New horizons beckon for former Panorama host Lindley

PUBLISHED: 15:17 09 October 2008 | UPDATED: 15:28 07 September 2010

By McPartland A FORMER Panorama presenter from Gospel Oak has been handed one of broadcasting s most significant roles. Richard Lindley, who has lived in Oak Village for the past 25 years, has been elected chairman of grass-roots organisation the Voice O

By McPartland

A FORMER Panorama presenter from Gospel Oak has been handed one of broadcasting's most significant roles.

Richard Lindley, who has lived in Oak Village for the past 25 years, has been elected chairman of grass-roots organisation the Voice Of The Listener And Viewer (VLV).

Jocelyn Hay CBE founded VLV 25 years ago and it has grown to become a high-profile organisation that fights on behalf of listeners and viewers for good quality broadcasting.

Mr Lindley, 72, who was the first western TV reporter to interview Saddam Hussein, said he was honoured to take up the important role.

"It is great to be able to fight for what is best in TV," he said.

"We are worried about what is happening. ITV have scrapped their entire regional news programme and it is all looking rather thin.

"I think VLV is the only organisation independent of broadcasters and regulators.

"We try and take seriously all the consultations that go on and people in the industry do take us seriously.

"The secretary of state said he would come back and speak to us for a second time, now he wouldn't do that if he didn't think we were worth listening to."

The organisation began life as a popular campaign set up to defend Radio 4 against BBC plans to turn the channel into a news and current-affairs programme only - with many shows hived off to local radio.

Since then VLV under the leadership of Jocelyn Hay MBE has grown from a single-issue campaigning group into an independent body battling for quality and diversity in British broadcasting - for good programmes of every kind.

Mr Lindley is a good position to take up the role after working in TV for over 40 years.

For ITN he travelled the world, and spent the 1960s and early 70s reporting on the declaration of independence in Rhodesia, the wars in Vietnam and Cambodia, the Nigerian Civil War, the Six Day War in the Middle East, and the conflict between India and Pakistan that created Bangladesh. In Europe, on the streets of Paris and Berlin, he covered the riotous events of 1968.

One of his most memorable moments was when he became the first western television reporter to interview the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

"We didn't realise it at the time but he turned out to be very interesting," he said.

"At the time he had only ever spoken to journalists from the region.

"He kept us hanging around for about two weeks. Reporters would never be allowed to do that now.

"We finally said to the Minister of Information that we had had enough and were leaving - when we got the call to come and speak to him.

"He was just like all the pictures of Joseph Stalin, full of smiles and charms. He had a gang of little kids running around for him. Obviously we know now he was a murderous man, an awfully violent man who was responsible for so many deaths."

ben.mcpartland@hamhigh.co.uk

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