Wednesday, 14 July 2021

Action Stations


Over the last three and a half years I’ve been tracking the fiftieth anniversaries of the BBC local radio stations, in a series of nineteen posts from Leicester, Sheffield and Merseyside through to Newcastle, Lancashire and Humberside. I’ll be picking up the history again in November 2023 for the half century of BBC Radio Carlisle/Cumbria.

In the meantime here are two wonderful short publicity films that go behind the scenes at a number of stations a mere forty years ago. Both are titled Action Stations! – BBC Local Radio and were directed by Patricia Owtram for the BBC Local Radio Publicity Unit.

The first, with a running time of 20 minutes, dates from 1981 and is narrated by John Saunders. It’s full of images of newsrooms complete with typewriters, fax machines and Studer tape decks, remote studios, county shows, youth programming, snow days and local elections.

We see at work Radios Lincolnshire, Medway, Sheffield, Humberside (with coverage of the opening of the Humber Bridge this week in 1981), Nottingham, Carlisle (and their farming programme), Bristol (the O Level Show), Leicester, Leeds (with the Best Pub Pianist competition) and London (with the last ever GLC election).

The second shorter film dates from early 1980 though it includes footage from 1977 and 1978. Here the emphasis is more on community involvement and also the BBC Local Radio Parliamentary Unit.  We visit the short-lived Radio Taunton (a Bristol’s emergency news station), Medway, Leicester, Solent, Birmingham, Bristol and Sheffield. There are no credits for this film but the narrator sounds like Laure Mayer to me.      

See how many familiar faces you can spot in Action Stations! BBC Local Radio.

Sunday, 30 May 2021

Popping the Questions

Question: What's the name of the first Radio 2 pop quiz presented by Ken Bruce? If you answered Pop Master then you could be said to be "one quiz out!" The answer is Pop Score, the quiz that ran from 1972 to 1992 which Ken chaired for the last five series.

Devised by Light Entertainment producer Richard Willcox is was initially seen as a Radio 1 versus Radio 2 contest (early series were carried on both stations) with Tony Blackburn captaining the Radio 1 side and Terry Wogan representing Radio 2. Popping the questions was Pete Murray. Willcox continued to produce and write all the questions, and indeed do the audience warm-up, for the first fifteen series until Mark Robson took over production. By this time Willcox  had already brought in a certain Phil 'The Collector' Swern to help set the questions. Phil had previously attended some of the show's recordings to 'help' Tony with some of his answers until he was thrown out of the Paris studio a few shows later.    

Early guest stars were a  little eclectic to say the least. You can hardly say it was on trend, more like a decade behind. Many of the musicians had been sixties hitmakers with virtually no current chart performers taking part in the early series with perhaps the exception of Lynsey de Paul, Dana, Neil Sedaka, Long John Baldry and Mike Batt. But Deryck Guyler and Reg Varney?

In time under Willcox's tenure a smaller pool of contributors was called upon, often appearing on a other radio panel games. For instance we have actor Patrick Mower (also on The Law Game), singing impressionist Johnny More and Ray Alan (both on The Impressionists), Lance Percival (also on Wit's End and Just a Minute) and Duggie Brown (also on The Name's the Game and Dealing with Daniels). Some folk such as Tim Rice (also on Just a Minute and Trivia Test Match) really knew their stuff but generally it was a chance to muck about and the quiz side was never taken that seriously.    

Later series, produced by Robson, Dirk Maggs and Phil Clarke took things a little more seriously, but only just, with people from the music business and DJs. Typically a show might include rounds such as continuing to sing a song after its faded (think of Clue's Pick Up Song), correcting song titles, identifying song covers or  records played backwards, and a final quick-fire round. Throughout the quiz the chairman would, depending on how many points they'd scored in the round, read out so many letters of a song title that team's could guess at any time for bonus points.   

The old Blackburn/Wogan rivalary ended in 1977, though they returned for the 200th edition in 1987. Coming in as team captain for Terry was David Hamilton and a couple of series later Ray Moore replaced Tony. Ray in turn would become chairman when Pete left the BBC and after a series of different captains - Joe Brown, Duggie Brown and Helen Shapiro, who eventually became a show regular - new boy Ken Bruce was drafted in.

Following Ray's untimely death Ken took over as quizmaster (Ken was also hosting the Radio 2 general knowledge show The ABC Quiz) and with David off to commercial radio the team captains settled down to be Helen Shapiro and Alan Freeman.       

It all came to an end in April 1992 by which time panel games were virtually a thing of the past  on Radio 2.

Six years later Ken Bruce and Phil Swern, who had both worked together on Pop Score,  put their heads together (together with Ken's then producer Colin Martin) and came up with the format for Pop Master. The daily music quiz which stops the country is celebrated tonight in the Radio 2 programme One Year Out-The PopMasterStory and tomorrow sees the second All Day quiz.

Series Details

Question masters:

Pete Murray series 1 to 10.

Ray Moore series 11 to 13

Ken Bruce series 14 to 18 

The theme tune used for the majority of Pop Score's run was Chicken Feathers by film and TV composer Pat Williams from his 1968 album Think. In the last 80s Birdland was used for a while, possibly the Manhatten Transfer version.  

