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Inside Whicker’s World: The life and travels of Alan Whicker



  • Alan Whicker collection on view now as part of an exhibition of material from the BFI National Archive’s Special Collections; ‘Latest Acquisitions is free to view in the Mezzanine Gallery at BFI Southbank until October 23
  • Items on display include Alan Whicker’s passports, a BBC Audience report for Whicker Down Under, interview question cards for Papa Doc: The Black Sheep (1969) and The World of James Bond (1967), photographs, correspondence, and shooting schedules
  • Test your knowledge by taking part in a travel quiz made by the Whicker’s World Foundation –
  • Submissions for Whicker’s World Foundation Awards 2017 are now being accepted

As well as caring for one of the world’s richest and most significant moving image collections, the BFI National Archive also holds world-class Special Collections of scripts, posters, designs, photographs and other documents, including the archives of some of Britain’s most important film and programme makers. This exhibition presents highlights from some of our exciting recent acquisitions including the papers of Oscar-winning costume designer Jenny Beavan, television journalist and documentary-maker Alan Whicker, and S John Woods, the man behind many of the best-loved Ealing Studios posters. The exhibition is open now and free to view until October 23rd 2016 at BFI Southbank, Mezzanine Gallery, Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XT.


The BFI National Archive is now home to the archives of pioneering investigative TV journalist, Alan Whicker, donated by Valerie Kleeman, Whicker’s World Foundation. The collection contains meticulous records of one of the most enduring and influential careers in British television history, spanning the late 1950s into the 21st century.


This is an extensive and significant donation covering the entire career of a world-renowned broadcaster, and represents a unique insight into the production methods of a master documentarian. Alan Whicker’s name is a by-word for brilliantly crafted and revealing studies of people and places, whether exploring behind the scenes of the Miss World competition, interviewing Papa Doc in Haiti, or exposing the lifestyles of the hippies of San Francisco, with an enquiring mind and a sceptical tone. This unlikely figure, clad in Gucci tie and blazer, found his way into the nation’s hearts as he went where his audience was unlikely to follow.


The meticulously kept Alan Whicker archive spans the years 1938-2014. It includes a school report from 1938, documents relating to his war career and letters, photographs, extensive production files, audience reports, interview notes and questions (including Whicker’s hand-annotated question cards) and transcripts of every TV programme he made, along with some, as yet, unidentified films. The archive gives an insider’s view of some of the key events, social trends and personalities of the 20th century, while fully documenting the changing world of television reportage across more than five decades.



Around Whicker’s World in 13 Guesses

Test your knowledge of Alan Whicker’s Life and Work by taking part in our quiz


Submissions for Whicker’s World Foundation Awards 2017 are now being accepted


The Funding Award

This is the primary focus of Whicker’s World Foundation. Each year £80,000 will be awarded to a new director with the most promising pitch for an authored documentary which fulfils the core criteria of the Foundation and can be completed for screening with this award. The money will be paid in instalments to the director’s film company, enabling a project which deserves to reach as wide an audience as possible. This year it was won by Alex Bescoby for Burma’s Lost Royals. The closing date for entries is 31st January 2017 and the shortlists will be announced in May 2016. Entrants must be aged 35 years or younger on the closing date for applications. The first winners will be announced by Whicker’s World Foundation at the Sheffield Doc/Fest Award Ceremony, which will take place on the final night of the 2017 festival, 13th June 2017.


The Whicker’s World Radio and Audio Funding Award (RAFA)

For 2017 we are introducing a new Funding Award for Radio and Audio documentary projects in association with the Radio Academy. This is for a documentary, 15 minutes or over, broadcast or published online in the previous year. The Whicker’s World Radio and Audio Funding Award (RAFA) has a £5,000 first prize and £2,000 runner up award. The deadline for this award is the 23rd of December, with the best pitch being announced at a special event in March 2017.



The Recognition Awards

In addition to our funding awards there are two further annual prizes to recognise completed work: the ‘Audio Award’ and the ‘Sage Award’, the latter of which is for the finest industry newcomer over the age of fifty.

