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A former teaboy on the Manchester Guardian, Alan Whicker started his globe-trotting travels as part of the BBC’s Tonight programme.
He later moved to ITV where Whicker’s World was a celebrated success until the early 1980s when he returned to the BBC.
The most important person in the world to Alan Whicker was the one he was interviewing. That’s why he notched up so many “firsts” in his career.
He was the first to get an in-depth interview with multi-millionaire Paul Getty (who told how he loved saving pennies and why he had a pay telephone in his house) and followed that by persuading a string of rich and influential people to open up in front of the cameras.
He also induced the fearful dictator of Haiti, Papa Doc Duvalier to talk to him. With skilful questioning he drew him out, apparently without Papa Doc realising it, and there he was for all to see, the man so chillingly and accurately portrayed in Graham Greene’s The Comedians.
Whicker never hectored or bullied, never even raised his voice. He achieved better results with a quizzically raised eyebrow and polite but firm persistence.
Whicker was created a Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to broadcasting in 2005.
In 2009, Whicker returned to some of the locations and people who were originally featured in Whicker’s World for the BBC series Alan Whicker’s Journey Of A Lifetime.
In this, he met people he had interviewed decades earlier to see how their lives had progressed since the initial programme.
Whicker died on 12 July 2013 from bronchial pneumonia at his home in Jersey, in the Channel Islands, aged 91.