Series 1 Team captains Tony Blackburn (TB) and Terry Wogan (TW)

24 Oct 1972-6 Feb 1973

Guests: Ken Goodwin, Alan Price, Lynsey de Paul, Kenny Lynch, Roger Greenaway, Rolf Harris, Peter Noone, Vince Hill, Dana, Roy Castle, Anita Harris, Georgie Fame, Tim Rice, Lance Percival andTony Brandon

Series 2 TB TW

20 June 1973-20 Mar 1974

Roger Whittaker, Peter Noone, Tony Brandon, Lance Percival, Wally Whyton, Leslie Crowther, Bob Monkhouse, Mitch Murray, Roy Castle, Dana, Chris Barber, Joe Brown, Jimmy Tarbuck, Adrienne Posta, David Jacobs, George Chisholm, Kenneth Williams, Tim Rice, Gerry Marsden, Peter Jones, Deryck Guyler, June Whitfield, Bernard Cribbins, Johnny Pearson, Matt Monro, Lonnie Donegan, Rolf Harris, Ron Goodwin, Reg Varney, Eric Idle, Ray Fell, Frankie Vaughan, Michael Aspel, Diana Dors, Jon Pertwee, Kenny Ball, Neil Sedaka, Dickie Henderson, Peter Goodwright and Henry Cooper.  

Series 3 TB TW (Paul Burnett covered for TB on two shows and Tim Rice covered for TW on two shows)

2 Oct 1974-26 Mar 1975 Leslie Crowther, Henry Cooper, Cathy McGowan, Bob Monkhouse, Joe Brown, Kenny Ball, Ray Alan, Long John Baldry, Michael Parkinson, Marian Montgomery, Ray Fell, Vince Hill, Clive lea, Tim Rice, Ronnie Carroll, Matt Monro, Mike Batt, Mitch Murray, Cindy Kent, Roy Castle, Diana Dors, Norman, Newell, Roger Whittaker, Ray Barrett and Roger Kitter 

Series 4 TB TW

30 Oct 1975-22 Jan 1976

Bernard Cribbins, Tim Rice, Diana Dors, Kenny Ball, Roy Hudd, Ray Alan, George Chisholm, Long John Baldry, Lonnie Donegan, Rolf Harris, Clive Lea and Johnny Moore

Series 5 TB TW

13 Sept-29 Nov 1976

Leslie Crowther, Diana Dors, Bernard Cribbins, Tim Rice, Rolf Harris, Charlie Williams, Johnny More, Duggie Brown, Bobby Knutt, Jack Douglas, Patrick Mower

Series 6 TB TW

1 Sept-17 Nov 1977

Bobby Knutt, Bernard Cribbins, Faith Brown, Derek Griffiths, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Vince Hill, Duggie Brown, Ray Alan, Johnny More, Patrick Mower, Dave Evans and Tim Rice (also captain on a couple of shows) 

Series 7 TB David Hamilton (DH)

11 Sept-27 Nov 1978

Lance Percival, Joe Brown, Mike Batt, Clive Lea, Patrick Mower, Johnny More, Tony Brandon, Bill Oddie, Rolf Harris, Bobby Knutt, Dave Evans and Tim Rice

Series 8 TB DH

19 May-4 Aug 1980

Dave Dee, Lance Percival, Mike Batt, Vince Hill, Joe Brown, Tim Rice, Duggie Brown, Bernard Cribbins, Bobby Knutt and Johnny More

An edition of Pop Score from this series is on Mixcloud here though sadly the last couple of minutes are missing.

Series 9 DH Ray Moore (RM)

24 Aug -9 Nov 1981

Faith brown, Johnny More, Duggie Brown, Lance Percival, Rolf Harris, Tim Rice, Joe Longthorne, Dave Evans, Vince Hill, Acker Bilk and Joe Brown

Series 10

20 June-5 Sep 1983

Helen Shapiro, Acker Bilk, Joe Brown, Vince Hill, Duggie Brown (also captain on two shows), Patrick Mower, Susan Maughan, Freddie Garrity and Mike Berry

I've unearthed the 7th programme from this series.

Series 11 DH (Other captain was either Duggie Brown, Joe Brown or Helen Shapiro)

19 Feb-14 May 1985

Rolf Harris, Mike Berry, Acker Bilk, Helen Shapiro, Clodagh Rodgers, Susan Maughan, Frank Ifield, and Russ Conway

I've previously posted the 11th programme in this series before but only recently uploaded it to YouTube

Series 12 DH Ken Bruce (KB)

15 Mar-24 May 1986

Frank Ifield, Acker Bilk, Duggie Brown, Helen Shapiro, Lonnie Donegan, Vince Hill, Helen Shapiro, Tim Rice, Des Cluskey, Con Cluskey, Noddy Holder and Paul Nicholas

Series 13 DH KB

14 Mar-20 June 1987 (includes 200th edition with Pete Murray, Terry Wogan and Tony Blackburn)

Alvin Stardust, Helen Shapiro, Lynn Sheppard, Denny Laine, Rick Wakeman, Noddy Holder, Steve Marriott, Acker Bilk, Tim Rice and Frank Ifield 

