Antony Brown (journalist)

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Antony Victor Brown

(1922-04-04) April 4, 1922 (age 100)
Purley, London
Battersea, London, England
CitizenshipUnited Kingdom
  • Writer
  • News presenter
  • TV presenter
Years active1948–2001

Antony Victor Brown (April 4, 1922 – January 2001) was an English journalist, newscaster, and author born in Purley, Surrey. Even if a large part of his career was dedicated to work as a television newscaster and presenter and as a writer, he identified as a journalist. That was the profession he had chosen to declared on his passport, since it was "the only adequate description of the various ways in which he earns his living".[1]

Television career


During the Second World War, Brown had a first contact with the world of drama, working as a stage manager for ENSA, the Entertainments National Service Association, an organisation set up for entertainment and morale-boosting among British military personnel during World War II.


Although somewhat precariously, Brown was a List of ITV journalists and newsreader in the years 1956-1965 for Independent Television News (ITN), a UK-based television production company, which between 1955 and 1999 provided under that name news services for the UK's new commercial ITV (TV network)|Independent Television network, launched in 1955 in competition to BBC Television, though since 8 March 1999, it has used ITV News as the brand name for its news programmes.

As Brown himself recounted,[2] he was recruited as a holiday temp in 1956 by the New Zealand-born Geoffrey Cox (journalist)|Geoffrey Cox (1910- 2008), who had just joined ITN as its news editor, serving till 1968 and finishing his career as chairman (1978-1981) of the UK's first London Broadcasting Company (LBC).[3] Brown's job protracted itself in fits and starts for the best part of a decade, until in 1965 he finally moved on, but not before it had fallen to him, as the duty newsreader on the evening of 22 November 1963, to announce the Assassination of assassination of the US president, John F. Kennedy.[2]


At this period and shortly afterwards Brown accepted occasional offers to do cameo portrayals of TV newsreaders in films, including director Allan Davis (director)|Allan Davis’s short 1961 British Scotland Yard thriller The Square Mile Murder.[4] He similarly appeared as himself in the TV series Front Page Story, first on 2 February 1965 in an episode Runaways and then on 6 July in the episode Down among the dead men. In the extremely long-running TV series Emergency Ward 10, he appeared on 25 January 1966.[5]

TV Presenter and Narrator

Already before leaving ITN in 1965, and increasingly afterwards, Brown did considerable work as a freelance for Tyne Tees Independent Television as the franchise for North East England and parts of North Yorkshire. The roles varied, but were often TV appearances as presenter or host. These shows included the series Eye Level, which from 1960 went out monthly on Tyne Tees TV, and which Brown often fronted, as he did, for example, in 1960, on Aug 28th, in 1962 on Mar 18th, April 15 and May 20.

On numerous other occasions, Brown was the narrator of films, as on December 4, 1960, when he narrated Journey of Understanding, a filmed visit of the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Holy Land. On May 2, 1962, it was the hour-long film The Young Offenders, about a boy sent to an Approved School, whereas on August 4, 1965, he narrated The Great North Sea Gamble, about local offshore oil exploration, and again on March 9, 1966, it was Member of the Family(45 mins.), on the experience of six au pair girls working for British employers.[6]

In a similar vein Brown attracted attention for his hosting of the political debating programme Challenge, and many think his most memorable broadcast was the October 1970 interview withJack Charlton, in which the footballer was understood to say he had kept a note of rough behaviour towards him by other players with a mind to paying them back.[2] This led to Charlton being subsequently tried by the Football Association. Though he was exonerated,[7] the public ripples were considerable.




Notwithstanding his TV commitments, Brown was markedly a man of the pen. From his early association with ENSA and prior to his ITN newsreading experience, he had become a scriptwriter for the BBC. This work was wide-ranging and not without its challenges. The pieces were many. The following are only a few examples: On the long-running radio item Woman’s Hour (1946 to the present), on the afternoon of 22 June 1950 he himself read an account of Rye, East Sussex |Rye, one of the Cinque Ports. In the autumn of that year he adapted for radio in 6 episodes Charles Dickens | Dicken’s novel David Copperfield. In January 1956 Brown’s adaptation for radio of Henry James’ Roderick Hudson was broadcast. For the BBC Home Service he wrote the script for an item The Globe Theatre: a visit to the new theatre in Elizabethan London, which went out for schools on 6 February 1961. He was also credited as a producer on a wide variety of BBC radio broadcasts.[8] As part of his work for the BBC he wrote a number of radio plays which were broadcast, such as his comedy Paradise Street, which he himself adapted for broadcasting and which went out on the BBC’s Third Programme on 2 February 1951, with repeats.[9]

