10 Things You Didn’t Know About Alan Whicker

by Jules on July 13, 2013

The much loved broadcaster, journalist and quintessential Englishman Alan Whicker has passed away at the age of 87. Here we look back over his long and distinguished career.

  • Alan Whicker is hailed as the King of Adventure Travel after spending more than 40 years roaming the globe for the BBC, as well as other TV networks. He explored the unusual and often eccentric side to everyday life in villages and cities across the world. He filled people with wanderlust and a real desire to travel, at a time when package holidays were starting to become popular.
  • Born as Alan Donald Whicker on 2 August 1925 in Cairo in Egypt to British parents, Alan lived in London from the age of 3.
  • Alan went straight into the British Army as a 16 year old fresh out of school. This was during World War II and his posting was within the Film and Photo Unit, based in Italy. Here Alan filmed and met key figures in the conflict and actually revealed, 60 years later, that he had filmed the body of the dictator Mussolini.
  • Following the war, Alan forged a career as a broadcaster and journalist covering the Korean War. And in 1957 Alan joined the BBC as an international reporter. This was a pivotal moment in his career as this ultimately lead to the creation of his long-running documentary series, Whicker’s World being created.
  • In fact Whicker’s World aired on British TV for over 30 years from 1959-1990. It was initially broadcast on the BBC for ten years, switched to ITV for ten years, then returned to the BBC again.  Alan travelled to every corner of the globe meeting politicians, celebrities and locals to report on the social interest stories of the region. His reporting covered vastly different topics such as the opening of Florida Disneyworld in 1971 to interviewing the Paraguayan dictator Don Alfredo Stroessner in the 1970s. His subtle satire and quintessential British good manners earnt Alan several BAFTA nominations over the years. His enthusiasm, wit and sparkle kept generations of viewers enthralled for over thirty years. In 1967 he reported on the music and Gay Rights movement in San Francisco, which can be seen in the YouTube video below above.
  • Whicker’s World was parodied in the superb Monty Python Flying Circus series and legendry comedian Benny Hill created a sketch based around the series.
  • Alan’s last TV series was The Comedy Map of Britain, which he narrated for two series from 2007 to 2008. Aired on the BBC, the documentary travelled around Britain exploring the locations that inspired comedians over the years. Steve Coogan, Michael Palin, Ricky Gervais and many others recounted tales from their childhoods and early gigging days.
  • Alan was awarded the CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in the 2005 honours list.
  • Alan never married and never had any children. He and his partner Valerie lived together from 1969.
  • Alan lived on the island of Jersey in the Channel Islands.

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