Series 14 Helen Shapiro (HS) + either Joe Brown, TB, Adrian Love or Paul Jones (First to be compiled by Phil Swern)

12 Mar-28 May 1988

Cathy McGowan, Adrian Love, Tony Blackburn, Duggie Brown, Dave Dee, Gloria Hunniford, Rick Wakeman, Tommy Vance, Noddy Holder, Robbie Vincent, Tom McGuinness

Series 15 HS + either Adrian Love or Alan Freeman (AF)

25 Mar-10 June 1989

Duggie Brown, Rick Wakeman, Rolf Harris, Peter Dickson, Noddy Holder, John Craven, Tim Rice, Alvin Stardust, Paul Jones and Vince Hill

Series 16 HS AF (Producer Dirk Maggs)

21 Apr-7 July 1990

Janice Long, Adrian Love, Sheila Ferguson, Paul Jones, Duggie Brown, Stephanie de Sykes, Joe Brown, Rose-Marie, Don Powell, Lyn Paul and Colin Berry

The first edition of this series is available on Mixcloud here. 

Series 17 HS AF

27 April-15 June 1991

Cheryl Baker, Adrian Love, Wendy Richard, Noddy Holder, Alvin Stardust, Janice Long, Rose-Marie and Colin Berry

Series 18 HS AF (Prod Phil Clarke)

28 Feb-17 April 1992

Terry Wogan, Pete Murray, Adrian Love, Lyn Paul, Lynsey de Paul, Alvin Stardust, Noddy Holder and Rose-Marie

As is typical with virtually all Radio 2 panel shows from this era they've never been repeated since they ended so if you've got any recordings of Pop Score please let me know.

Saturday, 22 May 2021

Cons and Laws


"How well do you know the law? Find out by joining us for The Law Game. Along with our celebrity panel you can hear details of law cases and judge which side you think won. And on the bench as usual presiding over the programme is your chairman Shaw Taylor."

Back in the day when panel games had a regular place in BBC Radio 2's schedule The Law Game was one of the best known and longest-running - 17 series over 16 years. The premise was straightforward enough: three playlets were acted out by three members of the BBC's Drama Repertory Company in which matters of the law are played out in various settings or in court. After chairman Shaw Taylor dings his bell to end the sketch the celebrity panel have to identify what laws have been broken and by whom. Team members then bet points, from their starting pot of 50 points, on the outcome of the case. "It's quite educational, not just an excuse for three celebrities to fool about", said Shaw Taylor to the Radio Times in 1985. 

The Law Game was devised by comedy writer Brad Ashton and he wrote all the mini-dramas, offering injecting the odd comedy line. Ashton had been writing since the mid-1950s on radio shows such as Show Band Show, London Lights and later series of Life with the Lyons. On TV he wrote for Tommy Cooper, Dick Emery, Mike and Bernie Winters, Lennie Bennett and Jerry Stevens and for Little and Large. The format of The Law Game was perhaps inspired by the guess who committed the crime programme Guilty Party (1954-62). See John Arlott blog post.

Shaw Taylor, best known on TV for Police 5, seemed a natural choice as series chairman with a mix of light-hearted authority. He was not unfamiliar in this type of role having presented a number of ATV game shows in the late 1950s/early 1960s when commercial television was devouring as many US formats as it could get through. On Radio 2 in the 1970s he also chaired The 78 Show and Pros and Cons, more of which later.

The Law Game
first aired on Radio 2 in September 1976. The celebrity panel usually featured at least one actor together with journalists, broadcasters and comics, though not as many as today's panel games are stuffed with. Favoured panellists were Claire Rayner, Denise Coffey and Nerys Hughes. Produced by the Light Entertainment department initially under the guidance of Richard Willcox, though over the years several young producers who went on to bigger things got a chance to work on the show including the late Danny Greenstone, Paul Mayhew-Archer, Richard Edis, Jan Ravens, Andy Aliffe, Dan Patterson, Lissa Evans, Sioned William, Sarah Smith and Caroline Leddy.

The Law Game hasn't been repeated since it ended nearly 30 years ago so here's an opportunity to hear a couple more (in addition to the two I've already uploaded to YouTube in 2015 and 2020.

From 23 November 1981 this edition has a panel of Diane Keen, John Junkin and Lance Percival. Acting out the scenes are Miranda Forbes, Nicholas Courtney (so one for Doctor Who fans)and Ronald Herdman.

From the following year, 19 July 1982, we have Sandra Dickinson, Matthew Kelly and Fred Housego sitting in judgement. The actors are Steve Hodson, Miranda Forbes and Vincent Brimble.   

