Tributes to high-flying Norwich journalist who had 'distinctive style'

Charles 'Charlie' Catchpole started his journalism career in Norwich and the wider Norfolk area before heading to the capital

Charles 'Charlie' Catchpole started his journalism career in Norwich and the wider Norfolk area before heading to the capital - Credit: Archant/Alan Howard

Tributes have come pouring in for a prominent Fleet Street journalist with "a distinctive style of wry and witty writing" who has died aged 76.

Charles 'Charlie' Talbot Catchpole was born on January 14, 1946 in Norwich to Marjorie and Charles Reginald Catchpole.

Beginning his career as a reporter through the training scheme of Eastern Counties Newspapers on the Dereham and Fakenham Times in 1964, he was later based in King’s Lynn for the Eastern Daily Press and Evening News.

Charlie Catchpole worked for the Eastern Daily Press and Evening News for a brief spell in the late 1960s

Charles 'Charlie' Catchpole worked for the Eastern Daily Press and Evening News for a brief spell in the late 1960s. Pictured here in 1967 in the EDP office in King’s Lynn - Credit: Alan Howard

He went to the Norwich office in 1968 and left the following year to work on the Rhodesia Herald in modern-day Zimbabwe where his wife Cynthia, a fellow journalist, worked on a local radio station.

On his return to the UK, Charles joined London’s Evening Standard before moving to the Mail in around 1978 and then the Star in 1979.

He began a role at the Sun as a features writer in 1981 and was News of the World TV editor from 1985. He left in 1998 to be a columnist for the Mirror. 

Three years later he moved to the Express as a TV columnist before moving to his final role curating the Man of the People column on the People as his last job before retiring in 2015.

SUN SPORTS COLUMNIST CHARLES CHARLIE CATCHPOLE PIC ARTHUR EDWARDS

Charles 'Charlie' Catchpole - Credit: News Group Newspapers Ltd

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Andrew Harvey first worked alongside Charles in the Norwich office in 1968 and was part of a tight-knit network of Norfolk's junior reporters.

"He developed his distinctive style of wry and witty writing that caught the eye of other editors," Mr Harvey said.

"Charles had a gift for affectionate mockery and his commentaries on television programmes and the stars who made them gained him a wide readership and the respect of the industry.

"He was no pushover, he was quick with a knockout response to pomposity and self-importance.

Charles Catchpole's son Chris called his late father "a Fleet Street legend"

Charles Catchpole's son Chris called his late father "a Fleet Street legend" - Credit: Supplied by Cynthia Catchpole

"For a time he had a football column in the Sun beneath a byline picture showing him swathed in the green and yellow scarf of a Norwich City fan.

"Following Norwich was the same bittersweet experience for Charlie as it is for every Canaries supporter."

Charlotte Finch dubbed her late father a 'Capital Canary', noting that even though the family were based in London, she and her siblings were still strung along to matches.

She said: "He did love Norwich City, but his one true love was writing and journalism - he had a natural gift for it.

"He really enjoyed his job, and he put everything into his career.

"He was witty and a very sharp writer."

And that sentiment continued even when out of the limelight.

"He was very funny and kind," she added. "He was fun to be around and a really good companion."

Mr Catchpole's son, Christopher, said that the media outpouring following his father's death has been "really touching".

He said: "Not that he'd ever say it himself, but he was a Fleet Street legend.

"He was a talented musician, but once he got a job on the local paper, he never looked back."

His musical talents did not go to waste, as with a gaggle of other notable EDP alumni, he made up Captain Boyton’s Benefit Band - which performed songs centred around newsroom characters.

BAND OF HOPE – rehearsal time for five creative press reporters making up Captain Boyton’s Benefit B

Charlie Catchpole, left, at a rehearsal with Captain Boyton’s Benefit Band. Joined by, left to right, David Wakefield (keyboard), Keith Skipper (lead singer), Sid Langley (guitar) and Dick Watts (drums) - Credit: Archant

Chris added: "He was always working. There was always a cigar in the mouth and a notepad on his knee. 

"He once on a train journey managed to file copy by writing on post-it notes and re-arranging it on his leg and then dictated his copy down the phone. 

"Even on holiday he'd try to find a shop selling the papers.

"But we really treasured quality time with him.

"The two bits of advice he always gave me were: always be the last to leave the pub and always make friends with the travel editor,.

"He was such a caring man. He was funny, charismatic and calm. It's hard to think of a world without him in it."

Mr Catchpole died on Thursday, March 31. He is survived by his wife Cynthia, sister Julia, children Catherine, Christopher and Charlotte and his grandchildren Freddie, Ruby and Florence.

A funeral service will be held at Mortlake Crematorium on Wednesday, April 20. Donations can be made directly to Parkinson's UK.