Entertainment & Arts

Alan Whicker papers donated to BFI National Archive

Alan Whicker
Image caption Whicker's World ran for over three decades on the BBC and ITV

Diaries, transcripts and photographs documenting journalist Alan Whicker's career have been donated to the British Film Institute's National Archive.

The archive, which starts with a 1938 school report, was handed over by his long-term partner, Valerie Kleeman.

She said she hoped it would "be of help and guidance to generations to come".

The name of Whicker, who died in 2013, was a "by-word for brilliantly crafted and revealing studies of people and places", the BFI said.

A spokesman said the journalist, who is best remembered for his documentary series Whicker's World, had been an "unlikely figure, clad in Gucci tie and blazer, [who] found his way into the nation's hearts as he went where his audience was unlikely to follow".

Image copyright BFI
Image caption The documents include cue cards that Whicker used for his interviews

Head curator Robin Baker said the archive, which includes documents about Whicker's behind the scenes look at the Miss World competition and his interview with Haitian dictator Francois 'Papa Doc' Duvalier, gave "a unique insight into one of the great figures of 20th Century television".

"Whicker was a household name, famed for his daring and insightful investigations of people from all walks of life, from close to home and around the globe.

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Media captionAlan Whicker describes the discipline of karate

"His standards were meticulously high and his programmes set a benchmark for long-form television documentary.

"The collection is a very generous and important donation, for which we are extremely grateful."

Image caption Whicker's programme-making took him around the world
Image caption Kleeman said Whicker had "no preconceived ideas, no axe to grind"

Kleeman, who shared her professional and private life with Whicker, said he had "observed both the light and the shadows of life".

"Often he witnessed history in the making: war trials in Strasbourg, race riots in Alabama - [and] he had access to the unaccessible: dictators, witch doctors, cults - and even the occasional royal.

"Whicker wrote and filmed what he saw, he had no preconceived ideas, no axe to grind. His motivation was to stimulate, to interest, to entertain… and to allow viewers to come to their own conclusions."

Image copyright BFI
Image caption One letter in the archive deals with a documentary about hippies in San Francisco

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