He counted them all out...
December 20, 2010 4:06 PM   Subscribe

BBC Correspondent Brian Hanrahan, who rose to fame during his coverage of the Falklands Conflict in 1982, has died at the age of 61.

Hanrahan caught the attention of BBC viewers and listeners with his clever way of circumventing the MoD’s reporting restrictions, announcing after a Harrier bombing raid: “I’m not allowed to say how many planes joined the raid, but I counted them all out, and I counted them all back.

In subsequent years he became known for his meticulous, level-headed reporting from events including the fall of the Berlin Wall, anniversaries of D-Day and funeral of Princess Diana, the Queen Mother and The Pope. He revisited the Falkland Islands on the 10th and 25th anniversaries of the conflict, always treating Islanders and veterans with the interest and respect born out of shared experience. In addition to his TV reports, his reassuring voice was familiar to listeners of Radio 4 and the World Service on programmes such as From Our Own Correspondent, The World at One and The World This Weekend.

Colleagues have been paying tribute, including BBC World Affairs editor John Simpson and World News editor Jon Williams, who reveals: “Last week, he'd planned to report from RAF Cottesmore as the Harriers he'd counted out in the Falklands were counted back for the final time before being withdrawn from service. Instead, he found himself back in hospital. As Harriers landed for the final time, the crews of RAF Cottesmore recorded a get-well message to Brian.”

On a lighter note, his name also inspired that of the Day to Day character Peter O’Hanrahahanrahan.
posted by penguin pie (10 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
From a personal point of view, I worked with him as a fixer for two weeks in the Falklands in 2007 and found him to be a thoroughly decent man, thoughtful, serious, but warm and interested in people. He was also modest, despite his talents, though he got some quiet pleasure, I think, from his popularity, wryly telling an anecdote about Michael Buerk once being asked for his autograph, "Because I really admire you, Mr Hanrahan."

posted by penguin pie at 4:28 PM on December 20, 2010 [3 favorites]

BBC radio was one of the few constants in my travels last year; Hanrahan's voice was always there. Too young to have listened to the Falklands war live :) - heard about his reporting for the first time yesterday - but his piece on the Berlin Wall anniversary last year was fantastic; just the kind of reporting I look forward to from the BBC, informative, reflective and deeply stimulating.

posted by the cydonian at 5:55 PM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

I remember his reporting from almost every event that seemed to matter.

posted by ob at 6:57 PM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

posted by NailsTheCat at 7:36 PM on December 20, 2010

ob: "I remember his reporting from almost every event that seemed to matter."

I did think his first-hand account of the airplane attacks on the World Trade Center in 11/9/2001 was outstanding.

Oh wait, that was actually O'Hanraha-hanrahan.
posted by meehawl at 7:51 PM on December 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


I remember being 10 and watching/listening to him as the Falklands was ongoing. A great loss.
posted by arcticseal at 12:02 AM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

posted by DanCall at 2:51 AM on December 21, 2010

I listened to the audio and read the article but I still can't figure out what's so clever. Does that phrase indicate a particular number in Britain, like "buckle my shoe" would indicate two? Or was he also circumventing a restriction on losses (i.e. they were zero since he counted them back in)?
posted by DU at 5:08 AM on December 21, 2010

The latter, DU. And it was just one of those phrases that stuck in people's minds somehow.
posted by penguin pie at 5:43 AM on December 21, 2010

posted by runincircles at 6:22 AM on December 21, 2010

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