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BBC Ceefax founder Colin McIntyre dies aged 85

19 June 2012

Phil Sutcliffe

In both voice and appearance, Colin McIntyre, who died on May 17, 2012, aged 85, often reminded you of former Tory Chancellor Sir Geoffrey Howe. Yet behind the rather posh, cosy style lay a staunch NUJ activist.

Both his professional ability and his commitment could be gauged by the unusual pair of firsts he achieved at BBC Ceefax where he founded the service in 1974 (eventually managing a staff of 20) and later founded the NUJ chapel.

After a somewhat exotic early life – born in Argentina, son of a Scot who ran a cotton factory, a young officer in the Black Watch just after World War II, then a Harvard graduate in English – he joined the World Service in 1952 and worked for the BBC until his retirement 30 years later.

However, he remained an active journalist, and saw service on the union's national executive council. In the '90s he was elected to London Freelance Branch committee, giving the branch the benefit of his elegant, often maverick wisdom and enjoying the odd entertaining joust with those who took him at face value as an old conservative.

He had written a book about war memorials and that emerged as his specialist topic of conversation; nothing glum about his approach as he explored their deeper social and historical significance.

Colin is survived by his wife, Field, three daughters and a son, and seven grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Tags: , bbc, freelance, ceefax, broadcasting, bbc world service