Tuesday 21 December 2010

Britain is no longer a country for a journalist called Brian Hanrahan

The journalist Brian Hanrahan, has died at the age of 61 and is remembered as reporting on many of the world's historic news events for the BBC.

He :

* became a household name in 1982 during the Falklands War, upon which the Ministry of Defence had imposed reporting restrictions.

* watched British Harrier jets taking off from HMS Hermes to launch the first air attack on Port Stanley and complied with the intelligence officer on board that he would not report the numbers by saying : "I counted them all out, and I counted them all back".

* commented on the fall of Erich Honecker, the man responsible for building the Berlin wall, by saying: "He dammed up his people, but in the end was damned by them."

* reported on the assassination of Indira Gandhi, the Indian Prime Minister in 1984.

* was in Tiananmen Square in Beijing in June 1989 when the tanks rolled in to quash the demonstration.

* was in Berlin when the Wall came down a few months later.

* reported on the rise and fall of Mikhail Gorbachev in the Soviet Union.

* covered the struggles of the Solidarity Trade Union in Poland.

* while reporting on the IRA hunger strikes, met the radio producer Honor Wilson who he married in 1986.

* reported on the reunification of Hong Kong in 1997, by saying : "Hong Kong demonstrators are a policeman's dream. Despite the force of their feelings, the protesters are polite, well marshalled and clean up afterwards. For their annual demonstration against the Tiananmen massacre they marched to the headquarters of the Chinese news agency to save the Chinese the trouble of sending out photographers."

* reported on the funerals of Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1997 and the Queen Mother, in 2002

* was an entertaining speaker on cruise ships, on which he talked to packed audiences.

* when crafting a piece, would talk to the doorman as well as any politicians involved, to dredge up human stories which he could distil into a few phrases, blend curious facts and figures into the script and think for as much time as he could before scribbling his words in tiny handwriting on the back of an envelope.

* had an acute sense of the importance of pictures and of the need to build a script around them always complementing them.

* was a private, kind man with a passion for reading political history and for the arts.

* reacted to being told he required chemotherapy for his bowel cancer by booking tickets for a West End play.

The B.B.C. tribute :

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