Revered film critic Barry Norman died of lung cancer on June 30th 2017 at the age of 83.

The name Barry Norman may not mean much to young people today but he ruled TV film reviews with his BBC programme Film XX. The title was always followed by the current year.

The first episode aired as Film 72 and ran up to Film 98. Norman later went on to present film news and reviews with SKY TV.

As a kid of the 70’s, it was a huge treat for me to stay up and watch Barry Norman’s take on the latest films of the time. He had a very friendly demeanour when talking to his audience, like an old mate.

Norman was a film critic for the national press prior to having his own TV show. He worked for the Daily Mail and the Guardian. You might say that he was destined to be involved in film in some way as his Father Leslie was a film producer and director who worked on two British classic WWII movies, The Cruel Sea (1953) and Dunkirk (1958), which is being re made with Tom Hardy and Cillian Murphy to be released July 21 2017. Normans Mother was also working in film as an editor at the famous Ealing Studios.

Whenever asked who was the most difficult actor that he ever interviewed, he always quoted Robert De Niro who had a mutual dislike of each other from their first meeting. Apparently, John Wayne came a close second, who very nearly punched Norman on TV when they disagreed over the Vietnam War. Wayne was an extreme right wing lobbyist and made a proper gander film in favour of the war.

My memories of Barry Norman were one of being in awe of his knowledge and the way he dissected the films he reviewed and I always agreed with his opinion! He was certainly someone I aspired to be like.

I suppose he was the reason I wanted to write about films.

He also had a TV series and book on the ‘Hollywood Greats’ back in the day when there were actual ‘Hollywood Legends’ still around who commanded that respect and were at the top of their game.

Barry Norman had a doubleganger with his very own ‘Spitting Image’ puppet that had its own catch-phrase with “And why not?...” which I think was what impressionist Rory Bremner used to use. It then became Norman’s title of his autobiography.

Norman even took a leaf out of Paul Newman’s book by producing his own brand of pickled onions (rather than salad dressing) which sold in supermarkets in the UK, using his Grandmother’s recipe.

Barry Norman was extremely likable by most people and had quite a dry wit when putting down a film he disliked.

It’s a shame that nobody has come even close to having that popularity, knowledge and passion for films which could transcend to an audience.

A very sad loss to the entertainment industry.

A fond farewell to Barry Norman.