Alan worked in radio before TV and was snapped up by Radio 2 in the late 1990s, adding what Jim Moir, the Controller from 1996 to 2003, described as “great lustre to my network”. Initially Alan’s radio programmes revolved around re-visiting his most memorable encounters from Whickers World: from the ‘Ten Pound Poms’ to Margaret Rutherford’s transsexual adoptee who ‘gave birth’ to a mixed-race daughter in South Carolina. He went on to create a radio history of television called Itll Never Last.

Whicker’s World Foundation will award an annual £5,000 prize for the best audio project of over 15 minutes in length, broadcast in the last year. A runner-up will receive £2,000.

The Whicker’s World Sage Award

‘Retirement’ was not a word in Alan’s vocabulary. He was 83 when he wrote and presented Whicker’s War, a much acclaimed account of his army experiences in Italy for Channel 4. He made his last series for BBC Two, Journey of a Lifetime, in his late eighties. The Sage award will recognise a TV or audio professional who has come to air with an authored story for the first time, a prize of £5,000 will be awarded annually to an applicant aged 50 plus. Submissions of no more than 10 minutes; this can be for presentation but must be their own work. A runner-up will receive £2,000. Keith Earnest Hoult won this award for for Fluechtlinge – Refugee. Keith, a fan of Alan Whicker’s ‘gentle approach’ to interviewing, was inspired to create a ten-minute film about Syrians seeking refuge in a disused airport used for the Berlin Airlift. When he witnessed his friend’s wife Caroline trying to help refugees against a growing backlash he ‘felt the urge to film it if only for her family to reflect on later in life’. Keith learnt his film-making skills at the SAE Institute after redundancy and divorce turned his life upside-down. Judges were impressed that he made this entirely self-funded film as ‘a simple tale of ordinary people helping other ordinary people at their time of most desperate need.’


For further details on the awards and entry forms please go to




Notes to editors:


For images, media information and interviews please contact:

Siobhan Connor at Connor PR   + 44 (0) 7966 177025


For Terms and Conditions and award Criteria please go to

Join the conversation:   @whickersworld


About Whicker’s World Foundation

On 7 June 2015 Whicker’s World Foundation, whose principle aim is to give a much needed fillip to authored documentary storytelling in the UK, launched three new documentary awards worth over £100,000 for the promotion of curiosity in programme making, generously funded by a legacy left by the celebrated broadcast journalist Alan Whicker. The launch took place in the Sheffield Winter Gardens led by Alex Graham, chair or Doc/Fest, Jane Ray, Artistic Director for the foundation and Kim Longinotto, multi award winning filmmaker. Entries for 2017 Awards opened on September 26th 2016

Whicker’s World Foundation launches new documentary awards at Sheffield Doc Fest

Whicker’s World Foundation launches new documentary

awards at Sheffield Doc Fest


  • Three awards worth a total of £100,000

  • Supporting authored storytelling in the UK

  • First winners to be announced at Sheffield Doc/Fest 2016


Sunday 7th June at Sheffield Doc/Fest: the new Whicker’s World Foundation, whose principle aim is to give a much needed fillip to authored documentary storytelling in the UK, today launches three new documentary filmmaker awards worth a total of £100,000 for the promotion of curiosity in programme making, generously funded by a legacy left by the celebrated broadcast journalist Alan Whicker, who died in 2013. Details of the Whicker’s World Foundation and the awards will be announced by filmmaker Kim Longinotto at a special event at Doc/Fest, following the screening of Whicker’s World: Conflict in Kentucky.


Alan Whicker interviewing Cassius Clay

Says Mark Atkin, Acting Festival Director, Sheffield Doc/Fest: “I am very enthused that this foundation aims to encourage authored documentary at a time when TV is becoming increasingly formatted and when most foundations have requirements to promote social issues. This is exactly what the industry needs right now”.


The three awards – the Funding Award (worth £80,000 / £10,000 runner up) to a debut filmmaker under 30 years of age; the Recognition Award (worth £4,000 / £1,000 runner up) to the finest industry newcomer aged 50 years of age or over; and the Best Audio Documentary (worth £4,000 / £1,000) to be awarded at the In The Dark audio festival, also part of Doc/Fest – will be looking for a spirit of inquisitiveness that will leave the viewer wanting more, and tell something new and unexpected about the world.


