MAN BE­HIND THE SCREEN

GLITZ AND GLAM­OUR OF LIFE IN THE PUB­LIC EYE AND EV­ERY­THING THAT GOES UN­SEEN

Life & Style Weekend - - READ - WORDS: ERLE LEVEY Mike Hig­gins will be hold­ing a book sign­ing at Berkelouw Books Eu­mundi to­day, from 9.30am.

You think you know some­one. At least you are some­times forced to give an opin­ion of some­one dur­ing con­ver­sa­tions.

It can be from ac­tu­ally meet­ing them for how­ever short a mo­ment or sim­ply gain­ing an im­pres­sion from a photo in a news­pa­per or a glimpse on tele­vi­sion.

It’s that mo­ment of in­tu­ition. Whether they are trust­wor­thy or a threat.

In the case of tele­vi­sion and ra­dio pre­sen­ter of the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s Mike Hig­gins it was an opin­ion built up over watch­ing him nightly on the 6.30 news. His words, his man­ner­isms, his style.

It was, af­ter all, his body lan­guage that won the trust of many.

My re­spect was welded on by watch­ing him host and com­pere pre­sen­ta­tions, awards func­tions and char­ity events.

While it is easy to make fun at the ex­pense of oth­ers, Mike Hig­gins didn’t do that. He al­ways paid those around him the re­spect they de­served.

Yet each night when he pre­sented the tele­vi­sion news with col­leagues be­hind the desk on the stu­dio set you won­dered what went on when the lights went down and the cam­eras were switched off.

Like in the movies and tele­vi­sion soapies, was it all glam­our above the desk and much more go­ing on be­hind the scenes.

In this case, un­der the desk. Did the pre­sen­ters re­ally turn up in col­lar, tie and jacket with shorts, jeans or even less out of screen shot?

What were their per­sonal lives like? Glitz and glam­our or fam­ily life spiced with stu­dio ro­mances? Cou­ple that with those work­ing be­hind the scenes and you won­der what are the real-life tri­als and tribu­la­tions.

That’s what Hig­gins brings to the fore in

his book Trouser­less Un­der The News Desk.

It re­veals so much more about the per­son than his role in the pub­lic spot­light. So much more.

From his un­set­tled child­hood... we might think it un­usual but was it re­ally?

How much do we know about those we grew up with, their fam­i­lies, the un­cles, the friends?

What makes a “usual” fam­ily?

To hav­ing a good voice read­ing Sun­day school les­sons, Hig­gins fell into a ca­reer in ra­dio and tele­vi­sion.

Yet then he started to work on safe­guard­ing the en­vi­ron­ment, a pas­sion with just as much re­spon­si­bil­ity as in the me­dia.

Run-ins with gang­sters, politi­cians and spies seemed in­cred­i­bly dra­matic for Mike, who we con­sid­ered to be “the man next door’’ through his easy-go­ing per­son­al­ity.

Yet noth­ing was as con­fronting as his long-run­ning bat­tle with cancer.

Mike’s in­sight into his bat­tle with a par­tic­u­larly rare form of the ill­ness pit­ted him against a 16 per cent chance of sur­vival. It was a fight he was up for.

He weaves this bat­tle into the book like wind­screen wipers on a car - switch­ing from his life story to his health.

You think you know a per­son ... but af­ter read­ing this book you are left with a sense of warmth, com­pas­sion and amaze­ment for your fel­low man and a life filled with de­ter­mi­na­tion. So in­spi­ra­tional.

You re­ally start to un­der­stand what it’s like to walk a mile in some­one else’s shoes.

NEWS: Mike Hig­gins has just re­leased his au­to­big­ra­phy. Photo: John Mccutcheon

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