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Clive James



When did Clive James die?

Clive James was warmly thought of as the quick-witted, likeable 'bloke from Aussie', famous for his TV work. When reports of his death came out in 2019, many were taken by surprise, however, as they were sure he'd died 7 years earlier in 2012. 

There are many celebrity death stories which turn out to be fake. Sometimes there is more to them, such as the Nelson Mandela one itself. The Clive James one may have an explanation, however, from the fact that people remember it being 2012 when he died. That's because in that year he announced on BBC Radio 4 that leukemia "had beaten him".

In fact he went on to write a weekly column for The Guardian until June 2017, and seemed to be aware of the celebrity death hoax phenomenon, because in his inimitable style he titled it "Reports of My Death..."


James was extremely intelligent, able to read, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Russian and Japanese. He first became ill in 2011 with suspected kidney failure, but was a heavy drinker and smoker in his early life. He was born Vivian Leopold James, in Sydney, and changed his name early on because it was thought of as a girl's name.He moved to the UK in 1962, where he read English literature at Cambridge. He was an early contestant on University Challenge.

He moved into becoming a critic, and was quickly called into TV as a guest commentator, and sometimes as a presenter. He had to control the Sex Pistols in a notorious episode of So It Goes on Granada Television, where he said:

During the recording, the task of keeping the little bastards under control was given to me. With the aid of a radio microphone, I was able to shout them down, but it was a near thing ... they attacked everything around them and had difficulty in being polite even to each other.

-- Clive James, So It Goes