Paul Heiney

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Paul Heiney
Born (1949-04-20) 20 April 1949 (age 67)
Sheffield, Yorkshire, England
Occupation Radio and TV presenter and author
Spouse(s) Libby Purves
Children Nicholas Heiney (died 2006)
Rose Heiney

Paul Heiney (born Paul Wisniewski 20 April 1949 in Sheffield, Yorkshire) has been a radio broadcaster or television reporter in the United Kingdom for over forty years.

Early life[edit]

He is the son of Norbert Wisniewski and Evelyn Mardlin. He changed his surname to Heiney in 1971. He attended Parson Cross Primary School on Halifax Road, Sheffield, and High Storrs Grammar School for Boys.[1]



In 1971-74 he was one of the founder broadcasters on BBC Radio Humberside with his popular programme of music, chat and current affairs titled Scunsbygookington, reflecting the key towns in the Humberside region of Scunthorpe, Grimsby, Goole, Kingston-upon-Hull and Bridlington. In 1974-76, he was a reporter for Newsbeat on Radio 1, then in 1976-78, a reporter for the Today programme on Radio 4.


His television debut was on That's Life! in 1978; he stayed on the programme until 1982. He has worked on In At The Deep End, The Travel Show, Food and Drink and, on BBC Radio 4, You and Yours. More recently he has presented BBC1's consumer affairs programme Watchdog. He currently presents the ITV primetime show Countrywise.

In September 2011, Heiney co-hosted a prime time Genealogy series Missing Millions alongside Melanie Sykes on ITV. [2]


As part of his tasks for the TV series In At The Deep End, Heiney had a speaking role as a German mercenary commander in the 1985 film, Water.

During Paul Heiney's exploration of acting for the BBC show In At The Deep End he visits the home of Oliver Reed in order to gain an insight into acting, particularly as a 'hard man' for the role in the film Water. During the interview, Reed tells Heiney that villains do not have curly hair, which Heiney has, and that he should change it. He also advises Heiney to be calm and sinister in the role, rather than histrionic, and then he demonstrates by uttering the phrase “I’ve told you, old man… (some threat or other)” in a very soft and low voice, but with an edge of threat, while adopting a hard stare at Heiney.

The viewers then see Reed take exception to Heiney not taking his tutelage more seriously, and the interview is ended abruptly when Reed loses his temper and manhandles Heiney from the room and slings him out of the house. The viewers are unclear if this stage-managed, but Heiney does not seem to be expecting the turn of events; however Reed finishes by winking and grinning at the camera.[3]

Personal life[edit]

In 1990, Heiney took up traditional farming in Suffolk where he lives with his wife Libby Purves. The couple has one surviving child, Rose, an actress and writer, who has been an occasional columnist for The Times but since has flourished as a TV comedy scriptwriter, playwright and author of the novel Days of Judy B.

Their first child, Nicholas, died on 26 June 2006, at age 23. He hanged himself in the family home after a serious mental illness. A collection of his poems and sea-logs of a Pacific journey under square rig, The Silence at the Song's End, has been published, inspired a song cycle by Joseph Phibbs, and was broadcast on Radio 4.[4]

For ten years Heiney worked 36 acres (15 ha) with Suffolk Punch horses. He wrote a diary of his activities for The Times as well as several books. He also presented two videos about farming with horses, Harnessed to the Plough and First Steps to the Furrow, working with his mentors, Roger and Cheryl Clark.

Heiney had agreed with his wife that they should have the farm for no more than ten years. After the farm's sale Heiney tried to make more time for his other great passion, sailing.

He has also presented A Victorian Summer for Anglia Television, eight half-hour programmes about traditional farming: the glory of working the land with horses as well as the rigours and difficulties that Victorian farmers faced.

"Working the land", says Heiney, "is about the people who labour on it, so I hope we capture some of the richness of character which defines the countrymen and women of the eastern counties. They remain, for me, farming heroes."

In 2005 he took part, in the family boat, in the single-handed transatlantic OSTAR race, and wrote an account of the race's history and his own slow crossing in Last Man Across The Atlantic. He was second last.


  1. ^ "My Best Teacher; Interview; Paul Heiney". Times Educational Supplement. Retrieved 6 November 2013. 
  2. ^ "ITV announces Missing Millions" (Press release). ITV. 2011-08-30. 
  3. ^ Serle, Paul Heiney ; foreword by Chris (1986). In at the deep end. London: Methuen by arrangement with the British Broadcasting Corp. p. 192. ISBN 978-0-413-42380-1. 
  4. ^ A testament of youth, The Times, 31 October 2007, accessed 15 November 2007.

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