Louis Theroux: Alan Whicker is to Homo sapiens what Attenborough is to the natural world

The TV journalist pays tribute to the late Alan Whicker

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Louis Theroux has revealed his debt to the late TV journalist Alan Whicker.

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Speaking in this week’s Radio Times, Theroux said: “It was with a strange feeling of awe that I realised the sheer scale of Whicker’s achievements. The nearest I can get to describing it is that he was to Homo sapiens what Attenborough is to the natural world.”

Similarities have been drawn between the veteran reporter and Theroux, who is well known for his controversial documentaries. “Very early in my career I heard from a friend with a source close to Whicker that the great man had seen some of my American programmes and that he approved. “He’s got it,” was the verdict.”

“I came to treasure those words,” said Theroux. “And also to realise that virtually every subject I’d investigated – weird Americans of all stripes, celebrities, gun nuts, religious extremists, criminals, Ku Klux Klansmen, eccentric celebrities – had been well covered by Whicker… and much more besides.”

Sadly, Theroux never met Whicker, despite asking to interview him back in 2000. “It would have been nice to be able to let him know how thankful I am for his contribution to television. And to hear those Whicker cadences at first hand,” said Theroux.

Alan Whicker passed away earlier this month at the age of 87 following a short illness.

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