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Tuesday, September 28, 1999 Published at 14:00 GMT 15:00 UK


UK

In memoriam: Jill Dando, 1961-99 (part 2)



The following tributes to Jill Dando from friends, colleagues and members of the public were published in a booklet released at her memorial service.

As I write this I am looking at a photograph I had taken with Jill to celebrate 30 years of BBC local radio. We had both begun our BBC careers there. They had found an old Triumph Herald car by which we were pictured. It was such a joyful occasion. It always was with Jill.

Jill Dando 1961 - 1999
The most indefinable quality for a television performer is likeability. Jill had loveability. She was extraordinarily gifted in the art of communication through the small screen, making the whole business look simple.

Much more than that though, she was a wonderful human being.
Desmond Lynam

The last time Jill and I met was in early spring at a restaurant in Glasgow, where, as so many times before, we zipped through several months of gossip in record time. There was a bit about career moves and mutual friends, but mostly I recall being apologetically bombarded with the all-round wonderful qualities of the fiancé I had yet to meet. Her enthusiasm was irresistible. Her joy was infectious.

That memory of Jill, brimming with happiness and fulfilment, will remain as dear to me as her friendship was.
Sally Magnusson

Jill was a dedicated supporter of the British Heart Foundation over many years, turning out for photocalls, doing voice-overs for educational videos and generally helping out wherever she could. Nothing was too much trouble; despite her exceedingly busy life, nor did she ever turn down a single request for help with publicity.

As a heart patient herself, she was only too aware of the value of research, patient care and the widest possible provision of information about heart disease. We are enormously grateful for everything she did on our behalf.
Brenda Mole
Co-ordinator, British Heart Foundation

It's Monday morning and it's raining. A long dull BBC corridor, and off to another even longer BBC meeting. Then the double doors at the other end burst open, and there she is. Outfit for the studio over one arm, carrier bags clutched with the other. Perfectly dressed. Always in a hurry.

'Hi Ron'... That greeting and that wonderful smile that really says I am pleased to see you. A kiss on the cheek, lots of chitter chatter, her asking more about you than you get a chance to ask of her. She is engaged, she's really interested. Despite her hurry she has stopped and she has time.

Everything about her is open and straight and decent. There is much laughter and giggling. Then she must dash. 'See you soon... take care...' The next set of double doors are pushed open, and she has gone. The corridor is dull again.
Ronald Neil CBE
Chief Executive, BBC Production 1996-1998

I worked with Jill, as her make-up artist, for the last five years, on the news as well as other programmes. We spent a wonderful day at The Classic Music Awards at Alexandra Palace, which Jill was presenting, when she pretended that I was her PA so that we could both meet Pavarotti.

Another day we spent filming Althorp for Diana's memorial concert. That was a 17-hour day, up to our knees in mud and at times, surrounded by the whole Spencer family. A very strange day, but we enjoyed ourselves immensely.

I tended to allow twice as long as usual for Jill's make-up. Not because she needed more; just sometimes re-application due to our tears of laughter.
Kate Pringle
Invision Services Limited

The Matthew Project is a registered charity based in Norwich, which runs counselling, advice and support services for those who have a problem related to their own or another's use of drugs.

Jill has been the patron of the project for the last six years. Andy Gathercole, our Assistant Director, has known Jill since they were teenagers together in Weston-Super-Mare, where they were members of the youth club at the Baptist Church where Andy's father was the Minister.

In June 1997, she came up to Norfolk especially to compere a fashion show at the Thursford Collection, which was organised by the Friends of Kelling School, with half the proceeds going to The Matthew Project. On a number of occasions she donated very sizeable fees that she had been given for participating.

I think the thing that impressed us most whenever we met her was how natural and genuine she was. We remember her posing for photographers with two of the children from Kelling School and being struck by the very warm and sincere way she related to the children, together with her patience with the demands of the photographers. We could have had no better patron.
The Matthew Project, Norwich, UK

I guess my relationship with Jill began at the Royal Opera Ball in Vienna. The BBC Holiday team had asked me to surprise Jill at the Ball because she was, in their words, 'a bit of a fan'! She was to be on camera introducing, she thought, an Austrian prince loosely connected to the Habsburgs.

In fact, I was to be that prince and, on cue, I emerged from behind the camera. In an instant, that well-known professional cool evaporated and, in a state of near-hysterical giggles, she spluttered her link and I waltzed her off into the night.

