The Sunday Times

November 7, 2004

Steeple star Dibnah is dead

FRED DIBNAH, the steeplejack whose flat cap and blunt style made him an unlikely television celebrity, died yesterday aged 66 after a battle with cancer, writes Charlie Warmington.

Dibnah became famous in 1978 after a projected 20-minute film about the life of a steeplejack was spun out for 19 weeks. Further series followed in the 1980s as Dibnah travelled the country presenting programmes on the industrial age and the age of steam.

He once said that he had “never been over-gifted with brain power”, but his success lay in his ability to speak to the viewer in simple, colloquial English.

Dibnah, who had six children, was with his family when he died at a hospice in Bolton, the town where he was born and had always lived.

Catherine Hall, 27, production manager on Dibnah’s last series, said: “He was a great bloke and a unique character. He will be sorely missed.”

Richard Klein, who executive produced Dibnah’s last two series, said: “More than anyone, Fred helped to bring our engineering history alive — making us aware that steam and coal were two of the main locomotives that made Britain great.”

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