Broadcaster Derek Davis dies aged 67

Veteran broadcaster Derek Davis worked for both BBC NI and RTE and had a passion for food, sailing and angling
Veteran broadcaster Derek Davis worked for both BBC NI and RTE and had a passion for food, sailing and angling

Veteran broadcaster Derek Davis, who worked for both RTE and BBC Northern Ireland, has died aged 67.

The married father-of-three, originally from Co Down, became a household name for his co-anchoring RTE’s popular afternoon slot Live at Three during the 1990s.

But he was also known for his work as a journalist, his outspoken passion for food, sailing and angling, and his two stints presenting the Rose of Tralee.

Before moving to RTE, he worked with American network ABC and BBC Northern Ireland.

Born in Holywood and raised in Bangor, Mr Davis went to boarding school in Co Antrim before studying law at Queen’s University Belfast.

In a newspaper interview, he once put his start in broadcasting down to a row with a BBC producer at the Wellington Park Hotel in Belfast.

The producer was so impressed with his debating skills that he asked the young undergraduate to contribute to a programme.

He went on to be trained as a BBC reporter.

Of his decision to later leave Northern Ireland for the Republic, he said: “I left the North because I was afraid of getting shot. I was scared stiff of the work I was doing as a reporter.”

Mr Davis had suffered ill health in recent years and had spoken in interviews about his battle with weight.

Last year he underwent gastric surgery after becoming a grandfather for the first time and lost five stone.

His death was announced by his former employer RTE, where he presented and contributed to several light entertainment and current affairs shows, including the marine programme Out of the Blue and A Question of Food.

Dublin’s agriculture minister Simon Coveney led tributes to the former broadcaster, describing him as a generous, vocal supporter of Ireland’s food and marine life.

“Derek was a big personality, a passionate and talented communicator on both food and marine issues,” he said.

“His love for the sea was so evident whenever I met him.

“Derek was a much-loved figure in so many Irish homes for the connections he created over a lifetime of broadcasting.”

Mr Coveney added: “He will be missed by so many. I’d like to offer my condolences to his family and many friends.”

Noel Curran, director general of RTE, described Mr Davis as “hugely popular” with both audiences and colleagues.

“He was full of humour and warmth and was one of the most versatile presenters RTE has seen,” he said.

“But at heart he was always a journalist, and he brought that inquisitive sense of journalism to everything he did.”

Mr Davis won two Jacob’s Awards for his television work and a dozen other local and industry awards.

He is survived by his wife and three sons.