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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 November 2006, 13:00 GMT
Obituary: Nick Clarke
Nick Clarke
Clarke joined the BBC as a reporter in 1973

Dubbed "a national treasure" by one reviewer, Nick Clarke was one of the UK's most respected broadcasters.

He presented BBC Radio 4's World at One for 12 years, and The World This Weekend for five years before that.

In that time, he established a reputation not as a Rottweiler-type questioner in the Jeremy Paxman or John Humphrys mould, but as a mild-mannered, yet authoritative inquisitor who could coax out interesting replies.

He once said that he tried to confront obfuscation and evasion with logic and firmness.

Trainee reporter

Clarke was born in Godalming, Surrey, in 1948 and educated at Bradfield College, Berkshire, and Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, where he studied modern languages.

His father, a cricket correspondent for the Evening Standard, died of cancer when he was 18. His mother also succumbed to cancer in 1990.

Clarke followed in his father's footsteps by becoming a journalist with the Yorkshire Evening Post, and spent three years there as a trainee reporter.

This is very sad news. I enjoyed his brief return to the airwaves earlier this year and hoped that his illness was beaten
Susan Wakefield, Petersfield

In 1973 he joined the BBC as a reporter in Manchester and, three years later, became industrial correspondent, which involved reporting for what was then the Nine O'Clock News.

Six years later, he moved to the Money Programme where he remained for five years before joining the Newsnight team as a reporter, presenter and political correspondent.

In his recent book, The Shadow of a Nation, he argued that the UK had been in cultural decline for half a century, largely blaming television.

Certainly radio was his first love and, after moving to Radio 4's The World This Weekend in 1989, he remained in the medium for the rest of his life.

He was the winner of the Voice and Listener and Viewer Award for Best Individual Contributor to Radio in 1999, and was voted Broadcaster of the Year in 2000 by the Broadcasting Press Guild.

He also wrote a biography of his friend, the radio journalist Alistair Cooke.

As well as his daily current affairs programme, Clarke regularly presided over Radio 4's Any Questions and presented series such as Legacy of Empire.

Losing a limb

Nick Clarke in 2006
Clarke returned to the BBC in summer 2006 after chemotherapy

Last November, the broadcaster went reluctantly to his GP after finding a fast-growing lump on his left buttock.

He was diagnosed with cancer and, six weeks later, had his leg amputated to avoid the sarcoma spreading.

This year, the BBC broadcast a radio diary that Clarke and his wife Barbara Want - a former BBC producer - had kept, recounting their thoughts and feelings about the operation.

"I don't know whether I expected to come back again," he said. "I never gave up hope but I did feel so damn lousy".

"I could see the look in people's eyes when they came to see me."

The audio diary also recounted Clarke's misgivings about having chemotherapy after the amputation.

"I feel so gloomy. Before there was only one thing to fear... and it would all be over in a day. It was a leg problem before; now it's a cancer problem."

Poignant, but without self-pity, the diary produced an overwhelming public response. "I've been incredibly touched and moved," he remarked.

Clarke came back to work at the World At One in August this year but the cancer soon returned. He was undergoing further medical treatment when he died.

He leaves four-year-old twins from his marriage to Barbara Want, and three children from a previous marriage.

Radio 4's Nick Clarke dies at 58
23 Nov 06 |  Entertainment
Losing a leg to cancer
23 Jun 06 |  Magazine
Cancer diagnosis for BBC's Clarke
08 Dec 05 |  Entertainment
Your tributes to Nick Clarke
23 Nov 06 |  Have Your Say


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