Broadcaster Martin Bell to reveal his family’s links to legendary painter

Martin Bell OBE. Picture: Agron Dragaj

Martin Bell OBE. Picture: Agron Dragaj - Credit: Archant

One was one of England’s finest painters, while the other is one of the nation’s most revered and popular broadcasters.

Barge on the Stour at Dedham Sir Alfred Munnings in the 1930s.

Barge on the Stour at Dedham Sir Alfred Munnings in the 1930s. - Credit: Archant

And now the respected BBC journalist and former politician Martin Bell has revealed his family’s link to the legendary Suffolk artist Sir Alfred Munnings, who was born in and grew up in Suffolk.

Sir Alfred, who was born in Mendham, near Harleston on the River Waveney, captured the idyllic English countryside, riverscapes and majestic horses in a series of stunning paintings before he died in Dedham, Colchester in 1959.

But little known to many is that the family of Mr Bell and Sir Alfred were close, as the broadcaster’s father - the first ever Times crossword compiler, Adrian Bell - and the painter were dear friends.

Mr Bell is now due to recall his memories of his family’s links with the Munnings family when he delivers this year’s Birthday Lecture at the Munnings Arts Museum in Dedham.

My Wife My Horse and Myself by Sir Alfred Munnings.

My Wife My Horse and Myself by Sir Alfred Munnings. - Credit: Archant

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He will reflect on his own childhood on the Norfolk/Suffolk border and rural upbringing with his father, as well as tell tales drawn from his father’s friendship with Sir Alfred.

Mr Bell said: “I look forward to recalling my father’s friendship with Munnings, they had much in common.

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“I shall also talk more generally about my life and times, including what it was like to serve in the Suffolk Regiment.”

Munnings Art Museum director Jenny Hand said: “It’s quite remarkable, if not unique, to have someone with Martin’s distinguished and fascinating career in the media, also be in possession of a series of unique memories and insights into Munnings - not simply as a great artist but as a friend and human being.

“The public has come to know Martin through his public persona as a journalist, broadcaster and Member of Parliament but during this intimate event he will reveal very personal glimpses into his early family life, which was peopled with characters as Sir Alfred.

“It promises to be a wonderful evening.”

Tickets for the event - to be held at the Dedham Assembly Rooms on Wednesday, October 3 - are priced at £10.

For details about the Munnings Birthday Lecture, visit

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