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