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Journalist looks back as 25th anniversary nears

A journalist at a regional daily has recalled the time he was mistaken for Prince Charles in a column looking back at his career in journalism.

Reporter Robert Sutcliffe, left, who works at the Huddersfield Daily Examiner,  is due to mark 25 years in the industry next year.

Robert started out editing a weekly newspaper in Doncaster in 1989 before moving to work at the Barnsley Chronicle, the Telegraph & Argus in Bradford and as the Calderdale reporter for the Yorkshire Post for 11 years, before he joined the Examiner a year ago.

His column looks back at highlights of his career to date, including when he was mistaken for Prince Charles as he drove up to a school which the Royal was due to visit and an impromptu interview with former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

Robert interviews Benazhir Bhutto.

Robert wrote: “Next year I will notch up 25 years as a hack. Like many reporters I fell into journalism by accident. But having been bitten by the bug I cannot imagine doing anything else.

“I have a fairly short attention span, love meeting people (generally speaking) and enjoy the pressure of deadlines so as someone once said: “What’s not to like?”

“The legendary Sunday Times journalist, Nicholas Tomalin, said: ‘The only qualities essential for real success in journalism are rat-like cunning, a plausible manner, and a little literary ability.’ Fortunately I found I possessed varying quantities of all three so off I went and never looked back.

Robert started out by editing a weekly free paper in Doncaster, which he described as “being thrown in at the deep end” and he began in 1989 when typewriters were on their way out.

He has also won a number of awards and at one ceremony was described as a “shining beacon in a sea of mediocrity”, which he said his colleagues at the time did not appreciate.

Robert added: “Of all the celebrities and politicians I’ve met along the way a few memories stand out. An impromptu one-to-one interview with former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

“This called for the usual journalistic skill of somehow bluffing a knowledge of something I knew absolutely nothing about – the intricacies of Pakistan politics. She was gracious, poised and regal and it was a horrible moment when I heard she had been murdered.

“On a lighter side the snooker player Steve Davis told me a risque joke which still makes me blush.

“And best of all was the time I was mistaken for Prince Charles. In those days I used to roar around in a Queen Mother claret-coloured Jaguar XJS complete with cream leather seats, a boot-mounted CD player and a James Bond-style red speed button.

“I was asked to cover the Prince’s visit to a small school near Settle in the Yorkshire Dales. As I approached a huge mass of parents, teachers and pupils began cheering and waving their Union Jacks like mad.

“Even after all these years I can still hear the audible groan from the crowd as I wound my window down and a police officer said: ‘Oh, it’s you is it?! Round the back, Mister!'”

8 comments

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  • October 18, 2013 at 12:24 pm
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    Nothing very remarkable about all this.
    Lots of us clocked up many years, had lots of interesting encounters, and I was sometimes mistaken for Craig Douglas’s milkman and then later, Wilfred Pickles. The Queen Mother once spoke to me and I saw the venerable Jimmy Young open a toy shop.
    One week I got chucked out of a church public meeting as they discussed whether to replace their aged wheezy wind organ with an electronic one. Then two days later I was asked to leave a pub by the jolly landlord during a lock-in because he thought I looked too young and angelic. I have many other tales similar to this and will occasionally tell them to people in bus queues and in the waiting room at the clinic or library reference room.

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  • October 18, 2013 at 1:58 pm
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    Capt. Starlight…are you are sure you are not actually Count Arthur Strong?

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  • October 18, 2013 at 2:41 pm
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    And it is worth noting that he’s only clocked up 24 years…we must be in for the real anniversary memories next year!

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  • October 18, 2013 at 4:40 pm
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    So the rest of us can aspire to the highest standards in journalism, would Robert be kind enough to specify exactly which awards he has won? And at which awards ceremony was he described as a “shining beacon in a sea of medocirity”? Having acted as an awards judge myself, and attended more than two dozen such ceremonies across many years, I have never heard a citation remotely like it, for the simple reason that the judges don’t set out to belittle entrants other than the winner. I think we should be told……

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  • October 22, 2013 at 12:53 pm
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    One can only hope that other journalists of 24 years have more exciting stories than his. Or that they decide not to write a column about it and submit it to HTFP

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  • October 22, 2013 at 5:24 pm
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    Ooooh, I’ve just remembered I forgot to mention that once I saw Alan Breeze, (who was a star in the Billy Cotton Bandshow on the radio), walking on the prom in Scarborough. I also attended quite a lot of charity cheque presentations, A WI which had a contest on how many items each member could get in a matchbox, and some storm damage in Runcorn.
    Googie Withers knew someone in my street and I saw her once getting out of a car.
    I’m now happily retired and in a unit where we talk of old times and on Fridays we see how far each of us can spit a peanut. There are eight of us and I can provide pix.

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