Norman Tozer

The Stage
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Television and radio presenter and video director Norman Tozer died on July 14, aged 76.

Norman was born in north London on July 13, 1934, and trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, where classmates included Michael Blakemore, Diane Cilento and Roy Kinnear. After National Service in the army, he spent a season in rep at Yeovil before joining the newly formed Associated Television as a floor manager, working on everything from Jack Good’s Oh Boy! to H M Tennent dramas, A J P Taylor lectures to Bob Monkhouse’s Golden Shot.

He first came to public attention in 1951 as a continuity announcer, the face of ATV’s London station and was soon presenting and making programmes for both television and radio. One of his proudest achievements was a A Fine Blue Day, a prize-winning documentary for Radio 4 to mark the 40th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, for which he interviewed airmen and others and then edited out himself to create a story told through a montage of the voices of ‘The Few’, but he is probably best known as the person who interviewed everyone in showbiz, from Charlton Heston to Diana Dors, Marie Rambert, Laurence Olivier and Roy Hudd for London TV News and for radio programmes such as Woman’s Hour.

In later years, he became involved in programmes on consumer affairs, which led to official roles representing the UK at EU meetings and selecting products for Design Centre awards.

As a corporate video-maker, he helped explain new drugs, including one that revolutionised organ transplant surgery, but to him the most important was one he made in China about deaf children for a Chinese charity.

He passed on his skills by teaching at the London School of Television Production and ran a course at London Studio Centre to familiarise its acting and musical theatre students with television.

Active as part of BECTU’s History Project, he was always passionate about live theatre. He joined the committee of the Society for Theatre Research and on retirement took over the running of its William Poel Festival, staging performances at the Globe and Her Majesty’s theatres and then reshaping the Poel commemoration to more accurately reflect its intention. Now, in collaboration with the National Theatre, it concentrates on delivering training in performing classical theatre to actors and directors early in their careers through workshops and masterclasses with leading voice specialists and top actors and directors, making use of the Olivier stage.

Norman knew his time was limited but the end came unexpectedly rapidly. He was deeply into setting up this year’s event when his cancer overcame him. It will take place in September and his involvement will be sorely missed.

Howard Loxton

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