016 AUTUMN LEAVES
OK, well, I can't pretend I haven't been negligent. So apologies, and please forgive me. I have had many kind and generous letters and emails about Kicking the Bar, and even a review or two. One such called the book 'haophazard', which i rather agree with, and was perhaps somewhat intentional. I do hope all of you who have actually read the damn thing have enjoyed it. there are of courser all…18th June 2016 Letter from my father to his brother.
Letter from my father, Captain H. P. Wheldon, to his brother Tomos Wheldon, who was working at the Department of Agriculture in Sierra Leone.
Sunday 25 June 1944
I missed your birthday – no matter. Take this rather belated note in lieu! I hope S.L.  is still going on nicely. I always feel the breath of awful heat when I mention S.L. – I hope very much that it doesn’t get you…18th June 2016 ST PERIS
I went last week to Bangor University to deposit my father's papers, and took the opportunity to visit the Wheldon family plot at Nant Peris. The mountain in the picture is Snowdon.9th June 2016 Amazon
Sorry about this, but if you enjoyed my book, or even if you didn't but nonetheless feel well-disposed towards me, please submit a glowing review on Amazon. It makes a difference! (Not least to my morale)
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Kicking-Bar-legacy-broadcaster-Wheldon/dp/1783522208/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1465476753&sr=1-1&keywords=kicking+the+bar30th May 2016 AMAZON REVIEWS
I know Amazon is the unacceptable face of internet capitalism, etc, but forget that just for a moment - and WRITE ME A GLOWING REVIEW!! Thank you.29th May 2016 Superstardom
Am aware that I have been neglectful of the Shed (although I am reluctant to call it 'the shed', bringin as it does memories of Stamford bridge - the football stadium rather than the battle), for which many apologies. The book is now published and flying off the shelves - or at least being turned face out by my people all over the kingdom. Today my media profile (I think that is what it is called…4th May 2016 KICKING THE ACTUAL BAR
So - today (Thursday) the book is actaully published. If you haven't yet received your copy, I'm sure you will soon. Excitingly it has already been spotted in Waterstone's in Cirencester. It is practically a best seller. But enough of the world-beating. I have just spent the bank holiday weekend with my wife visiting our son Cal in Aberystwyth, where he is at University. I spent two days watching…6th April 2016 ACTION NEEDED
I hope everyone has responded to the latest 'Action Needed' email from Unbound. It is a request for confirmation of your address, so that the book gets sent to the right place. In the meantime, here's a picture of Dad and my sister Megan (unless of course it is my sister Sian) discussing - maybe even debating - decorative motifs for a sandcastle.31st March 2016 The War Game
Interesting stuff here about Dad and Peter Watkins30th March 2016 GULP
Publication date: 5 May. 7 May is Dad's centenary. The book is my birthday present to him. I am full of nervous excitement about this. I lie abed thinking of all the stuff I should have put in and all the stuff I should have taken out... am I repeating myself here? But enough of that - here is a picture of self and father in the days when I had hair.4th March 2016 Book Reviews
I do occasionally write a book review for the Spectator. If you are at all interested (or perhaps concerned that you have purchased a book by someone who can't really write) I hope you'll find something here: http://www.spectator.co.uk/author/wynn-wheldon/23rd February 2016 Thank you
... to a welcome scrum of new pledgers, Alexander Mackay, Jane Morris, Eliana Tomkins, Lindsay brodie, Andrew Thompso and Luke Weston. Thank you very much. I hope you all enjoy the book.16th February 2016 Bottom Holding at BAFTA
Or rather the Society for Film and Television Arts as it then was (1975). David Niven as Stephen Fry. It has only just occurred to me that this habit may have had something to do with a war wound. Dad was shot through the buttock at Coesfeld during the crossing of the Rhine (Operation Varsity).11th February 2016 CALLING OUT AROUND THE WORLD
It is not long now until it will no longer be possible to add a name to the distinguished list of supporters of tis book: you chaps. If you know anyone who might conceivably be interested in having the modern equivalent of their names carved in stone, please let them know of this last opportunity. Grandparents are a good place to start. Great Aunts and Uncles might be tapped. Even Parents themselves…21st January 2016 UPDATE
OK, so what has been happening in the last few weeks is that I - or rather Ms Lupu at Unbound - have been strenuously trying to get permission to use various quotations and pictures. The restraints are ridiculous. Many of the quotes I want are actually my father's words quoted by others.... All very trying. Still Ms Lupu and I have done pretty well, I think, and the book should have at least a…4th January 2016 ORSON WELLES on PRESS CONFERENCE
