Three Deaths in One Day

Is it 2016 again?

I woke up yesterday to the news that Gary Rhodes had died. My first thought was, “Wasn’t he quite young?” 59 as it turns out. Still young, though. I knew of him and remembered his face from TV appearances but celebrity chefs are not really one of my interests.

Gary Rhodes: 22/4/1960 – 26/11/2019. So it goes.

At lunchtime came the news of Jonathan Miller. He has seemed part of the cultural background for all my life starting as having been one of the “Beyond the Fringe” team (once seen, who can forget the “useless sacrifice” sketch? – “Don’t come back.”) Then he made a different name for himself as a theatre and opera director and general talking head on anything to do with the arts.

Jonathan Wolfe Miller: 21/7/1934 – 27/11/2019. So it goes.

When I told the good lady about Miller she wondered, “Who’ll be third?”

On the Six O’Clock News, we both found out. Clive James. He’d been living on borrowed time for a while of course but I was still saddened by this news.

He first came to my attention with his TV review columns for The Observer then came his Clive James on Television show and I followed his television career from then on. His delight and bemusement at the idiosyncracies of TV shows and entertainers from around the world was one of its main features. The antics shown were unusual viewing in the UK at the time – little did he know how mainstream they would become – but his coverage had a patronising tone at times yet without tipping over into condescension. Among other things he introduced the British public to the remarkable talents of Margarita Pracatan. He could be waspish if he felt the subject demanded it, though. Later he took to fronting travel shows which had an off-kilter view of the world. In among all that he found time to write poetry, memoirs and novels. Most recently he had a weekly column on a Saturday in the Guardian’s Weekend section.

Clive James: 7/10/1939 – 24/11/2019. So it goes.

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