Hugh McIlvanney

Hugh McIlvanney was, arguably, the greatest sports writer Britain has ever produced. He was certainly its most-loved among fellow journalists. This entry could easily be filled with the various anecdotes that have peppered his obituaries over the past 24 hours, but I can offer one I was told that hasn’t appeared elsewhere. A young sub […]

Diana Athill

A true literary celebrity, Diana Athill was one of the best-regarded editors in publishing history. She discovered, championed and nurtured some of the most famous writers of the past 50 years, including Margaret Atwood, VS Naipul and Jean Rhys. The first female publishing editor of note, she was handpicked by Andre Deutsch to be the […]

Bob Woodward

No, not the money-following journalist that took down Nixon. Bob Woodward, the UK version, was the founder of children’s cancer charity CLIC (Cancer and Leukaemia in Childhood). He set the charity up in 1976 when his 8-year-old son, Robert, was diagnosed with neuroblastoma. Robert died two years later but Bob continued the charity’s work: helping […]

Kaye Ballard

Born Catherine Gloria Balotta, Kaye Ballard began her career as a musical comedienne and a member of Spike Jones’s touring ensemble. In 1954 she became the first person to record a newly written song entitled “Fly Me to the Moon”, but didn’t think much of it and hid it away as a B-side. Americans perhaps […]

Fred Sutherland

In May 1943, 133 members of No. 617 Squadron RAF set off as part of Operation Chastise with the intent of crippling German infrastructure via the destruction of its dams using the Vickers Type 464 ‘Upkeep’ bomb. With the death of Fred Sutherland, only one member remains. The operation and its practitioners were immortalised in […]

Muriel Pavlow

Muriel Pavlow’s career stretched 65 years across both the small and silver screen. Although of mixed French/Russian heritage, she embodied a specific strain of Englishness in many of her roles. As a contract player with J Arthur Rank in the 50s she was the go-to girl for “wives back in Blighty waiting for their husband […]

Andrew Fairlie

And so we bid farewell to our first Drop 40er of the year… Andrew Fairlie began his career polishing glasses in a hotel bar aged 15, and ended it as arguably the most acclaimed Scottish chef of all time (even more than the pretend hardman who shouts at American restaurant owners). Training under Michel Guérard […]

Shivakumara Swamiji

One of the biggest bedblockers in deadpool history has finally let someone else have a lie down. Shivakumara Swamiji was a monk and educationalist, responsible for the founding of more than 130 schools in Karnataka state. The schools eschewed traditional Indian caste rules and treated everyone as an equal. That’s not important. What is important […]

Masazo Nonaka

Twelve days after the death of America’s oldest person, we say “sayonara” to the world’s oldest man. Masazo Nonaka was one of an estimated 70,000 centenarians in Japan, who was an innkeeper during his working days. He was born four days before Clara Bow, just to give you a rough idea of how old he […]

Windsor Davies

The Welshest Londoner in history is no more. Windsor Davies was, despite his accent, born in Canning Town in 1930. His family moved to the valleys with the onset of World War II. Originally a teacher, he decided to switch to a career in acting after doing his National Service in Libya. This military background […]