poppy field

Brussels Branch

Olivier Delville - plus écossais que les Ecossais

By Dennis Abbott

One of the branch’s key allies in the post-war period was Olivier Delville of Le Soir, who, in addition to his daily work as a journalist and film critic, was responsible for the newspaper’s philanthropic activities. The Brussels branch was a frequent beneficiary of Le Soir’s fund-raising events – and this was not by chance.

Delville was an anglophile and a golf and tennis fanatic who never missed Wimbledon. More precisely, he was a dedicated scotophile. At the start of the First World War, when Delville was ten, his family moved to Glasgow where his father Jean, a noted painter, taught art and European symbolism in the “dear green place”.

After moving back to Belgium, Delville joined Le Soir’s editorial team in 1924 – but never forgot his roots.

Friends described him as “plus écossais que les Ecossais”; his favourite tipple was whisky and he loved the bagpipes. He was clearly on good terms with the British Garrison in Brussels, judging by how often it provided Scots’ bagpipers to act as a guard of honour at the many film premieres and receptions he hosted. Delville would insist that the British Legion standard was always given pride of place.

He was on first-name terms with a who’s who of the world’s biggest film stars, whom he would interview on stage at the premieres. They included Charlie Chaplin, Audrey Hepburn, Frank Sinatra, Catherine Deneuve, Sophia Loren, Peter O'Toole, Jeanne Moreau, Kirk Douglas, Bourvil, Charlton Heston, Marlène Dietrich, Danielle Darrieux, Alain Delon, Romy Schneider and Bernardo Bertolucci – to name but a few.

But he had one favourite above all. A golf-playing Scotsman, of course: Sean Connery.