Adrian Monck on Harry Radcliffe

Harry
Radliffe was an unmissable guy. He wasn\’t quite what I imagined a boss
looked like when I turned up at the London bureau of CBS News in 1987.
All the correspondents wore impeccably tailored but suitably rumpled
trenchcoats from somewhere just off Saville Row. The producers made do
with off-the-peg Aquascutum or Burberry.

A tall, softly spoken
man, Harry upholstered his 17-stone frame in livid Hawaiian shirts. He
could accessorise, too, with immaculate white trainers and a Rolex so
chunky it looked like a platinum Yorkie bar.

Harry was different.
He was not a product of Dartmouth or Yale. He was a black guy from
Indianapolis and here he was following in the footsteps of Ed Murrow
and Dan Rather as boss of CBS News\’s huge London operation.

He
must have been the first black man in the job. CBS was liberal but it
wasn\’t into diversity. It just had a taste for the picaresque. What
else, when the network was run by a Welshman who talked like Tom Jones
and had fought in Vietnam?

Harry\’s relaxed manner was a lesson in
the art of news politics. As bureau chief he had to carve up the
assignments. This meant enforcing a kind of star hierarchy imposed from
the front office on West 57th Street.

So if instead of chasing
glory in Afghanistan, a correspondent and producer found themselves
detailed for hostage watch at the Damascus Sheraton, Harry would
announce it with his hands held up protectively, then usher the
disappointed parties into his office. It looked like Starsky and
Hutch\’s Captain Dobey sitting in judgement on some awkward clash of
personalities. But insiders knew it was just therapy dispensed from
Harry\’s capacious sofas with relaxing views across Hyde Park.

The
winners would head for the airport, the losers would wait for New York
to wake up, appeal over Harry\’s head and the political wheels would
spin again.

I learned a lot from Harry. Not to eat lunch twice.
The importance of big jewellery. And that there are certain kinds of
jobs in TV news management where it\’s impossible to win. That\’s why
Harry\’s long since forsaken management for Sixty Minutes, where he
makes elegant and enjoyable films. It\’s a good lesson, whatever you
wear.

Adrian Monck is SkyNews executive producer

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