Posted: November 11th, 2013
Tabloid journalist, broadcaster, wit and blogger Ian Skidmore died on October 3 (2013) aged 84.
Skidmore joined the Manchester City News after national service in the army and went from there to the Yorkshire Evening Post, the Daily Despatch in Liverpool and finally the Daily Mirror in Manchester. He worked as night news editor of the Mirror, Sunday Mirror and People.
Skidmore went freelance in the 1960s, and after marrying fellow journalist Celia Lucas, he moved to Anglesey in the 1970s where he spent 30 years presenting TV and radio programmes for BBC Wales.
Revel Barker revived a one-off Gentleman Ranters’ webpage to publish a tribute to Skidmore. He wrote: “He did more farewell performances than Sinatra and, like Ken Dodd, refused to get off the stage while people were still laughing.
“But – and I report this with a heavy heart – Ian Skidmore has finally left the newsroom. He died peacefully at home with his long-suffering wife, the journalist and award-winning writer Celia Lucas at his bedside.
“Skiddy and I never actually met in the flesh and yet became what he described as Great Old Friends. After a certain age you don’t make new friends: you make only old friends. Ours was a purely electronic relationship, depending originally on the telephone, then on e-mail and finally on that miracle called Skype.
“About five years ago, when he decided he’d like to collect all his old columns into what he’d heard was called a Blog, he asked me about it and my IT-savvy daughter created blogs for the pair of us. His became Skidmore’s Island (the name of a BBC radio ‘station’ he had invented on Anglesey); mine evolved into Gentlemen Ranters with Skiddy as its first mainstay contributor.”
Five years ago Revel Barker published Skidmore’s autobiography, Forgive Us Our Press Passes. Barker wrote: “For most of his life as a newspaperman he had dictated his copy over the phone. Spelling and punctuation were not his strong suits. He argued that Shakespeare had been unable to spell his own name, at least not consistently, and one of the great poets, I think maybe Wordsworth, had totally ignored punctuation. On radio he had needed neither. When I asked him whether the picture editor’s name was Harrap or Harrop, Skiddy replied: ‘He answers to both.’”
By BILL ROWNTREE, former Mirror Group photographer
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