Posted: September 26th, 2012
A memorial service for Derek Jameson was held at St Bride’s church off Fleet Street at 11.30am on 28 November – the day before what would have been his 83rd birthday.
VETERAN broadcaster and journalist Derek Jameson died at home of a heart attack on September 12, aged 82.
“Jamie” edited the Daily Express, the Daily Star and the News of the World, and was also managing editor of the Daily Mirror and a presenter on BBC Radio 2.
Much of his fame rested on his gravelly Cockney voice, which he regarded as unique because it contained elements of Manchester where he worked for eight years. He told how, when he rang directory enquiries on one occasion, the operator asked: “Is that Derek Jameson?”
Jameson started life in poverty in London’s East End where he grew up in a children’s home. He began work in Fleet Street as a messenger boy for Reuters news agency at the age of 14 and rose through journalistic ranks to edit some of Britain’s biggest newspapers.
Throughout his career Jameson developed a reputation as a builder of circulation, and within a year of launching the Daily Star in 1978 – the first new national tabloid for 75 years – daily sales were more than a million.
He also put on half a million readers at the Daily Express during his editorship from 1977 to 1980, a circulation rise of nearly 25 per cent.
But by 1984, he was unemployed. Rupert Murdoch had fired him from the News of the World over “differences” and he lost money in a libel action against the BBC. Radio 4 called him “an East End boy made bad” in the satirical current affairs sketch show Week Ending. Jameson sued for defamation but lost and court costs were awarded against him. The corporation was not the only one to poke fun: Private Eye referred to him as “Sid Yobbo”.
But it was the BBC, recognising his gifts as a communicator, which was to come to the rescue and turn him into a celebrity when it offered him television series such as Do They Mean Us? and his popular breakfast show on Radio 2.
He went on to present a radio chat show for six years with his wife Ellen, establishing the largest late-night radio audience in Europe.
The best-selling 1988 autobiography Touched by Angels told the story of his life, with the second volume (1990) Last of the Hot Metal Men chronicling the dying days of the old Fleet Street.
He leaves Ellen, his third wife, and four adult children.
By BILL ROWNTREE, former Mirror Group photographer
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