Monday, July 13, 2009

Donald MacCormick Dies

Some of you of my age group and older may remember a BBC journalist called Donald MacCormick. He was a regular presenter of Newsnight in the 1980s and deputised for Sir Robin Day on Question Time.

He died of a heart attack at the weekend at the age of 70. MacCormick hadn't been on our screens for some time but earlier this year presented BBC Parliament's programme about the March 1979 vote of confidence.

Sir Ming Campbell has spoken of him as a "Prince among broadcasters". I remember him being a calm and polite interviewer with a tremendous knowledge of the political scene.

14 comments:

Occam said...

Donald MacCormack was an outstanding journalist and one of the last of a generation of presenters whose political views it was almost impossible to discern.

trevorsden said...

Correct - I remember him and perhaps the greatest compliment I can give is (if I remember correctly) I never thought 'there's another bigoted BBC presenter'.

A straightforward honest enthusiastic 'workhorse' reporter.

Anonymous said...

he had a sense of humour and smiled often, which sets him apart from many of today's broadcasters. shame he didn't get a longer innings, but he packed an awful lot in to his three score years and ten..

Anonymous said...

So much better than the preening self regarding prat that is Paxman.

Mind you, Emily is posh totty

David from Ealing said...

I remember him as someone who actually thought that the people he was interviewing had brains. Polite, intelligent and to the point. Unlike many interviewers today.

Unsworth said...

I also remember Robin Day very well, who I first met in Singapore in the late '60s. He was just as imposing face-to-face as he was on the television.

But, as you note, MacCormick was extremely civilised and knowledgeable. Compare these two to today's Nick Robinson etc - let alone the breakfast TV clowns.

Alfie said...

MaCormick was a proper journo' - he knew his stuff, very rarely lost his rag and his lilting Irish brogue had real authority..

He therefore would no longer qualify to work in today's celeb obsessed BBC.

(Did you hear that dummy Sophie Rayworth on the lunchtime news last week talking about the demise of a Loooooooootenant Colonel in Afghanistan?)

Pathetic.

dearieme said...

He had a good voice too.

Anonymous said...

Catch up Alfie 12.08, Donald MacCormick was a Glaswegian.

Here Today said...

Alfie, Donald was Scottish, not Irish - and is a great loss to journalism.

Mirtha Tidville said...

He was an excellent journalist who exuded quality and could be beleived in. These were the sort of qualities that made Newsnight unmissable. He belonged to an era that we,like Donald Mc Cormick, shall mourn. May he rest in peace.

Anonymous said...

Kirsty Wark must be grieving. He gave her a leg up into TV journalism in the eighties.

She had a real soft spot for him.

Occam said...

If Kirsty Wark is remotely affected by DM's passing, perhaps she could reflect on what made him such a great presenter.

For all I know, MacCormick shared her standard BBC-issue join-the-dots statist outlook on events, but he had the grace to realise that his opinions were less important than the story he was covering.

John MacLeod said...

I worked twice with Donald MacCormack in the early 1990s - as a couch-potato on a free-wheeling Scottish Television discussion programme called 'Night Flyte' - and had the highest respect for him - a man of intellect, of integrity and of humility. He was also tremendous fun.

Insofar as he had any private political views, I suspect they were Scottish Nationalist. He was a nephew of SNP founder John MacCormick, and his first cousins included Iain MacCormack (SNP MP for Argyll in the 1970s) and the late Sir Neil MacCormick, one of Scotland's greatest jurists and who served a term as an SNP MEP.