Australian broadcaster and writer Clive James dies aged 80 - GulfToday

Australian broadcaster and writer Clive James dies aged 80

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Author Clive James poses with a copy of his new book. File Photo/Reuters

Clive James, the Australian broadcaster, writer, critic and poet who charmed generations of Britons with his humour and wit, has died at the age of 80, his agents said Wednesday.

James died "peacefully and at home, surrounded by his family and his books" in Cambridge, eastern England, on Sunday, United Agents said in a statement.

A private funeral attended by family and close friends took place on Wednesday in the chapel at Pembroke College in Cambridge University, where he read English literature as a student in the 1960s.

The charismatic and erudite broadcaster, who left Sydney for England in late 1961 and made his career in Britain, had fought a long battle with leukaemia.

"Clive died almost 10 years after his first terminal diagnosis and one month after he laid down his pen for the last time," UA said.

He first made his name as The Observer newspaper's television critic for a decade from 1972, where he turned the TV review into somewhat of an art form.

His own hit TV show, "Clive James on Television", fronted with his wise-cracking presenting style, put some the world's most bizarre programmes under the spotlight notably clips of the Japanese game show "Endurance".

Another regular guest was the Cuban singer Margarita Pracatan, who paid tribute on Wednesday to James' intelligence, talent "and beautiful way of living".

James pioneered the 'postcard' format of travel documentaries.

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Clive James arrives at the Royal Albert Hall for the BAFTA award ceremony. AP

He retired from mainstream television in 2000.

Penned his own obituary

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), presented him with a special lifetime achievement award in 2015.

BBC director-general Tony Hall said: "Clive James was a clever, witty and thought-provoking broadcaster."

"He had a huge range of talents and everything he did was essential listening or viewing. He is irreplaceable."

James wrote several novels and poetry books and received the Philip Hodgins Memorial Medal, a major Australian literature award, in 2003.

He published several volumes of his memoirs, including "The Blaze of Obscurity" about his years in television.

After an unsuccessful operation to remove a cancer on his cheek in February this year, James set about compiling an autobiographical anthology of poems called "The Fire Of Joy", which was finished a month ago.

During his long illness, James penned his own obituary, regularly updating it on his website.

He said it would "serve as a cheaper obituary than anything most newspapers are likely to have in the freezer".

Agence France-Presse