Alan Whicker with Papa Doc


The panel of judges, chaired by Valerie Kleeman, photographer, programme consultant and Whicker’s partner for more than 40 years, will also be looking for projects that are playful with how the story is told, either breaking new ground, or taking a familiar path to come up with a new style.


The Alan Whicker Foundation consultant, top ranking international TV executive Jane Mote, says: “Whicker’s World opened my eyes to the most amazing stories, people and places. Alan’s unique style and sharp wit was inspirational and I am so excited to be part of creating a Foundation to nurture the future trailblazers for international documentary film-making”.


Jane Ray, the Consultant Artistic Director for the Foundation is a multi-award winning documentary maker and executive producer in radio and television with a journalistic background and nearly 28 years’ service at the BBC. Her awards range from the Sony Award for best news programme (2002) and the TRIC award for best children’s programme (1993) to China’s Golden Kapok award for best director (2014). She worked with Alan throughout the 90s on various projects for radio. She also wrote and directed Radio 4’s archive programme about Alan: Around the World in 80 Years, presented by Michael Palin.


The first award winners will be announced by the Whicker’s World Foundation at the Sheffield Doc/Fest Award Ceremony, which will take place on the final day of the 2016 festival.




For further information for Whicker’s World Foundation contact:

Siobhan Connor

+ 44 (0) 7966 177025


For further information for Sheffield Doc/Fest contact:

Sarah Harvey Publicity

+44 (0) 207 232 2812

+44 (0) 7958 597426


Sarah Harvey

Nikki Cummins

Joe Bond



Join the conversation:


About Doc/Fest:

Sheffield Doc/Fest is the UK’s premier documentary and digital media festival. It is the place to see world and UK premieres of the best creative documentaries from the cinema, television and online arenas, and to hear from and meet filmmakers at Q&A sessions. Highlights of the film programme are honoured with an award programme including the Sheffield Grand Jury, Innovation, Environmental, Interactive, Youth Jury, Inspiration, Student Doc, Short Form and Audience Awards. In 2014, 3,263 full festival pass holders attended the Festival and it attracted over 26,700 members of the film-loving public.

Sheffield Doc/Fest 2015 takes place from 5-10 June


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Middle Farm Press holds exclusive launch party at Waterstones

Middle Farm Press Holds Exclusive Launch Party at Waterstones, Shrewsbury

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With a turnout to be proud of, new venture Middle Farm Press held its launch party last night in Shrewsbury’s Waterstones.

sam gray kate taylor bing taylorjamie ryan sam gray siobhan connor


With canapés provided by Momo•No•Ki,, guests included: Jenny and Marcus Bean (Brompton Cookery School); Colin Young (BBC Radio Shropshire); John Barton (Coach and Horses); Chris Burt (Momo•No•Ki.), Sam and Claire Barker (Greak Berwick Organics) and Suree Coates (The King and Thai), who all turned up to support Sam Gray and Kate Taylor as they celebrated their new company and its first book, Doing it in Wellies, which was launched at last week’s Ludlow Food Festival.


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The evening is perhaps best summed up in the speech given by previous President of the Booksellers Association of Great Britain and Ireland, and Middle Farm Press’ Chairman, Bing Taylor:

“Like many other industries, and perhaps the music industry is the closest analogy, the publishing world has changed dramatically since I started my career as a university publisher at Longman in the early 1970s. With a little more experience under my belt I realized, by 1975, that people not only needed access to books (and large swathes of Britain didn’t have a bookstore within 100 miles in those days) but they needed selection, advice and guidance – the sort of help you would get from a good local bookshop. A friend of mine and I started The Good Book Guide which made English books available all over the world, at English published prices. We even published a separate edition for children. At about this time a man called Tim Waterstone and I were invited to speak at a conference called Children’s Books and the Chocolate Factory. Tim said he was thinking of starting a thinking person’s bookstore chain but that he would never stock children’s books as they were low ticket items and could never be profitable. He quickly changed his mind. Both Harry Potter and Waterstones were no doubt grateful.

