23 July 2023

BBC broadcaster Evan Davis was told at his wedding his father had killed himself

23 July 2023

BBC broadcaster Evan Davis found out through a phone call on his wedding day that his seriously ill father had taken his own life.

Quintin, 92, had left a note saying his “system is closing down” and he had “no alternative”, Davis told The Sunday Times.

He was alerted that something was wrong soon after he married Guillaume Baltz, 56, by a message from his brother Roland which urged him to “call ASAP”.

The news came during his wedding reception in July 2022 and the occasion turned into “a very warm-hearted, supportive, reflective day” as he told guests in a speech telling the guests his father had died.

Davis told his guests: “We’ve just had some news. My father died. But I don’t want you to be alarmed.

“He was very elderly and it was definitely time.

“There’s actually nothing we can do. So I’m going to propose that we carry on.”

He told them later how his father had died.

Davis, 61, who has fronted shows including TV’s Dragons’ Den and BBC Radio 4’s PM programme, and BBC Radio 4 programme Today programme recalled that his father had made a “proud and loving” speech when he entered a civil partnership ceremony with Mr Baltz in 2012.

Their wedding in London was a follow-up to that ceremony involving a first number of guests who were not at the first celebration.

Davis had managed to step away from their guests during the reception to ring his brother back, who then told him that their father had died.

He hung up and gave his husband the news.

Davis called back five minutes later, and learned his father had taken his own life.

Backing from Roland and his other brother Beric helped him to continue with the day.

Davis told journalist Decca Aitkenhead, whom he spoke to with his family’s agreement, that he “burst into tears” when he was back at work the next day and colleagues asked about the wedding.

Stating that family do not know why his father picked that day to die, Davis added: “We’ve all speculated on what the hell was going on in his head… there’s no good day, is there?

“And I know he didn’t do it to spoil our day.”

His father had been diagnosed with bowel cancer and his heart was failing.

Loving messages to wife Hazel and three identical notes for his sons were found.

Davis’s parents had been together for 65 years but his mother was admitted to a care home during the pandemic after she started to show signs of dementia.

A handwritten note read: “To all my family, I am so sorry – so, so sorry – to spring this on you.

“But it is the best outcome.

“My system is closing down and I am on the verge of a mental breakdown, ie, I am going mad and physically falling apart.

“I really have no alternative. Thank you all for being such a wonderful family.”

He also said in another note that he had “at no time been helped in any way in deciding to take my own life” and his actions were due to his wish to “maintain my autonomy”.

Davis told the newspaper: “Having been together for 65 years, suddenly being on his own at home was a big deal… I think he felt guilt at not being able to look after her.”

The best videos delivered daily

Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox