Alan Whicker

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Alan Whicker

Alan Whicker.jpg
BornAlan Donald Whicker
2 August 1921 (school records) [1]
[note 1]
Cairo, Egypt
Died12 July 2013(2013-07-12) (aged 91)
Trinity, Jersey, Channel Islands [2]
Nationality British

Alan Donald Whicker CBE (2 August 1921 – 12 July 2013) was a British journalist and television presenter and broadcaster. His career spanned almost 60 years, during which time he presented the documentary television programme Whicker's World for over 30 years. He was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2005 for services to broadcasting.

Order of the British Empire order of chivalry of British constitutional monarchy

The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is a British order of chivalry, rewarding contributions to the arts and sciences, work with charitable and welfare organisations, and public service outside the civil service. It was established on 4 June 1917 by King George V and comprises five classes across both civil and military divisions, the most senior two of which make the recipient either a knight if male or dame if female. There is also the related British Empire Medal, whose recipients are affiliated with, but not members of, the order.

British people citizens of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, British Overseas Territories, Crown Dependencies, and their descendants

The British people, or the Britons, are the citizens of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the British Overseas Territories, and the Crown dependencies. British nationality law governs modern British citizenship and nationality, which can be acquired, for instance, by descent from British nationals. When used in a historical context, "British" or "Britons" can refer to the Celtic Britons, the indigenous inhabitants of Great Britain and Brittany, whose surviving members are the modern Welsh people, Cornish people, and Bretons. It may also refer to citizens of the former British Empire.

Journalist person who collects, writes and distributes news and other information

A journalist is a person who collects, writes, or distributes news or other current information to the public. A journalist's work is called journalism. A journalist can work with general issues or specialize in certain issues. However, most journalists tend to specialize, and by cooperating with other journalists, produce journals that span many topics. For example, a sports journalist covers news within the world of sports, but this journalist may be a part of a newspaper that covers many different topics.



Whicker (right, with back to the camera) with John Amery shortly after the latter's arrest by Italian partisans in Milan. AmeryArrested.jpg
Whicker (right, with back to the camera) with John Amery shortly after the latter's arrest by Italian partisans in Milan.

Whicker was born to British parents in Cairo, Egypt, in 1921. [note 1] [3] When he was three years old, his father Charles became seriously ill and the family moved to Richmond in Surrey, where he and his mother remained after the death of his father. He attended Haberdashers' Aske's Boys School where he excelled at cross-country running. During the Second World War he was commissioned as an officer in the Devonshire Regiment of the British Army. [4] He then joined the British Army's Film and Photo Unit in Italy in 1943, [3] filming at Anzio and meeting such influential figures as Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery. [5] He was also responsible for taking into custody British traitor John Amery. [5]

Cairo City in Egypt

Cairo is the capital of Egypt. The city's metropolitan area is one of the largest in Africa, the largest in the Middle East, and the 15th-largest in the world, and is associated with ancient Egypt, as the famous Giza pyramid complex and the ancient city of Memphis are located in its geographical area. Located near the Nile Delta, modern Cairo was founded in 969 CE by the Fatimid dynasty, but the land composing the present-day city was the site of ancient national capitals whose remnants remain visible in parts of Old Cairo. Cairo has long been a centre of the region's political and cultural life, and is titled "the city of a thousand minarets" for its preponderance of Islamic architecture. Cairo is considered a World City with a "Beta +" classification according to GaWC.

Egypt Country spanning North Africa and Southwest Asia

Egypt, officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a country spanning the northeast corner of Africa and southwest corner of Asia by a land bridge formed by the Sinai Peninsula. Egypt is a Mediterranean country bordered by the Gaza Strip and Israel to the northeast, the Gulf of Aqaba and the Red Sea to the east, Sudan to the south, and Libya to the west. Across the Gulf of Aqaba lies Jordan, across the Red Sea lies Saudi Arabia, and across the Mediterranean lie Greece, Turkey and Cyprus, although none share a land border with Egypt.

Richmond, London town in London, England

Richmond is a suburban town in south-west London, 8.2 miles (13.2 km) west-southwest of Charing Cross. It is on a meander of the River Thames, with a large number of parks and open spaces, including Richmond Park, and many protected conservation areas, which include much of Richmond Hill. A specific Act of Parliament protects the scenic view of the River Thames from Richmond.

He revealed in his television series Whicker's War (2004) that he was one of the first in the Allied forces to enter Milan and that he took into custody an SS general and troopers who were guarding the SS's paymaster's payroll money that was used to pay the SS troops, along with large amounts of cash in foreign currency, all contained within a large trunk. Whicker later handed over the SS men and the trunk of cash to the commander of an advancing US armoured column. [6] Whicker also shot footage of the body of Benito Mussolini. [3]

Milan Italian city

Milan is a city in northern Italy, capital of Lombardy, and the second-most populous city in Italy after Rome, with the city proper having a population of 1,372,810 while its metropolitan area has a population of 3,244,365. Its continuously built-up urban area has a population estimated to be about 5,270,000 over 1,891 square kilometres. The wider Milan metropolitan area, known as Greater Milan, is a polycentric metropolitan region that extends over central Lombardy and eastern Piedmont and which counts an estimated total population of 7.5 million, making it by far the largest metropolitan area in Italy and the 54th largest in the world. Milan served as capital of the Western Roman Empire from 286 to 402 and the Duchy of Milan during the medieval period and early modern age.

