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Journalist who went from district reporter to Fleet Street dies aged 76

A journalist who went from district reporter to Fleet Street has died aged 76.

Tributes have been paid to Charles Catchpole, known as Charlie, whose career also took him to Africa.

He later returned to the UK and worked on several national newspapers before retiring in 2015.

Charles, pictured, began his career as a reporter through the training scheme of Eastern Counties Newspapers on the Dereham and Fakenham Times in 1964.

He was later based in King’s Lynn for the Eastern Daily Press and Norwich Evening News, although he transferred to their Norwich head office the following year.

Andrew Harvey, who first worked alongside Charles in 1968, told the Evening News: “He developed his distinctive style of wry and witty writing that caught the eye of other editors.

“Charles had a gift for affectionate mockery and his commentaries on television programmes and the stars who made them gained him a wide readership and the respect of the industry.

“He was no pushover, he was quick with a knockout response to pomposity and self-importance.

“For a time he had a football column in The Sun beneath a byline picture showing him swathed in the green and yellow scarf of a Norwich City fan.

“Following Norwich was the same bittersweet experience for Charlie as it is for every Canaries supporter.”

In 1969, Charles left Norwich to work on the Rhodesia Herald in modern-day Zimbabwe where his wife Cynthia, a fellow journalist, worked on a local radio station.

On his return to the UK, Charles joined London’s Evening Standard before moving to the Daily Mail and then the Daily Star in 1979.

Two years later he became a features writer at The Sun and was News of the World TV editor from 1985.

He left in 1998 to be a columnist for the Daily Mirror, moving three years later to the Daily Express as a TV columnist. His final role was curating the Man of the People column on The People before retiring in 2015.

Charles died on 31 March and is survived by Cynthia, sister Julia, children Catherine, Christopher and Charlotte and his grandchildren Freddie, Ruby and Florence.

His daughter Charlotte Finch said: “He did love Norwich City, but his one true love was writing and journalism – he had a natural gift for it.”

Son Christopher added: “He was always working. There was always a cigar in the mouth and a notepad on his knee.

“He once on a train journey managed to file copy by writing on post-it notes and re-arranging it on his leg and then dictated his copy down the phone.

“Even on holiday he’d try to find a shop selling the papers. But we really treasured quality time with him.

“The two bits of advice he always gave me were: always be the last to leave the pub and always make friends with the travel editor. It’s hard to think of a world without him in it.”

Charlie’s funeral will be held at Mortlake Crematorium, in London, on 20 April.

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