Slugger O'Toole

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David Dunseith RIP

Thu 30 June 2011, 9:34pm

David Dunseith

Through some of the darkest days of the NI troubles and in the absence of a local political assembly, [Talkback] provided a forum for debate where no other existed.

BBC News online reports the sad news that David Dunseith has died. With a career spanning television and radio, UTV and BBC, the Sony award-winning journalist and presenter was perhaps most associated with presenting the lunch Talkback programme on Radio Ulster, before latterly moving to host Sunday’s Seven Days.

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Comments (48)

  1. galloglaigh (profile) says:

    I grew up listening to David. As did most of us. An institution, and will be missed. RIP

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  2. Mick Fealty (profile) says:

    He WILL be missed.

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  3. John Ó Néill (profile) says:

    He probably had to listen to more sectarian abuse than anyone else. How he never swore at some of them live on radio I don’t know.

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  4. pippakin (profile) says:

    Respect. RIP

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  5. ranger1640 (profile) says:

    David was a great journalist and presenter, I was interviewed by David several on occasions and every time he was courteous and sincere. Pity the new breed of runt radio host is more interested in themselves than the person ringing in, who by the pay their wages.

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  6. joeCanuck (profile) says:

    Yes, I remember him from when I lived there and he always showed confidence. Someone to be trusted.

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  7. kaiser (profile) says:

    will be sadly missed,talkback was the voice of the people good or bad and David dealt with it all with ease

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  8. The voice of northern Ireland (on so many levels) his soothing tones and incisive mind will be sadly missed.

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  9. Loved listening to his weekly Saturday roundup of Talkback while doing my student post round.

    A fantastic radio voice – distinctive, soothing and always seemingly objective. When he spoke, the country listened. RIP.

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  10. I recall him as a police officer (sergeant in RUC Drug Squad) who was also editor of the Police Gazette.
    He came into UTV (first I believe) at the end of the 1960s.

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  11. victor1 (profile) says:

    Very sad to hear of David’s death, he was an excellent journalist and presenter who transgressed all faiths creeds and political persuasions rip

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  12. Greenflag (profile) says:

    A man of immense patience and fortitude . A calm and reasoned approach to all sides and not afraid to ask the tough questions when required.

    He was the the ‘human ‘ voice of Northern Ireland at it’s best and most admirable .

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  13. The beeb have added this tribute …….

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-13812385

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  14. carnmoney.guy (profile) says:

    Great man who kept his cool when we covered some horrible events, however when there was some stories about animal cruelty you could hear the exasperation in his voice

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  15. qwerty12345 (profile) says:

    What can you say other than that this towering man is irreplaceable.

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  16. Hedley Lamarr (profile) says:

    A giant amongst men. RIP.

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  17. SDLP supporter (profile) says:

    An excellent broadcaster in every way and always struck me as a thoroughly decent human being. Like FJH, I remember him being interviewed decades ago when he was the public face of the Drugs Squad and thinking ‘that guy’s a natural’.

    Duine lach, i measc na naomh go mbeidh se.

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  18. For a blast from the past, listen* to this special Talkback broadcast on the day after the Good Friday Agreement;

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/events/northern_ireland/latest_news/76740.stm

    It’s worth it just to hear David try to explain the “World Web” address..

    *You’ll need Realplayer (http://uk.real.com/realplayer) to play the stream

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  19. chewnicked (profile) says:

    I would not have seen David as a man of great patience and thankfully this was a great strength of his on Talkback. There was great fun in hearing his exasperation and indignance at whatever eejit had pushed his buttons-whether that was one of our elected eejits or just an ordinary ‘Joe the Bigot’ chancing his arm on the phone.
    The beauty of this was that David was up for a verbal ding-dong with hurlers on either side of the ditch and his rucks with various Talkbackers made for great radio.
    Sad to say,this gift of appearing impartial is something that his successor on the show will never achieve.
    RIP David.

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  20. chewnicked (profile) says:

    Indignance? He may have reacted with indignation at that!

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  21. vanhelsing (profile) says:

    Lovely man and one of the most distinctive voices in Northern Ireland:)

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  22. Frustrated Democrat (profile) says:

    I was fortunate enough to take part in David’s programmes and always found him engaging and an excellent broadcaster who was not afraid to let his opinions be known when he judged it to be necessary.

    His passing is a sad loss and his Talk Back programme will be remembered as providing an outlet for cross community dialogue during a very difficult period in Northern Ireland.

    We will miss him and his ready wit.

    Goodbye David.

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  23. Drumlins Rock (profile) says:

    I always had a love hate thing with Dunseith’s Talkback, sometimes I wondered did he wind both sides up too much and make things worse, but usually he cut out the crap and got to the point. He was often accused of being one sided, which was 100% true, but the side he was on was not Prod or Taig or even “get alongerist”, but a fourth side entirely of his own making, I’m not sure anyone else has managed to occupy that ground before or since. On a more personal level there seem to be something quite melancholy about his broadcasts, but the dark period we were going through justified that I guess. He certainly has a place in history and will be remembered as a voice of sanity in the madness.

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  24. nightrider (profile) says:

    Almost exactly to a day a year after his wife (Roisin Walsh Dunseith) died. And I know the family. An Iconic voice for all the people here for over 20 years. Brilliant presenter, genuine bloke.

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  25. articles (profile) says:

    Genuine sadness to see this news. He was aware of all the little quirks and contradictions in the history of this part of the world and slipped them in when the time was right. And he could tell a joke or a story against himself as well. When he announced Derry were to play Paris St Germain he of course adopted the french accent, only to find that a listener wanted to know when Sam’s Yer Man had opened a branch in Paris and why were they playing Derry.May he RIP.

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  26. Mainland Ulsterman (profile) says:

    Enjoyed David Dunseith’s broadcasts for many years, a man I hugely admired. Condolences to his family.

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  27. John Ó Néill (profile) says:

    Would it be appropriate to consider how to provide a fitting tribute on here (e.g. a day where mainly audioboo.fm or similar responses are requested, Talkback style?).

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  28. [...] more here: David Dunseith RIP « Slugger O'Toole Bookmark to: This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged bbc, dunseith, online-reports, [...]

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  29. Harry Flashman (profile) says:

    I didn’t realise he was a Derryman.

    “Talkback” was usually a bit of fun but for me David Dunseith summons up in my memory the great journos of UTV and BBC NI in the 1970′s.

    Those dark grim evenings ‘eating your tea’ watching Scene Around Six anchored by David’s illustrious predecessor Barry Cowan as the dreary often dreadful toll of death and destruction was presented by fine, superbly balanced, reporters, men whose political affiliations you could never guess until years later when they retired.

    Names like David Capper, Norman Stockton, Rose Neil (who never seemed to age) and of course the other Derryman of this parish Brian Walker. Who can forget WD Flacke’s staccato and precise summation of the political situation or Eric Waugh’s deadpan litany of industrial closures?

    RIP David Dunseith.

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  30. USA (profile) says:

    Sad news
    He talked us through the bad times.
    Condolences to his loved ones.

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  31. Master McGrath (profile) says:

    A balanced individualistic commentator and broadcaster who was ESSENTIAL listening for me on the other side of the water during the worst days of the stupidity that made up political life during the 70′s 80′s and into the brighter days of the 90′s.
    He was the gold standard for reporters and broadcasters and there are none around who adequately fill his shoes.

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  32. Pat Mc Larnon (profile) says:

    Very sad news. I then got to thinking of some of the characters who used to phone in on a regular basis. As stated in the OP, this was at a a time when it did provide a forum for debate where none existed.
    Frankie from Andersonstown was a regular who David seemed to enjoy quoting.

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  33. Mick Fealty (profile) says:

    I feel much sadder than I would have expected to feel at this news.

    Partly because I thought he was coming back with his handling of Seven Days. But also, perhaps, because I’d always thought he was a just a little too flinty and uncivil in his younger days on television.

    It’s not so much that he seemed to soften in his latter years on BBC Radio Ulster, but that perhaps he broadened (as his role demanded) himself enough to let people talk and have their say.

    Flint is an essential material in any serious journalists armory, as is intelligence and engagement with the wider game of politics. But so too is compassion.

    That compassion is what the Talk Back experience very much drew out in David at a time when people were still dying on the streets. That was much needed. And it should not be forgotten.