Particularly successful was his Nativity play David and the Donkey, which was staged on London's Theatre Royal, Drury Lane| Drury Lane for St. Martin's Christmas Matinée in 1963 and 1965. Exceptionally, it was performed in Canterbury Cathedral[10] and in 1966 it came to be published by Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge| SPCK in London and by Baker in Boston.[11] The momentum carried forward to the point where it became a text studied (and doubtless performed) in English schools.[12] ITV (TV network)|ITV made of it a television production, and it was screened by Rediffusion at 10.00 am on Christmas Day, 1967.[13]

Juvenile Writing

With Ronald Whiting & Wheaton of London, Brown published in 1966 a children's story, Brown's first, entitled Dangerfoot. The setting was the Napoleonic era, and the tale was located partly in the area of the Weald of Kent where Brown actually lived with his family.[14] It was a story of derring-do with a kidnapped teenager, the British agent Dangerfoot and a buried treasure, all illustrated with an abundance of pen drawings by Jeanette Giblin. In 1968 a USA edition was put out by Meredith Press of New York.

Also in 1966 and in London, but on the lists of the publisher Heinemann, there came the juvenile fiction story, The Secret Garden.

Non-fiction, but for children, was Brown's Great Ideas in Communications, published in 1967 (and reprinted several times) by Robert Maxwell in London, and by David White in New York.

"Anthony Forrest"

In the 1980s, too, Brown had a productive season of fiction. Some of this work appeared under the name Anthony Forrest, which was in fact the pseudonym of a writing partnership consisting of Brown himself and his friend, the journalist, university lecturer, author and sometime intelligence man Norman MacKenzie (1921-2013). MacKenzie published other books of his own, and some written jointly with his with his first wife, Jeanne Sampson.

Under the name Anthony Forrest Brown and Mackenzie produced a short series on the adventures of the character Captain Justice, first published in the 1980s. The first installment to appear, in a 1981 UK hardback edition by Viking ( / 978-0-7139-1442-9), was entitled Captain Justice: Secret Agent against Napoleon. The main character is an English gentleman and naval officer out to forestall a sea invasion of Britain out of Boulogne by Napoleon's fleet in 1804, and who intrigues with other agents in pursuit of his goal. The general setting could be said to reprise and develop that of Brown's juvenile tale of two decades before, his 1966 Dangerfoot. The new book, Captain Justice, was issued the same year as a USA hardback by Hill & Wang of New York (ISBN 0-8090-3357-7 / 978-0-8090-3357-7) and later in various printings and formats, hardback and paperback, by various publishers on both sides of the Atlantic, including in the UK a 1982 paperback by Penguin (of which Viking was an imprint) (cf. ISBN 0-14-006039-1 / 978-0-14-006039-3).

The following year, 1982, came a first sequel, The Pandora Secret, also issued in the UK in hardback by Viking (ISBN|0-7139-1507-2/ 978-0-7139-1507-5) and in 1983 in paperback by Penguin (ISBN 0-14-006378-1 / 978-0-14-006378-3), and similarly in further editions, including the USA.

The second sequel was A Balance of Dangers, billed as "A superb new Captain Justice Adventure", whose publication followed much the same pattern, including parallel 1984 hardback editions in the UK by Viking (ISBN 0-7139-1508-0 / 978-0-7139-1508-2) and in the US by Hill & Wang of New York (ISBN 0-8090-2800-X / 978-0-8090-2800-9), and subsequent paperbacks from 1985.[2] The three book were marketed as a trilogy.

A Novel

Under his own name of Antony Brown, he also published in 1968 the novel Slay me suddenly, which appeared in a UK hardback edition in London in the lists of the publisher John Long and the same year in a USA edition by Walker of New York. The publisher summed the novel up as "a compulsive and sophisticated thriller set against the background of the Spanish holiday coast in August".[15] Goldmann (publisher)|Goldman of Munich, noted for publishing over the years translations of crime writers such as Agatha Christie, Ellery Queen, and Dick Francis, in 1970 published what was billed as an unabridged translation of Brown's novel by Ursula Gaïl, under the title Liebe passt nicht zum Geschäft (Love and business don’t mix), with the subtitle Kriminalroman (Crime Novel).