Here is a curiosity. Dad's first show with Welles was 'Press Conference' http://www.bbc.co.uk/.../press-conference-orson-welles Usually subjects were politicians. Dad wrote to his father: “A really outstanding man, a singular & a great person, whose stature would not respond to the twittering tempo of what I had set up... I was doing … a shoddy injustice to one of the most remarkable people I have…22nd December 2015 MERRY CHRISTMAS
https://youtu.be/G_Sy6oiJbEk29th November 2015 Help required
Dad second from left. Larry Adler, second from right. Who is everyone else? Could the handsome women in the middle be Mary Glasgow, Secretary General of the Arts Council after the war?10th November 2015 Trevor Howard
I remember, I think, being behind the scenes at the Royal Tournament, sometime in the late 1960s, and Dad ascending a ladder and someone asking if he was Trevor Howard. As you may tell, this is an extremely vague memory, and may even be one of those lies that Mnemosyne likes to tell every now and then. They did bear a striking resemblance to one another, although this particular pairing doesn't…30th October 2015 A poem
earlier this year we were in Majorca for a family wedding. While there I had to go to see Robert Graves' house in Deja, where my father conducted an interview with the poet - once Spanish customs had allowed the camera gear through that is. Anyway, the long and short of it is that I wrote a poem. Here it is:
LOOKING FOR SIGNS OF MY FATHER AT LA CASA DE ROBERT GRAVES19th October 2015 HARD SELL
OK, enough shilly-shallying. My book of poems, 'Private Places' is published today. Please buy it here: indigodreamsbookshop.com/#/wynn-wheldon/4590544259 or on Amazon, or come to the launch at the Poetry Society at 22 Betterton St, WC2, on 19 November. Here is what Cressida Connolly has to say about it:
Illuminated by bright flashes of rueful wit, this is a collection to savour. But don…8th October 2015 PRIVATE PLACES
I am well aware that this is a bit of a nerve, but Needs Must. I'd like you to seriously consider the puchase of my new collection of poems, entitled 'Private Places'. It is to be published on 19 October by Indigo Dreams. There is a website where you can read various nice things that intellegient people have said about the collection, as well as some of the poems themselves. You can then PRE-ORDER…6th October 2015 RENOIR
I read that the Museuam of Fine Arts in Boston is being picketted by anti-Renoir demonstrators. In response i give you this little clip of Dad talking to Auguste Renoir's son, the great film director jean Renoir. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00hmb9g19th September 2015 THE PERMISSIVE SOCIETY
Dad on the 'permissiveness' that the Mary Whitehouse crowd objected to:
“The difficuitly on the programme side was seen, in the outside world… as being a matter of permissiveness… sex and violence and so on, I actually thought they were never very problematical…. It was mediocrity and bad programmes that were killers. Frankie Howerd’s show was a very bawdy programme but it wasn’t characteristically…15th September 2015 UPDATE
Many apologies for my silence (although perhaps it is appreciated by some). The book is now in the hands of an editor, who I expect will tell me precisely where I've gone wrong, what to cut out and where it needs muscling up. I do keep remembering little tidbits of things that I want to put in, but it is pretty ancedotal as it is. I have also been working on a book of POEMS - yes, POEMS - due out…5th August 2015 THE FUTURE OF THE BBC: TELEMESSAGE FROM MACCA
Ah, the old days. Here is a telemessage to Dad from Linda and Paul following a televised debate on the future of the BBC (this is a battle that never ends). It reads: WE THOUGHT YOU WERE WONDERFUL LAST NIGHT. KEEP IT COMING. FONDLY. It is dated September 20. Dad died less than six months later. I think the Corporation could probably do with him now.1st August 2015 D DAY
Dad recounted something of his experiences in Normandy to Marshall Pugh in an article entitled "No Trouble Brewing" (you'll understand why by the end), published in the Daily Mail on the 3rd April 1958. It lacks Dad's fluency, but I can just about hear his voice, and I recognise it as a story. Note the "not all that healthy" - the only suggestion that perhaps there was an enemy intent on violence…24th July 2015 OWEN CHADWICK - VICTORIAN MINIATURE
Sorry to read of the death of Owen Chadwick, who wrote one of my favourite books, 'Victorian Miniature' - a study of the relationship between the squire and the parson in the Norfolk village of Ketteringham, between 1838 and 1869. Doesn't sound like a page turner, does it, but it did it for me. A little classic.
