Posted: October 15th, 2014
DAILY MIRROR TV editor and writer JACK BELL died on September 4 (2014) aged 88, after a long illness. His funeral took place, sadly, before the news reached Jack’s colleagues.
Jack worked for the Mirror for many years from the early 60s, following his return to the UK after working in Canada, Hawaii and Australia.
Jack was born in Canada to British parents and travelled to this country when he was two years old. He spent part of his childhood in London during the Second World War before being evacuated to Windsor.
He returned to London when he was 14 and began his journalistic career as a cub reporter on the Streatham News. At 16 he joined the Navy, and was later demobbed in New York.
Jack’s initial career abroad started in Montreal, followed by a period in Hawaii, and then he went to Sydney, Australia. There, he worked for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation as a TV and radio presenter before becoming a TV news reader.
For family reasons, Jack returned to the UK in 1961. He had been given a letter of introduction to Hugh Cudlipp by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and was taken on by Cudlipp in the Daily Mirror TV department in 1962. Jack was shown the television intricacies by the then doyen of TV editors Clifford Davis – known as the biggest “fixer” of TV stories in Fleet Street.
Jack created and wrote episodes of TV’s Redcap, the drama series about the work of the Royal Military Police. He was particularly proud of having given John Thaw his first big break in TV when Thaw was cast in the lead as hard-nosed Sergeant John Mann. The role proved to be the springboard for the actor’s long and distinguished career.
Once Clifford Davis retired, Jack followed in his footsteps and became TV Editor for the Mirror. He always said that “working for the Daily Mirror was the best thing that ever happened to me”. He was an old-fashioned journalist who was punctilious in following up every story.
He is survived by his wife Lyn, children Bruce and Carolyn, and five grandchildren.
With thanks to Jack’s family, Pat Smyllie and Tony Purnell.
By BILL ROWNTREE, former Mirror Group photographer
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