The death of Benito Mussolini, the deposed Italian fascist dictator, occurred on 28 April 1945, in the final days of World War II in Europe, when he was summarily executed by Italian partisans in the small village of Giulino di Mezzegra in northern Italy. The official version of events is that Mussolini was shot by Walter Audisio, a communist partisan who used the nom de guerre of "Colonel Valerio". However, since the end of the war, the circumstances of Mussolini's death, and the identity of his killer, have been subjects of continuing confusion, dispute and controversy in Italy.

Benito Mussolini Duce and President of the Council of Ministers of Italy. Leader of the National Fascist Party and subsequent Republican Fascist Party

Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was an Italian politician and journalist who was the leader of the National Fascist Party. He ruled Italy as Prime Minister from 1922 to 1943; he constitutionally led the country until 1925, when he dropped the pretense of democracy and established a dictatorship.

Broadcasting career

After the Second World War, Whicker became a journalist and broadcaster, acting as a newspaper correspondent during the Korean War (during which time his death was mistakenly reported). [7] After joining the BBC in 1957, he became an international reporter for their Tonight programme. In 1958, he began presenting Whicker's World , which began life as a segment on the Tonight programme before becoming a fully-fledged series itself in the 1960s. Whicker's World was filmed all over the globe and became a huge ratings success in the UK. Whicker continued to present the series up until the 1990s, and he won a BAFTA Award in 1964 for his presentation in the Factual category; [8] he also won the Richard Dimbleby Award at the 1978 BAFTA ceremony. [9] Whicker was instrumental in launching Yorkshire Television (which made Whicker's World for some years), producing television programmes for them from 1969 until 1992. At the beginning of the ITV series, Whicker made Papa Doc – The Black Sheep (1969) [10] on Haiti and its dictator "Papa Doc" Duvalier who made himself available to Whicker and his team. [11]

Korean War 1950–1953 war between North Korea and South Korea

The Korean War was a war between North Korea and South Korea. The war began on 25 June 1950 when North Korea invaded South Korea following a series of clashes along the border.

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters are at Broadcasting House in Westminster, London, and it is the world's oldest national broadcasting organisation and the largest broadcaster in the world by number of employees. It employs over 20,950 staff in total, 16,672 of whom are in public sector broadcasting. The total number of staff is 35,402 when part-time, flexible, and fixed-contract staff are included.

<i>Whickers World</i> television series

Whicker's World is a British television documentary series that ran from 1958 to 1994, presented by journalist and broadcaster Alan Whicker.

While presenting Whicker's World, Whicker was known for his subtle brand of satire and social commentary. Whicker's World was parodied in a Monty Python's Flying Circus sketch featuring a tropical island, "Whicker Island", where all the inhabitants dress and act like Alan Whicker. [2] Benny Hill, towards the end of his BBC series in 1968, impersonated Whicker in a parody called "Knicker's World". [12] He was parodied again in 1981 by the Evasions, a British funk group whose song, "Wikka Wrap", featured songwriter Graham de Wilde impersonating Whicker; the song was later sampled in Coolio's 1995 song "1, 2, 3, 4 (Sumpin' New)". [13] De Wilde also composed the theme tune for the 1980s BBC episodes of Whicker's World. [14]

Parody imitative work created to mock, comment on or trivialise an original work

A parody ; also called a spoof, send-up, take-off, lampoon, play on (something), caricature, or joke is a work created to imitate, make fun of, or comment on an original work—its subject, author, style, or some other target—by means of satiric or ironic imitation. As the literary theorist Linda Hutcheon puts it, "parody ... is imitation, not always at the expense of the parodied text." Another critic, Simon Dentith, defines parody as "any cultural practice which provides a relatively polemical allusive imitation of another cultural production or practice." Parody may be found in art or culture, including literature, music, animation, gaming, and film.

<i>Monty Pythons Flying Circus</i> British sketch comedy television series

Monty Python’s Flying Circus is a British surreal sketch comedy series created by and starring the comedy group Monty Python. The first episode was recorded at the BBC on 7 September and premiered on 5 October 1969 on BBC1, with 45 episodes airing over four series from 1969 to 1974, plus two episodes for German TV.

Benny Hill English comedian and actor

Alfred Hawthorne "Benny" Hill was an English comedian and actor, best remembered for his television programme The Benny Hill Show, an amalgam of slapstick, burlesque, and double entendre in a format that included live comedy and filmed segments, with him at the focus of almost every segment.

