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Former daily feature writer and theatre reviewer dies aged 83

John GilesA former regional daily feature writer and theatre reviewer who interviewed the likes of Paul McCartney and Frankie Howerd has died aged 83.

Tributes have been paid to John Giles, pictured left, who began his career as a compositor before moving on to feature writing and theatre reviews.

John spent his entire career in the regional press, and was best known for his time at South Essex daily The Echo.

He died on 19 January, 11 years to the day after his wife Jean passed away.

Dick Davies, a fellow reviewer and long time friend, said: “His extensive knowledge of the theatre was apparent in everything he said and wrote, and he was very much a fixture of Southend theatrical life, barely ever missing a first night.”

Born in 1932, John’s love of the theatre developed from an early age due to his parents having a season ticket at the Palace Theatre, in his hometown of Westcliff-on-Sea.

He joined the Standard as a school leaver aged 16, and was associated with its successors, the Standard Recorder and The Echo, for the rest of his working life.

Married to Jean, a keen actress, John was actively involved in amateur dramatics and directed his wife in several plays.

He was also a keen amateur photographer and tennis player, who supported Essex County Cricket Club.

John’s funeral service will be held at Holy Trinity, Southchurch, on February 9, at 2pm, followed by the cremation for immediate family only.

A wake will be held at the Exchange pub in Southchurch. Donations in John’s memory can be made to either Dementia UK or the Actors’ Benevolent Fund.

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  • February 5, 2016 at 1:24 pm

    I spent many happy hours in John’s company reviewing at the Cliffs Pavilion and Palace Theatre in Westcliffe and he occasionally came into my patch to the Queen’s Theatre in Hornchurch. He was the epitome of a genuine journalist and a remarkably nice man.

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