Wednesday 21 March 2018

Harry de Quetteville: For obituary editors, life and death have never been so busy

Instead of mourning the endless celeb deaths of 2016, marvel at our modern creativity, writes Harry de Quetteville

Stock photo
Stock photo

Harry de Quetteville

A few years ago, when I was the Daily Telegraph's obituaries editor, people would worry on my behalf. "What are you going to do when all the military heroes have died?" they asked, concerned that somehow we would run out of candidates worthy of gracing the page.

As 2016's apparently ceaseless catalogue of celebrity deaths has shown, however, the obits writers have never been busier.

David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Terry Wogan, Ronnie Corbett, Victoria Wood and Prince - among many other famous names - have all died in the first few months, each death producing a very public outpouring of grief on social media. That hubbub is part of the explanation for the grim perception that 2016 is proving particularly fatal - fans are able to broadcast their mourning, so no one is left oblivious of their hero's demise. But the second part of the answer is that many more celebrities are dying than normal. And that is because there simply are more celebrities. Many, many more.

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