Broadcaster Gerry Kelly pays tribute after ex-UTV colleague’s sudden death

Broadcaster Gerry Kelly said he was devastated by the sudden death of a friend and colleague who was a key figure in reviving his popular television programme.

Alpha Campbell, a retired senior sound engineer at UTV, was found dead at his home on Saturday – just 12 days after his mother’s death.

Mr Campbell, who was in his 60s, was one of a dozen Havelock House veterans who volunteered their services to help media students at Belfast Metropolitan College create the new show Tonight with Gerry Kelly.

“Ralph’s untimely death devastated me. It dulled the shine of a really happy time for all of us,” Kelly said.

“Just last Wednesday, Ralph was his usual upbeat, fun self as we taped the latest show.

“I’ve known him for years during our UTV days and his ever-present smile and infectious laugh always lifted everyone around him.

“I can’t believe he left, especially so soon after his beloved mother Anne.

“Two days after her death, Ralph insisted he didn’t want to let us down and came in to tape the show.”

Michael McAdam, the executive producer of Tonight with Gerry Kelly, another former UTV employee, said everyone associated with the show was deeply upset by Ralph’s death.

He added: “It was totally unexpected. Ralph and the rest of us ex-UTV guys had an absolute ball with a labor of love.

“It was great fun and nobody enjoyed himself more than Ralph, who was a pleasure to be with. Nothing was too much trouble for him.

“And the reality is that it wouldn’t have happened if he and several other experts in their field hadn’t lent their technical expertise to the show. Some of us from the team attended Mrs Campbell’s funeral service in Whiteabbey last week and never thought we would be going to her son’s funeral this week.”

Belfast Met students are also shocked.

But she and her class’s coordinator, former UTV news host Lynda Bryans, have vowed the show will go ahead. Next week’s program will be dedicated to Ralph, who said he looks forward to passing on his years of experience to the next generation of TV, radio and filmmakers.

Mr McAdam said: “His wife told me he really enjoyed being back in the studio doing what he used to do on the original Kelly show. We will have a picture of Ralph at the next show along with a message in memory of an amazing professional and wonderful friend.”

Other UTV retirees have assisted the Belfast Met students in all aspects of television production, from creating the opening credits to booking guests and editing the show.

It will be taped in front of an audience and broadcast on community broadcaster NVTV during its eight-week run. Broadcaster Gerry Kelly pays tribute after ex-UTV colleague’s sudden death

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