TV's indestructible anchorman Fred Dinenage

Fred Dinenage

Fred and Debbie

First published in News Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Senior Feature Writer

HE is a television stalwart, a legendary figure in television in the south. Fred Dinenage was taken on with a seven-week contract by Southern Television back in 1964 – and some 45 years later he is still going strong, having survived the latest round of job cuts at Meridian and retaining his place on our screens for some time to come.

In that time he has out-lasted four female co-presenters, including Debbie Thrower – who it was announced on Wednesday, has lost her job – and will now be seen on our screens with co-anchor Sangeeta Bhabra.

Fred was initially taken on for a brief stint on Three Go Round before moving on to How in 1966, the longest-running children’s programme on ITV.

He survived a major shake-up in 1982 when TVS took over from Southern. A number of people lost their jobs, with TVS scrapping all of South-ern’s programmes and most of its presenters – but not Fred.

By 1984 he was presenting nightly news programme Coast to Coast with Fern Britton and went on to co-anchor Meridian Tonight, as well as presenting a host of other shows.

Fern was at Fred’s side to say “thanks for watching” for the last night of TVS when it was taken over by Meridian on January 1, 1993.

Again the change of franchise saw job losses and again Fred survived.

He and Fern continued to present the station’s news programme, which became Meridian Tonight, until she went to London News as their entertainment reporter.

Debbie Thrower had been at Meridian from the outset. The channel launched with her standing outside Winchester Cathedral to welcome viewers.

Fred and Debbie worked together until she left the station in 1994, and Jane Whyatt was promoted to co-anchor.

However, her time on the sofa with Fred was short-lived. The station dropped her in summer 1998.

“I was pretty shocked because I thought I was doing well,” she said. “I felt as if I had been dumped by a boyfriend.”

Her dismissal sparked a ‘Bring Back Jane Whyatt’ postbag in the Daily Echo office but the 39-year-old was replaced by ambitious young reporter, 25-year-old Natasha Kaplinsky. However, Natasha’s stay at the station was brief – within a year she has left to climb the career ladder as the main presenter for ITV’s new London service LNN.

Fred was then reunited with Debbie Thrower, who had left Meridian for BBC Radio 2. The pair remained together through the station’s move from its studio at Northam to it’s current premises in Whiteley, but with the latest round of redundancies Debbie is leaving while Fred remains.

The official statement from the ITV press office glosses over the reason for Debbie’s departure.

Regional director Mark Southgate said: “Debbie is a first-rate broadcaster who has given magnificent service to ITV News.

“We are parting on the best of terms and we wish her every success with the new ventures that she is pursuing, and very much hope to see her back with us at Meridian from time to time.”

While in a statement also released by the press office, Debbie said: “It’s time to go in fresh directions.

“I hope to combine my freelance work in broadcasting and journalism with my voluntary lay ministry as a Reader in the Church of England.

“It has been a wonderful partnership alongside Fred and I know we shall stay firm friends off-screen just as we have been such compatible colleagues on screen.”

So why is Debbie the one that’s going? Given that the 51-year-old is being replaced by a younger presenter – Sangeeta Bhabra – the nagging suspicion arises that the old prejudice against older women presenters, but not older male ones, has seen another mature women disappear from our screens.

In December TV news presenter Selina Scott, 57, reached a settlement with Channel 5 after launching legal action for age discrimination, claiming that the channel went back on an agreement that she would cover Natasha Kaplinsky’s maternity leave.

Furthermore, departures from our screens of other older female presenters such as Moira Stuart, 59, Kate Adie, 63, Anna Ford, 65, and Angela Rippon, 64, feed into the suspicion that news and current affairs producers are not comfortable with seeing older women on our screens.

Meanwhile older men seem to be thriving including BBC anchorman Bill Turnbull, 53, Trevor McDonald, who was anchoring News at Ten aged 69, Jon Snow who is still anchoring Channel 4 News at 61 and at the same age Nicholas Owen, who is going strong on the BBC.

And our own Fred Dinenage shows no sign of retiring at 66.

With neither ITV nor Debbie Thrower wishing to comment further on her departure, viewers will be left guessing why exactly it is that Debbie is going.

