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Famous faces gather to pay tribute at Alan Whicker's memorial service

A COLLECTION of famous faces gathered together to pay tribute to television's greatest globetrotter, Alan Whicker.

Michael Palin, who famously spoofed Whicker in a Monty Python sketch, and journalist Sandy Gall were among the guests at a memorial service for the broadcaster at the Grosvenor Chapel in London's Mayfair.

Others attending included Sir Michael Parkinson and TV executive Michael Grade.

Whicker, who died last July aged 87, brought the lifestyles of the rich and famous into UK homes for decades.

He was best known for presenting his Whicker's World TV series for 31 years.

The show, which was screened on both the BBC and ITV, gave viewers a glimpse of exotic jetset lifestyles which were beyond almost everyone's reach and saw him interviewing the rich, glamorous and powerful, including Peter Sellers, the Sultan of Brunei and the Haitian president Papa Doc Duvalier.

Alan Whicker also served as a war correspondent and during his own service in the Second Word War was among the first group of Allied forces to enter Milan.

He was honoured with the Richard Dimbleby Award at the Baftas in 1978 for his contribution to broadcasting. He received a CBE in 2005.

He put his TV success down to luck, adding: "I suppose I was in the right place at the right time. I was working on the Exchange Telegraph [news agency] and I took a leap from there."

In 2010, the presenter named his four favourite places as Bali, saying it was an island at the "centre of the universe," Hong Kong, where he had been visiting for 60 years along with Austria's capital. He said the "Viennese have perfected the art of civilised drinking". He also picked Norfolk Island in the Pacific: "A gentle corner of paradise, 12,000 miles from Britain and about 1,000 miles from anywhere else."

He succumbed to bronchial pneumonia at the house in Jersey where he lived with his partner Valerie Kleeman.

After his death, Sir Michael described him as a "fine journalist and great storyteller" while Mr Palin said he was "a great character, a great traveller and an excellent reporter".

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