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
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
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