A selection of articles by or about Walter Harris. Added chronologically with the most recent at the bottom of this page.
The Times 26th May 2009 Noel Coward’s enduring talent to amuse. By Walter Harris
In 1960 the Master granted a rare interview to a young reporter from the BBC. Known even to his peers as the Master, Noel Coward was master of all thespian trades and jack of none. When I first met him, he did not resemble the image conjured up by Hermione Gingold in an Alan Melville revue of “Mr. Coward in his exquisitely flowered dressing gown”. He had asked me to meet him at Heathrow on a rather dismal November day in 1960, whence he was catching an early flight to Geneva, en route to his house in Jamaica to another at Montreux-les-Avantes, via the Dorchester…
The full Times article may be read here
The Daily Mail 11th May 2013 Shunned and smeared, he’d become a fantasist. By Walter Harris
On a spring evening in 1960, I went to dinner at a small nightclub called The Paint Box in Foley Street, one of a tangle of narrow thoroughfares between Broadcasting House and Great Titchfield Street in London. The club had a semi-circular stage, around the perimeter of which hung a red curtain. In front of the stage were half a dozen easels, with paper and crayons. The curtain would draw back to reveal a nude sitter in a chair. The club was managed by a tiny model, Adele de Havilland, who tried to increase her height with a beehive hairdo and stiletto heels. On this particular evening, there was only one man sitting at an easel, whose portrait of the model was remarkably accurate. I commented on it to Adele.
‘Oh, that’s Stephen Ward; he’s getting quite well known as an artist. Would you like to meet him?’
‘Yes please.’ She fetched him and, after the introduction, left us to sit down over a drink. Ward had hair brushed straight back, a soft voice and great charm. His talent as an osteopath had brought him patients from the upper reaches of society. His illustrations had attracted the attention of Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, who as a consequence gave unique permission for Ward to draw MPs in session in the Commons. Ward and I had dinner and became friends, often meeting for coffee. When a distinguished journalist of the day, Brian Inglis, needed an osteopath to review a chapter of a new book on homeopathy he was writing, I suggested Stephen Ward.
‘I’ve never heard of him, but do bring him round for lunch.’
The three of us had an omelette and a flagon of burgundy, and Stephen took away the chapter for checking. Not long afterwards, he invited me to the first night of an exhibition of his drawings at the Leggatt Brothers’ Gallery in Jermyn Street, mounted as a reward after he healed the neck of one of the brothers which had been broken in a riding accident.
Among the sitters attending the exhibition I remember Robert Boothby, who had had a prolonged affair with Lady Dorothy Macmillan, the Prime Minister’s wife; Duncan Sandys, Churchill’s son-in-law and Secretary of State for Defence; and the Conservative MP for Lewes, Major Tufton Beamish. All of them greeted Ward as a friend, the aloof Sandys putting an arm round him.
Then the Profumo Affair hit the headlines, and they, together with the rest of Ward’s society ‘friends’, were gone, the shelves in his consultancy empty of invitations.
Inglis, Ward and I had one more lunch together, at a restaurant in Manchester Square. It was obvious that ‘Bovine’ Henry Brooke, the Home Secretary, was intent on framing Stephen Ward as a pimp and a Russian spy.
‘Stephen, what really happened? I’ll guarantee you any organ of communication – the BBC, The Times, the Sunday Despatch – to put your side of the case.’
Ward, however, had become a fantasist. ‘Dear boy, England’s a brothel and Macmillan’s the madame. I’m acting as liaison between Macmillan, Kennedy and Khrushchev in the cause of peace.’
He chuckled; Inglis shrugged in despair. There was now no way to cleanse the smears, no way to win back any social status and no way to deflect the inevitable.
Three days after our final lunch, Ward was arrested, and six weeks later died by his own hand.
The Daily Mail article may be read here following another article, by Chris Hastings, relating to the Profumo Affair
An 88-year-old author and broadcaster has written his tenth novel – after eight years of work. Walter Harris, who has also published several volumes of poetry along with numerous articles and spoken-word recordings, said his new book is part fantasy and part historic. It tells the story of a man who goes on a religious journey, meeting several Christ-like figures along the way. The avant-garde writer has published the title Godhead with Patagonia Press. He said: “It wasn’t easy to write as there was a lot of research. “I have a great love of language and I am a poet so it’s written in a poetic way.” Mr Harris has worked with Harold Pinter and met Margaret Thatcher when he correctly forecast the outcome of the 1970 general election. He added: “I have lived a long life and done a hell of a lot.” Born in 1925, Mr Harris remembers life in the RAF during the Second World War, later becoming a correspondent. These experiences will appear in his memoirs, which he is now working on. The Argus article is here
The Sunday Times 9th July 2017 And God said ‘I am Walter, 91. My realm is voiceover heaven’ By Richard Brooks
A former BBC broadcaster, Harris recently made a video for Nescafé. “I had to be God’s voice as I read the first part of the Book of Genesis, starting with, ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.’”
His friends now call him “the Voice of God” after his work on the internal training video in which he says he played the Almighty “like Prospero [the protagonist of Shakespeare’s The Tempest] with imagined thunderclaps around me”.
Harris, who 50 years ago interviewed celebrities such as Peter Cook, Dudley Moore and John Wayne for the BBC, has…
BBC South East Today Evening News Monday 22nd January 2018
BBC iPlayer episode can be viewed here: Walter Harris interview with Ian Palmer
(Article starts at 22min 44 sec mark).