Barry Norman could not have been further removed from the cliché of the film critic as a snooty killjoy

He didn’t chafe or take offence, which he’d have been fully within his rights to do. He politely listened, and gently defended his verdicts on various films we discussed. He never saw himself as a standard-bearer for British cinema, I remember him saying, but he was fully aware of the effect a Norman thumbs-up could have, and what a responsibility that came with.

After his retirement from anchoring the BBC’s flagship film job, Norman became an amiable eminence grise, visible from time to time in the screening rooms, when something new was on his radar and he wanted to make a special effort to see it. Thankfully, I highly doubt he remembered being put through his paces by a belligerent tyro critic. 

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