- Restaurant critic AA Gill has died three weeks after announcing he had cancer
- 62-year-old had previously said that he was suffering ‘the full English of cancers’
- His final newspaper column will be published in the Sunday Times tomorrow
Jennifer Newton for MailOnline
Award-winning journalist and restaurant critic AA Gill has died just weeks after announcing he was suffering from an ’embarrassment of cancer’.
The Sunday Times confirmed the 62-year-old died this morning, three weeks after he confirmed he was suffering from the ‘full English’ of cancers, when he announced: ‘There is barely a morsel of offal that is not included. I have a trucker’s gut-buster, gimpy, malevolent, meaty malignancy.’
Gill – who was fearless in voicing his opinions – had written for the newspaper since 1993 and his final column will be published tomorrow.
News of his death led to an outpouring of emotion from his fellow colleagues, critics and celebrity chefs who have paid tribute to a ‘brilliant writer’ and the ‘King of irreverent critics’.
Restaurant critic AA Gill, pictured with his long-term partner Nicola Formby, who has died just weeks after announcing he was suffering from an ’embarrassment of cancer’. He is pictured early last month
The Sunday Times confirmed the death of the 62-year-old, three weeks after he confirmed he was suffering from the ‘full English’ of cancers
News of the writer’s death led to an outpouring of emotion on social media
The writer was diagnosed recently after concerns from his family on a summer holiday about his rapid weight loss.
The father-of-four said the disease had spread to several parts of his body, restricting his ability to exercise and travel during treatment.
He also recently revealed how the illness prompted him to propose to his partner of 23 years, former model Nicola Formby, whom he affectionately refers to as ‘The Blonde’ in his restaurant reviews.
Speaking at the time of his diagnosis, the columnist, who was previously married to Home Secretary Amber Rudd during the 1990s, said: ‘I’ve got an embarrassment of cancer, the full English.’
His death was confirmed in a statement sent to Sunday Times staff by the newspaper’s editor Martin Ivens.
It said: ‘It is with profound sadness that I must tell you that our much-loved colleague Adrian Gill died this morning.
‘Adrian was stoical about his illness, but the suddenness of his death has shocked us all.
‘Characteristically he has had the last word, writing an outstanding article about coming to terms with his cancer in tomorrow’s Sunday Times Magazine.
‘He was the heart and soul of the paper. His wit was incomparable, his writing was dazzling and fearless, his intelligence was matched by compassion.
‘Adrian was a giant among journalists. He was also our friend. We will miss him.’
Mr Gill also recently revealed how the illness prompted him to propose to his partner of 23 years, former model Nicola Formby, whom he affectionately refers to as ‘The Blonde’ in his restaurant reviews
Since the news of his death broke, journalists and colleagues and others have paid moving tributes to Gill
In an interview last month, the journalist said he had no regrets about the diagnosis.
He said: ‘I realise I don’t have a bucket list; I don’t feel I’ve been cheated of anything.
‘I’d like to have gone to Timbuktu, and there are places I will be sorry not to see again.
‘But actually, because of the nature of my life and the nature of what happened to me in my early life – my addiction, I know I have been very lucky.
Since the news of his death broke, journalists and colleagues also paid moving tributes to Gill
‘I gave up [alcohol] when I was still quite young, so it was like being offered the next life. It was the real Willy Wonka golden ticket, I got a really good deal.
‘And at the last minute I found something I could do.
‘Somebody said: why don’t you watch television, eat good food and travel and then write about it? And, as lives go, that’s pretty good.’
During his writing career , Mr Gill charmed and caused controversy in equal measure.
He offended, among others, TV presenter Clare Balding, historian Mary Beard, animal-lovers, and former politician and talkshow host Robert Kilroy-Silk who, Gill claimed, once punched and gave him a dead leg over comments in his TV column.
He once said of Mary Beard: ‘The hair is a disaster, the outfit an embarrassment. If you are going to invite yourself into the front rooms of the living, then you need to make an effort’.
Gill was born Adrian Anthony Gill on June 28, 1954, in Edinburgh to English parents, television producer Michael Gill and actress Yvonne Gilan.
Growing up under Winston Churchill’s second premiership, Gill later has stated how the war ‘hung like the smell of damp, grim nostalgia over everything’ in his childhood.
Despite his self-professed dyslexia, Mr Gill went worked for society magazine Tatler before moving to the Sunday Times in 1993
After his parents moved back south when he was still a toddler, Gill was educated at the independent St Christopher School in Letchworth, Hertfordshire before moving to London to study at Central Saint Martins.
As he tried his hand as an artist, Gill turned to alcohol and drugs during his 20s. He was warned aged 30 by a doctor that his damaged liver meant he probably would not see another Christmas.
During the tumultuous period, he had married his first wife – author Cressida Connolly – before cutting out the drink and drugs and launching his writing career with ‘art reviews for little magazines’.
After splitting with Connolly, he was married to Amber Rudd – now the Home Secretary – for five years and had the first two of his of four children, Flora and Alasdair.
In 1991 he seized upon the first piece of advice any writer receives – write what you know – with his first big article for lifestyle magazine Tatler.
The piece, on alcoholism, was lauded by then-Tatler editor Jane Procter who called it ‘brutally honest’.
The writer was diagnosed recently after concerns from his family on a summer holiday about his rapid weight loss
Gill left Rudd in 1995 for his partner of nearly a quarter of a century – Tatler editor-at-large Nicola Formby.
Since 1998 his younger brother, Nick, a Michelin-starred chef, has been missing. Gill issued repeated pleas for help in finding him and admitted that every time he visits a new city ‘I search the streets for him.’
As a dyslexic, Gill would dictate his copy to Sunday Times editors, who, he said, were constantly advising him to tone things down.
In 2010 the newspaper revealed he had attracted 62 complaints from the Press Complaints Commission in five years and during the 1990s a dossier of his articles was presented to Swansea police by a coalition of citizens after he labelled the Welsh ‘ugly, pugnacious little trolls’.
True to fashion, Gill hit back at his accusers saying: ‘The Welsh don’t need me to make them look fools when they have got people like this among their ranks. I shall sleep easy tonight.’
He dismissed Gordon Ramsay – who had thrown him out of one of his restaurants – as ‘a wonderful chef, just a really second-rate human being’.
And in 2009 he caused uproar with animal-lovers after recounting in a Sunday Times column, how he shot a baboon from 250 yards while hunting in ‘a truck full of guns and other blokes’ in Tanzania.
Reflecting on turning 60 in 2014, Gill wrote that he was dictating articles to ‘clever overeducated colleagues who are much, much younger’ and who ‘constantly and consistently don’t get references to things that to me seemed to have happened only a couple of months ago.’
In the same article he reflected on his fellow ‘baby-boomers’, writing that they were the generation ‘relentlessly for civil rights, human rights, gay rights, disability rights, equality, fairness.
He added: ‘We were implacably against racism and censorship. We defended freedom of speech, religion and expression. We will leave the world better fed and better off than when we arrived in it.
‘Britain is a far happier, richer and fairer place than it was 60 years ago. And if you think that’s wishful self-promotion, you have no idea how grim and threadbare Britain in the Fifties was. You weren’t there, you don’t remember.’
Mr Gill had recently been undergoing treatment at Charing Cross Hospital in London after shunning private care in favour of the NHS.
He added: ‘My father would say he didn’t want to die in a trench, and I don’t want to die in a trench in Harley Street.’
Gill was known for dictating his copy over the telephone, composing his memoir Pour Me: A Life in the same fashion
ACERBIC WIT OF RESTAURANT CRITIC WHO NEVER MINCED HIS WORDS
AA Gill will be remembered for his writing style and his use of language. Here are some of his best quotes:
On his life: ‘I realise I don’t have a bucket list; I don’t feel I’ve been cheated of anything. I’d like to have gone to Timbuktu, and there are places I will be sorry not to see again.
‘But actually, because of the nature of my life and the nature of what happened to me in my early life – my addiction, I know I have been very lucky. I gave up (alcohol) when I was still quite young, so it was like being offered the next life. It was the real Willy Wonka golden ticket, I got a really good deal.
‘And at the last minute I found something I could do. Somebody said: why don’t you watch television, eat good food and travel and then write about it? And, as lives go, that’s pretty good’.
On his illness: ‘I’ve got an embarrassment of cancer, the full English. There is barely a morsel of offal that is not included. I have a trucker’s gut-buster, gimpy, malevolent, meaty malignancy’.
On pasta and noodles: ‘Pasta is eaten by happy smiley people having fun with people they love or fancy and are about to s**g. Noodles are eaten by people who have no friends’.
On Dame Joan Collins: ‘She looks like an aborted egg’.
On historian Mary Beard: ‘The hair is a disaster, the outfit an embarrassment. If you are going to invite yourself into the front rooms of the living, then you need to make an effort’.
On Prince Charles: ‘Prince Charles’s vocal chords are plainly trying to strangle him. He may well become the first monarch to lose his head from the inside out’.
On Celine Dion: ‘She is a symbol of cultural rot, a corny, calculated act for clueless, obese fans’.
On the Welsh: ‘Loquacious, dissemblers, immoral liars, stunted, bigoted, dark, ugly, pugnacious little trolls’.
On success: ‘The interesting adults are always the school failures, the weird ones, the losers, the malcontents, this isn’t wishful thinking. It’s the rule.’
On Morrissey’s autobiography: ‘What is surprising is that any publisher would want to publish the book, not because it is any worse than a lot of other pop memoirs, but because Morrissey is plainly the most ornery, cantankerous, entitled, whingeing, self-martyred human being who ever drew breath. And those are just his good qualities.’
On PR: ‘I have never acted on a press release or gone out to dinner with a PR. I think PR is a ridiculous job. They are the headlice of civilisation.’
Since the news of his death broke, journalists and colleagues and others paid moving tributes to Gill.
Daily Mail Online editor-at-large Piers Morgan wrote on Twitter: ‘RIP AA Gill. He trashed me for 20 years but always with magnificently eloquent savagery & an irritating kernel of truth.’
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said: ‘Very sad to hear the news about the passing of the brilliant AA Gill. An outstanding writer & critic.’
Sky News host Kay Burley added: ‘Supreme restaurant critic but this is how I will remember AA Gill. Judging @macmillancancer Westminster dog show. #doglover RIP.’
Popstar Lily Allen tweeted: ‘Devastated about AAGill. Rest in Peace Adrian.’
While former Sunday Times editor Andrew Neil said he was ‘consumed with sadness and anger’ at the death of his friend.
Describing it as ‘unfair’, Mr Neil said his friend was ‘taken from us far too soon’.
Published at Sat, 10 Dec 2016 21:32:06 +0000