    For what little it is worth, my condolences to his family, friends, colleagues and former colleagues.

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  34. madraj55 (profile) says:

    Hard to believe now, but for the first year of the ‘troubles, the UTV local news consisted of five minutes on weekdays between Crossroads and Tommy james, until UTV Reports started the magazine format sometime in late 1969 with Ian Hill and that other chap with the bald head, Then it was Gordon burns who presented the fist halfhour editions at 6.00. David dunseith took over a couple of years later, and that was the resty of the 70s on UTV with him at the helm.
    I know that on the other side Scene Around Six with first larry mcCoubrey, but we usually stuck with David. Irreplaceable. RIP

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  35. Mick Fealty (profile) says:

    “Tea Time with Tommy”… My god, I’d nearly forgotten…

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  36. andnowwhat (profile) black spot says:

    I’m so sad at the news. Listening to him on 7 Days, it was apparent that Roisin took so much of him with her. Anyone who can love someone as he did is a creature of beauty in the mire of existance.

    RIP David

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  37. “Would it be appropriate to consider how to provide a fitting tribute on here (e.g. a day where mainly audioboo.fm or similar responses are requested, Talkback style?)”.

    Its a good idea….and a bad one.
    As some of our politicians and journalists age……there will be more such days. And I think it would set a precedent which might be divisive. Dunseith himself strikes me as the kinda person who would be wary of that kinda thing.
    I believe that another doyen of early BBC (well early to me) died last week. Wont name him in case its not true. But “Larry McCoubrey” will always have a special place in my heart. Mainly cos he read out a news item in which I was involved. Happy(?) days.
    Tom Crummey at the Rugby. Ronald Rosser on the Football. No child of the 1960s (ok if you insist 1950s!) could have foreseen it all.

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  38. madraj55 (profile) says:

    FJH. I think you might be talking about harry thompson who died only a couple of days ago. I don’t recall seeing him on tv much but he did election debates for the Sunningdale election campaign in ’73. Faulkner was on the recieving end of HT’s questions and didn’t take kindly to it as I recall. No idea if he was related to Noel.

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  39. Yes Harry Thompson was the name Id heard earlier in week but obviously relunctant to say it because it might have been duff info.
    Thompson basically started as a sports guy and doinf Saturday evening results on TV.
    I think he reverted to that again in later years.
    No connexion to Noel, as far as Im aware.

    He always struck me as rather brusque and not a TV “natural”.

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  40. madraj55 (profile) says:

    ‘He always struck me as brusque and not a TV natural’
    FJH. I saw on one of the UTV at 50 docus that Brian Baird who read out short news items in 70s, wasn’t a journalist at all but a Queen’s professor in s’thing or other. He seemed more at ease. Not exactly a taxing job 5 mins a night though.

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  41. pippakin (profile) says:

    I think he walked a tightrope and from all I know never once lost his footing. I used to hear him when visiting the north. He was required listening back then.

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  42. Brian (profile) says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DU6DpVOhQb0

    Here is some of David on Talkback in Fall 1999

    (5:00 mark and on)

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  43. andnowwhat (profile) black spot says:

    Can that post by Heinz be erased?

    It’s disgusting.

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  44. dracos (profile) says:

    Across almost 40 years I found David Dunseith
    to be a gentleman on every topic and on every occassion
    …..but he never was able to convert me to jaguars……..

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  45. andnowwhat (profile) black spot says:

    XJS?

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  46. bumper14 (profile) says:

    My sympathy to David Dunseith’s family. I am with Heinz Guderian- impartiality was not David’s strength. I think he will be missed mostly by Republicans whose back pocket he was rarely out of.

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  47. MonkDeWallyDeHonk (profile) says:

    I enjoyed listening to TalkBack for many years. David was a fantastic broadcaster who gave everyone a fair hearing and also had a brilliant humerous touch.

    It’s just a pity that this largely enjoyable tribute thread has been tarnished with a couple of unworthy comments which say a lot more about the people who wrote them than they do about David.

    My condolences to David’s family.

    RIP David.

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  48. articles (profile) says:

    Yesterday’s Guardian carried an obituary for David Dunseith, almost a month’s mind.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/tv-and-radio/2011/jul/26/david-dunseith-obituary

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