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Friday, 4 May, 2001, 14:47 GMT 15:47 UK
Jill Dando: 'Popular and well-liked'
Jill Dando in the Seychelles for the Holiday programme
Jill Dando was one of the UK's best-known presenters
Television presenter Jill Dando was popular and well-liked by her friends and colleagues, the trial of a man accused of her murder has heard.

The 37-year-old was deeply in love with her fiancÚ Alan Farthing and looking forward to their forthcoming marriage when she was shot dead outside her home in Fulham, south-west London.


Whilst some may have envied her success, her many friends and colleagues were at a loss to identify anybody who would want her dead

Orlando Pownall

Barry George, 41, of Fulham, is accused of murdering Miss Dando on 26 April 1999 as she crouched on the doorstep of her house in Gowan Avenue.

Prosecuting counsel, Orlando Pownall, opening the murder trial at the Old Bailey on Friday, said: "Jill Dando was very popular with her colleagues and the public at large.

"She was easy to work with and had none of the pretensions that are sometimes associated with those who achieve fame."

Junior reporter

The jury was told the star was born in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, and went to the local comprehensive school which she left aged 16.

She obtained A' levels at sixth form college before joining the Western Mercury newspaper as a junior reporter.

In 1985 she went to work for Radio Devon in Exeter as a news presenter and interviewer and, after a brief spell at Westward TV, joined the BBC Spotlight South West evening news in Plymouth as its co-presenter, the jury was told.

Barry George
Barry George is standing trial for Miss Dando's murder
In 1988 she moved to London, having secured a job as co-presenter of Breakfast News.

"In the summer of that year she and her cousin, Judith, bought a house near Wimbledon," Mr Pownall told the jury.

During the same year she met the then editor of the six o'clock news, Bob Wheaton, who subsequently became editor of Breakfast Time. The pair began a relationship the following year.

Mr Pownall said: "The relationship lasted until about December 1996 when it ended amicably, in part, at least due to the fact Miss Dando was travelling all over the world fulfilling her various commitments.

"They remained in contact with one another. After about four years at Breakfast News Miss Dando went on to present the Holiday Programme and Crimewatch."

The house Miss Dando had purchased with her cousin was sold in 1994 and she bought Gowan Avenue.

Instant attraction

In 1997 Jill Dando was introduced to hospital consultant Alan Farthing.

Mr Pownall said: "He and Miss Dando were immediately attracted to one another. They travelled to Australia together on 26 December 1997. It was apparent to all of those who knew them that the couple were deeply in love.

"Whenever she was in the country, Miss Dando would visit her home address in Gowan Avenue, but spent most of her time with Mr Farthing at his address in Chiswick."

Alan Farthing
Alan Farthing arrives at court for the start of the trial
The couple announced their engagement in January 1999, two months after Mr Farthing's divorce was finalised.

"Inevitably their relationship was the subject of extensive media coverage," said Mr Pownall.

"They decided they would sell their respective homes and put in an offer for a house in Warwick Avenue, west London. The wedding date was set for 25 September 1999.

Mr Pownall told the jury that during the months before her death, Miss Dando never said she had concerns about her well-being and she was looking forward to reducing her commitments with the view to perhaps starting a family.

"Whilst some may have envied her success, her many friends and colleagues were at a loss to identify anybody who would want her dead," he said.

See also:

04 May 01 | UK
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