I need hardly add that it was brought to my attention by my father, who served with…24th July 2015 Letters from Dad
I have today come upon a stash of letters i had not previously looked at for some time - letters to me from my father. There are a lot of them. With one or two exceptions they are all hand-written. He had a very attractive, expansive hand - lots of space and fluency - nothing crabbed or tight. Anyway, reading through them I am reminded not just how funny he was - I never need to be reminded of…23rd July 2015 WE WERE HERE
Note left by Dad at my college in Oxford, 1978? The drawing is a self-portrait with Mum. Both pretty accurate actually.23rd July 2015 THE ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO by HPW
from a letter written by Dad in Chicago to Mum in Notting Hill, 1959
Note: the art gallery here is stupendous. At first, I was angry at the thought of all this splendour, the Rembrandts & the Picassos, the El Grecos and the Utrillos, all the wealth of pictures being here in this brutal town. And I sneered at the hanging, the spaciousness, the smooth money-no-object presentation, and saw it as…22nd July 2015 Huw Wheldon on Broadcasting in the UK
from 'The British Experience in Television', 1976 Dimbleby Lecture21st July 2015 David Attenborough on Huw Wheldon
David Attenborough on Huw Wheldon: "His presence... was certainly both audible and visible. His laugh - famously loud and unmistakable - echoed round that huge and labyrinthine building [Television Centre]. And he was seen everywhere in it - in the corridors and in the conference rooms, in the canteen, where he chose to eat rather than in the more select senior staff dining room, and, for a few minutes…19th July 2015 Melvyn Bragg Documentary
Very pleasantly indulgent long documentary about Melvyn Bragg, well worth watching. Melvyn and Humphrey Burton were Dad's most obvious and successful successors as arts broadcasters. Melvyn's curiosity has tunred out to be ceaseless (Dad had interviwed everyone he was interested in within 4 years). http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b063f1qd/melvyn-bragg-wigton-to-westminster8th July 2015 Even More Graves
Actually, two photos. One from 1959, Dad and Graves talking across his desk; and one of me not being allowed anywhere near his desk. The first is fairly extraordinary, as the ceiling is not that high at la Casa de Robert Graves at Deia, Mallorca..7th July 2015 More Graves
Film, I think by David Jones, of Robert Graves reciting The Face in the Mirror for Monitor. The interview Dad did with Graves is lost, i think, other than in printed form in the book 'Monitor'.
