Magazine article The Spectator

'Kicking the Bar: The Life and Legacy of Broadcaster Huw Wheldon', by Wynn Wheldon - Review

Magazine article The Spectator

'Kicking the Bar: The Life and Legacy of Broadcaster Huw Wheldon', by Wynn Wheldon - Review

Article excerpt

When I saw this book, a biography of Huw Wheldon, who was managing director of BBC Television between 1968 and 1975, I thought 'Aha!' Inevitably, my mind was filled with images -of Jimmy Savile and Stuart Hall, of the Led Zeppelin guitar riff at the start of Top of the Pops , of the men in charge who had no idea what was going on. Might Wheldon have been one of the guys who had no idea what was going on?

I tried to put this thought to one side. The book is by Wheldon's son, Wynn. It's a very moving account of a son's love and regard for his father. Wynn is telling the story of a man he reveres and misses. He thinks Huw was a wonderful person -- charming and brilliant, a huge life force. He believes he was one of those rare people who lives to inspire others.

'Certainly he was charming,' he writes. 'David Attenborough has remarked that Dad could have charmed anyone.' And then, more darkly, he says: 'The only wrong step he took was to die too young.'

As I turned the pages, I found myself beguiled by something in Wynn's words -- not exactly the fact of Huw's greatness, but the strength of Wynn's feeling. Of course, Huw had an extraordinary life. He was born in 1916 in Wales. He knew Lloyd George. He had a brilliant career. He was knighted. 'He had six books that I know of dedicated to him, and several poems.' He was a decorated war hero. 'I used to envy my father the war,' says Wynn.

After the war, Huw helped to organise the Festival of Britain and was awarded an OBE. …

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