Charlie Wilson Obituary, Charlie Wilson Has Passed Away Unexpectedly

Charlie Wilson Obituary, Death – Charles Wilson, the former Times editor who died at the age of 87, was a newspaper guy to the bone. He began as a teenager as a copy runner on the Sunday People in Fleet Street, and his latter career included stints as editor of seven newspapers on both sides of the Atlantic. He used his Glaswegian origins to convey an image of a hard-nosed, cutthroat, and irascible tabloid news editor. He was universally known as Charlie or, to Private Eye magazine, “Gorbals” Wilson, and occasionally, to the disgruntled, Jock MacThug. Those who knew him, on the other hand, grew to recognize a more amiable and caring personality, one who collected porcelain, resided in Holland Park, one of London’s most expensive areas, and was an avid racegoer and horse rider in his leisure time.

He was “one of the roughest, sharpest, and most all-round newspaper men in London, if not the globe,” according to Peter Stothard, one of his successors at the Times. He was periodically moved to refute the hardman image, telling a Scotland on Sunday interviewer in 1994, “I never actually hurled a typewriter at somebody. I couldn’t have done it if I was just a Glasgow thug… In this job, you have to have a sense of humour.” Nonetheless, he was an unexpected pick by Rupert Murdoch to become the Times’ 18th editor in 1985, occupying a chair more commonly occupied by patrician Oxbridge types. The overarching goal was to change all of that by energizing and widening the paper’s appeal, moving it downmarket toward the Daily Mail, handling a broader range of particularly human interest topics, and purposefully targeting more women and less stuffy readers.

The hidden motive was to choose a tough and combative editor in advance of the impending confrontation with the print unions and the trip to Wapping. When that conflict erupted, Wilson and his Scottish colleague Andrew Neil at the Sunday Times helped to fortify Murdoch’s commitment to go on even when the going became tough. Wilson was the son of Adam, a former miner who had become a steel worker following a mining injury, and his English wife, Ruth, who was born in Shettleston, east Glasgow, far from the Gorbals. Ruth’s marriage was difficult and occasionally violent, and she abruptly pulled her son and his brother from Eastbank Academy when he was 16 and fled south to her relatives in Kingston upon Thames, south-west London. Charles did not return to school, but because he was already interested by newspapers – and horse racing, which he had accompanied his father to – he secured a work as a copy boy at the People, Fleet Street’s pre-eminent investigative popular Sunday paper.


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