Whicker appeared in various adverts for American Express, [5] Barclaycard, [15] and was also the man behind the advertising slogan "Hello World", for [16] He narrated the 2007 and 2008 BBC documentary series Comedy Map of Britain . [17]

American Express American multinational financial services corporation

The American Express Company, also known as Amex, is an American multinational financial services corporation headquartered in Three World Financial Center in New York City. The company was founded in 1850 and is one of the 30 components of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The company is best known for its charge card, credit card, and traveler's cheque businesses.

Barclaycard is a multinational credit card and payment services provider, and a division of Barclays plc. Barclaycard has over ten million customers in the United Kingdom. is an American online travel agency. The website is owned by Expedia Group.

In the 2005 New Year Honours, Whicker was created a Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to broadcasting. [2] In 2009, then in his 80s, 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 with various people whom he had interviewed decades earlier to see how their lives had progressed since the initial programme. [18]

He was the subject of This Is Your Life in 1983 when he was surprised by Eamonn Andrews at the Berkeley Hotel in London’s Kensington.

Personal life

Whicker had a relationship with Olga Deterding from 1966 to 1969. [19] He was with his partner, Valerie Kleeman (who was 20 years his junior), from 1969. He neither married nor had children. [18]


Whicker died on 12 July 2013 from bronchial pneumonia at his home in Jersey, in the Channel Islands, aged 91. [2] [20] [21] BAFTA, who awarded Whicker the "Factual Personality Award" in 1965, tweeted "So sad to hear the news about Alan Whicker, who has passed away at the age of 87." [3] Broadcaster Sir Michael Parkinson stated that Whicker was "a fine journalist and great storyteller", adding: "I can think of no other television reporter before or since who created such a wonderful catalogue of unforgettable programmes." [2] Michael Palin noted that Whicker was "a great character, a great traveller and an excellent reporter", while travel presenter Judith Chalmers said he was "an icon for the travel industry". [2]

Most obituary writers said that Whicker was 87 at the time of his death, based on his entry in Who's Who giving a date of birth in 1925. The Financial Times pointed out that his age had been queried, with school records showing August 1921, making him 91 when he died. [1]

In June 2015 it was announced that Whicker's estate would fund, through The Whickers, [22] three annual awards totalling over £100,000 to be awarded to documentary makers, including funding and recognition prizes for audio documentaries. [23]

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Explanatory notes

  1. 1 2 Sources such as Whicker's Who's Who entry give a year of birth of 1925.


  1. 1 2 Crick, Margaret (12 July 2013). "Suave storyteller who made his life an enlightening journey". Financial Times . Retrieved 15 July 2013.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Broadcaster Alan Whicker dies at 87". BBC News. 12 July 2013. Retrieved 12 July 2013.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Legge, James (12 July 2013). "'A wonderful life': Broadcaster Alan Whicker dies, aged 87". The Independent . Retrieved 12 July 2013.
  4. "Obituary: Alan Whicker". BBC News. 12 July 2013. Retrieved 12 July 2013.
  5. 1 2 3 "Alan Whicker". Daily Telegraph . 12 July 2013. Retrieved 12 July 2013.
  6. "Whicker's War [DVD]". Amazon. Retrieved 12 July 2013.
  7. Tweedy, Jo (12 July 2013). "Judith Chalmers leads the travel industry tributes as 'icon' Alan Whicker dies aged 87". Daily Mail . Retrieved 12 July 2013.
  8. "BAFTA Winners 1964". Retrieved 9 October 2010.
  9. "BAFTA Winners and Nominations: 1977". BAFTA . Retrieved 9 October 2010.
  10. Tise Vahimagi "Whicker, Alan (1925– )". BFI screenonline. Retrieved 12 July 2013.
  11. Calder, Simon (4 September 2010). "A well-travelled man: Veteran broadcaster Alan Whicker reveals his globetrotting tips". The Independent . Retrieved 12 July 2013.
  12. "Alan Whicker Dead: Globe-Trotting TV Legend Dies Aged 87". The Huffington Post . 12 July 2013. Retrieved 12 July 2013.
  13. "1, 2, 3, 4 (Sumpin' New) by Coolio | WhoSampled" . Retrieved 2018-09-07.
  14. Graham de Wilde Retrieved 13 July 2013.
  15. "Barclaycard: 45 years of credit cards in the UK". Daily Telegraph . Retrieved 12 July 2013.
  16. "Alan Whicker interview". Wanderlust . October 2004. Archived from the original on 2013-07-13. Retrieved 12 July 2013.
  17. "Comedy Map of Britain". BBC. Retrieved 12 July 2013.
  18. 1 2 Howse, Christoper (16 March 2009). "Alan Whicker interview: a journey of a lifetime". Daily Telegraph . Retrieved 12 July 2013.
  19. Christopher Howse "Alan Whicker interview: a journey of a lifetime",, 16 March 2009
  20. Some sources, including The Times and The Financial Times give his age as 91 when he died, based on a date of birth in August 1921.
  21. "Veteran broadcaster Alan Whicker dies aged 87". ITV. Retrieved 12 July 2013.
  22. "The Whickers". The Whickers.
  23. "Alan Whicker awards to fund documentaries". BBC News. 7 June 2015.