Restaurant critic, film director and occasional adman Michael Winner dies at 77

Michael Winner, who was a much better restaurant critic than he was a film director, has died aged 77.

Winner, who made a fortune from his Death Wish movies starring Charles Bronson, wrote the ‘Winner’s Dinners’ column in the Sunday Times News Review for years. Mostly this was about restaurants and holidays but he also ran a nice line in ‘Hymie’ Jewish jokes (Winner was Jewish).

He signed off a few weeks ago as liver failure took hold and it’s surprising how thin the section and the Sunday Times as a whole feels without him. Jeremy Clarkson has taken over the spot (moved from elsewhere) but he’s nowhere near as funny.

Winner also appeared in dining-style TV programmes but he was rather an acquired taste. He also made a number of notorious ads for insurance firm Esure (he was a pal of its owner Direct Line insurance magnate Peter Wood). His catchphrase, ‘Calm Down Dear’ drove many women up the wall.

Winner apparently took over the shoot from the hapless agency. He obviously skimped on the film stock budget.

But he was, as they used to say, a card.

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