Obituary: Yves Mourousi

YVES MOUROUSI achieved fame as a television presenter of current affairs. The news of his death from a heart attack was carried by all the television and radio stations in France and everyone quoted the habitual "Bonjour" with which he had begun his lunch-time programme on the station TF1. Several wondered how he would have announced his own death, and it was suggested that he would have chosen to say, "Bonjour - ou plutot, Adieu". Directness was his hallmark.

The evening after he died, TF1 paid a solemn tribute to him. Words of praise and sympathy were spoken by his fellow presenter, Patrick Poivre D'Arvor, and by the Vice President of Francis Bouygues's company, Emile Mougeotte.

And this was ironical. It was the same Bouygues who had become the largest shareholder in TF1 when it was privatised in 1987 and who had put an end to Mourousi's programme within little more than a year of taking charge. It was thus some ten years ago that Mourousi had last functioned as a presenter. Yet he was well remembered, and that someone should have left such a clear memory behind him in the changing world of television is remarkable. It reflects the continued controversy that surrounds the management of the French television industry.

A viewers' association that was opposed to the privatisation of TF1, looked back to the achievements of the programme as part of the national heritage, "as much as is the Louvre, the Chateau of Versailles or the Eiffel Tower". Mourousi is remembered as being part of that past.

He insisted that when he appeared in people's homes at lunch time, he was doing two things. He was passing on information, and he was entertaining; this was "politique spectacle". Thus he interviewed Brezhnev in the Kremlin, Colonel Khadafi in Tripoli, Chinese spokesmen from Tiananmen Square, Edgard Pisani from the roof of the Arab Institute, from where one looks across Paris to the buttresses of Notre Dame.

And when he interviewed a President of the Republic, he wanted to present a man. When de Gaulle appeared on television it was the Republic that had come into the living-room. Mourousi wanted more of that. In his famous interview with Mitterrand in 1985, he asked the President if he had seen Bresson's latest film, he tested his knowledge of current slang and having shown an alluring commercial slot, he enquired as to his reactions. This was an adaptation of the popular dictum that if you want to judge a politician you ask him if he knows the price of a metro ticket. Asking Giscard d'Estaing about the diamonds that he had been given by the African leader Bokassa was putting to the test Raymond Aron's dictum that it was difficult for a statesman to tell lies on television.

To do all this, Mourousi also presented himself. Sometimes dressing eccentrically, sometimes incongruously, half-sitting on President Mitterrand's desk as he spoke to him, capable of imitating his interviewee, he always sought to achieve the unexpected. Those who worked with him have stories of how he wanted to do everything himself, creating chaos as he organised the cameras, shifted the sets, bristled with new ideas and answered five telephones. He was fortunate in having Marie- Laure Augry alongside him as co-presenter.

He was also something of a grand seigneur. He used to display recently published books at the end of his programme and an author once expressed disappointment that although he had sent his book, it had never been displayed. He was told that he should have had a word with Mourousi's chauffeur, just as, in the old days, one approached a grand seigneur via his valet de chambre.

Mourousi avoided the two constant dangers of French television: the heavy- handed, patronising elitism and the low quality populism. But he did not meet the needs of commercialism and he was sacked.

Outside television Mourousi had many interests. He was the owner of a trendy bar, Look, the organiser of variety shows, a well-known figure in Paris night-life and the festivities of the Club Med. After his dismissal he worked for some time with Radio Monte-Carlo, engaged in publicity for motor-bikes (he became known as "Monsieur Moto") and wrote books on politics. Unfortunately, his book on the neo-Gaullist Philippe Seguin was completed just before the political upheaval that followed the regional elections of March and Mourousi had stated that he would have to rewrite it. Most importantly the Mayor of Paris had invited Mourousi to organise the capital's millennium festivities.

Born in Suresnes in 1942, he was brought up by his grandparents and educated at the lycee Lakanal at Sceaux. He became a trainee for French radio. In 1967 he went to stay with his then fiancee in the region of Pau, when a nearby earthquake gave him the opportunity of reporting what was happening. Consequently he lost his fiancee, whom he had abandoned, but acquired a job since he had impressed the director of French radio. He transferred to TF1 in 1975, after a successful radio career.

His wife, Veronique Audemar died of meningitis in 1992. Mourousi's death leaves a daughter, Sophie, aged 12.

Yves Mourousi, television presenter: born Suresnes, France 20 July 1942; married Veronique Audemar (died 1992; one daughter); died Paris 7 April 1998.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor