Dale was always going to be a star.
He told me as much, as we sat in the Radio Trent offices in the early ‘80s. His dream was specific. He told that a tacky game show would be his big break and he talked about the people he wanted to call his friends.
In time, his dream was to become a colourful reality. Supermarket Sweep was to be the break, reinventing daytime TV. I recall he clutched the VHS demo video as he emerged from Tottenham Court tube station as I bumped into him again. ‘This is it, David’. It was.
Dale had lived a complex life. His mother, an accomplished actress, committing suicide.
He didn’t necessarily want to work in radio, he just sought fame. He was nevertheless gifted and ahead of his time at the wireless art. His beginnings were in the clubs, and then the closed circuit biscuit factory Radio, UBN, before graduating to Radio Trent in 1977.
He grew to own his city and Trent listeners would seek only to speak to him. For a period he was Radio Trent. He would screech up to the station just before the programme started, run downstairs in a variety of outfits rarely seen In provincial cities and deliver energy and perfection. He perfected feelgood Radio before we knew what it was. A true Gemini, this highly social charismatic animal could get away with anything.
On leaving the Trent job in a typically dramatic Dale style, he retained his status. One memorable night, he came across to us in a restaurant, flicked his head back and introduced himself to my friends ‘I used to be Dale Winton’. Dale owned any room he chose.
From Trent to Beacon and beyond. Life again was challenging. His earnings and inheritances dwindled, not least because he’d always lived the life of a star, and Dale looked at normal jobs to make ends meet.
With support from close friends, which he always garnered readily with his charm and the generosity of his company, he secured early TV opportunities which grew into Supermarket Sweep, a programme he quickly made his own. On the National Lottery, his now less chubby figure and smart suit would quickly become well-known. The Cilla he’d idolised became a confidante.
Dale had become ‘our Dale’ and the public recognition he’d sought so long radiated.
The period beyond I know less well, although he opened up about his challenges on Loose Women. Dale was always going to be a man of highs and lows. In my mother’s words, he would never make old bones. That’s just not Dale. He will leave in the headlines, as he would have wished.
He was an inspiration. His life told you can achieve anything you want if you try hard enough. But that you need to be careful .