Alan Hitchings, one of the subbing and production stalwarts of the great days of The People, has died aged 78.
was made “Man Of the People” by editor Bob Edwards in 1967 and was soon
producing a hardhitting, finely-tuned column every bit as good as the
one penned by Edwards’ legendary predecessor, Sam Campbell.
At the same time, Hitchings wrote the first “Morecambe and Wise Story”
feature. The pair had scarcely any anecdotes, but Hitchings kept the series going six weeks by raiding their “Best Jokes” books.
assignment was a doddle for the opera buff and wine connoisseur whose
brand of journalism was eventually branded “too yellow” by the
proprietors of the South London Press, which he had edited in the
He had reported and subbed in the capital after national
service with the Royal West Kents, being demobbed with the rank of
Hitchings worked on the Tanfield diary on the Daily Mail
before moving to the Daily Herald. On its last night before evolving
into the broadsheet Sun he sat on the back bench defiantly sporting an
Andy Capp-style flat cap, working class symbol of everything the Herald
was abandoning. As a Saturday night sports casual on the News of the
World he handled the first columns of Richie Benaud.
briefly left The People for an ill-fated business venture in South
Wales – the fire-bombing of a printing works helping to accelerate his
Back in New Fetter Lane, he showed that his ability to
put spin on People exclusives was unimpaired and he regained his number
four position in the paper’s formidable notional first XI drinking team.
he then amazed colleagues by taking to the banks of the Thames at
lunchtimes to run, eventually covering up to 18 miles during breaks. At
50, he completed his first marathon in a creditable two hours and 40
minutes and went on to compete in dozens of veterans’ events in the UK
Hitchings retired to near Welshpool, where he
continued to run and play golf. Latterly, he moved to St Neots,
Cambridgeshire, where he suffered two strokes that eventually left him
totally in the care of his amazingly resourceful wife, Barbara.
Hitchings also leaves a son and two daughters, all of whom have found considerable success in their careers.
Colin Henderson, Daily Express