Obituary: Adam Raphael

A BBC editor once called Adam Raphael's programmes International Assignment and Six Continents "broadcasting institutions". They were, and so was he. He believed in radio, understood it, and was a producer and reporter of passion and subtlety.

Born in London in 1937, Raphael was evacuated in 1939 to the United States. Educated on both sides of the Atlantic, he worked first in computers before moving in 1963 to Bangkok and into print journalism. In 1964 he became the Saigon stringer for the BBC, CBS News, and Time, and from 1965 to 1967 was a CBS radio and television special correspondent in Vietnam, a stint which earned him an award. There followed three years with CBS in New York and Paris, spending much time on the road.

In 1971 Raphael joined the BBC as a television producer, moving in 1972 to radio, and to acclaim both as a producer and as a presenter of Newsdesk and The Financial World Tonight. One editor commented: "Raphael is his own stern taskmaster . . . he has no time for second best." Another, as he moved between radio news and the World Service, wrote: "If we channel his enthusiasm effectively . . . we are on to a winner." There was relief in 1980: "I think we have almost harnessed his energies."

By now Raphael was producing International Assignment, a weekly foreign affairs half-hour. He was a Reithian. "There is much foreign news which has to fight for its place in our media, which . . . we have a responsibility to bring to the public," he wrote in a (failed) job application. He was never in the true Birtian mould, not that ideology concerned him. One colleague recalls: "We did not decide the story beforehand and then try to stand it up. We'd have an idea, talk to people, and work out what the story was from what they told us." International Assignment - which Raphael produced single-handed - became essential listening.

Raphael also served in management and in senior positions with the Bush House language services. By 1990, though, the BBC had contrived to lose him, a man increasingly ill-served by the spirit of the age. He returned to CBS, which wisely used him on air, to what proved professionally some of his best years. He received a citation for excellence from the Overseas Press Club of America for Letter from London, his weekly CBS radio column.

His first marriage, to Isabel Lawson, ended in divorce, though they remained friends. He spent his last 15 years with Margaret Hill, whom he married in 1989. Their happiness, shared by both with his sons Tom and Ollie, was clouded in 1993 when Raphael contracted cancer of the tongue. But treatment let him go on broadcasting till it recurred in 1997.

Raphael was never self-important. He could switch instantly from BBC authority to American informality. He once spent an enjoyable evening at his London home telephoning a bemused Broadcasting House duty officer every few minutes to complain - in his best transatlantic accent - about the shortcomings of some hapless BBC programme on US affairs.

Towards the end of his life he could not swallow, and had to be fed through a tube directly into his stomach. Yet he described to me a happy evening spent pouring most of a bottle of Scotch, untasted but still savoured, straight down the tube.

The cancer's return cruelly robbed this compelling speaker of the power of speech. So he wrote a column for the Jewish Chronicle. And the notes he wrote to visitors were undiminished, and sent them away feeling it was they who had gained from the visit.

It is neither for his mischief nor for his brilliance that we shall remember Adam Raphael. One CBS colleague said: "He cared about everybody. He put the humanity into the story." Many recall help in crises, and kindnesses to families. I once mislaid an unhappy son of mine in Broadcasting House. It turned out Adam had taken him off for a meal, and had bought him a book as well, to cheer him up.

Alex Kirby

Adam Jocelyn Raphael, broadcaster and journalist: born London 11 November 1937; married 1963 Isabel Lawson (two sons; marriage dissolved), 1989 Margaret Hill; died London 4 May 1999.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Feeling all at sea: Barbara's 18-year-old son came under the influence of a Canadian libertarian preacher – and she had to fight to win him back
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Living the high life: Anne Robinson enjoys some skip-surfed soup
TV review
Arts and Entertainment

Great British Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
Doctor Who and Missy in the Doctor Who series 8 finale

TV
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

    Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

    Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones