Monday, 12 January 2009

David Vine (1936 - 2009)

Type the phrase 'Jack of all trades' into Google, and the chances are you'll see the name David Vine in your first page of results. If you don't, complain to Google.

David Vine's 34-year career with the BBC saw him take on a wide and diverse range of projects, most of them sport-orientated. He was the first person to present the Wimbledon tennis championships in colour in 1967, the front man for Ski Sunday between 1978 and 1996 and the man named 'The Voice of Snooker' by BBC viewers of the sport during a 22-year spell in front of the cameras that ended in 2000.

A friendly, jocular character, he was easily identifiable by his glasses and either a chunky tie and gaudy shirt or cosy jumper depending on which era you were watching him in. Composed, well-informed and seemingly unflappable, he was the perfect choice to front all manner of programmes from A Question of Sport (which he helped to launch in 1970) and It's A Knockout to Miss World and the Eurovision Song Contest (which he hosted only once in 1974 when Abba, of all people, won for Sweden).

But for me he will always be remembered as the face of Superstars, a show he was involved with on the BBC for twelve years from 1973. He managed to give the programme a real sense of purpose and authority, injecting enthusiasm into every show without appearing desperate to gain the audience's respect. Together with Ron Pickering, he guided us, the viewers, through every event ensuring we knew what was going on, who was doing well and who was struggling. He made the job of presenting Superstars and countless other programmes effortless - a real indication of just how good he was at his job.

Vine had to step down from his BBC duties in 2000 following a heart complaint but continued to act as consultant for the corporation thereafter. He was also on hand to provide a wonderful narrative on a BBC Superstars DVD that was launched to coincide with the revival of the programme in 2003.

His death from a heart attack yesterday at the age of 73 yesterday comes as incredibly sad news to the many millions of people that enjoyed hearing that wonderful West Country voice on their TVs. As the anchor man for so many programmes that were made better just by him being there, he'll be sorely missed.


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