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Saturday, 11 May, 2002, 16:25 GMT 17:25 UK
Former BBC boss dies in rail tragedy
Austen Kark
Austen Kark in 1985
A former head of the BBC World Service was among the seven people who lost their lives in the Potters Bar rail crash.

Austen Kark, 75, died as he travelled with his author wife, who writes under the name of Nina Bawden.

Ms Bawden, 77, an award-winning author, suffered a fractured collar bone and ankle and is recovering at Barnet General Hospital.

He made an enormous contribution to the World Service success story

Mark Byford, director, BBC World Service
Her family say her injuries are not thought to be life-threatening.

A granddaughter of Mr Kark, who wished to remain anonymous, said: "This is a terrible tragedy for the whole family.

"We are only just coming to terms with it."

Mr Kark joined the BBC in 1954 as a scriptwriter.

He had previously been a trainee journalist with the Belfast Telegraph and later became a freelance reporter and broadcaster both in London and New York.

Mr Kark, from Islington, north London, became head of the corporation's south European service in 1964.

Passion for job

By 1973, he was appointed editor of the World Service and six years later chaired an inquiry into the future of radio and television in Zimbabwe for Robert Mugabe, who was then prime minister.

He became deputy managing director of the World Service from 1981-85, before heading up the service at Bush House from 1985-86.

The current director of BBC World Service, Mark Byford, paid tribute to Mr Kark.

Debris from the bridge hit by the train fell onto vehicles
He said: "He served the BBC magnificently for more than 30 years.

"He was a highly cultured, intelligent and well-read individual with an enormous passion for the World Service.

"He made an enormous contribution to the World Service success story and still took a deep personal interest in its activities and developments in his retirement.

"On behalf of all his colleagues, past and present, our deep sympathies go to his family at this very sad time."

Second career

One of his former colleagues, World Service producer Mike Popham, has fond memories of his former boss.

He said: "He cared about people and had a great warmth and accessibility and charm.

"He was avuncular and a popular chap, who was interested in sport, especially cricket.

"He was always very fond of the camaraderie of Bush House.

"He will be very much missed by all who knew him here."

He cared about people and had a great warmth and accessibility and charm

Mike Popham, World Service producer
He was awarded the CBE in 1987 and was among the many former World Service heads and employees who have campaigned to save the service.

On retirement he began a second career in writing and his first book, Attic in Greece, was published in 1995.

The Forwarding Agent, a novel, was published in 1999.

He married Nina Bawden in 1954 after the end of his first marriage to Margaret Solomon.

He has two daughters from his first marriage and a daughter and stepson from his second.

See also:

10 May 02 | England
Town in deep shock
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