UNDERRATED / The case for Fred Dineage

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The Independent Culture
One of the pleasures of growing up in the Seventies was the Q & A children's television programme How? There were four presenters; Bunty, Jack and the one who showed you how science worked. And there was the puppyish one, the eager butt of everyone's jokes, the one who, if there was a demonstration involving electricity, was always handed the loose wire. He was the one who made learning a giggle; the Stuart Hall of children's TV. Inevitably his name was Fred.

Twenty years on, revived by executives living out their childhood, the programme returned as How 2? Bunty, Jack and the other one had gone, replaced by Gareth with an earring and Carole who knows about adding up. But Fred Dineage is still there, just as enthusiastic, calm, slick and accomplished. These days the hair is less likely to stand on end during electrical experiments, slicked over his dome as it now is. But he still has an ability to deliver pointless information as if it might be eligible for a Nobel prize. This week: how to make birds' nest soup without the soup and without the birds' nest. It was as Fred's unshaking hands moulded a bed of cold spaghetti that clues of his other life became visible. That chunky gold bracelet watch, that perma-tan, the diamond-encrusted pinkie ring: evidence that in his spare time Fred does the business.

For 15 years he has been chief PR man for the Kray twins, ghosting books like My Story by Ron, the sequel to Our Story by Ron and Reggie. My Story is the comic masterpiece of the year. In it Dineage attempts the most audacious How? of his career: how to rehabilitate two murdering gangsters as charitable, fun-loving rogues who community-policed the old East End. And judging by the way opinion has changed in favour of releasing the twins - actors on the streets demonstrating, sympathetic pictures of Reggie in the tabloids - he's succeeding. Now that really makes your hair stand on end.

(Photograph omitted)