A great deal of what I learned about people and books I learned from working at The Good Book Guide. For us, a quality selection and customer care were all important to retaining customer loyalty. Being a mail order operation we couldn’t provide on the spot guidance that you would expect from a friendly local bookseller so we got people with specialist knowledge to recommend books for the general reader such as Yehudi Menuhin on Music; Antonia Fraser on Biography and somewhat unexpectedly the Duke of Edinburgh on Wildlife Conservation. We learned a lot from our customers – the girls in the order processing department even got marriage proposals from people whose orders they had sorted out satisfactorily. And from our mistakes – one lady, who turned out to be one of our loyalist customers, lived in Papua New Guinea and ordered a copy of Quick Headache Relief without Drugs. We sent her The Joy of Sex. She wrote to say that miraculously her headaches had never returned.

When I was MD of Jonathan Cape in the mid 1980s we had, as our offices, a five story house in London’s elegant Bedford Square. Now Cape is housed in two rooms on a floor of Penguin, lately merged with Random House. When I started in the 70s there were more than fifty publishers, now there are about five major publishers with the number ever dwindling. What is missing from these vast, foreign owned, conglomerates is the personal care, nurturing and involvement of the editor / publisher. Some publishers have been able to retain this to a degree – Bloomsbury and their John Lewis style partnership with their authors is a rare example – but many books by major authors these days are far too long as editors dare not edit them for fear that the increasingly promiscuous authors will go elsewhere. Loyalty and trust between author and publisher, as between bookseller and customer, is an increasingly rare but highly valued commodity.

Fortunately here in Shropshire you are lucky enough still to have, against all the odds since the disappearance of the net book agreement and the advent of Amazon, surviving independent bookstores and to have branches of a chain that act as independent book shops with their emphasis on the customer of which this branch of Waterstones is a prime example and something which will I believe become increasingly the case under the leadership of Waterstones CEO James Daunt.

You are also the host town to an excitingly original new publishing enterprise Middle Farm Press, the brainchild of two indefatigable, multi-talented young ladies Sam Gray and Kate Taylor. Sam’s background as a pig farmer might not strike everyone as the logical training for a publisher (and if you think that you don’t know much about the publishing industry) but she is a natural entrepreneur as is Kate Taylor who has a more conventional background as a writer and publisher and despite that, has retained an endless supply of energy, enthusiasm and expertise. She’s come a long way since, as a little girl, she remarked to a dinner guest named Salman Rushdie that she didn’t read books as she thought all books were boring.

Now they have channeled their enthusiasm to form a remarkable partnership approaching publishing from a fresh perspective, cutting out all unnecessary middle-man costs, electing to sell books through the traditional book trade rather than through Amazon and putting a high premium on providing the sort of customer advice, support and guidance that used to be a hallmark of British publishing but has now all but disappeared from the scene. As a former President of the Booksellers Association of Great Britain and Ireland who fought long and hard to protect the independent bookseller it is a particular pleasure for me to be associated with their company as Chairman and to be here at the launch of, I’m sure the first of many beautifully produced books Sam Gray’s entertaining, informative and above all inspirational account of her year as a pig farmer on her 35 acre small holding in Church Stretton ‘Doing it in Wellies’.

Middle Farm Press is putting the book, and its proceeds, firmly back in the hands of the author. The publishers won’t be taking their traditional 85% to 90% of the profits from the authors but instead MFP will be relying on their personal relationships and experience to get the best deals from their designers, printers and suppliers. Thus allowing the author to not only benefit from the publisher’s business acumen but to keep the proceeds from all their book sales.

Amazon excitedly announced a few weeks ago that they will be the sole suppliers of Paris Hilton’s jewelry designs – no doubt a mouthwatering prospect for some but the writing is on the wall – the times are changing. A self-published book was on the Man Booker Longlist for the first time; HMV onetime owners of Waterstones, went bust a few years ago. It now has a new Chief Executive and has reopened its flagship Oxford Street store emphasizing the need to return to offering advice, guidance and support and to putting the customer first. And here in Shropshire Middle Farm Press is opening its doors to authors everywhere and enabling them, for the first time, to reap the true benefits from their creativity and plain hard work.”

Middle Farm Press makes high-quality books, specialising in produce, food and cooking but by no means exclusive to this genre. The company makes stunning books that allow authors to make a real profit. They support bookshops and champion authors – with a particular focus on producers, small farms and passionate chefs.

Middle Farm Press is the brainchild of writer and editor Kate Taylor and her author colleague Sam Gray, who runs her own smallholding. They set up the company to help authors who are considering self-publishing. Bringing with them the very best designers, editors, proofreaders, indexers, photographers, food economists, printers and cartographers, their aim is to help authors produce the same high-quality books produced by leading UK publishers without having to give away most of the profits. Since the founding of Middle Farm Press, it has been evolving to include all manner of things.

Memorial held for TV globetrotter Alan Whicker

Memorial held for TV globetrotter Alan Whicker

Yesterday I attended the Memorial Service of my dear friend Alan Whicker  at The Grosvenor Chapel in London’s Mayfair.

Alan WhickerAlan with Papa Doc

Sir Michael Parkinson and Monty Python star Michael Palin were among the guests.

Former BBC boss Michael Grade described Whicker as “one of the corner stones of the golden age of British television”.

Whicker died in July 2013 after a TV career lasting nearly six decades.

He was best known for Whicker’s World which ran from 1959 to 1988 on both the BBC and ITV.

He had… eyebrows that could speak a thousand words when raised slightly at the right moment.”

Lord Grade

“Alan Whicker belonged to that very exclusive club of gifted individuals who over so many decades consistently delivered memorable programmes for what is more usually such a transitory medium,” Lord Grade said.


“He had that unmistakable voice with its delicate inflections so easily mimicked, eyebrows that could speak a thousand words when raised slightly at the right moment… and an unerring instinct to know when to listen.”


Whicker’s dapper dress sense – which included his trademark smart blazer and tie – made him one of the most recognised figures on television.

Palin, who spoofed Whicker in a Monty Python sketch, said Whicker was “a towering figure” in the world of television.

He said Whicker had the “enviable ability to deliver introductions and summings up that were as crisp and precise as the clothes in which he delivered them”.

Palin recalled how he had been the fourth person the BBC had asked to present travel series Around the World in 80 Days, the first choice having been Whicker.

“I was later told – apocryphally I’m sure – that the reason he turned it down was that the BBC, in soliciting the great man’s services, had taken him out to lunch at the Pizza Hut in Shepherd’s Bush.

“Alan didn’t do Pizza Hut.”

Sir Michael Parkinson said Whicker had “inspired an entire generation of young journalists” to seek a television career.


“He never let celebrity cloud the business of being a proper journalist,” he added.


Whicker’s long list of famous interviewees included Peter Sellers, Joan Collins, the Sultan of Brunei and notorious Haitian dictator ‘Papa Doc’ Duvalier.


Reference Tim Masters, BBC

Connor PR expert in publishing PR, Connor PR expert in Travel PR, Siobhan Connor worked with Alan Whicker

Managing MIL perfect reading for families getting through Christmas and the New Year

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Publishing specialist Connor PR started working with Kay Rink, author of Managing MIL: You and your Mother-in-Law – for better, or for worse?
Essential reading for Daughters-in-Law, Peridot Press in October 2013
Here’s some of the press we achieved…still more to come out in January!

Daily Telegraph
Independent online – lifestyle
Female First
ITV Daybreak
December 23rd, talking about the stresses of Christmas
TV – The Daily Edition – Australia
Shropshire Star
BBC World Service
Marie Claire
Book People
Daily Mirror
The Women’s Room Blog


Connor PR specialist in expert PR, Connor PR specialist in book and publishing PR, Connor PR specialist in entertainment PR

Lovely testimony from the author of Managing MIL: You and your Mother-in-Law – for better, or for worse? Katy Rink

Managing MIL: You and your Mother-in-Law – for better, or for worse? Essential reading for Daughters-in-Law

Managing MIL: You and your Mother-in-Law – for better, or for worse? Essential reading for Daughters-in-Law

“I was absolutely blown away by what Siobhan and her team at Connor PR  achieved for my book – Managing MIL. With a background in journalism and some good contacts myself, I thought I could handle my own publicity – how wrong I was. The difference between the few ‘hits’ that I was able to achieve, going solo and the absolute storm of publicity that Siobhan managed to unleash was nothing short of a miracle. My book is to feature in nearly every national newspaper – not only as a mentions or small reviews but as big, double-page feature articles, Q&As, first person pieces from me as author. Siobhan grasped the concept immediately and knew exactly the right people to speak to. She produced a tailor-made campaign, in different phases (press, radio, tv) which she continually updated, chasing new leads all the time. I would sing her praises with my last breath!”

