Chris Kenworthy, a member since the Guild’s inception, died in December aged 71. He had suffered from Leukaemia for about ten years. As many friends noted, he wore his illness so lightly, his famous sense of humour rarely deserting him, that few realised how serious his condition was.
Chris – always Chris in his by-line though Kit to friends and family – set out to study law at King’s College in the Strand, but got side-tracked into journalism. He began on the Daily Express, where his father Alexander was an agricultural correspondent, then wrote leaders for Charles Wintour’s London Evening Standard.
A love of television then led him to the TV Times, which in the late ’60s carried lengthy features and interviews and employed some fine writers. When Rupert Murdoch acquired The Sun in 1969, Chris joined the TV team producing a full daily TV page of features and interviews, the first in a national newspaper. He also did film reviews and features, and always claimed that his finest hour came when he flew to Malta to interview Robert Mitchum on set. The star uttered one sentence – sadly deemed unfit for a prurient family newspaper as The Sun was in those far-off days – and fell fast asleep, not to be re-awakened.
He left The Sun in 1985 shortly before News International’s move to Wapping. An old-style Fleet Street raconteur and bon viveur, he would not have enjoyed Wapping. It was too far from El Vino’s.
From then on he combined freelance work with research and novel writing. He wrote four novels set in the naval world of the American Civil War, and several Westerns under the pseudonyms C. Kay and Walt Masterson. He researched some of these while visiting his son Matthew, an astro-physicist working in Arizona. One is to be published posthumously. While on the Sun he had met and become friends with the comedy writer John Sullivan and subsequently provided research for several of Sullivan’s TV shows, including the current hit Green Green Grass.
Chris was a regular at the Guild’s awards lunches until the damage to his immune system meant that he had to avoid crowded places. He leaves a widow, Helen, and two children Eve and Matthew.