Friday, September 15, 2006

Those John Freemans in full

Jonathan Calder notes that the death of Sir Anthony Dodds-Parker means that there are now only four surviving members of the 1945 parliament.

Among them is John Freeman, MP for Watford 1945-55, who is now 91. Watford MPs have in general been a pretty undistinguished bunch. So I have never bothered to find out about Freeman's life or career. But I was aware that he had the same name as the presenter of the BBC
Face to Face television series (1959-62) whose polite but probing questioning famously reduced Gilbert Harding to tears and clearly unnerved Tony Hancock. Freeman was a kind of Paxman prototype, although with a more subtle approach. There was also a John Freeman who edited the New Statesman in the early sixties. So there seemed to be a lot of John Freemans about in those days, but then again, it's a fairly common name.

Now I discover via Wikipedia that all three John Freemans are one and the same. I am rather ashamed to admit this ignorance, although Freeman is rarely mentioned in Watford as a famous person with local connections.

He certainly seems an interesting character. After leaving behind his various careers as a politician, TV presenter and magazine editor, he went on to become British ambassador to the USA, chairman of LWT for 13 years and in retirement a bowls commentator on TV. Perhaps we Watfordians should celebrate him a bit more.

You can listen to extracts from Freeman's Face to Face interview with Evelyn Waugh here.

1 comment:

John Freeman said...

There are more John Freemans than three on Wikipedia. I didn't know about the MP, but I've listed others here: