Tom Vernon

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Tom Vernon
Born(1939-04-23)23 April 1939
Died11 September 2013(2013-09-11) (aged 74)
OccupationMusician, broadcaster, author

Tom Vernon (23 April 1939 – 11 September 2013)[2][3][1][4][5][6] was a British broadcaster and writer, best known as the titular "Fat Man" of a number of popular travelogues.

He died of a heart attack on 11 September 2013.

Humanist career[edit]

Prior to working for the BBC, Vernon was the Press and Public Relations Officer for the British Humanist Association, an organisation with promotes humanism, human rights, and secularism in Britain. In 1965 became the force behind the organisation's drive to seek out a new logo, and launched public competition. The winning entry, the so-called Happy Human, came to stand as an international symbol for Humanism and was adopted by humanist organisations around the world.[7] Vernon's other duties at the BHA included oversight of its various publications.[8] His campaigning work was significant; he is credited with helping secure the decriminalisation of abortion in Britain.[9]

The "Fat Man" series[edit]

After several years working as a presenter and interviewer for BBC Radio 4, Vernon's first travelogue series was Fat Man On A Bicycle. As the title implied, Vernon was obese and the first episode followed the health tests he had to undergo before setting off on his journey, which took him from Muswell Hill to the Mediterranean coast of southern France. He would repeat this journey fifteen years later for the TV series, Fat Man in France.

Fat Man at Work and his first television series, Fat Man in the Kitchen, deviated from the travelogue style of the other series. The former featured Vernon talking to people working in factories, while the latter was a cookery programme filmed in his own kitchen in Muswell Hill in which each edition was devoted to cuisine of a different country.

Further series followed:

Radio series[edit]

  • Fat Man on a Bicycle (1979)[10]
  • Fat Man in Italy (1980)
  • Fat Man on a Roman Road (1983)
  • Fat Man at Work (1983)

Television series[edit]

  • Fat Man in the Kitchen (BBC, 1985-6, two series)
  • Fat Man Goes Norse (Channel 4, 1987)
  • Fat Man in Argentina (Channel 4, 1990)
  • Fat Man Goes Cajun (Channel 4, 1991)
  • Fat Man Goes West (Meridian, 1993)
  • Fat Man in France (BBC, 1994)
  • Fat Man Wilts (Meridian, 1995)
  • Fat Man of Kent (Meridian, 1996)


  • Fat Man on a Bicycle: A Discovery of France (1981) ISBN 0-7181-2072-8
  • Fat Man on a Roman Road (1983) ISBN 0-7181-2349-2
  • Fat Man in the Kitchen (1986) ISBN 0-563-20462-1
  • Fat Man in Argentina (1990) ISBN 0-7181-3450-8
  • Fat Man in France (1994) ISBN 0-563-37051-3


  1. ^ a b "Tom Vernon". The Telegraph. 26 September 2013.
  2. ^ "Tom Vernon". The Times. 18 September 2013.
  3. ^ "Tom Vernon: Fat Man on a Bicycle dies". The BBC. 18 September 2013.
  4. ^ "Obituary: Tom Vernon, broadcaster". The Scotsman. 26 September 2013.
  5. ^ "Tom Vernon". The Telegraph. 26 September 2013.
  6. ^ "Obituary: Tom Vernon, broadcaster". The Scotsman. 26 September 2013.
  7. ^ Whitton, Liam (7 July 2015). "A 'Clash of Symbols': 50 years on from the design that carried Humanism around the world". HumanistLife. British Humanist Association. Retrieved 17 August 2015.
  8. ^ "BHA mourns death of former employee Tom Vernon". British Humanist Association. 9 September 2013. Retrieved 17 August 2015.
  9. ^ "Tom Vernon". The Telegraph. September 2013. Retrieved 16 January 2017.
  10. ^ Alsmeyer, Marie Bennett (1 April 1995). Six Years After D-Day: Cycling through Europe. University of North Texas Press. pp. 2–. ISBN 9780929398822. Retrieved 12 August 2012.

External links[edit]