River Wissey Lovell Fuller

JOHN TIMPSON (1928 - 2005)

January 2006

Grahm remembers John Timpson with enormous pleasure

It was with great sadness that I read of the death of John Timpson in November. Most people think he was Norfolk born and bred, but, in fact, he was born in Wembley in 1928.

His working life began with the job of cub reporter at the Wembley news. After six years, he married Patricia Whale and secured a job on the Dereham and Fakenham Times. Oddly enough, he did not instantly "take" to Norfolk and described one January wet Sunday as "looking like the end of the civilised world". However, the county's charm and beauty soon brought him round and it was with some reluctance that he accepted a post with the BBC as a reporter, in 1959.

After having done many things, including deputy court correspondent and fronting "News Night", he was poached by BBC Radio to jointly head up the "Today" programme with the eccentric jack de Manio. They were an excellent couple, gently introducing their listening audience into the day, very unlike the presenters today. On de Manio's retirement, Brian Redhead succeeded and another great double act was formed. They were an attraction of opposites and Redhead could be a little irascible at times when Timpson became a bit too flippant, particularly with his characteristic "ho-ho-ho's". He formally left the Today programme in 1986 and presented other programmes on BBC Radio and Television.

In Norfolk, Timpson was well known for his various books on the county. "Up and down the City Road" was a favourite of mine as was his final book "Timpson on the Verge", which was about road signs. He briefly returned to television in 1995, this time on ITV, with his "Timpson's Country Churches". He also wrote two novels, both semi-autobiographical, which I found not only a really good read, but also incredibly funny. Unfortunately, they are out of print now but can be found in the library if you are lucky.

John Timpson ended his years in his favoured Weasenham St. Peter where he was a leading light on the Parochial Church Council. He received many awards during his career, the two main ones being the OBE and a Sony Gold Award for his services to broadcasting. I shall always remember him for not taking life too seriously and having a wonderful sense of humour. Were that there were more around today.

Graham Forster

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