Jack de Manio
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De Manio's father was an Italian aviator, who died in a flying accident before he was born; his mother was Polish. He attended Aldenham School. As a young man de Manio worked as an invoice clerk and then as a waiter. He was commissioned into the Royal Sussex Regiment in 1939 and during World War II he fought with the British Expeditionary Force in 1939-40 and was awarded the Military Cross. On 20 March 1944, as a Lieutenant, he was dismissed from the service following a Field General Court Martial.
De Manio's first experience of radio came when he joined the Forces Broadcasting Unit in Beirut in 1944. He became an announcer on the BBC Overseas Service on leaving the army in 1946. He transferred to the Home Service in 1950.
De Manio's career nearly crashed in 1956 when he was duty announcer for the BBC's Home Service. A major radio feature, The Land of the Niger, was broadcast worldwide to mark a Royal visit to Nigeria. Carelessly, he back-announced it as 'The Land of the Nigger'. There was outrage; he was immediately suspended and then returned to the General Overseas Service.
In 1958 de Manio was chosen to present the morning current affairs programme Today, which had begun a few months earlier. The programme was less hard news oriented than it is today and was well suited to de Manio's relaxed, humorous style. He became famous for the number of occasions on which he gave the time incorrectly. In 1969 he was the first radio broadcaster to be permitted to interview Prince Charles. He was voted British Radio Personality of the Year in 1964 and 1971. In 1970 the programme format was changed so that there were two presenters each day. Uneasy with the new format, de Manio left the following year.
De Manio's home was a flat on Chelsea Embankment in London.
- To Auntie with Love, Hutchinson (London 1967, autobiography)
- Life Begins Too Early: A Sort of Autobiography, Hutchinson (London 1970)
- Massingberd, H. The Very Best of the Daily Telegraph Obituaries (Pan 2001), p.54
- London Gazette, 17 March 1944
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