Katy Rink – Author of Managing MIL: You and your Mother-in-Law – for better, or for worse? Essential reading for Daughters-in-Law

Peridot Press


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Connor PR promoting new book ‘Managing MIL: You and your Mother-in-Law – for better, or for worse?’

Managing MIL: You and your Mother-in-Law – for better, or for worse? Essential reading for Daughters-in-Law

Managing MIL: You and your Mother-in-Law – for better, or for worse? Essential reading for Daughters-in-Law

Connor PR is working with author and journalist Katy Rink on her new book

Managing MIL: You and your Mother-in-Law – for better, or for worse?

Essential reading for Daughters-in-Law

from Katy Rink, Peridot Press

Does your mother-in-law drive you to distraction? Are you a desperate daughter-in-law? Who is to blame? It’s hard to know when you’re stuck on the inside.

Journalist Katy Rink looks at the best and worst of this frequently tricky relationship and provides smart advice for keeping your cool, your sanity and your family intact.

How do you survive a weekend with the in-laws? Should you ever go on holiday together? How do you manage a new baby and MIL? What are the dangers of accepting that friend request on Facebook? These are just some of the tricky topics tackled.

The author calls upon the experiences of fellow daughters-in-law in her home town – at secretive get-togethers that came to be known as DIL Club – to illustrate the highs and lows of dealing with his mother.

There are plenty of anecdotes to amuse and entertain, including the DILs who received engine oil, chin hair removal cream and paper knickers as Christmas presents from their MILs; the MIL who provided itemised receipts for ice creams and charged for petrol; and the MIL who greeted news of a pregnancy with “I can’t believe you haven’t had her sterilised yet”.

You can also try and recognise your MIL from a cast of hilarious caricatures including The Apologist, The Snob, The Manipulator and The Social Climber.

But amid the horror stories there are heart-warming tales of when (and how) it all goes right, and when peace breaks out. There is also top advice from leading relationship experts.

This is the book that every daughter-in-law should read. And more than a few mothers-in-law will want to have a nose, too.

Managing MIL will be released by Peridot Press on November 18th


Notes to editors:

Katy Rink is available for interview. Please contact Siobhan Connor at Connor PR / 07966 177025

About the author Katy Rink

Katy Rink is a national freelance journalist contributing to Telegraph Women, Parenting and Education and Guardian Life & Style.

She came up with the idea for Managing MIL based on a decade of innings with her own, characterful mother-in-law – but was also very interested to know how other women managed this infamously tricky relationship.

“I wanted to know why, when two women essentially want the same thing (the happiness of the son and grandchildren), do they so often find themselves at odds?” Katy said “I was interested to know what other daughters-in-law think; is any relationships really so bad that we should cut MIL off? Is it ever okay to stop trying?

“Is it always best to communicate the way we are feeling, or should we put a brave face on it and sweep all sentiment under the carpet?”

The resulting book is based on interviews with daughters-in-law at secret ‘DIL Clubs’.

“All I had to do was say the magic words ‘mother-in-law’ and retreat into the corner and start scribbling,” said Katy.

Katy graduated from Oxford University in 1998 and worked as a local newspaper journalist, before taking a career break to have her children. She completed an MA in Creative Writing and a law conversion with distinction whilst her boys were still little, briefly considering life as a family barrister – but is now writing again, as a freelance journalist and author.

Connor PR specialist in publishing PR, Connor PR working with author Katy Rink, Connor PR specialist in book PR, Connor PR and Managing MIL: You and your Mother-in-Law – for better, or for worse? Essential reading for Daughters-in-Law