Page last updated at 15:07 GMT, Monday, 12 October 2009 16:07 UK

Broadcaster Hannan dies aged 68

Patrick Hannan
Patrick Hannan's 'erudition and wit brought a rare depth and authority to everything he did,' said former BBC Wales controller and close friend Geraint Talfan Davies


Patrick Hannan, the broadcaster and journalist who reported politics in Wales for more than 40 years, has died after a short illness, aged 68.

Beginning his distinguished career in Wales in the 1960s, he was industrial editor of the Western Mail before joining BBC Wales in 1970.

He became a political correspondent and presented radio news programmes.

Former BBC Wales controller and close friend Geraint Talfan Davies, said: "He was the doyen of Welsh journalists".

Mr Hannan covered economic and political change in Wales over four decades, charting the decline of coal and steel and the ups and downs of politics in Cardiff and Westminster.

Patrick Hannan

BBC Wales's political editor Betsan Powys looks back at the career of Patrick Hannan

He was a constant and authoritative presence on BBC Radio Wales, for some years presenting the daily radio news programme Good Evening Wales, and most recently was chairing the Sunday talk show, Something Else, as well as the weekly political programme Called to Order.

He broadcast regularly on BBC Radio 4, presenting the political and discussion programmes, Out of Order and Tea Junction.

He was constantly fascinated, astonished and entertained by the unfolding politics of a society he loved
Trevor Fishlock, writer

He was also well known as one half of the Welsh team in the popular Round Britain Quiz. A week ago he and his colleague Peter Stead won this year's competition - their fifth victory in 10 years.

Famously productive, he produced television documentaries for BBC Two, BBC Wales and HTV Wales, was a columnist for the Western Mail and published five books. His most recent documentary on the reformist backbencher, Leo Abse, included the last interview with the former Welsh MP.

In 1999 he published The Welsh Illusion, followed by Wales Off Message in 2000, A Year in Wales in 2001, and When Arthur Met Maggie in 2006.

His last book, A Useful Fiction: Adventures in British Democracy, was published this year. He also edited Wales on the Wireless in 1988 and Wales in Vision in 1990.

The son of an Irish doctor who migrated to Wales in the 1930s, Mr Hannan was born in Aberaman, near Aberdare, and was educated at Cowbridge Grammar School and the University of Wales, Aberystwyth.

He was awarded an MBE in 1994 for services to broadcasting and was an honorary fellow of Cardiff University and Aberystwyth University.

His erudition and wit brought a rare depth and authority to everything he did. He was also immensely good company and the truest of friends
Geraint Talfan Davies, former BBC Wales controller

He married Menna Richards, now director of BBC Wales, in 1985. He also leaves two sons and a daughter from his first marriage; and four grandchildren.

First Minister Rhodri Morgan was among the public figures and former colleagues paying tribute.

"Patrick was an extraordinarily talented and witty journalist and broadcaster," said Mr Morgan. "He will be a great loss to all who value civilised, witty conversation and repartee."

Welsh Secretary Peter Hain said: "I was deeply shocked to hear this sudden and bad news.

"Patrick has been one of Wales' best broadcasters with a pithy feel for politics and a love of Wales. His passing diminishes Welsh broadcasting. He will be greatly missed."

Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones said Mr Hannan's loss was a "tremendous loss to the Welsh nation as a whole."

Former Labour leader and Ebbw Vale MP Michael Foot said: "I am very saddened to hear of Patrick's death: 68 is much too young. He still had so much to offer.

"I would like to pass my condolences on to Menna and his family. Patrick was a very good friend to me but also to the south Wales valleys. He understood them and their communities."

Writer Trevor Fishlock, a friend since 1969, said: "Wales has lost a great reporter. Patrick was as penetrating as he was provocative, an honest and clear-eyed observer, with a strong sense of history.

"He was constantly fascinated, astonished and entertained by the unfolding politics of a society he loved. He never took sides and was always true to his craft."

The BBC has lost one of the most incisive, original and authoritative journalists of his generation
Clare Hudson, BBC Wales head of English language programmes

Geraint Talfan Davies said: "Although he would have hated the term, he was the doyen of Welsh journalists.

"He cast a sharp and sardonic eye over Welsh affairs for some decades, always caring passionately for the independence of his profession or, as he always called it, his trade.

"His erudition and wit brought a rare depth and authority to everything he did. He was also immensely good company and the truest of friends."

Clare Hudson, BBC Wales head of English language programmes, said: "The BBC has lost one of the most incisive, original and authoritative journalists of his generation.

"Patrick - on radio and on television and in his books - tracked the industrial, social and political transformation of Wales through some of the most turbulent years in its recent history.

'Brilliant lateral thinker'

"He did it with energy, dedication, and the journalistic rigour which never allowed him to become misty-eyed about his beloved Wales.

"As a broadcaster of wit, deep intelligence and immense gusto he was peerless, and in recent years his work for Radio Wales made a critical contribution to BBC Wales's coverage of the post devolution era.

"For BBC Wales in particular, and for Wales in general, his death comes as a huge loss. He cannot be replaced, and he will never be forgotten."

Mark Damazer, controller of Radio 4, said that Mr Hannan "was one of the best ever contestants in Round Britain Quiz - probably the most intellectually demanding of all the BBC's quizzes".

He added: "He was a brilliant lateral thinker - formidably clever and formidably knowledgeable over a huge range of topics.

"His display of erudition was flavoured with wit, charm and modesty. These same virtues were on display earlier in his career when he hosted the Radio 4 discussion programme, Tea Junction. He will be much missed."



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