THE life of a Dales-born scientist who became known to millions through a pioneering TV series is to be celebrated at a Craven church.

Professor Nick Hitchon died in July at the age of 65 following a long illness.

A funeral service was held for him in Wisconsin, in the US, where he had lived for four decades.

A memorial service is now to be held to celebrate his life in the part of the Yorkshire Dales where he grew up.

The service will take place at St Oswald’s Church, Arncliffe, at 2pm on Saturday, December 9.

Nick was an expert in nuclear fusion whose dream was to provide the world with relatively cheap and clean power.

He grew up in a farming family in Littondale, attending Arncliffe CE Primary School and then Ermysted’s Grammar School in Skipton, where he was the captain of the rugby first XV. He also played for a Yorkshire Schools team.

Nick went on to study physics at Merton College, Oxford, gaining his DPhil (the equivalent of a PhD) at the age of 23.

In the early 1980s he moved to the University of Wisconsin to continue working in nuclear fusion.

Nick remained at the university’s Department of Computer and Electrical Engineering for four decades, becoming a full professor in 1994 and department chair from 1999 to 2002. He was the author of more than 100 articles and three books in his specialist field.

However, he was probably best known as one of the participants in the award-winning Up series of documentaries, after he was chosen to take part in a Granada TV World in Action programme called Seven Up!

The story is that a TV researcher was despairing of finding a rural child who would talk to the camera for the programme, in which children aged seven were asked their views on various subjects.

The researcher was told Nick would definitely talk, but he was only six. The researcher said that was near enough, so Nick appeared on British TV in 1964 to explain that he wanted to learn about the Moon, though he refused to say what he thought about girls.

It was meant to be a one-off programme, but the TV cameras returned seven years later, and every seven years after that.

Nick was diagnosed with cancer several years ago but was determined to live as full a life as possible, and only retired from the university in the spring of 2022.