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Former regional press and TV newsman dies

A former regional press and TV reporter has died aged 77.

Phil McDonnell, left, started his journalism career aged just 18 in Durham before moving to the Shields Gazette where he met his future wife Sylvia.

He left the title to work on the Newcastle daily the Evening Chronicle, writing a showbusiness page.

But it was in 1955 that he took his first into regional TV broadcasting where he spent the lion’s share of his career.

At Tyne Tees he worked on the news show North East Roundabout and later moved to the capital where he worked on shows such as This Is Your Life for Thames Television.

In 1967, he was at Coniston Water to report on Donald Campbell when he died attempting to break the water speed record.

He then returned to Tyne Tees in the early 1970s before moving to Yorkshire Television.

Phil’s TV career was cut short in 1982 when had a car crash and his final job before retiring from the media altogether was as a press officer at Tyne Theatre.

Phil’s wife of 51 years Sylvia told the Sunderland Echo: “He was a fantastic writer. He could speak concisely and he was very descriptive. In half a dozen words he could paint a whole picture.

“When he went to do outside reports he used to just go with a cameraman and he did everything, telling the cameraman what shots he wanted.”

Phil died after battling vascular dementia for five years. He is survived by wife Sylvia and children Delia, Martin, Tara and Cavan.