The other Brad Ashton creation was Pros and Cons. In fact it started the year before The Law Game but had a shorter run, just seven series over eight years. A number of the cons were experienced by Brad himself, including one in the 1982 edition below. Many others came from contacts he'd made at Scotland Yard. Writing in the Radio Times in 1980 he admitted that "I get strange looks when I tell people that my hobby is collecting confidence tricks. So far I've got 340 and used 144 of them in the sketches aimed as fooling the panel." His interest began on a trip to new York in 1956. "I was a prototype for all innocents abroad. The airport cab driver circled the whole of New York State to get me to my hotel just two miles away. He was about to do a lap of honour when I recognised a store we'd passed three times."

The format of Pros and Cons was the same as The Law Game, three short sketches played out with enough clues to help or mislead the three celebrities on the panel to identify the con, the person(s) doing the conning and the person(s) being conned. The panellists were a pretty mixed bunch (see series details below) but included a fair number of personalities from the sister show. The series  producers included some very experienced BBC hands such as Alistair Scott-Johnson of The Navy Lark fame, Ian Fenner and Trafford Whitelock, as well as Ros Bartlett, Jamie Rix and Richard Edis.    

In this edition from 17 November 1980 the sleuths are Claire Rayner, David Jason and Roy Hudd. The repertory company are Rowena Roberts, John Church and Trevor Cooper. 

The second recording comes from 24 February 1982. The panellists here are Kenny Everett (that week's Radio Times cover star), Stephanie Turner (at the time known for her lead role in cop drama Juliet Bravo) and Derek Nimmo. Acting out the scenes are Adrian Egan, Miranda Forbes and George Parsons.

The Law Game Series Guide

Series 1: 22 September-27 October 1976

Diana Dors, Pete Murray, Leslie Randall, Rachel Heyhoe-Flint, Patrick Mower and Bob Wilson 

Series 2: 30 March-27 April 1977

Margaret Howard, Francis Matthews, Pete Murray, Rachel Heyhoe-Flint, Barry Norman, Claire Rayner, James Burke and Patrick Mower

Series 3: 30 November 1977-4 January 1978

Claire Rayner, Francis Matthews, Dr Magnus Pyke, Rachel Heyhoe -Flint, Patrick Mower, Leslie Randall, Henry Cooper, William Franklyn and Anoushka Hempel

Series 4: 4 December 1978-15 January 1979  (no tx 25 December 1978)

Claire Rayner, Francis Matthews, Peter Purves, Shirley Anne Field, James Burke, Dr Magnus Pyke, Diana Dors, Russell Davies and Patrick Mower

Series 5: 7 January-18 February 1980 (no tx 4 February)

John Junkin, Aimi Macdonald, James Burke, Peter Purves, Diane Keen, William Franklyn, Lance Percival, Shirley Anne Field and Francis Matthews  

Series 6: 20 January-24 March 1981

Julia McKenzie, David Jason, Andrew Sachs, Liza Goddard, John Junkin, Lance Percival, Judy Carne, Graeme Garden, Don Maclean, Patricia Hayes, Tim Brooke-Taylor, Frank Windsor, Nyree Dawn Porter, Ray Alan and Duggie Brown

Series 7: 16 November 1981-11 January 1982 (no tx 28 December)

Diane Keen, John Junkin, Lance Percival, Stephanie Turner, William Franklyn, Alfred Marks, Joyce Blair, Patrick Mower, Matthew Kelly, Diana Dors, Lionel Blair and Glyn Worsnip

Series 8: 19 July-6 September 1982

Sandra Dickinson, Matthew Kelly, Fred Housego, Janet Street Porter, Nigel Dempster, Wendy Richard, Patrick Moore, Denise Coffey, Christopher Biggins, Rob Buckman, John Peel and Paddy O'Byrne

Programmes listed on BBC Genome in 1983 are repeats of series 7 and 8

Series 9: 12 March-30 April 1985

Christopher Biggins, Denise Coffey, Patrick Moore, Bill Oddie, Aimi Macdonald, Ian Lavender, Stubby Kaye, Bettine Le Beau, Andrew Sachs, Gyles Brandreth, Katie Boyle and Dr Magnus Pyke

Series 10: 4 March-6 May 1986

Barry Took, Patricia Hodge, Steve Jones, William Franklyn, Jean Rook, Nigel Rees, David Hamilton, Anna Carteret, Martin Jarvis, Mark Curry, Toni Arthur, Chris Serle, Iain Johnstone, June Whitfield and Christopher Biggins

Series 11: 28 April-7 July 1987 (no tx 26 May)

Ian McCaskill, Pat Coombs, Peter Jones, Jimmy Perry, Claire Rayner, Steve Jones, Denise Coffey, Colin Baker, Brian Johnston, Stephen Fry, Anna Raeburn, Morwenna Banks, Neil Mullarkey, John Junkin, Patrick Moore and Su Pollard

Series 12: 5 January-23 February 1988

Nerys Hughes, Kenneth Williams, Ian McCaskill, Brian Johnston, Denise Coffey, Derek Nimmo, Stephen Fry, Patricia Hodge, John Gordon Sinclair, Alfred Marks, June Whitfield and Alan Titchmarsh

Series 13: 21 November 1988-23 January 1989

Barry Cryer, Ian Hislop, Nerys Hughes, Denise Coffey, Alan Titchmarsh, Susan Rae, Sally Burton, Graeme Garden, Trevor McDonald, Martin Jarvis, Ian McCaskill, Claire Rayner, John Gordon Sinclair and Alfred Marks 

Series 14: 3 October-21 November 1989

Lynda Bellingham, Duggie Brown, Bob Holness, Joe Brown, Barry Cryer, Claire Rayner, Sue Cook, Chris Emmett, Nerys Hughes, Polly James, Wendy Richard and Tim Brooke-Taylor  

Series 15: 14 November 1990-9 January 1991

Mark Steel, Jenny Eclair, Barry Cryer, Rob Newman, Tony Slattery, Claire Rayner, Bob Downes, Nerys Hughes, Denise Coffey, Barbara Windsor, Wendy Richard and Graham Garden

Series 16: 24 September-12 November 1991

Michael Melia. Cynthia Payne, Craig Charles, Emlyn Hughes, Helen Atkinson-Wood, Geoffrey Durham, Lesley Joseph, Ken Livingstone, Neil Mullarkey, Susie Blake, Frances Edmonds and Craig Ferguson

Series 17: 9 September-4 November 1992 (no tx 14 October)

Anna Raeburn, Peter Jones, Paul Ross, Bill Pertwee, Denise Coffey, Bill Tidy, Fred Housego, Jan Leeming, Chris Dunkley, Miles Kington, Sandi Toksvig and Chris Stuart

Pros and Cons Series Guide

Series 1: 24 July-28 August 1975

Marj Proops, Pete Murray, Sydney Tafler, Bettine Le Beau, Leslie Randall, Fred Trueman, Eleanor Summerfield, Tony Brandon, Sheridan Morley, Norma Ronald, Brian Johnston, Leonard Sachs, Charmain Innes, Percy Edwards, Alfred Marks, Isobel Barnett, , George Layton and Barry Took

Series 2: 31 December 1975-24 March 1976

Kathleen J. Smith, Sheridan Morley, Ian Wallace, Jessie Matthews, Brian Johnston, Ned Sherrin, Miriam Karlin, Noel Edmonds, Barry Took, Eleanor Summerfield, Robert McKenzie, John Julius Norwich, Sheila Van Damm, Peter Bull, Patrick Moore, Bettine Le Beau, Deryck Guyler, Bill Jupe, Jonathan Miller, June Whitfield, Fred Trueman, Linda Blanford, George Layton, Wynford Vaughan-Thomas, Patricia Hayes, Milton Shulman, Michael Bentine, Thora Hird, Professor Eric Laithwaite, Sydney Tafler, Katie Boyle, Jonathan Aitken, Larry Adler, Beryl Reid, David Jacobs, Dan Maskell, Marj Proops, Pete Murray and Leslie Randall

Series 3: 7 July-25 August 1977

Patricia Hayes, Michael Robbins, Jean Rook, George Chisholm, Pat Coombs, Sheila Scott, Henry Cooper, Jenny Hanley, Yootha Joyce, Keith Fordyce, Liz Fraser, Claire Rayner, Lionel Blair, Sara Leighton, Aimi Macdonald, Joyce Blair, John Snagge, Bob Todd, Bettine Le Beau, Patrick Moore, Marj Proops, Bill Owen, Wendy Richard and Terry Wogan

Series 4: 16 April 1979-9 July 1979

Leslie Phillips, Thora Hird, Paul Jennings, Roy Hudd, Dora Bryan, Roy Plomley, Peter Jones, Sheila Van Damm, Barry Took, Jack de Manio, Mirima Karlin, Ian Wallace, Johnny Morris, Mollie Sugden, Barry Cryer, Leslie Randall, Sheila Hancock, Bill Oddie, Brian Rix, Janet Brown and Terry Wogan

Series 5: 10 November-29 December 1980 

Roy Hudd, Claire Rayner, David Jason, Nerys Hughes, Bernard Cribbins, Francis Matthews, Ray Alan, Lorraine Chase, John Craven, Liza Goddard, Don Maclean and Ian Lavender

Series 6: 27 January-3 March 1982

Honor Blackman, Terry Wogan, Tony Haygarth, Diana Dors, Martin Jarvis, Lennie Bennett, Kenny Everett, Stephanie Turner and Derek Nimmo

Series 7: 5 January-9 February 1983     

John Junkin, Stephanie Turner, Roger Cook, William Franklin, Liza Goddard, Garfield Morgan, Jeremy Beadle, Joanna Munro and Matthew Kelly

Thursday, 29 April 2021

Down Your Local - 50 Years of BBC Radio Derby


Fifty years ago today, at 5.50 pm, the last of the BBC's second tranche of local stations, Radio Derby, came on air.

Broadcasting from the studios at 56 St Helen's Street (and by my reckoning the only one of the original stations still to be in the same building five decades later) like all the BBC local stations it was initially heard on VHF only (on 96.5 MHz), transmitting from Sutton Coldfield some 25 miles away. Medium wave reception on 269 metres (1115 kHz) became possible a couple of years later when the site at Burnaston Lane was opened, by which time a VHF/FM relay was also in use on 94.2 MHz.

