Obituary: Roger Lazar

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The Independent Online
"FROM Our Own Correspondent" was an expression coined in the 19th century by the newspapers. When the BBC established its own group of foreign and domestic reporters, at the end of the Second World War, it was adopted as a programme title. It was first used, from October 1946 to June 1949, in the new Third Programme. It was then a series of 15-minute talks which gave us, in that first corps of BBC foreign correspondents, an opportunity to consider in depth the problems of the country to which we were assigned.

Six years later the Home Service, as Radio 4 was then called, revived the title for a new Sunday morning series of five-minute contributions which began on 25 September 1955 and continues to this day on the World Service. From Our Own Correspondent owes its reputation to Roger Lazar. He was not its first editor, but through his skill at briefing correspondents overseas and his fund of ideas for foreign coverage he established the programme as essential listening for all interested in international developments. With breaks for his own assignments abroad he edited From Our Own Correspondent for 13 years.

Lazar celebrated the 25th anniversary of From Our Own Correspondent by editing a selection of its more noteworthy contributions, which was published by the BBC in 1980. It included a long central essay by Thomas Barman, the former diplomatic correspondent, who was given the whole programme, on his retirement, to reflect on the changes over 40 post-war years.

Lazar's family had suffered under the revolutions at the end of the First World War. His father was Romanian, his mother was from Minsk, and the family was naturalised British in 1925. Roger was born in Paris, sent to St Paul's School in London, and then to University College, where he obtained a journalistic diploma. At the outbreak of the Second World War he joined the London Auxiliary Fire Brigade. He was invalided out with a back injury in 1941. He then joined the BBC Monitoring Service in Evesham as a sub- editor.

Lazar was transferred to Bush House and rapidly rose in the European Service's news hierarchy. In 1948 he moved over to the foreign side of domestic radio news, becoming a Foreign Duty Editor. He was seconded to Nigeria in 1959 to give the newly independent Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation help in setting up a news service. On his return a year later he became the editor of From Our Own Correspondent.

He retired in March 1974 but was engaged for a further two years in a Reuters/Press Association post.

Leonard Miall

Roger Lazar, radio journalist: born Paris 4 March 1914; Editor, From Our Own Correspondent, BBC 1961-74; married Louise Duffell (marriage dissolved), 1939 Dorothy Quait (marriage dissolved), 1961 Marie Cremona (one son, one daughter); died London 13 February 1998.

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