In subsequent years I came to know her well, and discovered for myself the exceptionally talented, fun-loving and gorgeous lady that was Jill Dando. I'm so happy and proud to be able to say she was my friend.
Sir Cliff Richard OBE

Maybe she was just too good to last. Beauty without self-consciousness, fame without swagger, popularity which bemused her. But hers was not a fairy story.

Jill was a fragile baby, a slightly awkward child whose security and faith were battered when her mother died, a very ordinary teenager with modest ambitions, and even in her maturity and glittering fame she yearned for marriage, which eluded her, and suffered the indignity of intellectual snobbery by a few of her colleagues.

She was not born to success. That is why she wore stardom like a jewel, understanding that fame was merely an adornment. When we saw Jill on TV we could identify with her not because she was the girl next door, but because we wished the girl next door was like her. I grieve the loss of sunshine; I will never have a better and more generous co-presenter, a talent that was radiant but which she made sure never eclipsed those around her.

For Alan, in whom she found true love, I cannot imagine the anguish. We have all wept for Jill, but not so much for Jill as for ourselves. We have lost part of our hopes.
Nick Ross
Co-presenter Crimewatch UK

Compassion and professionalism, understanding and talent, kindness and intelligence are virtues all police investigators strive to achieve. Jill had those qualities in abundance.

I had the privilege of working with Jill on three Crimewatch appeals, one of which related to the murders of Lin and Megan Russell. Her keen mind, complemented by her intense concern and genuine compassion for the case, resulted in a massively successful broadcast. It is so easy to become hard-nosed and to shut from your mind the human tragedy which is the backdrop to so many of the cases featured on Crimewatch.

Jill was profoundly touched by the Russell murders but converted her anguish into a positive contribution to my inquiry. She was a unique individual who empathised totally with police officers. She is irreplaceable and will be missed by us all.
Dave Stevens
Detective Chief Inspector

We were captivated by her personality and her presentation skills in the Antique Inspectors, Holiday programme and Crimewatch UK. Her personality was captivating. A breath of fresh air. Her loss is devastating. She entered our home as a dear family friend. We shall miss you Jill, but we shall not forget you.
Christopher and Ann Stewart
Colchester, Essex
Message sent in to BBC Website

She was at the height of her powers and had done a huge amount in the fight against crime, which makes her death all the more poignant.
Rt Hon Jack Straw MP
Home Secretary

Jill Dando was wise enough to realise that it was her seeming ordinariness and her girl-next-door attractiveness which lay at the heart of her popularity.

She very sensibly remained completely unspoiled by her tremendous success: 'I can't quite believe where I am today,' she said. 'I enjoy every day as a bonus.'
Extract from the obituary in The Daily Telegraph

I met Jill Dando just over two years ago when I was the Appeals Director for a national charity. Jill was friendly, gorgeous and completely natural. She wanted no special fuss made, she did what was asked, posed for a long list of photographs, showed interest and left quietly, declining our offer of transport. The photos, needless to say, were stunning and much appreciated by the charity's supporters.
Hilary Watt, UK
Tribute on BBC Website

To this friend and editor, Jill was unique: she was a true television natural, who made it look deceptively easy. She possessed rare gifts. Few presenters could communicate so effortlessly and effectively from studio, location, or in person. Instinct guided her.

A professional; but a beauty, with charisma and charm, who was both respected and loved, by those who worked with her, and those who watched her.

In spite of this, she sometimes lacked confidence, and always sought and accepted advice. It was an endearing feature. Success did not change her: she remained the sweet, straightforward, and generous person she had been before the fame and the fortune.

Jill's talents were durable, and in time her appeal would have broadened and deepened even further. British television has been robbed of one of its finest presenters.
Bob Wheaton
Former BBC editor and friend

How very rare it is to remember a friend and never see anything other than a smiling, happy face. Even in those early days of transition from local to national personality, when a new contract was still in doubt, Jill passed it off with a joke and a 'C'est la vie'.

How lucky we all were to know her and to share and enjoy with her the success she so deserved. Now, for the rest of our lives that special beauty of Jill's will remain with us, unchanged, undiminished, every single day.
Bob Wilson
Presenter, ITV Sport

We have known Jill for five years, and even though she was our employer, we considered her our friend.

She was generous, friendly, loving and always showed us great trust and consideration. She was always willing to listen to our problems.

We shared with Jill her excitement of her impending marriage to Alan, and find it so hard that she has been deprived of her ultimate goal and happiness.
Ann Wylder and Julie Duckett

Click here for the first extracts from the Jill Dando memorial booklet.

Click here for your previous tributes.

Click here for previous memories from her colleagues.

Click here for previous tributes by public figures.



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28 Sep 99 | UK
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