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Death of De’Ath

Features | By Melvynn Bragg

Wilfred, photographed through the window of Costa Coffee, Cambridge (Credit: Dafydd Jones)

Melvyn Bragg, who worked at the BBC with Wilfred in the ’60s, was saddened by his fall from grace – and kept him solvent in later years

I met Wilfred De’Ath at the beginning of the 1960s, when he and I were both working in the Features Department at BBC Radio. He’d been at Oxford, as I had, but we never met there. We benefited from the loose rein of Laurence Gilliam, a large, amiable figure, who had, like many others in that department, been involved in some of the best BBC programmes in the war years, when BBC Radio was formidable and globally acclaimed. Gilliam’s ramshackle but productive empire included Douglas Cleverdon, who nursed to life Under Milk Wood; Rayner Heppenstall, an experimental novelist; Louis MacNeice and others who found in Gilliam a perfect patron for their idiosyncrasies and bohemianism. Wilfred fitted well into that atmosphere. And so many ambitious producers were fleeing to television that someone as young as Wilfred was a very welcome voice. He was intrigued by his own generation and interviewed John...

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