Vale Academy FP and TV Watchdog host Lynn Faulds Wood dies aged 72
Former BBC Watchdog presenter and campaigning journalist Lynn Faulds Wood has died at the age of 72.
A statement from her family said she died peacefully on Friday, “having suffered a massive stroke last night and a subsequent bleed on the brain”.
The cancer campaigner was best known for hosting the consumer investigation programme from 1985 to 1993, alongside her husband John Stapleton.
She was diagnosed with stage three bowel cancer while working ON the show.
Fellow TV presenter and journalist Dame Esther Rantzen led the tributes, saying: “I have known Lynn for many years. We made a series together which was huge fun but also very hard hitting, because she was such an impressive and courageous consumer journalist.
“She fought for the rights of vulnerable people doggedly and determinedly and she is a huge loss to journalism and to her friends and family. We are all devastated at this news.”
BBC Newsreader Sophie Raworth described Faulds Wood as “the most wonderful, generous, kind friend”, while former Watchdog host and 5 Live’s Nicky Campbell and LBC’s Shelagh Fogarty also paid tribute to the “groundbreaking” broadcaster.
Journalist and media commentator Roy Greenslade added he was “saddened to hear of the death of one of the nicest people I ever worked with,” describing her as “a brilliant consumer writer.”
The late broadcaster once appeared in an episode of French and Saunders as herself, and another comedian Rory Bremner noted on Friday how she had a great sense of fun and “loved our Watchdog [impressions]”.
Lynn Faulds Wood, grew up at Duck Bay on Loch Lomondside in the Scottish Youth Hostel Association hostel, where he father, Jim, was the SYHA accountant and her mother, Betty, was a columnist with the Dumbarton and Vale of Leven Reporter and the Helensburgh Advertiser. She went to Vale of Leven Academy.
Bill Heaney, editor of The Dumbarton Democrat, said: “Lynn was just a schoolgirl at the Academy when I first got to know here. Her mother was a colleague on the Reporter and Lynn was always cut out to follow her into the newspaper business. Like her Mum, she was highly principled and I don’t think she would have suffered fools gladly. I admire the fact that she refused an honour saying the system badly needed to be over-hauled. She was all a real journalist should be. Condolences to John and extended family.”
Following in her mother’s footsteps, Lynn began her career working on stories and campaigns for newspapers including the Daily Mail and The Sun.
She then moved into breakfast TV, before helping to turn Watchdog into a prime-time BBC One series.
Her investigations on the ITV show World In Action helped to create the world’s first evidence-based guide to symptoms of her cancer.
In an interview with Cancer World in 2006, the star revealed the BBC had turned down one of her programmes ideas, back in what she called the cancer “dark ages” of 1999, saying no one wanted to see the disease discussed during prime-time viewing.
After getting the all-clear about her own cancer she felt able to tackle the topic head on in the ITV programme Bobby Moore and Me, which went out on the 30th anniversary of England winning the football World Cup.
The victorious captain died of bowel cancer in 1993 at the age of 51, but his wife Stephanie Moore gave her her first interview, saying “she’d been waiting to talk about it”.
“She’d known that it was an unnecessary death,” said Faulds Wood.
“Bobby had four years of symptoms and was told it was irritable bowel syndrome. In the programme I went through each stage in the cancer journey and showed what was wrong in the UK.”
“I looked miserable on camera – and I was, because it was so upsetting,” she added.
She spent the next few months answering 28,000 letters – “a catalogue of human misery”.
“The TV company had never seen anything like it. That’s when I decided to give up most of my TV work and concentrate on bowel cancer.”
The broadcast journalist went on to co-found the European Cancer Patient Coalition in 2002, which she chaired for seven years, and also helped to set up MEPs Against Cancer – pushing the case to raise awareness of the disease in Europe.
In the mid-noughties she teamed up with Rantzen to present the BBC consumer investigation series Old Dogs, New Tricks, and later seriously considered entering politics in 2010, but decided to remain a campaigner.
She returned to Watchdog’s new daytime series Watchdog Test House, alongside Raworth in 2014.
Two years later, Faulds Wood rejected an MBE, saying the honours system needs to be dragged “into the 21st Century”.
The activist said she would be a “hypocrite” to accept the award for her work on consumer safety.
Her nomination came after she chaired a government independent review into the UK’s system for the recall of dangerous products which she feared had been “kicked into the long grass”.
She later called on the government to do more to protect consumers from faulty products that can cause fires, in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy.
Her husband and son Nick were at her bedside when she died.