Kicking The Bar

By Wynn Wheldon

A brand new biography of the legendary broadcaster, Huw Wheldon

Wednesday, 4 March 2015


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 female colleagues), and women such as Nancy Thomas, Ann Turner, Julia Matheson, and Anne James[1] flourished at Monitor[2][3].  I think it is much more likely the case that he was not keen on recent Oxbridge graduates (which Catherine Dove was).  He almost certainly knew more than Dove about music.  He would have admitted not knowing as much about the visual arts. He'd read Beckett and Rilke and Cummings.  Had she?


[1] Anne James wrote to Dad on her retirement in 1984: “You gave me, and others, such invaluable things… Like most of us – the ones who came under you – I quote you, and measure things by the values you imparted to us.  Programme values.  Television values.  Let alone the knowledge & memory of being one of a small group of people with a recognisable purpose.”

[2] Of the twelve people Dad acknowledged as being responsible for the success of the programme in the book ‘Monitor’, five were women.

[3] Melvyn Bragg remembered “someone in the BBC bar in Lime Grove referring to a woman who worked on Monitor as “a good secretary”.  Wheldon drew himself up to his full Welsh height and barked: She’s a good woman.  A remarkable woman!” (The Times, 30 March 1998)


NB - Catherine Dove, who has a good claim to be the inventor of 'Monitor', was married first to Charles Wheeler and then to John Freeman (of Face to Face and distinguished Ambassadorial career, and who died recently).


[i] Paul Ferris, Sir Huge (London: Michael Joseph, 1990) p.117

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