In common with a number of the other local stations, Radio Derby had made an impromptu appearance before the official launch date. In this case it wasn't weather related but was for the breaking story, in late February, of the bankruptcy of Rolls-Royce, a major employer in the town.

The station's first manager was an old BBC hand. George Sigsworth had worked for the corporation since the 1950s and was the Midland's Home Service agricultural correspondent producing programmes such as Farming Today and, in the late 60s, In Your Garden. He was succeeded in the post by John Bright. George's deputy was the Programme Organiser Roger Matthews (ex-Radio Leicester). The station's first news editor was Barrie Eccleston a news agency journalist who'd provided the news for Radio Leicester from Roly Orton's agency. Barrie also worked as a football commentator and reporter at a time when Derby County was riding under Brian Clough and then Dave Mackay.

The earliest Radio Times with Radio Derby listings that I have comes from the week of 18 November 1972. It's the usual mix of weekday shows concentrated around the key times of breakfast, lunchtime and teatime/drivetime with Radio 2 and Radio 4 output acting as a sustaining service in between. Weekends offer more specialist shows, sports coverage and, like virtually every other local station at the time, a Saturday mornings kids show. Derby's breakfast show Up and About was presented by a rota of the presenters, this particular week by Michael Murray, a former Home Service announcer who'd been part of the launch team at Radio Leicester in 1967. His voice had opened Radio Derby. The local news bulletins were given the somewhat Americanised title of Dateline Derby. The teatime show is Five O'Clock Monday etc. but a year or so later that too got the 'dateline' treatment with Dateline Monday and so on.      

Other presenters included Mike Warr (who a decade later would be the station manager when Radio Jersey launched), John Stiles (a former station assistant at Radio Stoke who opened Radio Derby in 1971.  He stayed with the station until the early 1990s), Kit Poxon (ex-Radio Nottingham who'd go on to present the Down Your Way type show Kit at Large), David Graham, Jack King, Maureen Axelrod, Leslie Robinson, Ralph Laing and sports presenter Graham Clarke. Producing the educational programmes including the daily 5-minutes Nutshell are Peter Legge and Ann Toy.    

Moving on a couple of years to this schedule for the week commencing 28 September 1974 which includes the name Stewart White, who'll be immediately familiar to viewers of BBC One's Look East which he's presented for the last four decades. Listed here as the presenter of Up and About, Derby Country and The 78 Show he'd joined from Radio Brighton. Stewart would move over to BRMB before joining ATV (later Central) and then back to the BBC in 1984. On a couple of separate occasions he's also presented a Saturday morning show on Radio Norfolk.  

Another very familiar radio name is that of football commentator Mike Ingham. Growing up in Belper he'd joined Radio Derby as a station assistant in 1973 after gaining some hospital radio experience in Birmingham. Initially presenting music shows, in this week Back Track and Up and Coming, he switched to sports presenting following the death of Graham Clarke.  Mike moved down to London in 1979 to join the Radio Sport department where he presented Sport on 2, Sunday Sport and the Sports Desks before becoming a match commentator and later the football correspondent. He retired in 2014. You can hear Mike speaking to Radio Derby's Andy Twigge on the BBC website here.  

With the local cinema news In the Picture is, I'm guessing, the same Ian Christie who went on to be a renowned film historian (at the BFI and now Professor of Film and Media History at Birkbeck, University of London). In 1969 he'd got a job teaching at the Derby College of Art where he established one of the country's first film studies courses.  

Unusually for many of the BBC local station's at this time Derby had an evening show Late Night Derby originally introduced the previous year to provide some late-night company during the power cuts when the television service was forced to closedown at 10.30 pm.  

Presenting a Saturday morning pop show is Al Kay, the name that Alastair Yates had adopted at the time. Alastair was running a mobile disco when he got the chance to try out radio broadcasting when Radio Derby held a DJ for a Day contest in 1971. He joined the stations two years later eventually using his real name when he was offered some speech shows including a time on Up and About. He moved to Pebble Mill in 1978 to work at Radio Birmingham, Midlands Today and read the regional news on the Radio 4 VHF opt-out. TV news work followed at Grampian, Anglia and the newly launched Sky News before long stints at BBC World and BBC News 24. He retired in 2011 and died suddenly in 2018.    

With thanks to Michael Wincott  @RadioMerch

Other Derby presenters in the 1970s/early 80s included John Burton, Simon Shaw, Paul Baird, Arthur Coyne (jazz shows), Canon Noel Vincent (later a religious programmes producer for BBC radio and TV), Norman Innes, Richard Else, Richard Sykes, Chris Baird (ex-Radio Trent and one of Derby's longest-serving presenters until the mid-2000s), Tommy Owen (The 78 Show), Peter Gore, Nigel Dean, Dave Fern , Neil Everton (also the news editor for a time), Rodney Malcolm, Mike Robinson, Yvonne Guy,  Glen Wright (long-time presenter of Black Roots), Richard Dallyn (later IRN Political Correspondent, Radio 5 live and LBC) and Satvinder Rana (one of the original presenters of Aaj-Kal when it started in September 1981 and still on air today).

