(The following message has been sent out by Tim Scoones, exec producer, NHU, BBC Bristol in tribute to Ian Dewar, who sadly died recently)
Many of you, particularly those in the extended Springwatch Family, will already know this terrible and shocking news, as Ian was our engineering manager right up to the OB site build for this year’s Springwatch. In the last few days I have come to realise just how far Ian’s influence has reached, so I am am writing to the whole BBC Bristol site to make sure everyone knows. Do please feel free to forward this on into the wider media community – Ian has so many friends and colleagues around the industry – not just our stuff, but in BBC Sport and throughout the Pebble Mill era in BBC Birmingham.
The entire ‘Watches’ Family are struggling to come to terms with this great and sudden loss – Ian influenced and inspired the lives of so many people. He has been such a huge character in the BBC, and particularly in the Natural History Unit through Springwatch and Big Cat Live. Ian was a wonderful mentor to so many and a larger than life character – we always knew when he was in the building! Who will ever forget that deep gravelly voice, that steely stare (when required…) or that infectious Sid James laugh? He seemed to leave his mark wherever he went and he will be sorely missed at a really personal level by everyone here who knew him.
On a professional level, Ian contributed to – and often drove personally – the world-class innovation and production excellence that the BBC Natural History Unit is known for. Ian’s incredible wealth of knowledge and experience, and his unswerving loyalty to the team and their mission, allowed Springwatch to break new ground in factual broadcasting time and time again. He has played a major part in creating a well loved and hugely respected media brand that has become part of national life in this country. This is an extraordinary legacy that all of those who worked closely with Ian will never forget.
As well as his unique presence and personality, Ian will always be remembered for his awesome expertise and unswerving professionalism in everything that he did – from creating seemingly impossible OBs in the Masaii Mara or the Isle of Rum to getting us all back on air within days of the great floods of Springwatch 2012 in West Wales – all utterly extraordinary achievements that only someone of Ian’s unique calibre could have even envisaged let alone achieved. Ian taught so many people in the Natural History Unit so much about an area of broadcasting that relies on the initiative, the drive to innovate and the technical wizardry that “The Duke” – as he was known – had in spades. This knowledge, now inherited by future generations of broadcasters, will be a lasting tribute to a man who became a Springwatch legend and who will always be synonymous with the shows’ excellence.
Ian always took great satisfaction that Springwatch inspired millions – including the next generation of young naturalists and conservation scientists – to care more about the wonderful wildlife we share this world with. This is a profound legacy that will out last us all. I know that when Ian and his team won the Special BAFTA award was one of the best days of his life, and rightly so – what better formal tribute to a man who led his team through thick and thin to achieve new and extraordinary things?
Ian will be sorely and profoundly missed. We salute a great man, a friend and mentor to so many and an inspiration to us all.
Ian leaves a wife, Jo, and two children Milly and Henry. His funeral will be held this Monday, 15th July, at St Philip & St James Church, Main Road, Hallow, Worcester at 11am. There will be a big representation from Springwatch and the wider BBC as we pay our respects and celebrate his extraordinary life. Jo, his wife, has requested that any donations be made to St Richard’s Hospice, Worcester or Macmillan Nurses.
BBC NATURAL HISTORY UNIT