TV presenter who gained celebrity status with ‘Supermarket Sweep’

Obituary: Dale Jonathan Winton left school at 16 to forge a career in show business

 Dale Winton was best known for his role as presenter of television gameshow Supermarket Sweep. Photograph:   Ian West/PA Wire

Dale Winton was best known for his role as presenter of television gameshow Supermarket Sweep. Photograph: Ian West/PA Wire

 

Born: 22nd May 1955; died: April 18th, 2018

The television gameshow Supermarket Sweep brought bright lights and music to shopping and made a star of its presenter, Dale Winton, who has died aged 62; the cause of his death was not announced. He was flamboyant, personable and sensitive, once saying: “Every guy in the world would love to be Mr Macho, but I am camp and you cannot lie to the public. If you’re yourself, they’ll either love you or they won’t.”

The British version of Supermarket Sweep, based on an American format, featured contestants answering questions and riddles, giving them the opportunity to run around the studio supermarket filling their trolleys in a bid to get through to the final Super Sweep, with a £2,000 prize at stake. It ran in ITV’s daytime schedule from 1993 to 2001 and was revived in 2007, with the top prize value increased to £5,000.

Dale was born in London to Gary Winton, who owned a furniture shop, and Shirley (nee Patrick), who acted as Sheree Winton and was dubbed “the English Jayne Mansfield” for her appearances in film and TV comedies alongside stars such as Spike Milligan, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Terry-Thomas, Sid James and Frankie Howerd. Dale was named after Dale Robertson, star of the TV western Tales of Wells Fargo.

Dale Winton doing a “Supermarket Sweep” in Brent Cross, London, to promote the UK national lottery in 1997. Photograph: Tony Harris/PA Wire
Dale Winton doing a “Supermarket Sweep” in Brent Cross, London, to promote the UK national lottery in 1997. Photograph: Tony Harris/PA Wire

His parents divorced when he was 11 and his father died two years later. At the age of 21, Dale found his mother – who had depression – dead in her bedroom after taking an overdose of barbiturates. It was her fourth attempt to take her own life. Winton revealed in his 2002 autobiography, My Story, that he had never told her that he was gay.

Bad break-up

He also talked on the TV programme Loose Women in 2016 about having depression himself while coping with the end of a relationship. “I should have taken myself off the TV, but I didn’t,” he said. “I always thought, ‘Get over yourself.’ But my mum died of it. It exists and anybody out there who has had it knows it exists. I would not leave the house. Five years. I’ve totally got through it. It was triggered by a very bad break-up.”

Although his mother hoped he would become a lawyer or accountant, Winton left Aldenham school, Hertfordshire, at 16, determined to have his own career in show business. He went through a string of jobs, including selling timeshare apartments abroad, while working as a DJ in clubs in Richmond upon Thames and other parts of London. In 1974, he was given his own radio show on the United Biscuits Network, which broadcast to the company’s employees in factories across Britain, then three years later joined Radio Trent in Nottingham. Stints followed at Radio Danube in Yugoslavia, Chiltern Radio in Luton and Beacon Radio in Wolverhampton.

By then, he had broken into television with Pet Watch (1986), appearing alongside the vet Bruce Fogle – father of the presenter Ben – in a Sunday early-evening show about keeping domestic animals, and had his own chatshow on the Lifestyle Channel a year later.

Winton also hosted The Other Half (1997-2002), with the challenge of guessing opponents’ partners, Touch the Truck (2001), an endurance game featuring a group of 20 people touching a stationary truck, with the last one left being the winner, and the first series of Hole in the Wall (2008).

He also hosted three series of Celebrity Fit Club between 2004 and 2006.