Presenter Derek Batey dies at age 84

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

In the United Kingdom, television presenter Derek Batey has died at the age of 84. Yesterday, ITV Border, the company for whom he used to work, said Batey died Sunday night in a hospice near his Lytham St Annes residence in Lancashire, England after experiencing a brief illness.

Batey, who was born in Brampton, Carlisle in 1928, was at one time a ventriloquist. According to BBC News Online, Batey first worked in broadcasting for the BBC. He went on to work for Carlisle-based Border Television, which is now called ITV Border, from its inception in 1961. He continued to work at the station for about 25 years, gaining the nickname 'Mr Border' as a result.

Batey was notable for presenting the game show Mr. and Mrs., a format which he developed for Border Television after seeing a similar game show on Canadian television. Batey presented 500 episodes of the TV programme, which tested married persons on their knowledge of their partners to see which which couple had the best knowledge of each other. At its peak in the 1970s, the programme achieved nine million viewers. Batey adapted the game show into a successful stage show which he presented 5000 times.

Batey also presented a talk show called Look Who's Talking. Recalling the basis for the launch of the series, Batey said: "[T]here wasn't a lot of theatre in the Border area and we thought if we could bring the national names to Carlisle and invite the audiences in, it is a chance to see names where they couldn't see elsewhere, so we did that." Both Mr. and Mrs. and Look Who's Talking were originally regional programmes and were later broadcast across the ITV Network, Batey reported.

Harry King, a former colleague and friend of Derek Batey, described him as "a proud Cumbrian [...] a people person and was never happier than when he was talking to people. He could be talking to the Queen or the person next door". King described Mr. and Mrs. as "iconic" and said Batey "would always let the people he was talking to take the limelight". ITV News Border reporter Matthew Taylor said Batey "will leave a lasting legacy in this region".