Krays biographer and Meridian news presenter Fred Dinenage says their life was grim not glamorous

For those over a certain age, Fred Dinenage is remembered best as an avuncular figure from their childhoods as one of the presenters of long-running ITV factual children’s programme How.

And he is still a familiar face in millions of living rooms across southern England as co-presenter of  early evening news bulletin Meridan Tonight.

Less well known is his career as a true crime writer prompted by him ghostwriting the autobiography of notorious London gangsters the Kray twins.

As a new Krays film Legend is released in cinemas, Dinenage spoke to Press Gazette about how he fell into crime writing and his 57-year career in journalism.

Dinenage has worked with David Meikle on two other crime books which are currently in the bestseller charts: Charlie Richardson – the Last Gangster and I Am Not a Gangster.

His career in journalism began 1958 at the age of 16 working as a teaboy on the Birmingham Evening Mail. After moving on to spend three years there as a reporter he went on to work at a news agency in Doncaster and on the nationals in Manchester before moving into TV on Southern Television in 1963.

He has presented the early evening news on ITV for the last 27 years.

Dinenage came into contact with the Krays in the early 1980s whilst Reggie was in Parkhurst prison on the Isle of Wight and Ronnie was in Broadmoor Hospital.

Reggie wrote in to Dinenage after seeing a report on then TVS programme Coast to Coast about a hospital fundraising appeal. He offered to help by offering 13 paintings from Broadmoor inmates for auction, including one of his own.

Reggie invited Dinenage to meet him in prison and after several years of prison meetings with both the Krays, Dinenage ended up writing Ron and Reg Kray: Our Story.

Asked what he made of the notorious pair, he said: “By the time I got to know them they were senior citizens. They were well passed their fighting prime and Ronnie was quite a sick man suffering from paranoid schizophrenia.

“It was hard to imagine these two had the power they had and caused so much fear and mayhem.”

Dinenage says he doesn’t feel his books glamorise crime.

“I just let them tell the story the way told it. I didn’t put my own editorial opinions in there at all.

“The Kray twins’ life wasn’t glamorous. It was a life of fear and violence. There just wasn’t any glamour in it at all. It’s rather a grim story.”

At 73, Dinenage does not appear to be in  any hurry to retire from TV journalism.

“I love the job. I’m 73, I still get tremendous buzz and excitement from it. I love connecting with the audience.”

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