But those who are unhappy at what is seen by many as the end of the era may find some consolation in the continued presence on our screens of Fred, the great survivor, and from the knowledge that while Fred and Debbie’s relationship in front of the cameras may be drawing to a close, off-screen their firm friendship is sure to continue.

Comments (13)

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7:47am Sun 18 Jan 09

10 Minute Man says...

I think there's a W missing from that headline
I think there's a W missing from that headline 10 Minute Man
  • Score: 0

8:47am Sun 18 Jan 09

Northamboy says...

Both Fred and Sally from BBC need to go to as both programmes are stale. Something new is needed in my opinion.

Both Fred and Sally from BBC need to go to as both programmes are stale. Something new is needed in my opinion. Northamboy
  • Score: 1

10:03am Sun 18 Jan 09

Saint Madcap says...

Dinenage is a prat always was and always will be. Well past his sell by date.
Dinenage is a prat always was and always will be. Well past his sell by date. Saint Madcap
  • Score: 1

10:26am Sun 18 Jan 09

Rudd Gillett says...

When he goes will the headline read:
It's over for Thread over head?

Thread do a Arry and go back to your spiritual home the BBC.
When he goes will the headline read: It's over for Thread over head? Thread do a Arry and go back to your spiritual home the BBC. Rudd Gillett
  • Score: 0

12:27pm Sun 18 Jan 09

goard says...

Oh! well, lets go to the 'young ones' or those that are well past their date! Do not forget if one(I mean government) followed along the lines of the 'young ones', what a load of nimbys - do we really want these sados ruling our country? Do they really care for our 'area' There needs to be a dedicated parliament attempting to sort out the nimbys (saddo's') into an acceptable society. It would seem the tail is wagging the dog!! Who are stronger in this dog eat dog situation. I want stability and a genuine constructive society - who on earth has this far sighteness.

goard

goard
Oh! well, lets go to the 'young ones' or those that are well past their date! Do not forget if one(I mean government) followed along the lines of the 'young ones', what a load of nimbys - do we really want these sados ruling our country? Do they really care for our 'area' There needs to be a dedicated parliament attempting to sort out the nimbys (saddo's') into an acceptable society. It would seem the tail is wagging the dog!! Who are stronger in this dog eat dog situation. I want stability and a genuine constructive society - who on earth has this far sighteness. goard goard goard
  • Score: 0

12:29pm Sun 18 Jan 09

goard says...

Oh! well, lets go to the 'young ones' or those that are well past their date! Do not forget if one(I mean government) followed along the lines of the 'young ones', what a load of nimbys - do we really want these sados ruling our country? Do they really care for our 'area' There needs to be a dedicated parliament attempting to sort out the nimbys (saddo's') into an acceptable society. It would seem the tail is wagging the dog!! Who are stronger in this dog eat dog situation. I want stability and a genuine constructive society - who on earth has this far sighteness.

goard
Oh! well, lets go to the 'young ones' or those that are well past their date! Do not forget if one(I mean government) followed along the lines of the 'young ones', what a load of nimbys - do we really want these sados ruling our country? Do they really care for our 'area' There needs to be a dedicated parliament attempting to sort out the nimbys (saddo's') into an acceptable society. It would seem the tail is wagging the dog!! Who are stronger in this dog eat dog situation. I want stability and a genuine constructive society - who on earth has this far sighteness. goard goard
  • Score: 0

1:10pm Sun 18 Jan 09

Duncan Disorderly says...

"10 Minute Man, Bitterne says...
7:47am Sun 18 Jan 09
I think there's a W missing from that headline"

Ho Ho, couldn't agree more. They got rid of the wrong one.
"10 Minute Man, Bitterne says... 7:47am Sun 18 Jan 09 I think there's a W missing from that headline" Ho Ho, couldn't agree more. They got rid of the wrong one. Duncan Disorderly
  • Score: 0

5:05pm Sun 18 Jan 09

Ozmosis says...


I love, and I quote "TV's indestructible anchorman Fred Dinenag"... quality slip-up from the journo or the web software! ;-)

(Security word = save-pair)
I love, and I quote "TV's indestructible anchorman Fred Dinenag"... quality slip-up from the journo or the web software! ;-) (Security word = save-pair) Ozmosis
  • Score: 0

5:30pm Sun 18 Jan 09

MikeW says...

