The Radio Times logo

Radio Times staff photographer Don Smith dies, aged 89: Tribute to a legend

Radio Times says goodbye to a magazine great.

Don Smith holds a camera
Published: Friday, 13th May 2022 at 1:04 pm
Subscribe to Radio Times magazine and get 12 issues for £1

Don Smith, the first and only Radio Times staff photographer, has died aged 89.

Advertisement

He’d worked for the magazine since 1955, retiring in 1992. He took over a million pictures during his career. A career that wasn’t, like so many celebrity photographers of the ’50s and swinging ’60s, particularly glamorous or flashy.

It didn’t involve fast cars and girlfriends who were models. It was always about the deadline with Don, about the sitter, the job and never about him.

He would sometimes complete four or five assignments a day, practically living at the Television Centre or out on location, starting work incredibly early and often finishing late into the night.

His legacy is an A to Z of BBC television productions stored safely in the Radio Times archive: on the set of Doctor Who one minute, photographing the genius behind the Magic Roundabout (Eric Thompson) in the Scottish Highlands the next.

He met and photographed everyone who was anyone in TV’s golden years, from Morecambe and Wise to Parky.

Stamp reads 'Photograph by Don Smith'
Stamp reads 'Photograph by Don Smith'

He was never starstruck and some became friends, others he didn’t have time for, but he was always courteous and professional. Even when Don had retired he still came into the Radio Times offices every week to catch up and usually make new friends.

He took nothing for granted, still keenly asking about how certain pictures were taken and demanding to know how developments like Photoshop were changing his industry.

A modest and unique man who was our living link to the people that performed the same jobs that we do here at Radio Times over half a century ago and beyond. His RT "family" will miss his visits, questions and kindness very much.

Radio Times will pay tribute to Don in the pages of Radio Times.

Read more: Radio Times' Don Smith photographs - from Doctor Who to Judi Dench

The latest issue of Radio Times magazine is on sale now – subscribe now and get the next 12 issues for only £1. For more from the biggest stars in TV, listen to the Radio Times podcast with Jane Garvey.

Don Smith, the first and only Radio Times staff photographer, has died aged 89.

He’d worked for the magazine since 1955, retiring in 1992. He took over a million pictures during his career. A career that wasn’t, like so many celebrity photographers of the ’50s and swinging ’60s, particularly glamorous or flashy.

It didn’t involve fast cars and girlfriends who were models. It was always about the deadline with Don, about the sitter, the job and never about him.

He would sometimes complete four or five assignments a day, practically living at the Television Centre or out on location, starting work incredibly early and often finishing late into the night.

His legacy is an A to Z of BBC television productions stored safely in the Radio Times archive: on the set of Doctor Who one minute, photographing the genius behind the Magic Roundabout (Eric Thompson) in the Scottish Highlands the next.

He met and photographed everyone who was anyone in TV’s golden years, from Morecambe and Wise to Parky.

Stamp reads 'Photograph by Don Smith'
Stamp reads 'Photograph by Don Smith'

He was never starstruck and some became friends, others he didn’t have time for, but he was always courteous and professional. Even when Don had retired he still came into the Radio Times offices every week to catch up and usually make new friends.

He took nothing for granted, still keenly asking about how certain pictures were taken and demanding to know how developments like Photoshop were changing his industry.

A modest and unique man who was our living link to the people that performed the same jobs that we do here at Radio Times over half a century ago and beyond. His RT "family" will miss his visits, questions and kindness very much.

Radio Times will pay tribute to Don in the pages of Radio Times.

Read more: Radio Times' Don Smith photographs - from Doctor Who to Judi Dench

Advertisement

The latest issue of Radio Times magazine is on sale now – subscribe now and get the next 12 issues for only £1. For more from the biggest stars in TV, listen to the Radio Times podcast with Jane Garvey.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Sponsored content