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Annie’s Step Father the writer, broadcaster Deric Longden Telegraph ObituaryDeric LongdenDeric Longden, who has died aged 76, wrote books that brought a gentle and life-enhancing humour to the problems of living with disability.Deric Longden 7:24PM BST 04 Jul 2013His first book, Diana’s Story (1989), was a moving account of his life with his first wife, whom he had married in 1957 and who later developed a mysterious illness which was eventually diagnosed as a virulent and painful form of ME. Longden cared for her devotedly for 15 years until her death in 1985.His book became an immediate bestseller and was later adapted into a BBC drama, Wide-Eyed And Legless (1994). Longden co-wrote the screenplay with Jack Rosenthal, while Julie Walters played Diana and Jim Broadbent took the part of Longden himself.Diana’s Story was followed by Lost for Words (1991), describing life with his elderly mother as she gradually lost her memory. This too was successfully adapted for the small screen by Longden, with Pete Postlethwaite as the dutiful son to Thora Hird’s portrayal of the eccentric and courageous Annie Longden.Longden once observed: “I really feel the best humour comes out of despair.” Lost For Words opens with Deric asking: “Do you want to be buried Mum, or shall we have you cremated?” Annie Longden: “Oh, I don’t know, luv. Surprise me.” In another scene, Thora Hird is in hospital when a woman winces with pain as she is pushed past in a wheelchair. “Renal colic,” she says to Thora by way of explanation. “Annie Longden,” replies Thora. “Pleased to meet you.” Thora Hird then whispers to Postlethwaite: “She must be French with a name like that.”Lost For Words, screened in January 1999, won the Emmy for best foreign drama and a Bafta for Thora Hird as best actress.Longden was inspired to write his first books by the historical novelist Aileen Armitage, a divorcee with four children who became his second wife in 1990. They had first met in 1984 at a writers’ conference, and he did not realise she was blind (she had lost her sight in the 1960s) until she stubbed out her cigarette in a sugar bowl.At the conference they discussed writing a television script together about disability, with Diana at the heart of the story. Aileen and Diana became devoted friends, notwithstanding the evident attraction Longden and Aileen felt for one another; indeed, Diana hoped that they would marry after her death.Deric Longden was born at Chesterfield on November 29 1936. His father died when his son was in infancy, and Deric was brought up by his mother, Annie. Having failed the 11-plus and his O-levels, he worked as a clerk in a colliery at Bolsover.Thinking he could compete with Janet Reger, Longden then ran a small women’s lingerie factory at Matlock, Derbyshire. In 1974 he decided to enter a BBC Radio Derby 500-word short story competition, under the name “Biro”. He won, and the following year entered under the nom de plume “Papermate”, winning again. When the next year he went for the hat-trick, the producer telephoned him and asked: “Are you by chance 'Parker 51’?” Longden agreed that he was, and was offered a job. He broadcast on BBC Radio Derby, and also supplied jokes for Les Dawson and the Two Ronnies.Diana’s progressive illness eventually forced him to sell the lingerie factory, in 1984, and thereafter he concentrated on his writing and broadcasting career. He wrote regularly for programmes such as Does He Take Sugar? (which addressed the issues surrounding disability) and Woman’s Hour.Following the success of Diana’s Story and Lost for Words, Longden published a series of books describing his life with Aileen Armitage and their cats, among them The Cat Who Came in from the Cold; I’m a Stranger Here Myself; Enough to Make a Cat Laugh; and Paws in the Proceedings.Deric Longden, who had been suffering from cancer, is survived by Aileen Armitage, by a daughter and son of his marriage to Diana, and by four stepchildren.Deric Longden, born November 29 1936, died June 23 2013