In The News

Former broadcaster John Cole passes away

Former broadcaster John Cole passes away

TRIBUTES have been paid to the former broadcaster and journalist John Cole, who has passed away at the age of 85.

Mr. Cole, who was born in Belfast, was the BBC’s political editor during most of Margaret Thatcher’s time as Prime Minister, becoming one of the most familiar faces on British television.

He had started out in journalism with the Belfast Telegraph and soon showed his great ability to get political scoops when he managed to secure an interview with then Prime Minister Clement Attlee, who was on holiday in Ireland. After moving to Fleet Street, he worked for the Guardian where he eventually became deputy editor before joining the Observer.

His career as the BBC’s political editor began in 1981, going on to cover such major events as the miners’ strike and the Brighton bombing — memorably securing a street-side interview with Mrs. Thatcher in which she defiantly declared the IRA attack would not halt the Conservative party’s conference.

In 1991 he was presented with the Royal Television Society’s Journalist of the Year award. Two years later, he was given Bafta’s Richard Dimbleby Award.

After retiring in 1992, Mr. Cole continued to work for the BBC on a freelance basis for several years. He went on to publish his memoirs, As It Seemed To Me, and a novel set in Northern Ireland, A Clouded Peace.

The former broadcaster passed away at his home in Surrey. In a statement his family said: “While many people will remember John for his journalism and broadcasting, for us he was the most loving, funny and devoted husband, father and grandfather.”

Tributes were paid from leading figures in politics and journalism. Prime Minister David Cameron described him as “a titan at the BBC and an extraordinary broadcaster” whose death was a huge loss. The Prime Minister added: “He is someone who contributed so much to British political life.”

The Director General of the BBC, Tony Hall, said: “John was the BBC at its absolute best, he became a national institution. We shall miss him enormously. He did a huge, huge amount for political journalism in this country and for the BBC.”

Mr. Cole is survived by his wife Madge, sons Donald, Patrick, David and Michael, and his nine grandchildren.

To view an excerpt of an interview which was carried out with Mr. Cole by RepublicTV, click here.

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