Obituary: Derrick Amoore

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The Independent Online
MAY I add some recollections to your obituary of Derrick Amoore (by Robert Rowland, 4 September)? writes Charles Wheeler.

Amoore's uncanny news-sense made him the most stimulating of editors. One morning he telephoned me in Washington: 'I think you should be in Haiti' - 'Why?' - 'Papa Doc is ill; I think he's going to die.'

Twenty hours later his hunch came true and Amoore was rewarded with the kind of pictures he enjoyed - of Baby Doc, like a large inflatable toy; of the lying-in- state, corpse dressed in dinner jacket, winged collar and heavy black boots, the bier guarded by Ton Ton Macoute in shades; and of panic-stricken crowds, fleeing from the funeral when the earth seemed to shake as the dictator was entombed.

Amoore's move from Current Affairs to be Editor, Television News, was not an easy one to make. The two departments had been at war for years, and old hands in the newsroom resented the intrusion of the star from Lime Grove. He, in turn, could be tactless. Visiting London, I was invited to what he called his Chimpanzee's Tea Party. It turned out to be his weekly planning meeting with the bulletin editors.

He was a free spirit, with a strong self-destructive streak, and perhaps he was too careless about making enemies. His departure from Television News, following an indiscretion his friends tried to hush up, was one of the nastier episodes in recent BBC history: it was engineered by a disgruntled reporter, who went to great lengths to make sure that a copy of Private Eye reached the highest levels at Broadcasting House.

If Amoore was bitter he never showed it. Neither did he appear to feel, as some of us did, that his job at Radio London was a shameful waste of his talents. He soldiered on until, like several of his generation of Lime Grove luminaries, he became a victim of a purge. He was a man who deserved better from the BBC.