Behind the news from the 1979 Radio Derby magazine (with thanks to David Ballard).
In 1989 the station would win a Silver Medal at the International Radio Festival
of New York for its coverage of the M1 Kegworth air disaster. 

Amongst the news reporters in the 70s were Bob Egginton (later heading up the BBC's GNS and launching BBC News Online in 1997), Nigel Kay (later the Corporation's Head of Journalism Development) and Paul Leighton (later a general presenter before joining Radio 4 and then Radio 2 as a continuity announcer and newsreader).  

Editor Simon Cornes hands over a cheque to the Matlock Red Cross following
the final Money Mountain Appeal in 2008. The charity appeal first ran in 
1983 and over 25 years raised more than £1m

One of Radio Derby's most unexpected appointments was Terry Christian, some eight years before The Word came along. Christian presented the early evening music show Barbed Wireless between 1982 and 1988 picking up two Sony Awards on the way. The BBC Handbook described the show as mixing "music with information about jobs, alternatives to work and suggestions about the sort of things that can constructively fill otherwise empty days". Terry moved back to Manchester to Key 103 and on to television from 1990. Audio from a 1988 edition of the show is on Mixcloud.

One of the Barbed Wireless team was Kevin Fernihough who also presented the show when Christian was on leave. Fern moved up to Radio Cumbria for the first of three spells at the station, in- between appearing on Radio Stoke (twice), Signal Radio and Century 106. Also on Barbed Wireless was Devon Daley who years later would produce Trevor Nelson's shows for Radio 1 and 1Xtra and has presented A Touch of Soul (2007-20) and currently DJ Delights across the East Midlands.  

Jumping forward to the week commencing 11 January 1992 where Ian Skelly is the weekday breakfast show host. Ian started with the BBC in 1984 initially at BBC WM before moving to Radio Shropshire and then Derby but is best known as a Radio 3 presenter (Essential Classics and now Afternoon Concert).

On mid-mornings is the late Graham Knight (14 years with the station, ex-Radio Trent and host of Radio 2's weekend early show 1987-91). Another former Radio 2 early show presenter was David Yarnall (ex-Beacon, Mercia Sound and Radio Stoke) here presenting the Saturday morning breakfast show. On weekdays after lunch with Paul McKenzie the station was still taking Dennis McCarthy's Afternoon Special, something it had been simulcasting since 1980.    

Amongst the specialist music shows is Folkwaves, a folk music show that ran from 1985 until it was axed in December 2010. The longest serving presenter was Mick Peat (who died in January of this year) alongside Bob Hazelwood, Barry Coope and finally Lester Simpson.   

Other voices on Radio Derby over the years have included Alex Trelinksi (also at Leicester, Nottingham and Humberside), Steve Orme, Ian Gatford, presenter of Level Out Mark Sheldon (later at XFM and producer at 6 Music and Radio 2), Colin Gibson (sports), Graham Richards, Mick Smith (country music shows), Ashley Franklin (at Derby for 22 years also on Radio Nottingham Stoke and Saga), David Harvey, Dave King (1985-2011), Aleena Naylor (1999-2021), David Rider, Andy Whittaker (breakfast show presenter for 13 years followed by 13 years at breakfast on Radio Nottingham), John Shaw (ex-Radio Trent, also on Radio Nottingham and Saga), Howard Turner, Canon Donald Macdonald, Tom Price, Nigel Cash, Ian Perry (currently at Erewash Sound), Julia May-Brown (also on BFBS now freelance producer), Graham Wright (ex-Trent), John Holmes (perhaps best known for his time at Radio Nottingham), Gary Andrews, Rob Underwood (also at Radios Nottingham and Lincolnshire), Frances Finn (now on Radio Nottingham, ordained as an Anglican minister in 2020), Shane O'Connor (ex-BBC WM later at BBC CWR), Ed George, Dean Jackson (presenter of The Beat), Ross Fletcher, Johnny Kinch, Phil Trow (currently at Radio Manchester), Rev Nicholas Henshall (presenting the Sunday morning religious show 2004-09), Adrian Lacey, Maria Richmond (now with Radio Lincolnshire), Ed Dawes, Dave Fletcher, Sally Pepper (see the 2013 Face behind the voice feature above), Dylan Roys, Mike Carey (Memorable Moments), Andy Twigge (ex-Trent, Oak FM), Jeff Harris, Ian Skye, James Watt, Tony Lyman, Richard Spurr, Rob Watts, Dean Pepall, Ed Stagg, Martyn Williams, Steve Jordan (ex-Lincs FM, Viking, Magic 1161, Century 106, Leicester Sound, KCFM, Asda FM, Real Radio, Yorkshire Coast and Greatest Hits Network- I may have missed some!), Chris Coles, Rachel New, (ex-Heart), Donna Alos, Jen Thomas and Simon Morykin.

Special mention must, of course, go to two Radio Derby broadcasters who have sadly died in the last few years. In January 2017 Andy Potter, who been with the station since 1999, announced that he had terminal cancer. A blue plaque was placed on the studio building in January 2018.   