The transcript of Dad's interview is printed both in 'Monitor' and in 'Conversations with Robert Graves' (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Conversations-Robert-Graves-Literary…25th June 2015 Robert Graves in Majorca
Off soon to Majorca, where Dad interviewed Robert Graves at his home in Deja. Now a museum. Looking forward to visiting. i think David Jones filmed it. dad did the interview. Unlike Durrell, whom he thought meretricious, Dad liked Graves. Kingsley Amis visited around the same time and had this to say: "I have never again encountered a group of people so radically opposed to falseness, meanness…9th June 2015 NO NEWS IS GOOD NEWS
It behoves me - or indeed behooves me - to keep y'all posted on developments. At the moment the manuscript is with Unbound. They are thumbing through, I daresay umming and ahhing, and making notes as to what is libelous, unjust, improbable or downright wrong. I, in the meantime, have been in Heidelberg marrying off a son to a wonderful woman from Luxemburg, attending to another son's final schooldays…1st June 2015 BOSWELL ON TRUTH IN BIOGRAPHY
Boswell, who knew a thing or two about biography, wrote the following in the dedication of his Life of Johnson, to Joshua Reynolds:
"...though I tell nothing but the truth, I have still kept in my mind that the whole truth is not always to be exposed. This, however, I have managed so as to occasion no diminution of the pleasure which my book should afford; though malignity may sometimes be…24th May 2015 NANCY THOMAS CELEBRATION
Went, last Friday, to the bash at BAFTA to celebrate the work and life of Nancy Thomas, who died in January. I was privileged to be able to escort her friend and colleague Anne James to and from the occasion. I knew of Nancy Thomas because she directed many of Monitor's best films, and was my father's right hand man in the famous team of talents that Monitor was. I learned yestrday that her office…14th May 2015 Made It
Well, my gast is well and truly flabbered. Thank you everbody. I am now in the process of polishing, picking nits, humming and ha-ing, panicking, wondering, prevaricating, deciding, not knowing this, definitely knowing that, and so on and so forth. Shall keep all posted by way of these missives. Again, thank you very much.7th May 2015 MY FATHER'S BIRTHDAY: 7 MAY
Were he alive, my father would be 99 today. Despite being a busy man, he was a very present father. For no particular reason, I am going to mention some of his culinary likes and dislikes. Sometimes he cooked for us. His signature dish was spag bol. On the weekends he liked to buy Hungarian salami. If he had come into possession, by gift or purchase, of something he particularly liked, he would…2nd May 2015 CITIZEN KANE
Citizen Kane was released 74 years ago today. Welles spoke about it for the first time in this Monitor interview.28th April 2015 TITLE UPDATE
Landslide of derision for my new titles. Am reverting to current. A new possibility has emerged: Huw Wheldon, A Filial Biography. Not bad. Not bad at all. Why didn't I think of it?28th April 2015 TITLE OF THE BOOK
Shock, horror. I am considering changing the title of the book. Should anyone reading this have strong views, do let me know them.
Kicking the bar was something Dad and I did together if he didn't have time for a walk. We strode up and down the terrace overlooking Richmond Hill, and 'kicked the bar'. It was a tradition imported from Aberystwyth, where the phrase and practice originated (Aber…28th April 2015 MY MUM AT LSE
There is a chapter in the book about my mother. Here are a couple of paragraphs from that chapter.
In a letter written shortly before her death she wrote that her life “started with an arrival, inauspicious, at the LSE. She had been discovered by Professor Harold Laski after she had invited him to talk at the Ealing branch of the Labour League of Youth of which she was chairwoman (or “charwoman…22nd April 2015 NEARING THE END
Thank you to everyone who has pledged , of course, but this particular thank you goes to those who have pledged in the last week or so. As you will all have noticed I have all but done away with any fiction of good breeding, and am now simply demanding pledges. If you know of anyone who could do with a nudge, or perhaps an aged aunt who loved TV in the 1950s, 60s and 70s, NUDGE! I have 42 days…15th April 2015 BELSEN
