Four years after re-inventing himself as a professional artist, former TV presenter, Tony Francis launches his new collection of paintings in Hawridge Common this month. (April)
Tony presented sport for BBC and ITV as well as directing his own award-winning series, “Heart of the Country”for 25 years.
His most memorable moments were interviewing Seb Coe and Steve Ovett at the 1980 Moscow Olympics, introducing the 1994 World Cup from Dallas and interrupting England’s cricket tour of the Caribbean to chase the mercenaries who kidnapped Ronnie Biggs.
Tony also co-hosted ITV snooker when Steve Davis was unbeatable and Alex Higgins uncontrollable. He subsequently wrote the book ‘Who was Hurricane Higgins?’ after the mysterious Alex died in poverty and isolation.
His best-selling book was “Clough”, a biography the Derby and Forest manager didn’t want publishing. Further books included “Salmon Fishing with Jack Charlton”, “The Zen of Cricket” and, more recently, “Extraordinary Villages”.
In between, most of his time was spent filming in the British landscape. His proudest moment was capturing the rare sight of a newly born cuckoo chick turfing the reed warbler’s eggs out of the nest. As Tony says, there are distinct similarities between filming and painting: –
“Either way, you’re looking for that unusual angle, that wonderful splash of light. That’s why dawn is such a good time. Catch sight of a stag in the mist as the sun touches the treetops and you know it was worth getting up at 6.00.”
Tony uses acrylics for his impressionistic landscapes, seascapes and still lifes. Within a year of starting, he was selected for the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition where he sold his first work.
Early morning runs around Cholesbury, Hastoe and Ashridge provide Tony with much of his inspiration.
His exhibition is at his home, Gateway Cottage, Hawridge Common and runs for the whole of April (1-29 April, Gateway Cottage, Hawridge Common, HP5 2UQ.)