Colin Bloomfield spent 10 years at the station. Suffering from skin cancer in February 2015 he initiated the Colin Bloomfield Melanoma Appeal which went on to raise over £150,000. Colin passed away just three months later aged just 33. In April 2016 the studio complex at St Helen's Street was named Bloomfield House in his honour.               

Saturday, 27 March 2021

New Ideas

The BBC World Service programme New Ideas was billed as the "radio shop window for British industry" with "news of the latest products of particular interest to the householder and small businessman". A kind of industry fair of the air.

Running weekly for nearly 40 years the ten-minute programme played an important role in promoting British business ideas abroad. By the mid-70s it was generating 12,000 enquiries a year to be dealt with by the small production team at Bush House that included an Export Liaison Officer. Those letters were then passed on to the companies who would often report back on an increase in orders. The BBC Handbooks highlight a number of successes from water purifiers, brain diagnosis X-ray scanners, maritime survival kits to asbestos cement cutters, solar energy devices and electronic door chimes.

Though New Ideas was heard on the English-speaking service of the BBC, other language services made their own versions with the Japanese one being particularly fruitful. By the early 1980s the External Services had over 100 programmes in 30 languages "geared to promoting exports or describing scientific, medical and technological advances".            

New Ideas
had started in 1958 when London Calling called it "a series in which inventors, manufacturers, business man, doctors, surgeons, philosophers, technicians and scientists will talk of the latest inventions, discoveries and projects in their various fields". Over the years other programmes came along - Science in Action, Discovery, Health Matters and Global Concerns - that took over the reporting of some of these themes leaving New Ideas to concentrate on the marketplace. It was presented by a number of different broadcasters such as Chris Bickerton (in the example below), Casey Lord, Sarah Mills and in later years by Andrew Dunn, Peter Goodwin, Roberta Symes (daughter of one-time Tomorrow's World presenter Bob Symes) and Gareth Mitchell.        

In October 1990 New Ideas was merged with the relative newcomer Tech Talk that had launched in 1987. Now with a doubled running-time of 20 minutes and keeping its New Ideas title but with the original element now forming a New Products part of the programme. Co-producer Chris Westcott explained that "we want to keep the new Ideas format of going out and about, talking to people in their workplace and seeing the things being made and used. That's where it ties in nicely with Tech Talk which has been an out-and-about engineering technology programme which hasn't concentrated necessarily on products."

Here from 27 July 1974 is the earliest example of the programme I know of. It was included in a long sequence of World Service output sent to me some years ago by Richard Tucker, to whom I offer my thanks. At this stage it's just a straight read of product information with none of the reporting that Chris Westcott talks about. The presenter is Chris Bickerton, perhaps better known as one of the  of Focus on Africa team, something he presented for more than 30 years until his untimely death in 2002.    

In this programme, edition number 833, the items are an acre-meter, an adjustable lawn rake, a portable charging generator and a plastic holder for use at conferences. At this time New Ideas had a theme, Quite Contrary, a 1966 KPM library music track by Syd Dale. In this recording the continuity announcer is Pamela Creighton.   

The ideas, it seems, ran out in March 1997 when the programme was dropped. There are 27 editions from 1996 and 1997 on the BBC World Service website, though sadly not the final one.

If you have any World Services programmes of any genre and from any era please contact me.

Thursday, 25 February 2021

Radio Humberside Year by Year


This is a  companion post to 50 Years of BBC Radio Humberside. Whilst researching that post I went back through my Radio Times archive to trace the history, people and programmes on the BBC local station. I've scanned in that many pages that I thought I'd put some of them online.

My collection is pretty complete from 1976 but there are gaps before that. Nothing from 1973, 1974 or 1975, so if you have an old edition somewhere in the house please let me know. As you'll see this is a case of the gradually shrinking schedule, in terms of column inches at least.  In the 70s the listings get a full page at the back of the Radio Times. By the 80s they share space with neighbouring locals, Lincolnshire, York, Leeds and Sheffield, depending on the edition. By the 90s up to a dozen stations are spread across two pages. I've stopped in 2008 as by 2009 all the schedules appear on the BBC website.   

W/C 13 March 1971 (with thanks to Ken Clark)

W/C 30 December 1972

W/C 29 May 1976

W/C 5 February 1977

W/C 30 September 1978

W/C 20 January 1979

W/C 16 February 1980

W/C 21 February 1981

W/C 29 May 1982

W/C 1 October 1983

W/C 12 May 1984

W/C 13 July 1985

W/C 8 February 1986

W/C 5 September 1987

W/C 11 June 1988

W/C 6 May 1989

W/C 29 September 1990

W/C 15 June 1991

W/C 20 June 1992

W/C 1 May 1993

W/C 1 October 1994

W/C 25 February 1995

W/C 27 April 1996

W/C 8 March 1997

25 May 1998

W/C 18 September 1999

W/C 25 March 2000

W/C 24 February 2001

W/C 26 January 2002

W/C 1 March 2003

W/C 3 July 2004

W/C 7 May 2005

W/C 27 May 2006

W/C 18 August 2007

W/C 27 September 2008

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