Liberated on 15 April 1945. My father passed through on or around the 17th. He wrote to his father: "I have seen stick-thin children of five, born to an unspeakable world, playing King of the Castle on a heap of naked and rotting dead women". Words did not often fail him, but this was as much as he could manage.13th April 2015 A SAD WAR STORY
This I have pinched from David Orr and David Truesdale's excellent account of the Royal Ulster Rifles' second world war, 'The Rifles Are There' (Pen & Sword 2005)13th April 2015 A SAD WAR STORY
This I have pinched from David Orr and David Truesdale's excellent account of the Royal Ulster Rifles' second world war, 'The Rifles Are There' (Pen & Sword 2005)10th April 2015 UPDATE
Haven't shedded for a bit, for which apologies (or not as the case may be). This is to say that approaching completion I've little excuse but to get down and finish the book. At the moment I have a good ish draft, but there are corrections to be made, stories to be added and chunks to be shifted about. And then it all needs polishing, the permissions sought and, I hope, granted, and the illustrations…29th March 2015 PYTHON AWARD
Dad garnered many awards and gongs of one kind and another, from the Military Cross to a golf prize won at Gleneagles (no idea how that happened), but perhaps the most precious of all was the Python Award for the Best Huw Wheldon, won against stiff opposition in 1971. Here is a picture of the magnificent trophy, missing, I regret, its middle, precious dymo-tape. The whole thing used to read:…24th March 2015 THE RHINE CROSSING
On 24th March the battalion was off again from a Transit Camp in East Anglia, bound for Germany, which Dad insisted would be “a welcome change from Bloody B[urford]”. It wasn’t though. Richard Rees, RUR MO, and later to be my Uncle, later wrote:
It was in Coesfelt that Huw was shot. As a railway town and junction, Coesfelt had received more than passing attention by the RAF. He had…23rd March 2015 FINISHING THE BOOK
We have now passed the 70% mark, which I'm told is very good news, but we need a few extra pushes to get over the line (and increase the number of pictures in the book - very important). I also have to finish the thing. I have written the second half only once, and it takes at least three attempts to get anything close to right, so I need to buck up. I'd be delighted to hear any stories or anecdotes…23rd March 2015 DAVID ATTENBOROUGH ON HUW WHELDON 2
From The Guardian, March 15, 1986:
"He was, without doubt, the most accomplished raconteur I have heard. He never told jokes but translated his own experiences into long tales of such hilarity that his listeners laughed until they ached."20th March 2015 KEN RUSSELL ON HUW WHELDON
Huw went on liking my films for many years, some more than others, but whatever his personal feelings he always helped polish my rough diamonds till they glittered. And when I disappointed him with a paste job, he worked even harder to make it shine - shaping and reshaping, cutting and chipping away until it was ready for his spakling commentary. To start with I just used to sit next to him over…19th March 2015 NOW IS THE TIME FOR ALL GOOD MEN, ETC
Peeps! Attend! We are creeping towards our goal. A final push is required. I am therefore asking all of you to try and bring one more soul to the table. That should get us damn nearly over the line. The difficulty really has been to get the information out to the general public. If anyone has any ideas about how to do this, please do let me know (short of taking out full page ads in the national…15th March 2015 Mothers' Day
My Mum, Jacqueline Mary Wheldon, 1924-1993.
Mysterious and complicated and curious and clever and wise - what I imagine a genius to be like.
And what's more, a loving mother and wife.9th March 2015 CRICKET
On the occasion of England's humiliating exit from the World Cup, I offer this extract from Dad's Dimbleby Lecture, delivered live to air in January 1976. It concerns the very invention of one-day cricket.
