As a friend and colleague of Sir Patrick Moore for some 40 years, I felt compelled to watch BBC2’s programme last Thursday, celebrating the 60th anniversary of ‘The Sky at Night’.
Its content on the relevant technical development of the subject, and what it led to, was excellent.
However, I was astonished at the scant references made to Sir Patrick, and the fact that he presented more than 700 editions of a programme which, many of us believe, he made his own.
Clips were shown of him in the earlier years, yes, but the key point that he was in at the beginning of such a ground-breaking, worthwhile television series, was sadly missing.
Extremely knowledgeable – and acknowledged to be so – from an early age in all things astronomical and lunar, Patrick was the obvious choice to front ‘The Sky at Night’ (although he found the programme’s 1957 trial period ‘decidedly nerve-racking’). Still, the programme went from strength to strength, rapidly increasing the number of its viewers as it did so.
Although forthright in his views on many things (even furious in some of them), Sir Patrick was always one to give credit where due.
The chapter headed Pioneers in his book, The Autobiography, contains the self-effacing remark: ‘Of course it is the subject that matters, not the presenter’.
In this particular case, I am sure many of us would disagree.
It is a pity that those who put together the 60th anniversary programme, could not themselves have given him credit, where credit was undoubtedly due.
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