Barry Norman

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Barry Norman
Born Barry Leslie Norman
(1933-08-21) 21 August 1933 (age 83)
London, England
Occupation Film critic, media personality, novelist
Nationality British
Period 1960–2001
Genre Television

Barry Leslie Norman, CBE (born 21 August 1933 in London) is a British film critic, writer and media personality. He is best known for presenting Film… on BBC One from 1972 to 1998, the programme's longest-running host.

Early life[edit]

Barry Norman is the son of film director Leslie and Elizabeth Norman.[1] He was educated at a state primary school and at Highgate School, then an all-boys independent school in north London. He did not go to university, but instead began his career in journalism at the Kensington News, later spending a period in South Africa where he developed a hostility to the situation created there by the emergence of apartheid. He is the brother of script editor and director Valerie Norman.


By the 1960s, Norman was a prominent journalist, and show business editor of the Daily Mail until 1971, when he was made redundant. Subsequently, he wrote a column each Wednesday for The Guardian, also contributing leader columns to the newspaper.

He was one of the collaborators with Wally Fawkes on the long running cartoon strip Flook. He has also contributed a column to the Radio Times for many years, and has written several novels.

Film critic[edit]

He presented BBC1's Film programme from 1972, becoming the sole presenter the following year. Norman's involvement was broken in 1982 by a brief spell presenting Omnibus. After having returned to the Film series in 1983, Norman became increasingly irritated by the BBC's reluctance to screen the programme at a regular time, and in 1998 he finally accepted an offer to work for BSkyB, where he remained for three years.[2] Jonathan Ross took his place as the BBC programme's presenter.

Norman has written and presented a number of documentary series for the BBC, including Hollywood Greats (1977–79, 1983), British Greats (1980) and Talking Pictures (1987).

He was also, together with Elton Welsby, the main anchorman for Channel 4's coverage of the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul.


Barry Norman was for some years a regular radio broadcaster. He was the original presenter of the BBC Radio 4 transport and travel show Going Places and of its sister travel magazine, Breakaway. He is a former chairman of The News Quiz on Radio 4 and also presented for the network, The Chip Shop, an early 1980s series dedicated to the emerging home computer industry.


He is associated with the phrase "and why not?", which originated not as his catchphrase - though he did say it occasionally on his programmes - but as that of his puppet likeness on the satirical show Spitting Image. Norman has since adopted the phrase himself, and it is the title of his autobiography. In a recent ITV documentary on Spitting Image, Norman admitted initially hating the way his puppet looked on the programme (mostly because it had a large inexplicable wart on its forehead, which he doesn't have), but later somewhat moderated his attitude and felt flattered that the series found him famous enough to include him in its sketches.

Personal life[edit]

Norman married author Diana in 1957; the couple had two daughters.[1] She died on 27 January 2011 at the age of 77.[3]

He was awarded the BAFTA's Richard Dimbleby Award in 1980, Magazine Columnist of the Year in 1990 and a CBE in 1998.[4]

Norman has a passion for cricket; he is in the process of writing a book on the subject. He is a member of the MCC and likes spending time at Lord's watching cricket.

Norman has a family recipe for pickle that has been passed down through generations, and which was used as the recipe for his own brand of pickled onions, which went on sale in September 2007.[5][6]

Politically, Norman is a supporter of the Liberal Democrats.[7] He was a supporter of the Labour Party until the formation of the Social Democratic Party in 1981. He has named Shirley Williams as the politician he most admires.[8]


  • And Why Not?: Memoirs of a Film Lover (2003)
  • See You in the Morning (2013)


  1. ^ a b Who's Who 2013
  2. ^ "Barry Norman defects to Sky". BBC News. 9 June 1998. Retrieved 9 June 2012. 
  3. ^ Laura Wilson Obituary: Diana Norman, The Guardian, 4 February 2011
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 11 November 2013. Retrieved 2013-11-10. 
  5. ^ "Norman moves into pickled onions at". 31 May 2011. Retrieved 9 June 2012. 
  6. ^ "Welcome to Pickleodeon - the Home of Barry Norman's Hot and Spicy Pickles - made by Bennett Opie Ltd, Sittingbourne, Kent". 
  7. ^ "Culture jobs show Labour bias". BBC News. 5 November 1998. Retrieved 25 March 2014. 
  8. ^ Barry Norman. And Why Not?: Memoirs of a Film Lover. ISBN 978-0743449700