Obituary: Alan Weeks

Over four decades, Alan Weeks came to be known as "the golden voice of television skating". But there was much more to him than that. This modest, friendly man with the mellifluous voice covered Monte Carlo rallies, four football World Cups, Pot Black snooker, swimming, gymnastics, and every Winter Olympic Games since 1964. Of all the sports, ice hockey was his first and dearest love.

Weeks was born in Bristol, but moved to Brighton at the age of five when his father, Captain F.C. Weeks, became piermaster. As he later recounted, it was in Brighton that he saw his first sporting star: "I swam in the Swimming Stadium and watched in wonderment as Pete Desjardins, 1928 Olympic gold medallist, performed prodigious feats from the diving board."

The Swimming Stadium in West Street was not a success, however. It reopened in 1935 as an ice rink named the Sports Stadium, also known as the SS Brighton. "Little did I imagine," wrote Weeks years later, "that my whole life would be largely influenced by this building." He learnt to skate there, and cheered the efforts of the Brighton Tigers ice hockey team. He was then at Brighton and Hove Grammar School; a fellow pupil was John Nicks, later pair skating champion of the world and now a leading coach in the United States.

At the age of 16, Weeks went to sea as a cadet in the Merchant Navy, later transferring to the Royal Naval Reserve. On demobilisation in 1946, he sought work with the Tom Arnold entertainments organisation in London and to his delight was assigned to their recently acquired Brighton Sports Stadium. He became publicity manager and secretary to Brighton Tigers hockey team. He fell in love with one of the rink's skating instructresses, Jane Huckle, and married her in 1947, two days before his 24th birthday.

One of his tasks at the ice rink was to comment on the ice hockey matches over the public address system. Among the spectators one evening was Peter Dimmock of the BBC, co-founder of the television show Sportsview. Impressed by what he heard, he invited Weeks to audition at the Empress Hall rink in Earls Court, west London. The test took place during the second period of a match - and Weeks was then told to broadcast the final period live, on the air for the first time, to thousands of listeners. He survived this stern ordeal with flying colours, and his future with the BBC was assured. But the SS Brighton still came first, and he stayed on its staff until it was closed and demolished in 1965. So great was his affection for the old building that in 1988 he, Valerie Moon, and Marilyn Hoskins, stars of some of the ice shows there, organised a reunion in Hove for some 250 skaters and fans.

The BBC's first live television outside broadcast from the south coast was a 60-minute excerpt from Brighton's Ice Circus of 1952, with Weeks as commentator. Six years later the BBC began covering European and World figure skating championships. From 1958 until his retirement at the centenary World Figure Skating Championships at Edmonton, Alberta, in March this year, Weeks reported every major skating event, including the 1967 world roller championships. Even at 72 he still sounded young and enthusiastic.

Weeks reported ice sports for 38 years, gymnastics for 27, football for 23 and swimming for 20. His work took him to 26 different countries. He was popular among Britain's Olympic sports folk as "the gold medal commentator", for it fell to him to narrate the victory ceremonies for the skaters John Curry, Robin Cousins, Christopher Dean and Jayne Torvill, and the swimmers David Wilkie and Duncan Goodhew. Weeks was best known for his skating commentaries, never speaking too much but always ready with the name of the complex jump or lift which the viewer had just seen. In 1990 the world ice titles were determined in Halifax, Nova Scotia; as he told Enid Lowe of Ice Age magazine, he was able to revisit some old haunts - his ship had docked there during the Second World War.

Alan Weeks and I knew each other for half a century, from the days when I took my first faltering steps on the SS Brighton ice, and his wife was a schoolfriend of my sister Joan. We were last in touch two months ago, when he rang me on his return from Edmonton about the biography which Liz Solkhon and I were planning to write. "I just have to go for a medical check-up," he said, "then you must come over to discuss it."

Alan Frederick Weeks, sports commentator: born Bristol 8 September 1923; public relations officer, Sports Stadium, Brighton 1946-65; Secretary, Brighton Tigers Ice Hockey Club 1946-65; BBC sports commentator 1951-96; director, London Lions Ice Hockey Club 1973-74, director, Sports Aid Foundation 1976-83, governor 1983-96; married 1947 Jane Huckle (one son, and one son and one daughter deceased); died Hove 11 June 1996.

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 People

HR Manager - London - £40,000 + bonus

£32000 - £40000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager (Generalist) -Old...

Talent Manager / HR Manager - central London - £50,000

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Talent / Learning & Development Mana...

HR Manager (standalone) - London

Up to £40,000: Ashdown Group: Standalone HR Manager role for an SME business b...

HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350-£400

£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350 - £400 per ...

Day In a Page

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution