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May 29, 2013updated 30 May 2013 2:57pm

Grant Lockhart: The last editor of Weekend magazine – a ‘deft touch and wry sense of humour’

By Press Gazette

Grant Lockhart, the last editor of the former Associated flagship title Weekend magazine, has died at 72 after a long illness.
 

A journalist with a deep interest in the history of entertainment – from the movies to the wonderful Scottish comics of his native Scotland – he spent much of his life doing what he loved best: writing about stage and screen or editing magazines largely devoted to those arts.

An expert on Hollywood and a peerless authority on the classic Phil Silvers show Bilko, Grant began his career as a reporter on the Dundee Courier before moving to Melbourne to work as a showbusiness writer, columnist and reviewer. Returning to the UK, a stint as a sub on the Daily Record preceded a move to London in 1973 where he became a TV and film writer with Northcliffe Newspapers.

Later joining Weekend, he became features editor, deputy editor and was appointed editor in 1988.

Despite his best efforts, a lack of investment and fierce competition forced its closure in late 1989 and the title was taken by the Mail for one of its Saturday supplements. Grant later freelanced for the US market.

His quirky sense of humour was typified by his membership – along with Keith Waterhouse – of the Useless Information Society, an occasional dinner gathering at which exchanged information was judged by guests on its uselessness.

Grant's wife Jacqui died in 1994 and he is survived by his daughters Claire and Annabel and granddaughter April. The family request donations to St Helena's Hospice, Colchester.

Guy Simpson writes: Before the flood of 'sleb 'n' soap' titles engulfed us, one magazine ruled the market and that was Weekend – a money-spinning, million-seller that propped up the ailing Associated dailies, the Mail and Sketch, with its lively mix of human interest and showbiz stories. But by the 1980s it was in trouble and out of ideas. The company turned to Bill Ridley, a smart tabloid operator, to check the slide and then to Grant Lockhart, with whom I had the pleasure of working as deputy during the last few years of Weekend's paid-for life.

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Grant ran what was by then a cash-strapped, seat-of-the-pants operation with a deft touch and wry sense of humour – amazingly with a team of just six staffers including chief sub Dave Soulsby and  designer Brian Smith. "Make ' em laugh" – in the words of one of his heroes, Donald O'Connor – could have been his motto. And Grant did with his brilliant, tongue-in-cheek captions to celebrity pictures which were a work of art in themselves.

Laughter, a shared appreciation of great men like Wilder, Lemmon, Matthau, Silvers, Max Wall and Chic Murray – was never far away amid the madness of production deadlines.  In the end, the fun had to stop. Associated pulled the plug, even though Weekend still had a respectable six-figure circulation, and turned it into a listings section of the Mail. Devoured, ironically, by the beast it had once kept alive.  

 

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