The novel’s English title alludes to a line of Geoffrey Chaucer’s poem Merciles Beaute, from which places a quotation at the beginning of the book (p. 6) in the original Middle English: "Your yen two wol slee me sodenly; / I may the beautee of hem not sustene" ("Your eyes two will slay me suddenly; I may the beauty of them not sustain"). Chaucer’s work, treating the theme of the dangers of a beautiful woman, had already drawn attention from the arts in the twentieth century. For instance, the title of the poem had been borrowed by the English Painter Frank Cadogan Cowper for his 1906 "literary" portrait in oils of a woman, entitled "A Merciles Beaute", and the text itself of Chaucer's poem, including the line that provided Brown's title, had been picked out and set to music in 1921 by Ralph Vaughan Williams.


Over the years, Brown exercised his journalist's craft by publishing a number of commemorative and similar works, which were well received. They included Red for Remembrance.The British Legion 1921-1971, Foreword by ... Earl Mountbatten of Burma, with Heinemann (publisherHeinemann of London, in 1971 (ISBN 9780434088904). Others were to follow. Still with Heinemann, acting this time on behalf of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, he published in 1974 Who Cares For Animals: 150 years of the RSPCA (ISBN 043490189X / 9780434901890). Also in 1974 there came the first of several publications dealing with the world of Lloyd's of London, this one entitled Hazard Unlimited: The Story of Lloyd's of London, with the publisher Peter Davies (ISBN 9780432019153). It is notable that this solid work was read at several stages of its development in manuscript by no less an expert than the then Chairman of Lloyd's, Paul Dixey.[16] The volume was reprinted that same year and reissued with the same firm in a second edition in 1978. In 1978, too, Brown published Tyne Tees Television, The First 20 years: A Portrait, issued by Tyne Tees Television Ltd (ISBN 9780950111360). In 1980 a book on the Lloyds theme appeared under the title Cuthbert Heath, Maker of the Modern Lloyd's of London, issued by David and Charles Ltd|David & Charles (ISBN 0715379429 / 9780715379424). The Heath company eventually published a second edition of this in 1993. In 1987, now with Lloyd's of London Press, Brown put out Hazard Unlimited: From ships to Satellites, 300 years of Lloyd's of London, an Intimate Portrait (ISBN 9780432019061), in reality a third edition, and in 1988 there appeared Edward Lloyd: 300 years of Lloyd's. In a similar vein came in 1996 the book Greig Fester: A Story of Reinsurance, with Granta Editions, London (ISBN 1857570332 /9781857570335).[17]

Private Life

Brown married twice. His first wife was the actress Joan Mundy, whom he married in Bridgwater, Somerset, England, in 1948. They divorced in the later 1950s.

In 1958 he married in Folkestone, Kent, England, Sheila McCormack, an actress who had done work, among other things, for the BBC.[18] Their son, the well known BBC TV journalist Ben Brown (journalist)|Ben Brown, was born in 1960.

Antony Brown died in London at his Battersea home on 21 January 2001, aged 78, and was survived by his wife Sheila and by their son Ben.


  1. Presentation of the author on the dustcovers of his 1968 novel Slay me suddenly.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 The Lens: The Staff Newspaper for Independent Television News (Oct. 1984), n. 11, p. 9.
  3. "On this day: 1973 – Commercial radio joins UK airwaves". BBC News. 8 October 1973..
  4. Retrieved 18 November 2020; Retrieved 18 November 2020.
  5. Retrieved 18 November 2020.
  6. Cf. listings at Retrieved 18 November 2020.
  7. Jack Charlton & Peter Byrne, The Autobiography, Partridge Press, London, 1996, pp. 112, 117.
  8. [Retrieved 25 November 2020].
  9. [Retrieved 25 November 2020].
  10. Cf. dustcovers of Antony Brown, Dangerfoot, London, 1966.
  11. [Retrieved 25 November 2020].
  12., [Retrieved on 18 November 2020], p. 55; Norman Evans, Curriculum Change in Secondary Schools, 1957-2004, Routledge, London, 2005, p. 22.
  13. [Retrieved 21 November 2020].
  14. Cf. dustcovers of Antony Brown, Dangerfoot, London, 1966.
  15. Dustcover of the novel.
  16. Cf. A. Brown, Hazard Unlimited, pp. ix-x.
  17. Retrieved 20 November 2020.
  18. Cf. Retrieved 18 November 2020.

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