I am really pleased about Fred staying, a really great guy but so sad re Debbie. They say "Debbie is a first-rate broadcaster who has given magnificent service to ITV News." Well thats true, so why sack her? Only idiots get rid of the best.
Or is this the usual wishy washy liberal lot, we must have a black, brown, yellow etc etc person because we are a (lie) multicultural society.
I am really pleased about Fred staying, a really great guy but so sad re Debbie. They say "Debbie is a first-rate broadcaster who has given magnificent service to ITV News." Well thats true, so why sack her? Only idiots get rid of the best. Or is this the usual wishy washy liberal lot, we must have a black, brown, yellow etc etc person because we are a (lie) multicultural society. MikeW
  • Score: 0

7:37pm Sun 18 Jan 09

Andy Locks Heath says...

I have to laugh at all the berks on here who have worked up a hatred for Fred Dineage just because he supports Portsmouth! It has nothing to do with him as a person nor his job but if Saints bigots view everything in the world though the narrow prism of their football prejudice their minds and their views are worthless. You might as well base his broadcasting ability on his combover.
I have to laugh at all the berks on here who have worked up a hatred for Fred Dineage just because he supports Portsmouth! It has nothing to do with him as a person nor his job but if Saints bigots view everything in the world though the narrow prism of their football prejudice their minds and their views are worthless. You might as well base his broadcasting ability on his combover. Andy Locks Heath
  • Score: 0

8:33pm Sun 18 Jan 09

ex so'ton says...

We are loosing some good characters on our local ITV here as well, this is ageism in reverse! Keep the stale oldies and sack the up-and comings, we'll miss our 'Wesers' and his pleasant smile. Very popular with the ladies I believe and good for opening Fêtes and lots of other charitable work hereabouts. As for local (Thames Valley) news we can forget it, more likely Kentish news from hereon.
We are loosing some good characters on our local ITV here as well, this is ageism in reverse! Keep the stale oldies and sack the up-and comings, we'll miss our 'Wesers' and his pleasant smile. Very popular with the ladies I believe and good for opening Fêtes and lots of other charitable work hereabouts. As for local (Thames Valley) news we can forget it, more likely Kentish news from hereon. ex so'ton
  • Score: 0

8:15am Mon 19 Jan 09

KA says...

Andy Locks Heath wrote:
I have to laugh at all the berks on here who have worked up a hatred for Fred Dineage just because he supports Portsmouth! It has nothing to do with him as a person nor his job but if Saints bigots view everything in the world though the narrow prism of their football prejudice their minds and their views are worthless. You might as well base his broadcasting ability on his combover.
I can't see any posts about his supporting portsmouth, I can't stand the bloke and its got nothing to do with football.
[quote][p][bold]Andy Locks Heath[/bold] wrote: I have to laugh at all the berks on here who have worked up a hatred for Fred Dineage just because he supports Portsmouth! It has nothing to do with him as a person nor his job but if Saints bigots view everything in the world though the narrow prism of their football prejudice their minds and their views are worthless. You might as well base his broadcasting ability on his combover.[/p][/quote]I can't see any posts about his supporting portsmouth, I can't stand the bloke and its got nothing to do with football. KA
  • Score: 0

1:00pm Mon 19 Jan 09

Paul R-F says...

Andy Locks Heath wrote:
I have to laugh at all the berks on here who have worked up a hatred for Fred Dineage just because he supports Portsmouth! It has nothing to do with him as a person nor his job but if Saints bigots view everything in the world though the narrow prism of their football prejudice their minds and their views are worthless. You might as well base his broadcasting ability on his combover.
His poor taste in "football" team has nothing to do with it - he is smarmy, smug and very poor at his job. I prefer BBC.
[quote][p][bold]Andy Locks Heath[/bold] wrote: I have to laugh at all the berks on here who have worked up a hatred for Fred Dineage just because he supports Portsmouth! It has nothing to do with him as a person nor his job but if Saints bigots view everything in the world though the narrow prism of their football prejudice their minds and their views are worthless. You might as well base his broadcasting ability on his combover.[/p][/quote]His poor taste in "football" team has nothing to do with it - he is smarmy, smug and very poor at his job. I prefer BBC. Paul R-F
  • Score: 1
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