In memoriam Mike Hardwick

Written by
Time Out PR

Time Out remembers a dear friend and world-conquering pioneer

Mike Hardwick, who played such a significant part in Time Out’s history, died on Wednesday September 23 2015 from a long-term medical condition. Mike joined Time Out in August 1975, as advertising director. His impact was immediate. Time Out Magazine, which had started up independently in 1968 as an alternative title with no capital, was now established as a serious advertising medium.

Most people with Mike’s background would have tried to influence Time Out’s editorial content in order to make selling ad space easier. But he embraced Time Out’s ethos and principles immediately, and was always one of the strongest supporters of our independent view of the world.

As the business grew, he took on a key managerial role, and from 2001 he led Time Out’s rapid expansion around the world. Today, we have an audience of 37 million across 39 countries: a global network built upon Mike’s pioneering work. He retired from the Time Out Group as managing director on his sixtieth birthday in October 2006.

With his wonderful sense of humour, limitless anecdotes, his care for people and passion about what we did, Mike was much loved by all. Here we ask a few of his former colleagues to share their fondest memory.

Tony Elliott, Founder, Time Out

‘In 1981, Time Out closed down as the result of the dispute with some of the staff of how the company should be run, editorially and organisationally. Mike and I shared some very interesting all night sessions in the offices which were occupied by the staff for a few weeks. We drank lots and lots of beer and wine, and smoked hundreds of cigarettes together. On a few other occasions we were both known to play loud music through the tannoy system. The first time this happened, it made the news pages of all the national press when Mike played Wagner for many hours at full volume.  I remember seeing sleepy members of the ex-News staff holding up telephone handsets in the direction of the tannoy loudspeakers for Fleet Street reporters to hear the racket for themselves. This period, from May to August 1981, was extremely stressful and worrying for everyone involved. Especially for someone like Mike with a mortgage and a family of two young children, to support. There was every chance that the business might die and I am eternally grateful for Mike’s loyalty, commitment and sheer hard work during this three month’s close down and the hugely successful relaunch in September 1981.’

Simon Garfield, Editor, Time Out London, 1988-1989

‘My all-time favourite phrase of Mike’s came towards the end (I thought) of a long and complex lunch at Joe Allen. It was about 3.45pm. I was thinking vaguely that I ought to get back to look at some proofs or something, but Mike was in full flow, and it would have been rude to leave him there alone.

‘He then uttered the immortal phrase, in the studious and academic tones of an anthropology professor: “I wonder what the clarets are up to.”  It conjured up images of the clarets holding a party somewhere in the Joe Allen cellars, or maybe discussing Proust.

‘So we investigated what the clarets were up to by summoning a claret to our table and asking it ourselves. It was, inevitably, up to not very much, so Mike considered it only fair that he take it on an unguided internal journey through his stomach. And if there were any errors in the magazine that week, no matter: Mike had solved one of the great philosophical questions of our age.’

Dominic Wells, Editor, Time Out London, 1992-1998

‘I have numerous recollections of Mike taking it into his head to entertain and motivate the office with song and harmonica on deadline.

But Mike's bonhomie really did help set the (at times somewhat anarchic) tone of the office: the idea that you were working each week not just on a magazine but on an event. But it was as always “work-hard” as well as “play-hard”.

Geoff Andrew, Time Out Film Editor and Senior Film Editor, 1988-2006

‘When Mike first went to Cannes, I expected to have to show him around and generally take him under my wing. But by second day glamorous and influential people kept stopping at our table to say “Ah!!! Bonjour Monsieur Mike!”.

Turned out he’d spent the night in a bar chatting and serenading customers with song and harmonica, with the result that le tout Cannes knew him by morning. I found myself quite upstaged.’

Laura Lee Davies, Editor, Time Out London, 1999-2004

‘I loved working with Mike because he was a great bridge between the commercial and editorial sides of the company.

‘One time, as music editor, I took Mike a letter from someone complaining about a review. He took one look at it and said, “This bloke lives at 124 such and such a road. You don’t need to take anyone seriously who lives in a road with more than 100 houses.” When I was editor, we were going to get sued by the makers of Love Hearts sweets for a cover we’d done without permission. Again, I took him the letter. He took one look at it and said, “Swizzles of Matlock? You don't need to take anyone seriously who runs their business from Derbyshire.” Unique Mike wisdom.’

Pete Fiennes, MD Time Out Guides, 2003-2011

‘Mike knew more about Michelin Guides than anyone. I remember when we went to a meeting with Michelin to try and persuade them to translate our books into French. It was supposed to be a short meeting, but they made the fatal mistake of taking us to see their museum in the basement, which included several old Michelin Guides, including some from before World War I.

It's possible that Mike would have spent an entire year there if we hadn't managed to drag him away; by the time we left he was lecturing the panic-stricken curator on the finer points of the Alsace-Lorraine borders in 1919.’

Cathy Runciman, MD Time Out International, 2006-2013

‘Little did we know, when Mike took control of our growing international business that his adventures with Time Out around the world would take him as far as drinking yak's milk in the mountains of Kazakhstan to celebrate the launch of Time Out Almaty.

‘He amazed and entertained our international partners with his in-depth knowledge of the histories, railway lines and sporting teams of their countries. He repaid the hospitality he received in the world's far flung places, with some of the finest (or more accurately longest and most enjoyable) lunches that central London has to offer. He will be hugely missed by all the Time Out teams around the world.’

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