"There are in the BBC, as there are in the IBA, advisory committees and advisory councils on every conceivable subject; and they include a Central Religious Advisory Council, known - I am…4th March 2015 Thanks
Many thanks to T. Rodzianko, Luke Beachamp, Matthias Schwaab, the Frazers, Carol Long and Amro Gebreel for your support. It is much appreciated.4th March 2015 WOMEN ON 'MONITOR'
Catherine Dove, in a previous biography of my father, maintained that Dad was “not keen on women as equals at work… and… not intellectual at all”[i]. I don’t recognize either of those assertions. Were I a cynical sort of chap, I’d say that in the first place Dad wasn’t keen on either sex as an equal at work, but he had a high regard for Grace Wyndham Goldie (who was unimpressed by most of her own…1st March 2015 Brian Blessed on Huw Wheldon
Rather unexpectedly Brian Blessed dedicated the first chapter of his biography to Dad: "Sharing half an hour with Huw in his home was a privilege. Free from the demands of Television Centre and with the phone off the hook, he relaxed and waxed lyrical about all he loved and believed in. With grace, wit and vision he expressed his boundless love for the British Broadcasting Corporation". He goes on…25th February 2015 CADER IDRIS
I walked up many Welsh mountains with Dad, but never Cader Idris (I finally did this lovely mountain with my own son Caleb, on a day unmarred by cloud or cold). This is an excerpt from a letter Dad wrote during the war, while on leave:
"Up Cader Idris the other day, smacking big mountain, and saw two kestrels, five buzzards & many many herons, dropping lazily into flight as we interrupted their…23rd February 2015 MELVYN BRAGG ON HPW
“Huw Wheldon was a most remarkable man, and his son Wynn has written a remarkable book about him in the great tradition of books by sons about their fathers. Huw’s impact at the BBC and the Arts in the country in the 20th Century was immense. He was a brilliant man, serious and funny at the same time, and able to interview on television some of the greatest artists of the 20th century. This is a bold…23rd February 2015 David Attenborough on HPW
From his Foreword to the book:
"His presence…was certainly both audible and visible. His laugh – famously loud and unmistakable – echoed round that huge and labyrinthine building [Television Centre]. And he was seen everywhere in it – in the corridors and in the conference rooms, in the canteen, where he chose to eat rather than in the more select senior staff dining room, and, for a few minutes…21st February 2015 THE SPECTATOR
Slowing somewhat now, so please, anyone reading this, pass on the news of my book's imminent (one hope) existence. If you want examples of my inimitable prose style, you'll find some here: http://www.spectator.co.uk/author/wynn-wheldon/14th February 2015 ALFRED HITCHCOCK INTERVIEWED BY HUW WHELDON
One of the few surviving interviews from Monitor. Really rather good.
http://youtu.be/c9PO-767D8I8th February 2015 GRATITUDE
I am most gratfeul to the following, to whom I cannot respond personally, for their support: Matthias Schwaab, Michael and Pamela Frazer, Carol Long, Robert Eardley, Amro Gabreel, Colin Mclean, Amanda Bloore, Andrew Wiggins, Catherine Warner and Wendy Knox. THANK YOU!7th February 2015 RUGBY
Some of the most companionable times I spent with my father were those watching Wales play rugby. He himself had played while in the army, and afterwards occasionally for London Welsh B. Outside half.
He was invited to give the speech at the dinner celebrating the centenary of Newport Rugby Club. He told me that he had had to speak to Presidents and Prime Ministers and Popes and what have…3rd February 2015 NICK HORNBY CHARACTER
Here is a photograph of my father, Tom Sloan, Jack Hampshire and David Attenborough helping to clear up after a charity cricket match on Kew Green, some time in the late 1960s. I present it in evdience of my assertion that Tom Sloan was a dapper chap, which i think I made in connection with Nick Hornby's latest novel, in which Tom Sloan is, rather oddly, a character. It is not at all a bad book…30th January 2015 House of Cards
This year's Royal Television Society Huw Wheldon Memorial Lecture is to be given by Michael Dobbs, onely begetter of smash hit political thriller House of Cards. As any fule kno, the original (British) is far superior to the campy American version that the massed ranks of Sky Atlantic owners (gnashing of teeth) so enjoy. Michael - Lord - Dobbs is talking about Public Service Broadcasting. If Dad…28th January 2015 POST REMOVED BY WPW
I do apologise. I initially posted part of a letter written by Dad to his father, describing what he had seen at Belsen. It is included in the book. Having posted it, however, I felt uncomfortable using it here, which although an informal space and one for posting interesting tidbits, is, in the end, part of a campaign to sell a book, and I didn't think it right to use that particular clip in that…25th January 2015 CHURCHILL
If you haven't read it there is a good Churchill story on the main page (in the second excerpt http://unbound.co.uk/books/kicking-the-bar)
At the beginning of the war my father didn't have much time for Churchill, or for the British army - he thought the officers were largely "English half-men... clerk types who say 'endeavour' instead of 'try' and 'require' instead of 'want'"". But by the war…24th January 2015 Alice in Wonderland: Curiouser and Curiouser
The Daily Telegraph has recently done one of those 'best of' lists that causes conniptions in everyone. This time it is a list of the best TV adaptations of books. I am connipted by the absence from this top 20 of Jack Pulman's quite brilliant War and Peace, with Anthony Hopkins as Pierre. I remember Dad telling me that the BBC hired the Yugoslav Army for the battle scenes. I'm sure there must…24th January 2015 Pledge frustrations
If you click on the 'supporters' icon, it would appear that I am pledging towards the cost of my own book, but actually I have been attempting to buy on behalf of someone who has no computer. Unfortunately, his name will be absent from the Great List of contributors at the back of the book, which seems a shame.22nd January 2015 Thank yous
It is heartwarming receiving so much support from friends, and it has been incredible; another part of the gratitude neurons is cheered by the support of those I do not know, so among other sI'd like to thank Marilyn Anderson, Phil Smith, Naomi Trodden, Keith Moss, Christophe Sander, Emma Medd and Hazel Wright. You are all most generous. I'd also like to than Leslie Megahey, who made the Omnibus…22nd January 2015 Mark Boxer Caricature
I note that an exhibition of cartoons by Mark Boxer has just opened at The Cartoon Museum in Bloomsbury. I think the Gallery has missed this one, of Dad, drawn for Clive James's satirical poem Felicity Fark in the Land of the Media.21st January 2015 The Wall
I've hit the wall at 23%. I'm doing my best to get the information out to the wider world, but I am going to need the help of others to do so. Among these others are you, dear reader. If you have a fallow moment during your busy day, I'd be greatly indebted were you to use it to pass on details of the book to anyone you think might be interested, particularly among the older generations. Your mums…20th January 2015 D DAY
I've been tweeting to various D-Day tweeters, who have very kindly been retweeting, but with no practical result as yet. I suppose I ought not to be impatient. Dad landed by glider on D Day. All he ever bothered to say about it was that as soon as the aircraft landed, the company lined up along the nearest hedge and relieved themselves. They had been cooped up in the gliders for an age, and encourgaed…19th January 2015 COMPAYNE GARDENS
Just watched a short film about T.S. Eliot in Compayne Gardens in West Hampstead. Eliot was the first poet I ever read. I'm not sure I understood much but i liked the sound of it. I liked street lamps muttering and so on. During the Festival of Britain my father dated a young woman who lived in Compayne Gardens. Several decades later I did as well, but I ended up, I am delighted to say, married…18th January 2015 Testament of Youth
Just back from seeing Testament of Youth. Very moving with an excellent central performance by Alicia Vikander as Vera Brittain (despite a slightly wobbly posh English accent). If you want anti-war, this ought to do it. I wept copiously, almost losing it when the father broke down after waving his son off to war. Gulp. One of Vera Brittain's children was Shirley Williams, with whom - in the…17th January 2015 A Poet's London
Nancy Thomas, Anne James and Humphrey Burton all worked on Ken Russell's first film for Monitor. It was called A Poet's London, and was about John Betjeman (who watched the film in the company of Graham Sutherland).17th January 2015 Nancy Thomas
Nancy Thomas, a great TV producer has died. She made a good number of 'Monitors', and was responsible for persuading Dad to 'do' Duchamp (Duchamp became one of his gheroes) and she shot the famous Henry Moore film. But please go here to read Humphrey Burton and Anne James's obituary in the Guardian http://www.theguardian.com/media/2015/jan/15/nancy-thomas?CMP=share_btn_link16th January 2015 Into the Great Blue Yonder
OK, so Day two. teatime. Up to 9 %. I've no idea if this is good or bad. I assume that there is a large initial rush as the family all log on, and then friends, before it splutters into the teens. We shall see. it is rather nerve-wracking. I feel a little like one of those tight shouldered performers from the Eurvision Song Contest, who look so comfortable on stage (despite the appalling nature…
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