Monday 24 July 2017

Barry Norman kept ‘integrity’ by staying away from the stars, daughter says

Emma Norman explains why her famous father was a hero both at work and at home.

Barry Norman (Sean Dempsey/PA)
Barry Norman (Sean Dempsey/PA)

By Francesca Gosling

The daughter of legendary film critic Barry Norman has told how her late father was so committed to his work that he avoided rubbing shoulders with the stars to keep his “integrity” both as a professional and a father.

Emma Norman, one of the renowned journalist’s two daughters, described him as a devoted family man until his death at the age of 83 last month.

She told the Radio Times magazine: “When we were young Dad didn’t bring stars home – in fact he didn’t want to be friends with stars at all.

“Dad had so much integrity I think he felt it might affect his work.”

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Emma (right) with her father, sister Samantha and mother Diana (Fiona Hanson/PA)

But she admitted that her film buff father – known for his work both with the BBC and Sky TV as well as his earlier career in writing – always had a deep admiration and affection for the industry’s highest flyers.

“Dad loved Steven Spielberg and he met him many times,” Norman continued.

“Dad took me and my sister Samantha to see Jaws at Leicester Square in 1975 … We ate popcorn but Dad jumped out of his seat when the shark came out of the water – we all did!”

Even when his television career began to boom in both the UK and the USA in the 1970s, Norman said: “He would go away every summer to film in LA … But whenever he could, he would be there to collect us at the school gates.”

As she and sister Samantha grew up, she told how her dad would bring them to events where they would meet the likes of director Pedro Almodovar and actress Holly Hunter.

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Barry Norman (right) with Lord Attenborough (Matthew Fearn/PA)

She added that his personal passion for movies – as the son of original Dunkirk director, Leslie Norman, and film editor, Elizabeth Norman – seeped into his family life and he loved to star in his grandson Bertie’s own film projects.

“Bertie would cast Dad as the hero because he adored him,” Norman said. “Dad would take Bertie to the local cinema as often as he could. The last film they saw together was Skyfall, and Dad loved it.”

The magazine has also included a 2013 article by Mr Norman himself, where he described the moments he had a “huge falling out” with Peter Sellers, “nearly came to blows” with John Wayne and had a “snarling” match with Robert De Niro.

He wrote: “By now, I realise, it’s beginning to look as though I didn’t get on with anybody … But actually I did.

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Read Emma Norman’s full tribute to her late father in Radio Times, out now (Radio Times/PA)

“Stars, being in a highly competitive business, tend towards tunnel vision, while writers and directors have a wider view of life, and where and how their movies fit in.”

Read the full article in this week’s Radio Times, out now.

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