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Kennedy, Sir Ludovic (1919-2009)

Presenter, Writer, Director

Main image of Kennedy, Sir Ludovic (1919-2009)

Many newsmen have made the move from print to television, and then from news to current affairs. The arrival of ITN in 1955 brought together many of these journalists, giving them the opportunity to apply and develop their personal styles (unlike the BBC's enforced anonymity) before setting them on a path for current affairs.

Christopher Chataway, one of the original ITN news presenters, departed for Panorama (BBC, 1953- ) in 1956 and was replaced by writer and broadcaster Ludovic Kennedy who, with Robin Day, became a matchless news team. Soon, Day also left for Panorama and Kennedy, best known then as the husband of ballerina Moira Shearer, stayed for two years before moving on to This Week (ITV, 1956-78).

In its early days, This Week was presented in a magazine format, carrying a number of stories in its half-hour; Kennedy's first years were busy times, introducing items about new French President Charles De Gaulle, the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya, German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, the formation of the Federation of Arab Emirates, and other people and events in the topical air of the late 1950s. He moved over to Panorama in 1960 where the frenzy of world-wide news-gathering and rushes to broadcast schedules was equally hectic, although this was belied by his urbane, relaxed and confident on-screen presentation.

However passionate about his work, Kennedy has always maintained an awareness of the medium's limitations as a series of passing, flickering images. His various terms as presenter of such distinguished programmes as 24 Hours (BBC, 1965-72), Midweek (BBC, 1972-75), Newsday (BBC, 1974-78) and the revamped Tonight (BBC, 1975-79) during the 1970s never dissuaded him from recognising that the essence of television is its ephemerality.

When the BBC introduced Did You See...? in 1980 (running until 1987), a review magazine rounding up the week's TV highlights, the selection of Kennedy as presenter/interviewer produced one of the most enjoyable elements of the series. At times criticised for his gruff intervention during discussions of programmes by studio guests, his deft handling of the proceedings in general received much praise.

His published autobiography, a combination of fact and self-analysis, was produced as the documentary On His Way To The Club (BBC, 13/1/1989).

Tise Vahimagi

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